Friday, February 27, 2009

500 Post Blogiversary

A big thank you to everyone who has visited, commented, supported, and linked back to POTF. Without you folks, this would be no fun at all. There have been 500 posts with 1090 comments from you guys over the last four and a half years. Who would have thunk it? Again, thank you all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday for those of us who follow the historic liturgical calendar and I must say that I’m stoked! Ash Wednesday is the church catholic’s big kick off to the Lenten season.

Lent, the Church’s original forty days of purpose, is considered a penitential period where the focus of our attention is on Christ and his journey to the cross at Golgotha. As Jesus turns his face towards Jerusalem, so do we as we look to His Passion and His cross that He bears in our stead, for our sins.

The Scripture readings and the hymns during these forty days are among my favorite of the church year and I will no doubt have a post or two or three in the upcoming weeks.

Did I mention that Lent is my favorite time of the church year?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Transfiguration Sunday Hymnody

I really wanted to get this up on Sunday but I’ve been sort of busy the last few days.

Last Monday I took some time to answer an email that where the writer complained among other things that I talked a lot about hymnody but never enough about Scripture. I guess this post is a continuation of my previous answer that looks at Transfiguration Sunday hymnody.

For those of us who follow a liturgical calendar this past Sunday we celebrated the Transfiguration of our Lord. Our gospel reading was from the gospel of St. Mark 9:2-9 :

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.

And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.

Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

As I’ve said before our hymnody should confess our faith and by that all I mean is that our hymnody should repeat back to God what He gives us in his Holy Word. Our opening hymn certainly repeated back what would be our Gospel reading for the day. We opened our Divine Service with a beautiful Latin hymn from page 413 of the Lutheran Service Book;

O Wondrous Type! O vision Fair

O wondrous type! O vision fair
of glory that the Church may share,
which Christ upon the mountain shows,
where brighter than the sun he glows!

The law and prophets there have place,
the chosen witnesses of grace;
the Father's voice from our the cloud
proclaims his only Son aloud.

With shining face and bright array,
Christ deigns to manifest today
what glory shall be theirs above
who joy in God with perfect love.

And faithful hearts are raised on high
by this great vision's mystery;
for which in joyful strains we raise
the voice of prayer, the hymns of praise.

O Father, with the eternal Son,
and Holy Spirit, ever One,
vouchsafe to bring us by thy grace
to see thy glory face to face.

With this as the opening we got a foretaste of what be our Gospel reading and gave us the chance to repeat back to God the account of Christ’s transfiguration on the mountain. Both our sermon hymn as our closing hymn both focused on the transfiguration as well but not as strong theologically as our first hymn.

I certainly don’t mean to say that there was anything wrong or bad with the sermon or closing hymn, not at all. What do criteria do I use to determine which hymns are stronger theologically? Three simple points that I look for when critiquing any hymn are; is the Crucified and Risen Christ Jesus the indispensable center of the hymn, is the hymn grounded on a clear, Scriptural text and does the hymn inspire in us a hunger and thirst for the things of Christ Jesus and His Kingdom that is coming?

If we can look at a hymn and can answer the questions above in the affirmative, we are no doubt looking at a hymn that is a good strong sung confession of the Christian faith. O Wondrous Type! O vision Fair meets this simple standard of a sung confession so it is one I will forward to singing again and again.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Ain’t Your Grandfather’s Issues, Etc.

I was shocked and dismayed to hear Pastor Todd Wilken, the host of Issues, Etc., support restructuring on yesterday’s show. At about the eighteen minute mark of Friday’s Soundbite of the Week segment Pr. Wilken begins a passive aggressive rant where he proposes a new regime, a one man rule, governed by him and him alone as he now feels that Craig and Jeff have entirely too much say.

This is almost too much to bear. We the listeners loved the old show precisely because it lacked the bylaws and regulations that would have only prevented the proclamation of a clear Gospel message in today’s postmodern world by the tyrannical oversight of bureaucrats. When the show was resurrected, I for one, thought that the team who brought the very best Christ centered, cross focused programming would continue with a system that worked.

