Monday, July 30, 2007

Whoda Thunk It?

Last week the Wittenberg Catholic awarded me a thinking blog award. Here’s what he said:

I admittedly struggle with what evangelism is supposed to look from an organizational standpoint, but one think I don't struggle with is my feelings on Ablaze. It's pure synergistic nonsense, and Frank gives voice to that growing group of people who are sick of the infestation of revivalistic doctrine and teaching within the LCMS.

Wow! Whoda thunk that I could have caused anyone’s synapses to fire (or misfire)? I certainly appreciate the honor Herr Roe and thank you very, very much.

While it started as a way to poke a little fun at goofy evangelism movements from the bowels of our beloved synod, I do understand that Putting Out The Fire, as my new favorite hobby, has morphed and will continue to morph as a means of catechesis both for myself and others.

The five blogs that make me think right now (doesn’t that list always shift and change as new topics or even new bloggers are introduced?) are as follows:

Lutheran Blogs

1) Cyberstones by Pastor David Peterson who I look forward to reading for the lengthy theological posts on a variety of topics facing the Church today.
2) Cruising Down the Coast of the High Barbaree by Josh S is on the list for the same reason as Cyberstones. Give Josh a try and I think you’ll see why I like his layman’s point of view as well as why I think he’s writing better than most professional apologists.
3) Kelly’s Blog by Kelly who gets to blog about her vocations as a wife, being a new mom, and artist. She always shows her chops as a talented writer whether on her blog or writing for Higher Things’ magazine.

Non Lutheran Blogs
4) The Beasts Lair is run by a Baptist seminarian who while we differ on some, or even many, theological issues always presents things in such a way that many Christians would do well to follow his example.
5) Get Religion is a collaboration of writers (MZ Hemmingway being the Lutheran of the bunch) who report on how religious issues are covered through the various media outlets.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Mission Reductionism"

One of the difficulties with having so many good blogs to read out there is that every now and then we are all apt to miss something good or even sublimely profound. As one who sits on many a mission board, I found one post that fit the latter.

Pastor Thomas Chryst over at Preacherboy had a post last week that featured a new phrase coined by Pastor Ryan Fouts: Mission Reductionalism. I shamelessly asked Pastor Chryst if I could repost his post and being gracious as always he has given me permission. Enjoy!

Pr. Fouts Coins a Phrase

Pastor Ryan Fouts, from an internet discussion group:

"Of course we have areas of agreement. The disagreements have certainlyshifted from SOME of those of the Seminex era -- though I'd suggest that "Gospel reductionism," morphed now into "mission reductionism" is one of the errors of our day being avidly promoted by some"

"Mission Reductionism" - a false belief in some circles that "mission" or "outreach" is the number one priority of the church, something I certainly saw on display at the recent LCMS convention.

Thanks for the aphorism, Pr. Fouts!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Happy Anniversery (s)

200 posts and still going!
But wait, there's more. My missus's celebration of her anniversary of the day of her birth is tomorrow. Everyone take a moment and wish her a happy birthday why don't ya!

Almost A Critical Event

Yep, almost a critical event. But too bad on my flight up to Minneapolis that I was sitting next to a member of one the five daughter churches my congregation has planted. Just dumb luck on my part I suppose.

I guess anytime that I read a theological book while flying I’m bound to get questions about my faith. And I never have or will I shy away from such questions. I'm ok with that, really.

However, silly questions and goofy statements from people who should know better I have much less patience with. And the women sitting next to me telling me that the way the grow the Church is to have abundant programs for children and to not focus on church so much had that one vein on the side of my head pounding like a drum. My blood pressure wasn’t up because of her but rather that I know that this is what passes as outreach these days. Because of bad catechesis this women looks at outreach as something akin to an after school program, uh, I mean movement.

