Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

Appointed...

I've been appointed to the position of Webmaster for my church by the out going president of my congregation. It's sort of cool that I'll be the first "official" webmaster. We are losing the unofficial webmaster, "E", who really got the web page up and running, to a job change that will relocate him and his family to the Midwest. "E" and I really saw eye to eye when it came to using the internet as an evangelism tool.

The days of waiting till you are relocated to find a church are long gone. As someone who used to travel for sometimes weeks at a time, I know that more and more people look to the web to find a church. The web has the opportunity to be really the cheapest way to reach folks. I know it beats paying the local newspaper seven or eight hundred dollars for ads during Advent and Lent. So I guess now I'll get to help folks find our little confessional liturgical congregation.

 

Changes To Blogroll

I've made some changes to the blogroll today. Some of the changes were long overdue and some were just recent discoveries.

First on the list are the address changes. Wretched of the Earth is now up and running at Backward Kingdom. Josh S. has changed the name of his blog from Here We Stand to A Finger for Each Nostril. Jason changed the title of his blog from Rants From A Disgruntled Lutheran to Ranting No More---A Blog In Search Of A Title. And finally Kelly's Blog has its right link.

There are two additions to report. The first being Father Eckardt's blog, appropriately named, Gottesblog. Father Eckardt is editor-in-chief of Gottesdienst. Gottesdeinst is a Evangelical Lutheran liturgical magazine.

The second addition is Luther At The M0vies. This site is a real hoot! The only way to describe it is this: just imagine if Dr. Luther was taken out of his room at Wittenburg and thrown into the local cineplex five hundred years in the future. Like I said, a real hoot!

Thursday, May 25, 2006 

Easter Hymn For Rogate

This past Sunday we closed the our Divine Service with a hymn printed out of TLH: Lord ‘Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee by Josiah Conder sung to the tune “O du Liebe”.

This hymn draws its inspiration from the Gospel reading for the day from John 15:9-17
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.

In the text Jesus says that it is He that chooses us, and it is by grace alone that we receive this saving faith. The exact opposite teaching of this is what would be called decision theology. Decision theology states that it is us, poor miserable sinners all, that choose Jesus. This line of thinking has us determining our own salvation. This incorrect doctrine has us “running the verbs”. Believing the words of our Lord mean exactly what they say, Lutherans reject decision theology.
St Paul echo’s this in his epistle to the Ephesians 2:1-3
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
And also in 1 Corinthians 12:3
Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

St Paul believes and confesses the words of his crucified and risen Lord by saying conversion and faith are entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. Many of the churches in our country today like to quote Revelation 3:20 which says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” While from our flawed human perspective this might seem like a decision to go ahead and open the door and let Christ into our hearts, it ignores the fact that we still don’t know when to open any such door until the Holy Spirit actually knocks on the door. Does anyone really think that if we open the door wanting a pepperoni pizza that the Pizza Hut delivery guy (or gal) will be there. I invite anyone to try that little trick on a Saturday night! Sounds like a new diet fad if there ever was one.

As flawed human beings we must, if we are to stay true to God’s Holy Scripture, confess that it is by grace alone that God has chosen us since before the foundations of the world were laid. And this is why our closing hymn is confessional, in beautiful words it repeats back the very doctrine the Lord has given to comfort us in his Gospel.

Lord ‘Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee by Josiah Conder

Lord, ‘tis not that I did choose Thee; That, I know, could never be;
For this heart would still refuse TheeHad Thy grace not chosen me.
Thou hast from the sin that stained me Washed and cleansed and set me free
And unto this end ordained me, That I ever live to Thee.


‘Twas Thy grace in Christ that called me, Taught my darkened heart and mind;
Else the world had yet enthralled me, To Thy heav’nly glories bind.
Now my heart owns none above Thee; For Thy grace alone I thirst,
Knowing well that, if I love Thee, Thou, O Lord, didst love me first.