What we need to do now is to continuously pray for Pr. Wilken that he has not been turned to the dark side or been replaced by a life model decoy (for those of you not in the “know” a LMD is a programmable automaton which may be used to replace an individual without the knowledge of those around him or her, usually for nefarious purposes) while undergoing “reconditioning” at some undisclosed international center.

These are fearful times my friends, fearful times.

Note: I'll post the audio segment if and when it becomes available.

Update: An old friend of mine was able to email me the uncensored, unedited, and I would argue incriminating MP3 of what we both agree is “Wilken’s insane rant” on Saturday but I wasn’t able to upload the thing until this morning. I still have no idea how to embed an MP3 so I had to figure out how to put a video together. I apologize for the quality of the video but it was the best I could do on short notice folks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today’s Quote Of The Day

Today’s quote of the day comes from the End the Issues, Etc. Trademark Dispute petition. Prof. Dr John Warwick Montgomery, Esq., one of the smartest people on the planet, includes his name to the growing list of signatures and adds this comment;

I am thoroughly ashamed of the central administration of my church body for its actions in this matter. Orthodoxy of doctrine is one thing; ordinary decent treatment of others is another. Can you not exhibit a modicum of legal and ethical integrity in your relationship with Issues, Etc.--particularly after treating Wilken and Schwarz so shabbily in discharging them?

That my friends, is today’s quote of the day.

Now, if you haven't signed the petition yourself please take a minute and add your voice to those who are calling for a complete and satisfactory resolution for the Issues, Etc. team.

Note: When signing the petition, it asks you to donate to iPetitions. There is no need to donate to register your vote. If you don’t want to contribute, I didn't, just hit your back button or close the page. Your signature has already been recorded at that point.

Concordia Irvine Offers New Worship Drama Degree

In the inbox this morning was a story in the Reporter, the official LCMS newspaper that Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., has approved a minor in worship arts leadership. From the story;

The minor includes courses in music, theology, song selection, how to put a service together, and how to select a worship team. It is designed to provide training in various worship styles, the use of technology and media in worship, service planning, and the use of drama and visual arts.

I thought I remember President Kieschnick saying sometime last year that we were a united bunch. Didn’t I read that somewhere? I’m sure I did, somewhere...

Now at first I thought President Kieschnick was just holding to the Lutheran confessions which I know he holds most dear which state in Article XXIV: Of the Mass.

Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ].

But after reading President Kieschnick’s piece I now realize that he meant that we are unified not by our confession of what Scripture teaches, (he later said we do indeed have “disagreements”) or our worship but rather we are unified by the passing of the synod’s marketing campaign in convention and election of synodical bureaurocrats. Sorry, I’m really getting off topic here (although the two issues are joined at the hip), anyhoo...

So, to further buttress our stated unity the Concordia system is now offering courses on how to create new worship services? Really? Do we now need to modify ACXXIV to say we have indeed abolished the Divine Service for some new fangled thing(s) that we trained people to create so as to be relevant? Do we also need to say that we no longer sing the historic hymnody that has been sung and confessed for millennia instead we look for songs to sing and that we no longer consider a pastor as an undershepherd who leads us in worship but rather that we now use teams to lead us? Are we so incompetent at preaching Christ and Him crucified that we need to resort to drama teams to entertain us on a Sunday morning?

Yes sirree buddy, all we need in the LCMS is more drama

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Please Sign the New Issues, Etc. Trademark Petition

The Brothers of John the Steadfast have put up a petition to electronically sign regarding the threatened lawsuit by LCMS, Inc. against Issues, Etc and it's Host Todd Wilken and Producer Jeff Schwarz. The petition, written by one of the best lay apologists out there; Scott Diekmann of the blog "Stand Firm", calls for Synod, Inc. to stop their stupidity in pursuing legal action against Issues, Etc. and asks that they drop their challenge to the trademark of the radio program.

