Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Blessed Thanksgiving Y'all

Heavenly Father, God of all grace, govern our hearts that we may never forget Your blessings but steadfastly thank and praise You for all Your goodness in this life until, with all your saints, we praise You eternally in Your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

A prayer for thanksgiving to God found in the awesome Treasury of Daily Prayer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful? Thankful For What?

Thankful? Thankful for what?

I’ve got a bunch to be thankful for this week; lots of good food, good drink, good conversations over tomorrow’s dinner.

My favorite niece, Valerie, is home for a visit from internship and I’m thankful we’ll get to spend some time together.

My big sis is driving down from the land of ice and snow giants and I’m thankful that we’ll get to spend time with her. I don’t often get up to old orphanarium so anytime we can get together it’s a treat.

I’m always thankful for my missus even if I don't tell her often enough.

And finally, I’m thankful that I have a faithful pastor who purely preaches God’s Word, and rightly administers the Sacraments. Without Christ’s salvific work at the cross and His Church doing what she was commissioned to do, all that I’m thankful for would be worthless.

Back On The Web

The morticoccus virus has finally been defeated and I’m back on the web. Hmm, just in time to go home where I am internet free…

Update: Hmm, I just realized that I’ll need to add all those fifteen cent theological words that I use to my dictionary. Morticoccus was anti-life. Anti-life justified my hatred. I’m glad that morticoccus is dead!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Morticoccus Is Anti-life

The morticoccus virus which shut down my computer last week came back with a vengeance and not only shut off my spybot program but it also deleted my anti-virus software. It deleted my anti-virus software. For crying out loud I didn’t even know that was possible!

Morticoccus is anti-life. Anti-life justifies my hatred.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Just Joined AA

I don’t know why I was sent the invitation but I accepted. Clearly, people who are very concerned for me thought I needed to be a member of AA; Antinomians Anonymous. The description for the group is as follows:

If they don't suspect you of being an Antinomian, you probably have not preached the Gospel.

I obviously don’t preach the Gospel as I am not a called and ordained servant of Christ’s Church. It is however often assumed that I’m with the priestly caste being as that I do seem to hang out with a great many of them, attend a lot of theological convocations and symposiums while wearing t-shirts proclaiming “can’t sleep, clowns will eat me”, and can properly answer questions like “is there reciprocity in the gaius miastaticum?” or “Paul was subscribing the Tetragrammaton to Jesus, wasn’t he? ” and not bat an eye. Yeah, freaky.

Oh well, I’ve certainly been called an antinomian before by someone who suspected my baptism probably didn’t take hold (I must confess that it was only a sprinkle) so I guess I need a group to deal with it. Very well then, onward to a meeting!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Starbucks Looking At LC-MS Initiatives?

While the LC-MS looks to Starbucks as the new gathering place of the hip faithful, have you ever wondered what it would look like if coffee shops looked more like what we have planned for youth ministers trying to be relevant and seeker sensitive? If so, watch the embedded video that I found over at Anthony Sacramone’s Strange Herring. His post was titled Starbucks as the Epitome of the Emerging Church. Or the Other Way Around. Yep, we can learn a lot from each other.

The Doktor Is In!

One of my favorite bloggers, Doktor Luther himself, over at Luther at the Movies has returned! Or, as all the kids say, w00t!

I can’t wait for his reviews of the upcoming holiday season movies. There is no doubt that Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer will not wait until Christmas to attempt to dampen all holiday cheer and when they do, it is only good and faithful servants like the Doktor to set them straight. Oh yeah!

If you’ve never visited his site, why are you still here? Go read the good Doktor’s rantings NOW!

HT: The Rebellious Pastor's Wife

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Are The Missing Generation Missing? Because We Lost Them.

The Reporter, the official newspaper of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has reported that the LCMS Youth Ministry folks have put together a group of young adults to help find what happened to what is being called "a missing generation". This “missing generation” are those classified as young adults in their 20s and 30s that no longer go to church.

The seven members of the group, all within the targeted age category, will meet in a local St. Louis coffee shop in order to keep with the culture of the age group that the committee has been tasked to attract. The committee set out two main goals that they wish to achieve;
• "to enable congregations to build a culture where young adults are able to fully participate in the life of the church.
• "to enable young adults to become an integral part of the church community, living out their faith in a global context."
In addition, Jessica Bordeleau, coordinator of Lutheran Youth Fellowship and Young Adult Ministry with the youth-ministry office, and the committee's convener, said;

the committee plans to launch a Web site as early as next year to provide listings of best practices in young-adult ministry, links to books, training events, and other helpful resources. She said the committee also is exploring ways to "promote service leadership opportunities for young adults."

Also from Bordeleau;

This is a generation that is passionate about social justice and service to the community.”

