Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nearest Book Meme, Part 2

Emily over at Children of God, whose tag I responded to here, thought that the technical manual which really was closest to me at the time I read the tag might be interesting. So here it is…

Remove measuring cell. Remove overload protection. Install new overload protection. Mount measuring cell. Mount weighing pan and check that it is horizontal. If not, loosen the top two screws (a) and tilt weighing pan slightly forward or backward.

Service Manual, RGB_Cell Version 09/03

Glutton for punishment are ye lass?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lutheran Carnival LXX

Lutheran Carnival LXX is up and running over at the main site. Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank RandomDan from Random Intolerance for doing such a great job!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lenten Hymnody, The Windsor Saucepan Of The Liturgical Church Year

If one looks in my profile they will find out that one of my interests is gourmet cooking. I’ve loved to cook ever since I struck out on my own after leaving the orphanarium for what seems like such a long time ago. I guess the thing that I’m the best at is deserts. My key lime pie is tops and my jalapeno truffles would blow your mind. My torts and cakes are all particularly good. But my baklava, well, that’s in a class all by itself. I could challenge anyone to attempt, to come remotely close to as good as a recipe as mine but it wouldn’t be fair of me. It just wouldn’t be fair, trust me.

But a good cook needs to be balanced and must prepare something other than pastries. Cooks need to know how to cook their duck breast, their tuna steak, as well as the usual cuts of meats, all without overcooking said meat, as so often happens, into inedible and dried out pieces of animal flesh that even raccoons wouldn’t pull out of trash can.

Now, the thing that separates the wannabe cooks from the good cooks are the sauces necessary to compliment the meat and for that matter the entire dinner. There really too many variations of sauces to go into here with this post so I’d like to just look at the most important tools for creating a great sauce, the Windsor saucepan.

The Windsor saucepan is a slanted or flare sided pan that allows for efficient reduction, due to the large surface area of the sauce, though evaporation. If you need a sauce reduced, this is your pan! The slanted sides make for easy whisking over medium to medium high heat for even the most delicate French sauce. While not an absolute necessity for cooking, the Windsor saucepan is a valuable tool for slack jawed yokels who think they can cook and true cooking connoisseurs alike.

But what does this have to do with the usual topic? It’s simple, Lenten hymnody is the Windsor saucepan of the historical Church year. Like the Windsor saucepan, Lenten hymns have a way of reducing hymnody to it’s consummate essence, the cross.

Lent is a time of the liturgical church year for penitential reflection. As Christ turns his face towards Jerusalem to complete His ministry and atone for mankind’s sinful nature, we journey with him. As we look to the cross we are reminded that it is us who deserve to be nailed to that cursed tree. As we look to the cross we see God’s entire wrath poured out upon the only person that did not deserve it. We look at the cross and we see mercy undeserved as our Lord offers himself up as the atoning sacrifice.

Good Lenten hymnody allows us to sing our confession of the suffering servant journeying on the way to His cross to finish his salvific work on earth. Let’s look at a few verses of some favorite Lenten hymns;

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed by Isaac Watts
1.Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?
2. Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died for his own creature's sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.
5. But drops of tears can ne'er repay the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away; 'tis all that I can do.

As well as;

O Dearest Jesus, What Law Have You Broken by Johann Heermann
1.O dearest Jesus, what law have you broken
That such sharp sentence should on you be spoken?
Of what great crime have you to make confession,
What dark transgression?
2.They crown your head with thorns, they smite, they scourge you;
With cruel mockings to the cross they urge you;
The give you gall to drink, they still decry you;
They crucify you.
3.What is the source of all your mortal anguish?
It is my sins for which you, Lord, must languish;
Yes, all the wrath, the woe that you inherit,
This I do merit.
4.How strange is this great paradox to ponder:
The shepherd dies for sheep who love to wander;
The master pays the debt his servants owe him,
Who would not know him.
5.The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;
The sinful child of man may live in gladness;
We forfeited our lives yet are acquitted;
God is committed!
6.O wondrous love, whose depth no heart has sounded,
That brought you here, by foes and thieves surrounded,
Conquer my heart, make love its sole endeavor
Henceforth forever!
7.When, dearest Jesus, at your throne in heaven
To me the crown of joy at last is given,
Where sweetest hymns your saints forever raise you,
I too shall praise you!