You can find the petition linked from this page at the Brother's of John the Steadfast website, or from this page at the blog, Stand Firm.

Thank you for taking time to read the petition and in signing it.

The Bunker Reopens Amid Synodical Threats

Anticipating more LCMess hijinks, Pastor William Cwirla has fired up the old bunker; Blogosphere Underground again. In the first post since he went for some serious bottom time, Pr. Cwirla tackles the LCMS’s most recent attempts to silence and take away the livelihood of Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz.

Be sure to pay Blogosphere Underground and Pr. Cwirla a visit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Many Lawyers Does It Take To Not Write A Threatening Letter?

Stop me if you heard this one before… How many lawyers does it take to write an intimidating letter that threatens taking legal action without appearing threatening so their client can say that they never really meant to say they were threatening anybody but rather they would only be taking legal action if recommended by previously mentioned legal council?

The always awesome Mollie Z. Hemingway reports over at Brothers of John the Steadfast that LCMS, Inc. is using three full partners and one associate, directed by LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick, to continue the Issues, Etc. assault in a post titled Money, money, money which asks the question how much do three partners and an associate cost.

For what it’s worth, according to the Laffey Matrix the recommended rates for an attorney with 11-19 years experience are $375 per hour. I think it’d be fair to say that full partners would have at least that much experience and as the Laffey Matrix is reported be widely used to determine fees; it be reasonable to expect the figure to be in the right ballpark.

Mollie also is reporting, that’s what she does folks; she’s a reporter, that LCMS, Inc. is stating, via cut and paste mass email, that they haven’t threatened to take legal action against anybody in her post titled To threaten or not to threaten. From the reported email:

“The LCMS has not filed any legal action against Rev. Wilken or Mr. Schwarz. Further, contrary to what you may have heard, nor has the LCMS threatened to sue them. Apparently, Rev. Wilken has been telling people that the LCMS has threatened to sue him by referring to a letter our attorney wrote to his attorney encouraging them to negotiate in good faith. Rev. Wilken has taken part of the letter out of context and mischaracterized it as a threat by the LCMS.”

So is Pastor Wilken not being truthful or is he? From the letter that LCMS, Inc. sent to Wilken and Schwarz:
“Unless your client is willing to negotiate in good faith to finalize a mutually acceptable agreement in the near future, along the lines that were discussed last summer, we will be left with no alternative but to recommend that The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod prosecute the opposition against Madsen’s application and take action against your clients to enforce its rights to the trademark.”

I guess that recommending “taking action” against Wilken and Schwarz if they don’t give up their first and seventh amendment rights just to sit down and begin the discussion to end this ridiculousness shouldn’t be considered a threat. Really? Yeah, and is doesn’t mean is either…

Haven’t we seen this picture show before?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Angry Email Monday

Every now and again I get an email that chastises me for, well, just fill in the blank because it’s a long list. I’ve been accused of not being mission minded because I don’t want separate doctrine from the mission as if two could be separated. I’ve been called an antinomian because I’ve said I enjoy a glass of single malt scotch with a good horror movie. I’ve been called many things because not everybody understands my sarcastic sense of humor and just doesn’t get the joke. Fine and dandy I say, I can deal with it.

The last angry email I got regarding a post had two lines that caught my eye;

but one thing that concerns me is that I see so much reference in your writings to the hymnody, the liturgy, the creeds, the writings of the forefathers..I wish I saw more scripture.......

Let’s just deal with the hymnody issue in this post…

Really? You can’t see why I like the hymnody I do? I thought I was being clear why I like the hymns I do (hint, hint, it’s because of Scripture) but I guess my point is getting lost as I don’t always write in the vernacular and frequently interject my posts with what is perceived as nonsensical slang or “Frankisms”.