Praise the God of all creation; Praise the Father’s boundless love.
Praise the Lamb, our Expiation, Priest and King enthroned above.
Praise the Spirit of salvation, Him by whom our spirits live.
Undivided adoration To the great Jehovah give.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 

Frank Miller's Lutheran World View

I always have been an avid comic book geek. I still have the first comic book I picked up at a local drug store from back when I live up north. I don’t know why I chose Fantastic Four #178 over the other titles but that’s the one I wanted and that’s the one my parents bought me. For those of you who are not big fans of the genre, Fantastic Four #178 came out in January of 1977. When I started going to high school I stopped reading and collecting comic books because, it just wasn’t cool to be caught even reading them anymore.

I picked up the hobby again when I was stationed in Germany by the Army. My roommate, James VanBeek, collected comics and I took the occasion to catch up with what was going on with Peter Parker and who was breaking into Wayne Manor this time around.

During the 80’s the comic book world started getting a little darker. Villains and heroes alike started getting killed off for the purpose of selling more books. Marvel killed off Kraven the Hunter, Doctor Octopus, and one of the Green Goblins in Spidey’s little corner of New York. Iron Man was turned into a murderer. The Punisher, a killer, had his own title as a hero who went around killing off members of the mob. DC killed off Supergirl and the Flash in one miniseries “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. Soon, fans were asked to vote whether a hero should live or die. Jason Todd, the second Robin to Batman, was a causality of this effort to make comics more appealing to a mature audience. In an effort to increase sales, comic books became a little scary.




One of the good things to come out of the eighties was Frank Miller. Frank Miller updated Daredevil from a second rate hero fighting third rate losers like Stilt-Man to a tortured soul fighting a very believable Kingpin of crime. While Daredevil’s world got a little darker, it was still recognizable as one we all lived in. Frank Miller also gave us one of the greatest Batman stories of all time with The Dark Knight Returns. TDKR gave us a future vision of Batman’s return to Gothom after a ten year absence. A great read for all, I assure you. Then came the 90’s.

In the 90’s, Frank Miller went over to Dark Horse Comics, an upstart rival to DC and Marvel. Miller at Dark Horse treated us to a series of serial stories from a place called Sin City printed within the pages of Dark Horse Presents. With the Sin City stories Miller took the mood of the eighties, shot it full of steroids and forced it to start slamming down multiple shots of espresso. Sin City was a hard edged noir world where Sam Spade would seem like a choir boy. Even the best people turned out to be bad people who were either killers or prostitutes or strippers. The police, politicians, and even the priests were corrupt and vile. Not the kind of place anyone would take the kids to vacation. Nope, definitely not any kind of Disneyworld I’d want to visit. Recently three of the collected stories were made into the bestest comic book movie adaptation ever.

A friend of mine and I were discussing that movie version of Sin City after our Friday night Bible study last week. My wife had to chime in and say how much she despised the movie-“Why would anyone want to see a movie that has as it’s protagonists very bad people?” My friend said something rather profound concerning Miller’s world view, its Lutheran!

Many in today’s society, and worse yet, today’s Church, don’t see the world the way Miller does: a very bad place filled with very bad people. Miller’s right, there is nothing good about us or anything we do, period. We are not, as some seem to think, just good people put here to do good things with a lot of bad things going on around us.

Since Adam’s first sin we have been very bad people. Psalm 51:5 teaches us Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
St. Paul writes that no one is righteous in Romans 3:10-18
As it is written: “ There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “ Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;“ The poison of asps is under their lips”; “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “ Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The bottom line, we are not good people. As sinful human beings there is nothing at all about us worth redeeming.

But Frank Miller’s pessimistic world view is not the end of our story. If it were, we would be without any hope all! Thankfully, we have hope and faith in Christ as our propitiation to counter the world. We no longer have to worry about being poor miserable sinners as we have the promise of being justified before the Lord by not our own works but by Christ’s work on the cross. Augustana IV confesses that “Furthermore, it is taught that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God through merit, work, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God out of grace for Christ’s sake through faith when we believe that Christ has suffered for us and for that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness in his sight, as St. Paul says in Romans 3:21-26.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
And in Romans 4:5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