Like a Windsor saucepan, Lenten hymnody reduces our songs to rich and bold confessions of the faithful elect. Through these sung confessions we journey through the pericopes of Scripture with our Lord to the blessed cross on Golgotha. Through the Lenten hymnody we sing joyfully and repeat back to the Lord the very words inspired by the Holy Spirit in God’s word.

Is it any wonder why Lent is one of my favorite times of the year?

A Great Follow Up Post Over At Thinking Out Loud

Pastor Stuckwisch over at Thinking Out Loud has a great follow up post to his "Soul Winning" Worship? post where he proposes that Perhaps We Should Survey the Top 5 Percent of Soul Bearing Marriages. Go there and ponder for yourself if you and yours are fit to be counted in the top 5 percent.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Evangelistic Triad Question…

More than one person has asked me “what in the world is an evangelistic triad?” The truth of the matter is that I simply don’t know. When I posted the Revitalization Metrics post, this was the first I’d herd of it as well.

I’ve tried everything I can to do some research on whatever this “evangelistic triad” is but I cant seem to find any information, well, anywhere. But I could find nothing at all on whatever program this is.

The only thing that did pop up over and over was references to what is call the convergence movement. But even then, evangelistic triads are not mentioned.

So my question is this; has anyone heard of evangelistic triads? Surely one of you priestly caste types must have some idea what this is.

So leave a comment or drop me a line. I’m even more curious than ever as this term made into a letter to pastors from our beloved synod’s president seemingly without anyone that I’ve talked to ever hearing it before. I’ve got the feeling that I probably don’t want to know, but then again…who knows? I mean, after all, what's more fun than playing with that cute little kitten in the back yard, even if it is rabid.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

'Soul Winning' Congregations?

From the Reporter, Official Newspaper of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod,
The Commission on Worship's insert on page 4 reads:

"The commission is working on developing a survey of the top 5 percent of LCMS 'soul winning' congregations, defined as those congregations with the greatest number of adult baptisms, adult confirmations, and professions of faith. This survey is to determine what happens during the most visible hour of a congregation's week that helps them be the soul winners that they are."

There is absolutely no way to put a good construction on this whatsoever. The official newspaper of our beloved synod now declares that outward signs are what the church is to measured by. No longer is the standard that the Word be preached purely and the Sacraments be administered rightly.

And to make matters even worse, congregations are now able to be soul winners. No longer will we look to the Holy Spirit for faith but rather we look to ourselves and our own work. Swell. I guess we can say that we should be condemned with the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works, contrary to what our confessions state. Maybe we should call Rome and tell them that they where right about us all along. Has anyone got the Vicar of Christ's cell phone number? If you do, pass it on and I'll call him myself for crying out loud...

For a more in depth look, Pastor Rick Stuckwisch has a good post on the matter here. I swear I have no idea how these guys, the priestly caste, are even able to open their emails and remain sane.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Saint Valentine

With the last post in mind, I know some of you people that email me are wondering if I really meant that we should celebrate St. Valentine’s day. Well, sure, why not? After all, not only is the man a saint but he was also martyred for the faith. Let’s take a quick look at his history;

Details of ancient Christianity are sketchy since for much of the Church's early years, it was a crime to be a Christian and records were hidden or kept purposely incomplete to protect believers. Thus, the story of Saint Valentine, as well as those of many others ancient believers, must be pieced together from fragmentary evidence.Some ancient accounts record a physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Claudius. This Valentine become one of the noted martyrs of the third century. It seems that his main "crime" was joining couples in marriage. Specifically, Valentine married Roman soldiers. Evidently, Claudius thought that single men made better soldiers while Valentine and the Church resisted the immorality of less-permanent relationships.The commemoration of his death, thought to have occurred during the year 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the early Western Church. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, he left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer. The note was written on an irregularly-shaped piece of paper which suggested the shape of a heart. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine's Day in many nations.

Shamelessly lifted from Orycteropus Afer

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saint Valentine And Cowbells

Tomorrow we celebrate St. Valentine’s day. So with that in mind…

You know how much I love the missus? I wouldn’t trade her for all the cowbell in the world, and I love me some cowbell . Ich liebe dich mein Frau.