Let’s look at the last hymn I mentioned; "Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band"by Aurelius C. Prudentius (348-c. 413). In a post about a visit to a great congregation down in Texas I wrote the following:

The hymns were solid and tied to our pericope (for my newer readers a pericope is a Scripture reading. We get the word from the Greek word περικοπή, meaning "a cutting-out"). We even sang “Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band” a great old hymn…”

Now, the reason I enjoyed singing “Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band” is that the hymn tied into the pericope, that is to say our Gospel reading, for that first Sunday of Christmas which was from Matthew 2:16-16 which recounts Herod’s slaughter of the innocent children of Bethlehem in hopes of killing the Christ child:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

“ A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Now, let’s take a look at the text of the hymn I extolled:

"Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band"

1. Sweet flowerets of the martyr band,
Plucked by the tyrant's ruthless hand
Upon the threshold of the morn,
Like rosebuds by a tempest torn;

2. First victims for the incarnate Lord,
A tender flock to feel the sword;
Beside the very altar gay,
With palm and crown,
ye seemed to play.

3. Ah, what availed King Herod's wrath?
He could not stop the Savior's path.
Alone, while others murdered lay,
In safety Christ is borne away.

4. 0 Lord, the Virgin-born, to Thee
Eternal praise and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.

Hymn #273 The Lutheran Hymnal

I’ve said before that hymnody should be confessional in nature and what I’m saying is that the hymn should repeat back that Scripture gives us. This is precisely why I love the hymn “Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band”. All the hymn writer does is versify the Gospel account of Herod’s terrible deed. It sounds too simple to be true but this good hymn does confess our Gospel pericope and does it in spades.

The hymns that I’ve grown to love are filled with Scripture. Just because you may not be familiar with the hymn doesn’t make it a bad hymn that doesn’t confess God’s Holy Word. Just because the hymn isn’t getting airtime on the local Christian top 40 music station or wasn’t penned in the last five years since Rapturepalooza '04 doesn’t mean that the hymn is invalid and has nothing to offer the Church catholic.

I’m going to try and put the best possible construction on your email and presume you haven’t read this blog for very long. I’m hoping that you will go back and read what I’ve written concerning good historic hymnody. I’d also bet a paycheck that the hymnody which I’ve written about, and not all of the hymns I’ve written about are ancient, will outlast anything playing on the radio today. How can I say this? Aurelius C. Prudentius wrote hymns like "Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band" sixteen hundred years ago and it is still around and what was popular ten years ago in contemporary Christian circles is already being shoved out the door for the latest greatest newness. Time is a harsh mistress for the contemporary Christian music genre.

When I wrote that “The hymns were solid and tied to our pericope” in my previously mentioned post, it’s true that I didn’t include the pericope of day nor did I feel the need to have the text of the hymn printed either. I didn’t do this because I was giving an account of what was an enjoyable visit to a faithful parish and not giving an in depth class on hymnody. If you go back and look at all my posts on hymnody, particularly those sung during the seasons of Advent and Lent, you can get a better idea of what I mean when I refer to hymns as sung confessions.

Hopefully you will take the time, carefully read those posts, and see that Christ and Scripture are at the core of the hymns I love so much. If Christ and Scripture ain’t in a hymn, it’s just another song that will one day fade away.

Here’s a link to a few posts I’ve written tagged hymnody.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ah Man, I Don’t Want To A Be Prophet

Back when I was growing up in the orphanarium, the overseers would often ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Right next to my standard answer of world dictator would be “well, I always thought I could be an apostle.” The overseer on that day's shift would always respond; “Frank, you just wouldn’t make a good apostle, you’re more of, I don’t know, more of a prophet kind of guy.” I would often angrily shout back “you had really better hope that my first choice is well beyond my capabilities. No really, if I get to be word dictator, the entire overseer corps will fear for their lives” Following such an event I would often run to the sleeping bay and brood.

Ah, the good ole days back at the orphanarium.

What got me thinking about wished for vocations was a link to a survey sent to me by my favorite niece, Valerie. Yesterday she sent me a link to Woodbury Lutheran Church’s Spiritual Gifts Inventory survey. Now, what cool about this survey is that WLC doesn’t require you to give them your email address to find out what spiritual gift you might have.