But the event never went critical because according to the Ablaze! website we don’t count things like baptism and proper catachisis by pastors who should have set this person straight years ago. Oh well, maybe next time or on the way back at 36,000 feet, I can stand up and yell you’re Ablaze! on the plane. Hmm, I wonder if there will be air marshals on board?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Webmaster Problems

This webmaster is a little depressed as he can't comment on his blog from his own computer. He is also pulling his hair out over his church's web site's recent crash.

When he fixes both problems, he'll try to stop talking in third person speak!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thoughts On The LCMS Youth Gathering

This week in Orlando, FL, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod will be holding it’s 2007 National Youth Gathering.

In the interest of full disclosure, my congregation has elected to not participate in this year’s national LCMS youth gathering. We as a congregation have decided that attending the Higher Things yearly events are a better way for the kids to enjoy fellowship with others their own age in a setting that focuses on Christ and His gifts.

That difference between the LCMS and last year’s Higher Things event held in Colorado was best expressed by a student of mine who said “you know, the gathering (Higher Things) was really cool. But I like the big one (LCMS national gathering) better because the one in Colorado reminds me too much of church. The big one had rock bands that played contemporary music that I just don’t hear in church. We get enough of that kind of stuff on Sundays.”

Ain’t that cool? A teenager who can actually see the difference between what is clearly church and that which has to be explained or passed off as church. In an effort to attract more people and make the message seem more relevant, the national gathering has structured and presented itself so as to seem not like church. I know there are many who will disagree me on this point but I would say just look at what my student said. Saying we all love Jesus isn’t enough no matter how much we do. Saying will have always fallen short and are need a Savior who is nailed to a tree because we are so sinful should be the message. If the message can’t heard by a teenager, then why bother with the message at all? If the message resembles a self help we all love one another therapy session, we should just purchase TVs for the youth room and make ‘em watch Oprah for a week straight.

The point really hit home when I got around to reading my Jesus First newsletter which felt it necessary to defend the national gathering as something edifying. The defense is basically how uplifting and emotional the national event is. But what the defense lacks is a focus on Word and Sacrament as the focus. If Jesus First is for it…

I would encourage everyone to strongly consider attending the Higher Things conferences as well as looking at the self titled Higher Things quarterly magazine which is better written and more Christ focused than the synod’s official publications.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Verklempt! Part 3

Warning: if you are unfamiliar with, or have trouble understanding high sarcasm, leave.

I visited a congregation this past weekend and learned two new things. The first thing I learned that I previously wasn’t aware of was that women can be the assistant minister in a congregation belonging to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. This was something new for me and I am so glad that I’m, uh, “enlightened.”

The second thing I learned, Mary Magdalene was an apostle. This too was news to me. I’m not really sure how I missed that one.

I’ll now sleep a little better now knowing that Jesus didn’t oppress women and neither do we.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The God Squad, Or, A Priest And A Rabbi Walk Into A Bar...

Firsts things first, I’m not trying to steal another blogger’s mojo. I'm not, I promise.

With that out of the way let me state that one of my favorite daily reads is Robert Hunter’s Heresy Hunter. Mr. Hunter keeps up with and reports all the theological goofy (and dangerous) stuff that would drive the rest of us insane if we had to keep up with it. Now, if Andy’s right and I’m the Ablaze!™ Firefighter, then Robert Hunter would be the Lutheran Blogosphere’s equivalent of a fire chief. If you never had the opportunity to visit his site, give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.

I look to forward to Fridays not just for the ending of the work week but also the faith section in local newspaper. For me, the multicultural, all good dogs go to heaven, and all faiths are paths to the same mountain rubbish are the equivalent of a perusal through the comics page. I find these articles funny,not funny ha ha, but funny in a sad way, really. I think it’s important to know what’s going on in America’s version of Christianity and this is just one of the ways I go about collecting my information. Hiding one’s head in the sand thinking all will be better tomorrow works fine in Annie, but not so much in real life.

My absolute favorite column (for bad theology) is written by a priest and a Jew. Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman write a column called The God Squad. I first became aware of them when a friend from church pointed them out responding to a question about who gets into heaven with the response; "any God that wouldn’t let Muslims in heaven isn’t one we would want to worship." "There are many paths to the same mountain" is a frequent response of theirs.

