Renewed and Refreshed

It was a joy for all who participated. Special thanks goes to Pastor Shane Cota who led the opening prayer service each night which included a meditation. They were so good, people asked for copies. There was a general consensus that it was worthwhile for those who were able to attend. Participants included members of St. John’s Riverside, members of sister LCMS congregations, other Lutherans, and non-Lutherans. It is now hoped that this can be refined and expanded to include more pastors and to be held in each parish in the Gillett circuit. God willing, that will happen.

One of the joys of the evenings was closing with Compline. Compline will certainly become a staple in St. John’s Riverside prayer life.

If you would like to gain a sense of what each evening was like, you can link to the handouts which provide the information for the prayer services and a summary of what was covered. Note that these are tri-fold brochures. The content is on the second page of each pdf. We hope to upload video of the evenings also. The third evening did not get recorded because of human frailty. The record button was pressed — but the recorder had not been turned on!

May God guide and bless the continuation of this endeavor to renew and deepen our faith and understanding.

1 – Treasures in the Attic — Our Faith is Not Clutter

2 – God’s Pottery Wheel — The Shape of Worship; Worship that Shapes

3 – Everyday Life — Where Faith Bears Fruit

4 – Sharing the Gospel — Being Honorable Beggars

The Meaning of Words, a Man’s Word, the Word of God — Part II

One of the things which saddens me most about the present state of the Lutheran Church is the basic lack of integrity among those called to proclaim and teach God’s Word and rightly administer the sacraments. By this I do not mean the human weakness and sinfulness in which we all find ourselves. We all are tempted. Only Christ was and is without sin. My concern is more focused and is basic to the health of the Church and the proclamation of the Word. Rather than beat around the bush, I’ll get to the point. If a pastor is going to be a faithful servant of the Word, he has to be a man of his word. Pastor’s make solemn vows when they are ordained. Those vows are not coerced, but freely spoken. They are not based on some fine print which the pastor has overlooked, but on years of hopefully careful study and acquaintance with the teachings of the Church, especially Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Studying the ancient languages, learning to listen to God’s Word through careful and faithful exegesis, being immersed in the witness of the consensus of the church catholic in general, and the Lutheran Church specifically — these are not mere hurdles to be jumped, but preparation for ministry and a part of the informed consent involved in the ordination vows and subscription to the Confessions. The Church, including the average person sitting in the pews, should be able to trust that the pastor before them did not cross his fingers when saying his vows. The hearers of the Word should be able to trust that the man in the pulpit did not engage in some Lutheran form of the Jesuits’ reservatio mentis when he promised fidelity to God’s Word as witnessed in the Lutheran Confessions. Continue reading

The Meaning of Words, a Man’s Word, the Word of God–Part I

We live in a paradox in the world of blogs. On the one hand, the importance and power of words underlies the whole blogging enterprise. On the other hand, post-modern thought tends to downplay the meaning of words per se and centers meaning in the hearer. The former is the underlying assumption of this post. The latter is a malignancy which threatens not just language, but faith, trust, integrity, and any sense of Truth. As Lutherans, we are very aware of the centrality of God’s Word not only in theology, but in the very existence of the Church and the genesis of faith. As Christians, especially as theologians, we have a decided interest in words and meanings. We also trust that no matter how much men may try to empty words of their meaning, no matter how worthless a man’s word may be, VDMA.
From my perspective, the whole post-modern enterprise is a matter of deception. It is a matter of deconstruction and reconstruction. What this entails in regard to words is to render words meaningless or to at least raise doubts as to the meaning of words. Continue reading

If This Is How We Pray, What Do We Believe?

A rather disturbing video of an Ablaze!(c) event is available online. The event took place at Salem Lutheran Church in Houston, TX. President Kieschnick spoke at this “worship”. Beginning with shofar and an idiosyncratic confession of sins, the “worship” moves to liturgical dance and then something which might remind one of the Lord’s Supper if all the dispensationilist trappings were removed. If this is where the LCMS has moved or is moving to, there are serious questions which need to be asked by every pastor and congregation faithful to the witness of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. There are so many questions—and I fear the answers. Personally, I am so weary of wackos taking over the Lutheran Church. In the ELCA the left-wing revisionist have seized the reins. If this “worship” which featured Lutheran bishops from overseas (some of whom were not amused by the foolishness) is how the LCMS wants to present the Gospel and itself to the world, it can hardly be considered Lutheran. Has Zola Levitt superseded Loehe, Walther, Pieper and Sasse in matters of worship and doctrine? The “worship” seems like some sort of dispensationalist production with tiny remnants of classical Lutheran liturgy. If this is what Ablaze!(c) is all about, then it seems more like the flames of hellfire than the kindling of the Holy Spirit.

Posted by pomeranus.

Was heißt lutherisch?

An article from ten years ago is even more relevant than when it was written. It deals with the dangers of mistaking conservativism for a genuine Lutheran confessional stance. It raises questions we need to face:

  • Have we become a mere sect which needs to die?
  • Are questions of theology more important than institutional survival?
  • Are we captives of the Word or just people with opinions about it?
  • Are we willing to stand against forces from many sides which would snatch the Truth from us by stealth or force?
  • Is there enough confessional understanding left for the Church to remain a creature of the Word and resist the slide into becoming a human institution which promotes convenience?

These are times which call for introspection, courage, and trust in the power of the Word.

Posted by pomeranus.

The Church Needs A Constant Reformation

One of our brethren has shared these reflections on the relationship of the LCMS and ELCA. It is thoughtful and timely.

The Church Needs A Constant Reformation

Each year at the end of October we celebrate Reformation Sunday. This year it will take place on October 28, just three days before the actual anniversary of that great event. On October 31st, 1517, the eve of All Saints’ Day, Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenburg Germany. These were 95 points that he found wrong with the church of his day. By posting these 95 Theses it was Luther’s intent to debate these statements and to show where the church had erred. Luther never intended to break from the Roman Church – he simply wanted them to correct the false teachings that were not in accordance with the Bible.
Refusing to consider Luther’s claims the church excommunicated him and referred to him as a heretic. All of this is brought out very clearly in the movie called “Luther.” I suggest if you haven’t watched this movie that you either purchase it or rent it from the library and that you view it for yourself. It presents the struggles that Luther endured as he tried to bring the truth of the Gospel back to light. I especially like the part where he is asked to recant (to take back) his teachings. In that scene Luther makes his famous statement. “Unless convinced by Scripture or plain reason, – for I believe neither the Pope nor the councils alone, since it is certain they have often erred and contradicted one another, – I am overcome by the Scriptures quoted and my conscience is bound to the Word of God, I cannot and will not revoke anything, for it is unsafe and dishonest to act against conscience.” Continue reading

Question 2: Are You a Crypto-Hippie?

First Things often has timely articles.  In the latest issue, Sally Thomas deals with assertions in Preston Shire’s recent book, Hippies of the Religious Right. She does not accept Shire’s premise and offers a different take. The nerve that is hit is at the heart of many present struggles. the hippie ethos contains the seeds of much of what plagues us from the “Get over it” admonition to the confessionally faithful to a concern to always making everything new. Some of what appears conservative might be a radical departure from orthodox Christianity. This article deserves attention and discussion along with reflection.

Posted by pomeranus.