Revitalization Metrics

In A Pastoral Letter to Pastors, sent out and dated yesterday, Febuary 12, 2008, President Jerry Kieschnick writes concerning characteristics of a revitalized congregation;

The LCMS World Mission Task Force on Mission Revitalization has been working with district mission executives and district presidents to identify characteristics of a revitalized congregation. Here are the suggested characteristics at this point:

Marked increase from previous years in conversion growth, measured by adult baptisms and adult confirmations.

Worship attendance increasing 5 percent or more per year.

Multiplication of personal evangelism initiatives, including strategies like "evangelistic triads."

Multiplication of evangelistic small groups, including initiatives like "Groups Ablaze!"

Multiplication of number of hours invested by laity in community service.

Increase in members returning a tithe and/or increasing their percentage giving.

Growing commitment for planting or participating in the planting of a new mission within five years.

Multiplication in number of critical events.

Undoubtedly other characteristics of a revitalized congregation could be added to this list. I respectfully request your fervent prayers and intentional assistance in this very important endeavor.

Wow. I spent the last three weeks teaching my high school class on Sunday what the Church is and what it isn’t. I’m wondering if I need to go back and reteach the class to include the bullet points listed above. All I talked about was the invisibility of the saints as the tares will always be among the wheat and the visibility of means, that is to say the means by which we should look for Christ’s Church, the Word preached purely and the Sacraments administered rightly.

At no time though did I talk about the multiplication of measured metrics, critical events, or “evangelistic triads.” I can almost hear the collective sigh as l I tell my students that we need to completely reevaluate how we look at our congregation.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Welcome New Visitors All!

To all of you who are visiting thanks to the link provided by the prestigious Washington Post, welcome!

With many newspapers’s readership in decline, it’s heartening to know that it isn’t beneath old media to link to a little blog written by a slack jawed yokel like myself. Being a quotable authority on such an important event as a new Mormon president denying unproven allegations is truly an honor that I will forever cherish.

I fail to see why there is so much senseless talk about the lowering of standards and lack of journalistic integrity concerning what many call old media. The very fact that the Washington Post, to it’s credit, linked to Putting Out The Fire and it’s author, the official Ablaze!™ Firefighter™, should at the end of the day finally settle the matter. So say we all.
Update: Thank you MorningGlory2 for letting me know the link is now gone. I’m gonna guess that enough people saw my post and alerted the Washington Post to it’s…peculiarities. At least I’ve got a screenshot of the link on Sitemeter. ;)

Lutheran Carnival LXIX

Lutheran Carnival LXIX is up and running over at the main site. Dan from Necessary Roughness was kind enough to put together this addition of the Carnival. Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank him for doing a great job.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Nearest Book Meme

Emily over at Children Of God tagged me. Granted, she tagged me last week mind you but my work schedule has been a little hectic and I just got around to visiting her site. FYI, she’s an awesome read and it’s only my blogging laziness that I missed her post. Here's how I’m supposed to play:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag [five] people.

When an adult is baptized, however, it is not necessary for him to receive Confirmation, for he has already received instruction in the Christian faith.
If an infant was baptized in an emergency by a Christian lay person, this should be reported to the minister. And if the infant so baptized survives, it may be brought to church when the congregation is present, together with the person who baptized the child and the witnesses of the baptism. – Ceremony and Celebration by Paul H. D. Lang

This was one of the books I picked up at the bookstore at Concordia Theological Seminary during the annual symposia. While I have read it all the way through yet, I have thumbed through it a bit and gleaned several useful tidbits such as the proper method and explanation of crossing oneself found on page 65.

One caveat, this all assumes that Emily didn’t want the very first book that was closest to me which happened to be a technical manual for a piece of equipment that I was calibrating. If the above book was good enough, fine. If, Emily, for what ever reason, you really need to see the first book just let me know…

Finally, as most of you know, I don’t play tag. If you want to consider yourself tagged, feel free to leave your assignment in the comments section.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

10 Ways for Youth Leaders to Hinder the Church

In the seven years I’ve taught my high school class and worked with our youth group I’ve heard every argument listed in the video. I’ve heard these agruments from people who didn’t think a group of kids would come back to church on a Sunday night and have a Bible study. I’ve also heard this from people who think that the only people who should work with teenagers are either 1) paid staff (because only paid staff can really care) or 2) those who are their own age but who think Christianity is a concept that needs to be discussed and emoted upon.