Where to begin…

I’m still struggling to see why so many think that to become relevant the church must become more like the culture. Likewise, why is it that only youthful hipsters with soul patches and goatees can “win” over youth? When the hipsters do attract youth, and I do believe that they will for a time, are they really going to integrate them into a congregation? At what point will the event move from Starbucks to the congregation gathering around the preached Word and administered Sacraments? Do we look at any other age group and say they can only be reached by “peers?” No, we don’t and no we shouldn't.

How are the youth and young adults expected to step into roles of leadership if they don’t understand that the center of the Christian’s life is Christ and his gifts? How are these youth and young adults going see the merits of going to church by meeting in a Starbucks with a group that didn’t even mention Christ in its reported goal? Leadership without Christ can just as easily be found down at the local glee club or Masonic lodge. The lodge can just as easily offer the opportunity of “social justice and service to the community” so why bother with a church? At the end of the day what’s really the difference if Jesus is left out of your mission goals?

For all the complaining that kids leave the church, these folks seem to go out of their way to create a subgroup of youth apart from the community of all believers that is the congregation. Why would youth and young adults want to be part of a congregation when those who are leaders always set them apart as their own tribe? How are these youth to lead if they don’t understand that they are members of a congregation? If the problem of youth not feeling that they are part of a congregation is really that we ourselves have separated them into a separate group apart from the congregation then I would argue that it is and that I have the results of thirty years worth of the small group church growth seeker sensitive movement that can back me up.

St Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians chapter 4 encourages that church (and ours as well) to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Paul tells the congregation that they are one family gathered around one confession of one Lord. At no time does Paul say that small groups in the church at Ephesus need to meet apart from the gathering around that common confession.

Paul goes on to say that there will be “apostles, the prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. These workers that are being raised up will always point to the congregation of saints gathered around the Word and not subgroups meeting in coffee shops.

Why speak of and highlight the congregation’s unity in faith? The apostle explains;
“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

I believe that it is we adults who need to grow up and start treating our youth and young adults like they are actually part of our congregational families. It seems to me that the committee’s solution of changing cultures fails to recognize that it is because we treat youth ministry as something separate and apart from the congregation that the missing go missing.

Think I’m wrong? Just ask a teenager returning from a national youth gathering what he liked best. If he or she says that it’s the rock bands, the dramas and skits, or getting to throwing beach balls around during a worship service, you will see a glimpse of how far from congregational life we have led them. Sure it’s cool for them but when they return, do they want to go back to your worship service without the light show and praise bands? The answer of why the lost generation is lost is that the adults drove them there and gave them an incomprehensible map to help them find their way back.

It is true that we adults who need to change our culture but we do not need to look to the culture of the world for tips. Starbucks may be popular and hip with youngsters but it offers nothing but a caffeine fix which is not terribly helpful for dealing with sin, death, and the devil or church attendance for that matter. If you want a culture that deals with sin, death, and the devil, start looking and acting like a church and attendance problems will fix it self, no enabling required.

Read the whole article here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Is A Confessional Lutheran?

What is a confessional Lutheran?” That’s the question that was asked of me in a private email last week. Until I get back up on email I thought I’d give the readers a shot at this question. It should be noted that the question came from someone not terribly familiar with Lutherans.

I would argue that there are a good many folks who say that they are confessional but what they mean varies a great deal from the historic context of the phrase.

So, what is a confessional Lutheran and what does that mean?

Shut Down!

My stupid computer, a pc, was infected by what I’m currently calling the morticoccus virus. If you were expecting an email from me today, it’ll be a day or two. Sorry.

Thankfully I have my Macbook even if I still must use a pc for work and my main email.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Isogeting Stewardship Into The Scriptures

The following Haut South district flash ended up in my inbox this morning:

"And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces." Luke 9: 16-17Good things come in small packages - or so the saying goes. In the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, a young boy's small offering of 5 little loaves and 2 fish become a banquet for more than 5,000 with leftovers! Today, we celebrate the miracle God is bringing about through Ablaze! for God's Mission."

The email goes on to talk about how important it is to support “an ablazing partnership!

I always thought that the feeding of the five thousand was about what Jesus did and not about offering up seed offerings. I also thought there was a limit on the number of verses that could be used for raising monies. I was wrong.

In the book of Luke the three most important meals are the feeding of the five thousand, the last supper and finally the meal at Emmaus. All three meals show Jesus feeding his sheep. The first meal has Jesus showing that if he says he can feed more than is thought to be possible, than he can actually do it.

The last supper has Jesus instituting the means with which he will continue, even to this day, to feed his sheep. The great high priest who offers himself up on the cross gives that same Body and Blood to feed and sustain the saints. Those saints should always look at feeding of the five thousand as something of foretaste of what was to come in the upper room. If Jesus can feed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish then with confidence we should look at the Holy Supper, believe Jesus’s words and say it must certainly be true because He said it.