Anyhoo, I’ve been chomping at the bit since I saw the column printed in my local paper on July 13, 2007. A reader asked "the god squad" the following question:

You once said that not everything in the Bible is true, that certain things are more like stories with morals to warn us of doing evil. If that's true, how do I know what to believe that is in the Bible, and what not to believe? I don't want to believe in a fairy tale! I'm confused! -

Anonymous, Beaumont, Texas

I got two sentences into the response and then the convulsions started. When I regained conscience, I reread the two opening sentences:

We believe that everything in the Bible is true. We do not believe that everything in the Bible actually occurred.

The rest is here if you feel like you really need to experience what an ulcer feels like. But suffice it to say, I just dont think anymore really needs to be said as the first two sentences really state their position quite clear.

So, in conclusion, I’m not trying to steal the Heresy Hunter’s mojo and I should probably go back to reading one of the funny comics like Bizzaro if I want to read funny.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Verklempt! Part 2

I'm still very definitely verklempt. Oh yeah, oh yeah, big time, oh yeah.

But I did learn something new today. In Greece, there are only four thousand Christians. The reason: because the rest are "catholic". Details to follow I'm sure.


I'm a little verklempt right now as I just had a delightful discussion with my parents that focused on two things. The first being that there isn't one Church, but really seven churches because that is what Revelation(s) says.

The second reason is that I am now fully informed on how important the Left Behind series is to getting out the good news and informing people on why we need to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem .

Yep, I'm definitely verklempt.

I’m Just Going Where She Tells Me

"Turn right in 1 mile then stay right. Drive one mile and exit. At first available chance please perform a u-turn." For crying out loud I wish this chick would shut up. Her non stop blabbering about where I am and where I should be is going to drive me absolutely insane! Back seat divers are bad enough but when they are in sitting up front with me in the 4Runner, it’s enough to push me to the worst case scenario of road rage. If Rita doesn’t shut up, perky Katie Couric will be reporting a very tragic event tonight on the evening news. Rita? Who the heck is Rita you ask?

Rita is a GPS unit, as in global positioning satellite direction finding gizmo. She is the electronic forward sitting version of a biological back seat driver, the bane of any driver. Longeyemoose was "gracious" enough to lend her to me for my trip this week to New England. This week I’m in Maryland receiving some factory training so might I service and repair certain laboratory instruments and fight soulless dominion of corporate orthodoxy; my former employers. (Later this week I’m paying a visit to my folks in upstate NY.) As this is my first visit to Maryland I accepted the "gift" of Rita so that I didn’t have to purchase any more maps as I already have too many.

Now I think that GPS units are really cool, no if, and, or buts about it. It’s fascinating how a couple of satellites and software can tell a driver not only where he is but where he should be as well. Technology is a wonderful thing.

But today I realized that there might just be a downside to listening to Rita tell me where I should be going, I’ve absolutely no idea where I am. Really. Because I’ve been listening to Rita and following her instructions blindly, I’ve no idea where I am, which way is the correct way back to the hotel, or even which direction is north. In other words, although I am where I’m supposed to be, I’m lost. If the power adapter and batteries die, I’m in serious, serious trouble.

I’ve never left home before without at least one map. Why I didn’t over prepare for this trip is mystery as I would usually have every map from Florida to Nova Scotia jut to go to Maryland. Again, if anything bad happens to Rita, I’m in trouble!

And I know this is hard to believe, but all I could think of on the way back to my hotel was how lost I would be without catechesis from my pastor back at home. Just as nobody in their right mind would start a trip to Maryland not knowing how to go where they should be going, why would we expect baptized Christians to hear a ten minute sermon, call it quits for the week, and just go on their merry way?