I loved the Sin City movie because it was the most faithful comic book adaptation I’d ever seen. I should be clear and say there is nothing Christian about Frank Miller’s Sin City, not the movie and not the comic book. And I certainly don’t want to return to an era where comic book companies thought it would be fun to have heroes that were every bit as bad as the villains they were fighting. But, there is in this case something refreshing about Miller’s dark view of the world. Everything is not peachy with our fallen world, and never will be, at least on this side of eternity. Once we understand that Miller is right concerning how deep sin has its hooks in us, we should race to the promise of the Gospel. We should by faith believe that no matter how right Miller is about this earthly kingdom, our crucified and risen Lord has declared us his in the heavenly kingdom. The light that Christ brings to us in Word and Sacrament shines so bright it illuminates the darkest world, not a make believe world written by Frank Miller, but our world. It is that light that Christ gives that gives us hope and allows us to look at a movie like Sin City and say…cool.

Monday, May 22, 2006 

Lutheran Carnival XXIV

The latest edition of the Lutheran Carnival is up at Nerd Heaven. Sam has made theme of the introduction of the Carnival the of the Ascension of Our Lord. Be sure to stop by and tell Sam what a great job he's done.

Monday, May 15, 2006 

Easter Hymn For Cantate

Our hymn of the day this past Sunday was a seventeenth century hymn At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing as translated by Bohemian Brethren and sung to the tune Sonne Der Gerechtigkeit. This is considered an Easter hymn because of the numerous references to Christ’s sacrifice of His body and blood at the cross. It could easily be sung as a Eucharistic hymn for exactly the same reason.

I’ve said before in previous posts, (here and here), hymnody should always be confessional. And by this sung confession, the hymn becomes a proclamation of the Gospel. The text of the hymn is drawing inspiration from Revelation 5:11-13 (NKJV) which reads

“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“ Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”


While the hymn does state what our response is to our crucified Lord, the subject of the hymn is Christ and not our emotional response to Christ. A good number of enthusiasts prefer hymnody that focuses on us and our responses. This would make us the subject of the verbs and that would be, of course, wrong. When the subject of a hymn is not Christ, it is not proclamation and therefore is not a hymn but rather a song. Songs have no place within the walls of our sanctuaries. Songs belong on the radio or around a campfire, not in Church.

One of the things that I love about this particular hymn is the Eucharistic language that celebrates Christ’s victory on the cross. The first verse confesses that it is Christ’s blood that makes us righteous before God. The second verse confesses that Christ as our High Priest willingly gives up his own body and blood to become our paschal lamb. Verse four confesses that even today we can physically grasp that same Host which was nailed to a tree. Today, it is that same body that hung on a cross that we eat at the Holy Supper. It is that same blood that cleanses us that we drink in the Cup. It is in the Sacrament of the Eucharist that we get a taste, of that eternal heavenly feast that waits for us on the other side of eternity.

And to top things off, this beautiful hymn ends with a doxological verse confessing the Trinity. The word doxological comes from the Greek word doxologia meaning praise and laudation from the root word doxa, and word, speech, and speaking from the root word logos. So the final verse ends with a Trinitarian confession to which my congregation stands as if it was hearing the Gospel itself.

Here is our hymn of the day for your enjoyment.

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing Praise to our victorious king,
Who has washed us in the tide Flowing from his pierced side. Alleluia!


Praise we him, whose love divine Gives his sacred blood for wine,
Gives his body for the feast Christ the victim, Christ the priest. Alleluia!

Where the paschal blood is poured, Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go Through the wave that drowns the foe. Alleluia!

Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed, Paschal victim, paschal bread;
With sincerity and love Eat we manna from above. Alleluia!

Mighty Victim from the sky, Hell’s fierce powers beneath you lie;
You have conquered in the fight You have brought us life and light. Alleluia!

Now no more can death appall, Now no more the grave enthrall;
You have opened paradise, And your saints in you shall rise. Alleluia!

Easter triumph, Easter joy! This alone can sin destroy;
From sin’s power, Lord, set us free, Newborn souls in you to be. Alleluia!

Father, who the crown shall give, Savior, by whose death we live,
Spirit, guide through all our days; Three in One, Your name we praise. Alleluia!