And finally, during the meal at Emmaus, Jesus reveals himself through the taught and spoken Word and the holy meal. Remember it is only after Jesus breaks the bread and gives thanks that disciples recognized their Lord. It is here that the saints of all time and all places see Christ’s gifts in action as they were meant to be for the first time. If we believe that Jesus can feed the five thousand, if we believe that he meant that the bread and wine really are His Body and Blood, then it is through the eyes of faith that we recognize our Lord today in spoken Word and in the blessed Sacrament because Jesus did it, does it, and continues to do His glorious work through these “ordinary” means.

All three meals are the work of Christ. It is Christ who is running the verbs. You know who Luke does not focus on? The boy who offered up the loaves and fish. In fact, Luke is so focused on Jesus doing the doing that he doesn’t even say where loaves and fish come from. We only know of the boy because of his inclusion in John 6:5-14. The feeding of the five thousand is the culmination of Jesus’s Galilean ministry, there’s no reason to draw attention away from this finale.Leave it to my district for a lesson in isogesis, that is to say reading ourselves into the Scriptures.

The proper way to read scripture is exegetically. To read exegetically you read verse by verse, line by line, chapter by chapter to read out of the Scriptures. That’s the good way.

The bad way to read God’s Word is the isogetically. By reading ourselves into Scripture we read what we want from Scripture. Usually this is done by starting with a concern, problem, or topic and has us searching for what verse backs up our point. Sadly this is my district has done.

There are a host of texts throughout Scripture that speak of stewardship and funding missions but Luke’s account of the feeding of the five thousand isn’t one of them. Reading fundraising into every verse of God’s Word may guilt people into giving more money but that doesn’t make it right.

Additionally, it shows poor theological scholarship when even a slack jawed yokel can spot the difference between Jesus feeding the masses and reading something into the verses that simply isn’t there.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Anti Proposition 8 Commercial Starring Mormons

Normally you would never find me defending the Mormons. They’re not Christians and unless I can tie a story into my favorite space opera or the similarities to the Masonic lodge, I just want nothing to do the subject. I have to teach a two or three week class once a year because of so many Latter Day Saints in my little corner of the Haut South and that’s enough for me.

As I was sitting here in the shop trying to get caught up on my podcasts, I nearly fell over in disbelief over the reporting of an anti Prop 8 commercial by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse on Issues, Etc. Prop 8 defines marriage as a man and a woman and thereby outlawed gay marriage. Prop 8 passed but faces an uphill battle in the courts as the will of the people is often trumped my the courts these days.

The reason I’m flabbergasted is that if this kind of commercial can be run against people who call themselves Christian, the surely the commercial will be run against people who are Christians. It’s only a matter of time.

Here's the commercial:

And here's the Issues, Etc. segment:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Vote

Get your own Poll!

What Does Air Hockey Have To Do With Church?

My polling place was in a medium sized mega church. Yep, the jokes can just write themselves at this point.

As I was in line it was everything I could do to keep my mouth shut about a host of issues such as the coffee shop in the front of the building as well as the indoor playground that rivaled any public school’s outdoor setup.

As the line snaked through the worship space where this congregation spent Sunday mornings, we eventually got to walk past the air hockey tables set up at the back of the room, right next to a whole series of bar stools and coffee tables. As the line was moving slowly we had plenty of time in an area that looked like a youth recreation center. The women in front of me looked a bit puzzled and finally raised the question when she asked; “What’s that got to do with church? Why do they have air hockey tables in their sanctuary?”

My response was short and sweet; air hockey has nothing to do with church, nothing. I followed that up with a snarky comment that they must be looking at one of those new fangled translations of the Bible that say church should look like the culture it’s trying to reach, specifically loose translations of Matthew 29.

The women in front of me just nodded in agreement.

I wonder if air hockey tables were placed there by republican operatives trying to sway the air hockey moms to vote for Palin? Just a thought...

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Case For Zod

If for some reason I can’t persuade you to vote the Roslin/Airlock ticket, might I offer one more possible option for true change in our nation’s executive branch; Zod.

Zod is a truly a maverick’s choice that will offer a real option of change at changing the way Washington works in changing the way things change. While most look at McCain and Obama and wish the candidates could transform our nation’s legislative culture, there are none who look up at Zod and think to themselves, self, will he really change things? All who look to Zod know things will change.

From humble beginnings in the military, he rose to the rank of general by offering true leadership not with words, not with speeches, but with decisive action. If you are worried about electing someone who is untested and if you fear rouge nations testing such inexperience, fear not when you cast your ballot for Zod.

After leaving military service Zod spent a reflective time with close associates. He would later break out in the world of small business where he started designing high end kitchens synonymous with luxury homes.

Zod is the tough on crime, tough on terrorists and tough on all who threaten your world candidate if you have the faith to believe one man can make the difference.

While little is known of Zod’s faith background, all indications are that he is a deeply spiritual man, (possibly Eastern Orthodox or a Lutheran Litergista?) as he often talks of kneeling and bowing.

Visit Zod’s election 2008 website here.

Also, here's a commercial for Zod's Kitchens in the embedded video... enjoy.