I guess this is just stuck in my head for two reasons; first, all these mission boards I sit on, they seem to run by folks who don’t want to "scare away" the unchurced with real doctrine, Word, and Sacrament. The phrase "we need to meet people where they are at" keeps getting blurted out. I’ve got no problem meeting people where they are at per se, but sooner or later you will need to give them some directions. This is done by the right preaching of the Word, administration of the Sacraments, and, uh, I don’t know, maybe recommending that folks should actually read the Bible.

The second reason this idea is stuck in my noggin is that I’ve heard more than once from people who should know better; "as long as we go to a church that’s what’s important." To which I would respond; ya know, I’m glad you’re going to church but that statement is just rubbish! That’s like telling me as long as I stick to the interstate I’ll get to where I’m going. What if I’m on the road to Skagway, AK and I need to go to Baltimore, MD? I’m on a road yes, but I’m on the wrong road and nobody has told me differently! Now why would anyone treat church in a manner that they wouldn’t treat a driver going to Baltimore?

When Christ commands the disciples in Matthew 28:19,20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age." He doesn’t say just give ‘em the keys to the family car and let’s see if they can find Baltimore. He says make them disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything that He has commanded. Did Christ say that faith was a part time job? No!

And the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 5:12 tells the congregation "for by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food." The writer of the epistle is saying that sure at one time they needed something lighter, but now they need to grow up and start eating real spiritual food instead milk just as a child will eventually need to be weaned from it’s mother. At some point in time, he tells them, ya gotta grow up and learn. It’s not enough just to phone it in. In other words, pick up and read the darned map. Learn where you are at, learn where you need to go.

And so I don’t get hit with "Frank, now you are starting to sound like a legalist"; if you read the map you will find out that the directions are already on the map. Christ wrote out the map, the legend, and the directions in His own blood and posted it for all to see on the cross! And we as poor sinful creatures still need to read the map, constantly and every day precisely because we are sinful.

I know that some might think I’m reaching to make a point here, but I would argue otherwise. Just go ahead and try to find your way to a destination without knowing where you are going and get back to me. If you can find out where you need to go and actually get there, I’ll eat a crow, (mmm, crow, mouth watering crow). Scripture tells us faith is given to us by the hearing of God’s Word. But we should not consider faith to be static because it just can’t be. Faith grows and it needs to be fed, and one of the ways that happens is by daily reading of Scripture. To even think otherwise is as dangerous as hopping in a car and thinking you will get to Baltimore without a map or road signs.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Ghost Rider Says...

Lutheran Carnival LIV

Lutheran Carnival LIV is up and running over at Ask the Pastor. Pastor Walter Snyder offers a look at Reverend August Ludwig Christian Kavelas well as information on the first Lutherans to move to Australia. Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank him for doing a great job!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ablaze! Creates Conflict

One of the things I’ve never covered in any of my criticisms of the Ablaze! program is the actual effect it may or may not have on the members themselves. Most of what I’ve written here, when I wasn’t being sarcastic and snarky, has been what I believe a series of discussions only viewed from a Scriptural or Confessional perspective. It is those two views that really make me what I am, because at the end of the day, I don’t believe anything else matters.

I’ve been fortunate that I have a Pastor and a parish that looks at things, most of the time but not always, very much the way I do. It is for this reason that I’ve been insulated from the circuit, district, and synodical ventures into the reformed waters of an American Arminian style of evangelism where people make desisions that count as critical events and folks are told that to reach the unchurched we must stop acting so much like a church. But with district officials visiting and members of my own congregation thinking it might be a good thing to abandon that with which we have confessed to be a Scriptural view of evangelism, I been forced to look at things with new eyes.

What I’ve noticed more and more is that Ablaze!, whether by design or by accident although leaning more and more toward design, seems to force people to compete with each other for that “pat on the back” that tells them they are living up to God’s law that we just do our part. I’m not going to rehash that subject again. If you want to know what I’ve written, click on the Ablaze! tags and have at it.