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Friday, May 12, 2006 

Busy Week This Week

I've been busy week this week as I needed to finish up a customer. I had hoped to post on the district convention's business sometime this week, but just couldn't find the time. I'll do better next week. I have a couple of things on my mind that are ripe for a post or two, or three.

Concerning the SED district convention, there... is... not... enough... time... in... the... day... or the week... or the month... to properly give it it's due. Next week I'll give it a shot though.

Monday, May 08, 2006 

LUTHERAN CARNIVAL XXIII

LUTHERAN CARNIVAL XXIII is up and running over at the Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran site! Be sure to stop by and see what a great job Random Dan has done with it. LUTHERAN CARNIVAL XXIII actually has an inaugural post for the Carnival from yours truly. How cool is that!

Friday, May 05, 2006 

My Adopted Niece Answers Question From A Previous Post

This post is in response to a couple of questions that I received when I posted that my adopted niece was accepted into the deaconess program at Concordia University River Forest with this post. I asked Valerie if she would be so kind as be a guest poster to answer the questions herself. So, heeeeere's Valerie...

What is a Deaconess, what does one do and why they cannot become pastors ?
A Deaconess provides diaconal care, with special emphasis in mercy, spiritual care and teaching the faith. A Deaconess guides people to the Word of God and the Sacraments, provided by a pastor, to receive forgiveness of sins and strengthening of their faith. Some areas that a Deaconess can work in as far as Spiritual care, Education, Human care, Women’s ministry, Worship (Training Altar Guild, and Acolytes), Youth, Evangelism, and Music. Deaconess can also work in hospitals as social workers, in schools, missionary work and even as psychologists. Personally I am thinking about something along the lines of social work and or psychology.
A Deaconess is NOT a pastor nor should they ever become one. If they do then they are going against what they were taught and what they believe. The reason why I or any other woman cannot become a priest is right here in the Bible. Just read it and you can find it for yourself.
1 Corinthians 14:33-35;37
33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.37If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.
1 Timothy 2:11-12
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
1 Timothy 3:1-2
1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach
Thank you Uncle Frank and Aunt Laura, I love you guys very much as well. I have worked hard to get to where I am now.
Valerie

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 

Just In Time For The Conventions, Ditty Number Three

The official Ablaze! Firefighter is back in action!

With the districts meeting I thought I put together my third ditty ( two in one week! see this post for Monday's ditty) in honor of the elected leaders and representatives trying to set themselves Ablaze! On the way to a birthday party over the past weekend, I asked my four year old godson "Christopher, is it ok to play with fire?" You know, it's amazing, a four year old knew that fire is not something to play with. Christopher knows that being ablaze is bad and so should those we elect and appoint. I can only guess which failed business model thought it would be a good idea to call evil good and good evil. These folks should be put in charge of the new "come visit Hades, enjoy our fires" marketing campaign. Really!

Anyways, with my sincere apologies to all who enjoy Johnny Cash, here's my Ablaze! version of the Ring of Fire


The Albaze! Bonfire by Frank Gillespie

Confessions, they’re a pesky thing
Getting in the way, of the message we bring
Putting warm bodies, in the pew
Believer or unbeliever, what’s it matter to you?

I bought into the Ablaze! bonfire
I knocked on the doors and passed out the fliers
I logged onto the website and got those numbers higher
The Ablaze! bonfire
The Ablaze! bonfire

And I’ll burn, burn, burn,
The Ablaze! bonfire
The Ablaze! bonfire

Missions, are the most important thing
Missions, make the enthusiast sing!
Doing, God’s work for Him
Quantity not quality, probably ain’t a sin


I bought into the Ablaze! bonfire
I knocked on the doors and passed out the fliers
I logged onto the website and got those numbers higher
The Ablaze! bonfire
The Ablaze! bonfire

And we’ll all burn, burn, burn,
The Ablaze! quagmire
The Ablaze! quagmire

And we’ll all burn, burn, burn
For by this “movement”
Heaven we’re bound to win!

And we’ll all burn, burn, burn
For by this “movement”
Heaven we’re bound to win!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 

A New Manual For the Districts? Just In Time For The Conventions!