A big tip of the hat to Kelly for finding the video. If you don’t read Kelly’s blog at least once a week shame on you, repent, and go read her right now! Why are you still here?!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Well, Epiphany has come and gone as we move through the Church year and today we celebrate Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season as we journey with Christ to Jerusalem and the cross. Lent, for the historic church is a 40 day period that will end with Christ’s resurrection Easter morning.
Lent has long been a penitential season where we reflect on our sinful state not by looking inward but rather looking to Him, Jesus the Christ, who takes upon himself not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world.

So tonight, if my bout with a serious bug doesn’t force me to go home, I’ll go to church for the Imposition of Ashes. The ashes are supposed to come from the burning of last year's palm crosses. As the pastor or vicar makes the sign of the cross on the forehead they remind us of our mortality by announcing "From dust thou art and dust shalt thou return".

But isn’t Imposition of Ashes one of those archaic Roman Catholic practices that died 500 years ago? No, it is still practiced in many churches that aren't fearful that they might actually look like a church. Lets take a quick look at the Augsburg Confession

Article XV: Of Ecclesiastical Usages.
1] Of Usages in the Church they teach that those ought to be observed which may be observed without sin, and which are profitable unto tranquillity and good order in the Church, as particular holy days, festivals, and the like. 2] Nevertheless, concerning such things men are admonished that consciences are not to be burdened, as though such observance was necessary to salvation. 3] They are admonished also that human traditions instituted to propitiate God, to merit grace, and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the Gospel and the doctrine of faith. Wherefore vows and traditions concerning meats and 4] days, etc., instituted to merit grace and to make satisfaction for sins, are useless and contrary to the Gospel.

The confessors stated clearly that there are traditions in the church that are good and useful. Things like observing Holy Days and using the historic lectionary are good because they create order within the church. Traditions like the Imposition of Ashes are not commanded but nor are they forbidden, in other words, such traditions are adiaphra and may be used as long as consciences aren't burdened .

But is the Imposition of Ashes Biblical? Well, if Job, the king of Ninevah, Daniel, and Mordecai put ashes on their heads we’d have to say yes.

However a warning is in order, as any sense of false piety is strictly forbidden. Christ warns any who parade themselves as pious in Matthew 6:16;

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward."

So, tonight, I’ll have a cross of ash put on my forehead and quietly go home and thank God for declaring me righteous, not on the account of anything that I’ve done, but on the account of Christ.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

New Mormon President Holds Press Conference

The Salt Lake Tribute
Article Last Updated: 02/04/2008 11:52:00 AM MST

Tradition won the day and Thomas Monson, a 44-year veteran of the Mormon hierarchy, became the faith's new president and prophet. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by the Quorum of Twelve elected Monson unanimously as expected.

Mormons believe that leaders of their church ascend the hierarchy in a process guided by God. The man (and it's only men because of the patriarchal nature of the religion), whom God permits to serve and survive the longest, becomes the Mormon "prophet, seer and revelator" when the group's president passes. As this is a long standing tradition for the denomination, the transition for one of the fastest growing churches in the world was expected to be a smooth one.

But controversy may be inevitable as rumors swirl around the leadership. In the past few days the church officials have been trying to quell rumors about the infiltration of outsiders into the inner circles of the hierarchy. Last week it was leaked that the Quorum of Twelve actually was comprised of fourteen members. When the two addition members were added and who they are remains a mystery.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a long time church member said that “the Quorum has been infiltrated by “toasters”.” What a “toaster” is remains unclear.

Immediately after assuming the office of Prophet, Thomas Monson held a press conference at Temple Square in Salt Lake City denying any irregularities by emphatically stating “I am not a cylon, and if I find out anyone of the Twelve is a cylon, they will be dealt with in the harshest manner allowed under our laws.” Questions by reporters regarding how a Quorum of Twelve could have fourteen members were ignored.

It is only speculation that a cylon is similar to a “toaster”. Largely a secretive group, the Latter Day Saints have many rituals hidden from those who have not been through a three step process which includes instruction at what is called a Ward, Stake, and finally, the Temple. Because of outsiders not being “brought to light”, proper understanding of rituals and the accompanying terminology has made dialogue with and reporting on Mormons difficult.

The “harshest manner” reference in Monson’s statement can only be assumed to be a shunning that excludes members from temple worship which is the pinnacle of the Mormon faith. Certain Christian denominations have a similar practice called excommunication although it is rarely practiced.