So what do I mean that Ablaze! pits people against one another? Lets look at an excerpt from an email from an a member of my circuit:

As you know, several congregations in circuit 123 have already made decisions to participate financially, such as church A with a $48,000 minimum and church B with a $19,000 plus commitment; church C will be doing 50 Days Ablaze! in the fall. In addition… there are a number of publications , as you know from synod and the district that can be ordered and distributed to members of the congregation to help individuals make an informed decision of whether to participate and how.

The person that sent me this was and is very upset that we don’t seem to be measuring up to the other congregations. Never mind that we give more money to every pet charity that everybody and their cousin wants to support every time a budget meeting is called. We give plenty! But we don’t allocate 40% of our budget to send to a district that cant and wont seem to tell us how the spend our money. We decided some time ago that we wouldn’t drive ourselves into bankruptcy just so we can say we gave more that you did. That is poor stewardship and that is no different than giving to a bunch of rich Pharisees strutting around the marketplace in flowing robes devouring all the people gave.

And is that the only example? Heck no! look at this recent communication from the Southeastern district highlighting a convocation that promotes starting new congregations:

From Rev. Lloyd Gaines
I'm excited to announce the first SED Regional Church Planting Conference. It will take place at St. John's Lutheran Church, Franconia, Virginia September 5-7, 2007. This conference is not for everyone. It's for those with a deep passion and strong desire to learn the latest principles and techniques of church planting.

Ok, it’s not for everybody? Really? So how do I know if it’s for me? If I think that the focus of any congregation should be Word and Sacrament, will I be asked to leave? If I say such, will I be called a worthless wordsmith as I have in my own circuit? Again, how do I know if I’m welcome?
This you can’t be for evangelism if your focus is on Word and Sacrament pits those who should be for the same goal against one another for no good reason. Word and Sacrament are evangelism. Good doctrine and good theology can’t be separated from missions! And my new understanding frustrates me even more that we proceed day after day with a program that doesn’t measure up and pits brother against brother.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Thoughts On The Upcoming Synodical Convention

I finally got around to reading the complete interviews of the five candidates nominated for president of the synod. Wow. Maybe it’s because I was looking at the interview through the prism that I normally do, but I thought the differences were stark.

All of the nominees said that scripture was important to guiding us as we move forward on this side of eternity. But two of the candidates look more to conventions, programs, movements, and bylaws than the remaining three who for some strange reason, look to the Confessions that have guided us for almost five hundred years.

Maybe the differences listed were meant to be subtle, but I was amazed that an official synodical publication wouldn’t come across as a little more vague. I can only look at the interviews as being positive no matter what happens at convention.

And no matter what happens at the convention, I am confident that we will always have the Church because that is what our Lord has promised. The Church has been under attack since Adam’s first sin and I don’t see anything in Scripture that says the prince of this world will give up until the last day.

So in spite of what happens the Church, whom has been given Word and Sacrament by her Bridegroom, Christ himself, will remain. And that alone is enough to calm my nerves as minutes tick by this weekend.

And please remember to keep all delegates in your prayers and pray that God’s will be known and His will be done.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Lutheran Pope Declares All Non Roman Churches Defective

Pope Benedict XVI says Orthodox churches are defective and other Christian denominations are not true churches according to an AP report. Read the entire story at FoxNews here.

Wasn't Pope Benedict XVI supposed to be the first Lutheran pope? Then why is he talking smack about a visible and countable church? Gee, you would think that we Lutherans would have something to say about that. Oh wait, we did have something to say about that, way back in 1530 in the Augsburg Confession for crying out loud! The more things change...

Article VII: Of the Church.
1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.
2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4, 5. 6.

Article VIII: What the Church Is.
1] Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and 2] the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc. Matt. 23, 2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.
3] They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.

Ablaze! Quote Of The Day 7-10-07

The Ablaze! quote of the week comes from my very own congregation which was visited this past Sunday by a district official:

"Hey, if I had to make choice between Lutheran theology and saving souls, I'm going to save souls!"

Now, the person that made this comment I know rather well and I know that he knows that he can’t save a single soul. He was in full backpedal mode when challenged on this and had to state several times that he did in fact believe and confess that saving souls and bringing people to faith was the work of the Holy Spirit.