One of the neat things about my sitemeter is the fact that I can track what searches bring folks to my blog. Someone, it seems, wanted to know how to put out a fire. One such search led to this site on AltaVista which led to this site on Amazon.

This gem was the first book listed at the Amazon site. I, of course, am happy to help anybody figure out how to put out a fire. And check out that title! Do ya see it?! The fire of fear! That's almost too true to be laughing at. Isn't it fear that keeps the Ablaze! bonfire going. Isn't it fear that that the Gospel just isn't going to get out without our help. Isn't this fear just a lack of trust that causes us to dismiss St. Paul when he writes in Romans 10:18 "But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world." Isn't it a fear of trusting that God can and will be God and that He will be where his Church is? Isn't it that same fear when we think we can help God out by printing glossy new pamphlets and knocking on doors? Isn't it fear that makes us want to be the subject of the verbs instead of Christ when talking about church?

I just wish the leaders of our beloved synod and districts listened to me. I'd be more than happy to set them straight. I guess the first thing I'd do is get them all a copy of the Unaltered McCain Edition of The Book Of Concord: Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions-A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. Yep, that would be a good start.

 

V Is For Valerie!

We just found out that Valerie, my adopted niece, has just been accepted into the deaconess program at Concordia University River Forest. Valerie is going to join the priestly caste! I just wanted to say how proud we, her Aunt and I, are of all she has accomplished! We will both miss her very much when she leaves at the end of the summer. Valerie we love you very much and will miss you more! Congratulations!

Valerie was last year’s winner of the prestigious Uncle Frank's Favorite Gift of the Year Award for 2005. See this post to see what she got me.

Monday, May 01, 2006 

My Second Ditty

I have a nasty habit of gettting a tune stuck in my head and just not letting go of it until everyone around me is as sick of it as I am. I've went so far as to record a single song onto a cd and play that song until folks would rather get out of my car and walk rather than hear "that song" one more time.

After last week's discussions with Calvinist family members I took it one step further. I had a song in my head that I knew could be butchered to make the point that all we do in church is not adiaphora . This is my second ditty, see this post for my first attempt at poking fun at those who just want their best life now.

This ditty should be sung to the tune for the song You Lost That Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers. Enjoy!

You've Lost That Holy Feeling by Frank Gillespie

You never close your eyes when you pray, no more
You seem distracted by, reading hymns off a screen on the wall
But you got to feel the love in your heart and show it
And brother, brother you know it

You lost that holy feeling
Whoa, that sanctified feeling
You’ve lost that holy feeling,
Now it’s gone, gone, gone… woooooah

There’re no confessions getting in the way, of what God means to you
And the sacraments, are just a little something you do
It just makes me feel like crying (brother)
Without the marks of the Church, you’re faith is just dieing

You lost that holy feeling
Whoa, that sanctified feeling
You’ve lost that holy feeling,
Now it’s gone, gone, gone… woooooah

Brother, brother, I get down on my knees and pray for you
If only you’d worship, like the ancient Church used to do
There are Church doctrines, liturgy, confessions that you can’t just wish away
So don’t, don’t, don’t, push the Church catholic away

Brother (brother), brother (brother)
I beg of you please, please
Just reject those alter calls (alter calls) and that decision theology (decision theology)
Just bring it on back (Word and Sacraments) O bring it on back (Word and Sacraments)

Bring back that holy feeling
Whoa, that sanctified feeling
Bring back that holy feeling
Because it’s gone, gone, gone

Bring back that holy feeling
Whoa, that holy feeling
Bring back that holy feeling
Because it’s gone, gone, gone
Noooo…….

 

A Great Post At Incarnatus Est

I found a great post this past weekend over at Incarnatus Est. Pastor Paul Gregory Alms in North Carolina asks the question "Can you love thy neighbor but deport him, too?" His answer is yes, and put him in jail, give him a traffic ticket, a detention in school, and even execute him. With illegal immigrants demanding the rights citizens enjoy in protests across the country today, his thoughts on living in both God's earthly kingdom as citizens, as well as the heavenly kingdom as the priesthood of all believers are welcome as far as I'm concerned.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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