What has my blood pressure elevated several points is that upon completing the survey I find out the orphanarium overseers seemed to know what the heck they were talking about. According to the results my spiritual gift is prophecy with an emphasis on the speaking gift of knowledge and the serving gift of discernment. My sign gifts of tongues, interpretation, miracles, and healing all registered as null. Also in the zero columns were teacher, leadership, giving, mercy, and hospitality.

I now face a most difficult decision on whether or not to resign from my position as high school for Sunday school as well as my position on the Board of Youth. Thankfully, with results like these, my time chairing the boards of education and caring ministry are behind me and my congregation.

As it turns out, the overseers were right in saying that I was meant to kick it up “old school” and be all prophety and such. I’m just glad that such surveys are available to help us all find out where our true gifts lie.

This doesn’t mean that the overseers at the old orphanarium need to or even should stop looking over their shoulders. One day, their uppence will come… they shouldn’t have tried so hard to discourage me from being an apostle, they really shouldn’t have.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Issues, Etc. Trademark Dispute Sausage

Sadly, it seems like old times…sadly.

There is a plethora of post concerning LCMS, Inc.’s opposition to the Issues, Etc. trademark being acquired in spite of the fact that over ten years ago they abandoned the trademark and almost a year ago terminated the program for reasons that have shifted depending on whom was speaking and what press release was being read.

The thing that is different this time around is that there is evidence that LCMS president Jerry Kieschnick is actively involved with a team of four lawyers, paid for with your monies folks!, in the threat of a lawsuit against two men that head the resurrected show that LCMS, Inc. has stated they want nothing further to do with. Hmm, I thought President Kieschnick thought that lawsuits were a bad thing that church folks should never engage in... interesting isn't it?

In no particular order;

Chris Rosebrough has three posts up at Extreme Theology; the first being Pirate Christian Radio is Sailing Circles Around KFUO AM , the second post is titled Kieschnick's Real Motives and finally the third post is An Open Letter to the LCMS Board of Directors.

Eric over at On the Wittenberg Trail has a post dealing with the Mr. Madsen's Answer in the Alternative to the LCMS's opposition to his application for the "Issues, Etc." trademark with God Bless Harry Madsen!

Scott Diekmann over at Stand Firm has a bunch of good posts with The Drama Continues and Wilken & Schwarz on the Trademark Dispute.

The Brothers of John the Steadfast have several posts by a variety of authors;

It's OK to Bring Lawsuits--When They Suit You, by Pr. Charles Henrickson

Getting Tied Up in Our Legal Briefs - Issues Etc Trademark Filing Information, by Norm Fisher

Motion from Rev. Joseph Fisher to End Synod's Battle for the Trademark

Two of many Issues, Etc. questions (Mollie)

I’ll do my best to try and keep Putting Out The Fire updated as much as often as I can. It’s the least I can do until President Kieschnick decides to send Ablaze! funded legal teams to shut the firehouse down…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The More Things Change…

One of the quickest ways to get my Sunday high school class to perk up and take notice is to talk about history. It has been my experience that one of the things that youth love to learn is the whys and the hows of how we got to where we are today. In their European history classes they all learn that Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation by nailing his ninety five theses to the some door protesting the church in Rome. What very few of them learn is that those ninety five theses are largely in opposition to the indulgences and the satisfaction of sins through human works which contradicts Scripture. It’s always fun to see the looks on their faces when you tell them that the Bishop of Rome still sells indulgences and still declares he has the authority to declare as righteous those who give charitable contributions, pray certain prayers, perform devotions or go on pilgrimages. Yep, the more things change…

I’m gonna have fun in my Sunday school class with this news story titled “For Catholics, A Door to Absolution Is Reopened” detailing the Roman churches very public return to a more open form of indulgences. From the story:

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

Yes, there is sin in the world but no work that we do will ever make satisfaction for the sin that do every second of every day whether we are aware of it or not. The satisfaction has been made at the cross and with Jesus’ atoning work we have been declared righteous by grace. The old Lutherans knew this when they confessed the one true faith at Augsburg in Article IV of the Augustana:

1] Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2] Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. 3] This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

The Roman opponents opposed justification by faith and not by works five hundred years ago and nothing at all has changed.