But at the end of the day I really think he did more to damage his chance of getting one red cent out of us than any of the good stuff he promoted that we all can agree with (like supporting missions).

One of the big flaws in Ablaze! was highlighted on Sunday; when we separate doctrine from missions, we get something that becomes neither. By pushing Ablaze! at the exclusion of retaining a solid doctrinal view of missions, our guest took the work of God and made it his own. Even if he did not intend for the statement to come across that way, and I don’t believe he did, the folks gathered for a Sunday school class heard from an official representative of our district that doctrine isn’t as important as their own work to save souls.

Rick Warren who often touts “Deeds not creeds” would be proud of our district. I was not.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sinestro's Oath, The Human Condition, And Sin

Last week I received my copy of Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps. It was a little over week since it actually hit the shelves as I get all things comic book related from Mile High Comics out in Denver. Normally any big news in the world of comic books comes out on Wednesdays as that is the day any new books are released.

For those of you not familiar with the character Sinestro a brief introduction is in order:

Sinestro was the creation of John Broome and Gil Kane over at DC Comics way back in 1961. He was a native of the planet Korugar in the Green Lantern Corps space sector 1417. (the Green Lanterns are an intergalactic police organization led by little blue guys called Guardians. (It should be noted that the Guardians are not Smurfs.)) Sinestro was once considered to be the greatest of the Green Lanterns, but as the years passed, he became more obsessed not simply with protecting the Korugarians, but with preserving order in their society. Eventually he concluded that the best way to accomplish this was to conquer them, and to rule the planet as a dictator.

When Hal Jordan (a current Green Lantern) was chosen to be a Green Lantern, Sinestro was assigned to train the newest member. Jordan was horrified with Sinestro’s treatment of his home planet and had a hand in exposing Sinestro for who he had become.

For his punishment, Sinestro was sent to an anti matter universe where he partnered up with the Weaponers of Qward, who hated the Guardians as much he did. The Weaponers aided Sinestro by creating a yellow power ring to battle the green ones used by the Corps.

For years Sinestro battled a number of Green Lanterns as, truth be told, he was just a “B” list villain only to be defeated time and time again. The tales would normally have Green Lantern’s ring nearly out of power only to be recharged by a green power battery by reciting the oath:

In brightest day, In darkest night, No evil shall escape my sight,
Let all who worship evil’s might, Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!

The power ring would always get recharged and Sinestro would always get defeated, hauled off to a galactic jail, or just flat out escape to wreck havoc at a later date. The same tale, told over and over. That is until last week.

Last week had Sinestro doing something a little bit different. He decided that he would start up his own group, his Sinestro Corps, to bring order to the galaxy through the only means he knows, tyranny and fear. Since disorder has run rampant under the more peaceful means, he decides that fear will be the cornerstone of his Corps. “As long as there is life, there will be fear” he declares. He gathers several thousand recruits who have “the ability to instill great fear” on their home worlds, all of them deadly and dangerous. Each one of them issued a yellow power ring like Sinestro’s to help instill that fear. The Green Lanterns are in for a world of hurt!

What struck me hardest wasn’t the excellent story telling by Geoff Johns or the brilliant pencils of Ethan Van Sciver. What hit me the hardest was actually in the beginning of the book. Sinestro has taken the oath of the Green Lantern Corps and perverted it to charge his own yellow power ring:

In blackest day, In brightest night, Beware your fears made into light.
Let those who try to stop what’s right, Burn like my power, Sinestro’s might!

With that little oath Geoff Johns takes Sinestro from the “B” villain list to the big leagues. No more does he think he is a villain, as comic book villains often do, but rather he believes what he is doing is the right thing to do in order to bring order and stability, albeit his order and stability, to the universe. “Let those who try to stop what’s right, Burn like my power” is a shot across the bow for all do gooders who value rule of law over the ends justify the means style of order.