There are a good many folks in Lutheran circles these days that believe that the old Lutheran confessions need to be thrown away or put back in the dusty old vaults from whence they came. There are even those in leadership that call the people who look to the confessions and say these historic documents still confess the faith and condemn heresies as a bunch of “museum keepers” or “useless wordsmiths”. It’s evident from the news story that there are a good many people who really should dust off the historic confessions, read up, and see that errors that would take our eyes off Christ and His cross will always need to be condemned. That shouldn't be so hard, should it?

The Issues, Etc. Trademark Dispute and LCMS Legal Threat

Issues, Etc. host extraordinaire Todd Wilken used the opportunity of an “open mic” web extra to address the Issues, Etc. trademark dispute and the LCMS legal threat against both him and producer Jeff Schwarz.

In the segment, Todd Wilken lays out the case of the dispute going all the way back to 1998 when the LCMS decided that they no longer wanted to own the trademark and let their rights lapse. In addition, Pastor Wilken explains the corporate legal tactics that the lawyers from LCMS, Inc. are using to threaten him and Jeff Schwarz personally.

As soon as the embedded code is provided I’ll post it so ya’ll can hear for yourselves. In the meantime, just go to iTunes and subscribe to the best Christ centered, cross focused radio program out there to hear the segment.

UPDATE: here's the promised embedded audio so ya'll can listen for yourselves to Pr. Wilken explain LCMS, Inc’s legal shenanigans.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Issues, Etc. Trademark “Drama”

From Friday’s airing of my favorite radio program comes this “gem” from the host of Issues, Etc., Todd Wilken:

We’re not without our difficulties still with regard to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I mean, Jeff mentioned last week I think that the application for the trademark on the name Issues, Etc. is being opposed by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod incorporated; actively, legally opposed. And along with that the news of the opposition, also came a letter informing us of the opposition and that we, Jeff and I personally, are being threatened with legal action. They haven’t initiated any legal action against us that we know of but they have threatened to do so. So, even though the story is over, the show is back, the drama as my daughter would say, the drama of all of it continues.

By all that’s unholy it seems that stupidity knows no bounds. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that a bureaucratic corporation that couldn’t keep its story straight about why Issues, Etc. was cancelled and the host, Todd Wilken, and producer Jeff Schwarz, were fired during Holy Week, couldn’t be honest about what agreement was reached upon termination of the program with its former employees (hint, hint, offering a gag order to ensure folks keep quite with a promise of retaining benefits isn’t the same as actually having such an agreement, The Reporter, the official newspaper of the LCMS lied and continues to lie about this, its plain and simple.) and with LCMS, Inc. repeatedly stating that such a program just didn’t or couldn’t make enough money to be viable when Issues, Etc. was the only program required to raise it’s own money for KFUO with the moneychangers getting their cut (what was it? 30-40% ?), is it any surprise that LCMS, Inc. which declined to renew the trademark now thinks that they new guys shouldn't have any right to it? Is it really surprising that a corporation with LCMS, Inc’s track record would use intimidation in the form of threatened legal actions to shut down a Christ centered, cross focused program?

If LCMS, Inc. is concerned that their “brand” might be harmed if Issues, Etc. continues its Gospel focused programming, they really have nothing to worry about as all of us are constantly reminded that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is longer our grandfather’s synod. Who in the world could disagree with that? Not me.

Friday, February 06, 2009

LCMS Looking To Hire “Catalyst”

With more than half of LCMS congregations in rural areas, which is defined as fewer than 15,000 people, and leadership looking to revitalize congregations, LCMS World Mission--National Mission Team is looking to hire a “"catalyst" to identify and coordinate resources for existing congregations and for starting new ministries in rural areas and small towns.

According to the Reporter; organizers are looking for “ "a teacher, organizer, go-getter, entrepreneur, and ordained -- someone with a history of starting new things."

Isn’t it amazing that to grow the church and reach the lost we (as a denomination) continually seek out new-fangled ways to do what we used to be really good at. It seems to me that “your grandfather’s synod” had a few more members than we currently do. With those who want the church’s mission to look more like church being labeled museum keepers who cling to dusty old confessions that just get in the way of outreach openly, I can’t help but wonder how many members the LCMS is willing to lose before leadership realize that the brand is being harmed.

Heck, I'd be happy if the LCMS just started talking like a church instead of a fundraising corporation speaking through public relation department press releases that have been cleared by legal teams.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I’m Not Even Going To Debate You

Something I’ve noticed…

Those who argue that we need to do more to reach the lost and unchurched with synodical resolutions and bylaws will give you a good old fashion scowl if you muck up the debate with Scripture and/or the Lutheran Confessions. Yep, serious scowlage followed by the time honored rite of shunning just as if you walked out of the First Temple of Moloch right after midday sacrifices.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Things I Miss Back In Texas

No theology, youth group, or Mormon wackiness posts today folks. Sorry. I just sent back one of those 25 things about you emails to a family member back in Texas and it got me thinking. I know I’ve only been back from Texas a month but there are things that I miss and pine for that make me miss the lone star state:

Mom-in-law. My mother in law is the cats meow. (You guys know I’m a cat person right?) She has always went out of her way to make sure that I felt like part of the family. I can actually be my snide and sarcastic self around her without worrying about getting run out of the house in fear for my life. There ain’t a whole heck of a lot of people that I’ll kiss but she deserves and receives at least two a day, in the morning when I get up and before I go to bed, when I visit. I love that woman as much as I do her daughter.

My brother-in-law and his missus. It is a rare that I am comfortable enough to be me around folks. With them as with Mom-in-law I was able be me. I wished they lived closer to the missus and I.

Whataburger. Hey, I know that burger joints are a dime a dozen but I’ve always liked Whataburger. Good burgers and kick butt onion rings that are to die for.

Cheap gasoline. With my states taxes on gasoline being either first or the second highest in the nation, it was shocking to see prices in the low one thirties.

And finally...

Scotch. For crying out loud, the selection of Glenmorangie is greater than the entire scotch selection allowed my state. All the liquor in my state is controlled and regulated by bureaucrats that wouldn’t know a good bottle of scotch if you hit ‘em over the head with it. As with all government, control and regulation means lack of selection and prices set way too high. Prices for a decent bottle of scotch were running about ten to twenty dollars less for what is available here. And Texas scotch drinkers even have a few Japanese varieties available to them. Don’t laugh, the Japanese are father ahead of the game than Americans in the distilling of single malt scotch.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Skiing With Youth

I can’t even begin to explain the warm fuzzy feelings I got taking some of our youth group skiing this weekend. We were invited by our sister church, in the next town over, to join their group and enjoy freshly fallen artificial snow up in the mountains.

What a blessing it was to see our two groups interact and enjoy this first shared fellowship event. Two great groups of great kids having fun on the slopes and, thankfully, we all returned in good health. I’m always so proud of the kids of our group and it’s clear that our sister church has great reason to boast of theirs. 

It is my hope that we will be able to continue pairing up with our brothers and sisters just over yonder and build upon this occasion and foster even more camaraderie between the two groups. I’m only chairing the board of youth for five more months but I’m gonna do my best to see that those who we share a common confession with will be made to feel as welcome at our functions as we were at theirs.

I often teach in my Sunday school class that we in the Church, the body of Christ, are a family. The warm fuzzy feelings I got this past weekend was being able to see that family work and play together as one even though we’d never met before Friday.