What did I find so fascinating about that? I can’t help but be fascinated by how Johns’ script hit on the fact that evil does not consider itself evil and wants to do things it’s own ways. I keep remembering a conversation I had with a family member who believed that humans were really just good and only flawed in the fact that they just fall short of God’s law but still are really good at heart for trying. Falling short of course is a huge understatement to say the least. If fallen creatures are good by nature then they don’t even need redemption. By now I’m sure you can see where this is going.

We all are fallen and sinful creatures who from the time we were conceived are born with a cancer. That cancer that kills us all is called sin (Ps 51:5)! Sin is not just a disease that we can get better from by working at with all our hard work until we get better. Again, sin is a cancer that will kill everything that lives. And if we deny that we are with that same sin we are really fooling ourselves straight to hell (1 John 1:8-9). And if we deny the disease, then ultimately we will deny the fix to Adam’s first sin in the garden: Christ.

Article IV of the Augustana confesses the cure for what ails us:

Our Churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works. People are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they that are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By his death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight. (Romans 3:21-26, 4:5)

We all want to do what Sinestro wants to do, that is to say, to do what’s right in our own eyes, and in doing that, we fail miserably. As fallen creatures we continually choose our own path, just like Sinestro, time and time again. And just like Sinestro, we fail to call evil evil. Just like Adam, we continually want to choose our own path. And just like Adam’s first sin, the end is always the same, death.

I ‘m glad that the days of comic book villains who are calling themselves evil are gone or at bare minimum, on the way out the door. Good riddance to the bad guys joining the “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” or “Secret Society of Supervillains”.

While the shift in the language might not be welcomed by some, it is by me because it speaks to the core of sin. Sin by its very nature can’t look into the mirror and see itself for what it is. Sin decides for itself what is right. Sin would kill us all if not for Christ being nailed to a tree in our place. Yes, thankfully Christ who was without sin took on human flesh and vanquished sin, death and even Satan himself (who also wanted to do things his own way).

And thankfully Christ gave us the Church where His Word is preached and His Sacraments are administered. It is there that we all can go to face that mirror that Sinestro can’t seem to see. It is there that we can confess that we sin in thought, word, and deed. It is there that his called and ordained servants absolve us of those same sins in the stead and by the command of Christ Himself. And that is what a character like Sinestro can’t do or have respectively. And for that, Sinestro will have to, like many who don’t know Christ, live with fear instead of Light.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Looking For A Congregation To Visit In Minneapolis

I’ll be attending a symposium on metrology in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area from July 27th to August 2nd. The dates being what they are mean I will need to find a congregation so may attend the Divine Service where the Word is preached purely and the Sacraments are administered rightly. Does anyone have a suggestion?

I’ve been noticing that congregational websites are sometimes ambiguous or even misleading. Also, the fact that the nice lady answering the phone, who attends the UCC church down the street, only knows that Lutherans are able to meet payroll certainly makes finding a congregation to visit frustrating.

I remember one trip to Pascagoula MS; a receptionist said that while she was a loyal Southern Baptist these Lutherans were very nice folks (uh, that’s good to hear). While she didn’t know how they “worshiped”, upon looking at the Sunday bulletin she could tell that they used something call “page 15”. I was more than overjoyed with her answer.

The previous receptionist I talked to one town over informed me that if joined them on Sunday I would be treated to the pastor dressing up as John the Baptist to deliver the sermon. I guess it could’ve been worse; there could’ve been clowns or better yet liturgical dance clowns miming out the Our Father.

Anyhoo, back to the question, does anyone have any suggestions for a parish to visit?

My Blog Isn't Safe For Work, Or Children!

So my blog is rated R. As it turns out This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

hell (12x) death (6x) dead (3x) kill (2x) ass (1x)
Here's the site that evaluates websites for content.

Lutheran Carnival LIII

Lutheran Carnival LIII is up and running over at Barb the Evil Genius featuring a Lutheran from Transylvania! Stop by, say howdy, and thank her for doing a great job.