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Friday, March 06, 2009 

POTF Logo Seen At Local Event

I was at a local chili cook-off last week and was about floored when I saw the youngest attendee wearing a onesie with my Putting Out The Fire logo embroidered on it. Hmm…the corruption of young minds begin early doesn’t it? I guess I’ll have to issue ‘em a junior firefighter badge soon. Then, when he’s old enough and talking we’ll get ‘em to recite the official Abaze!™ Firefighter’s™ oath.

The parents of the little ragamuffin and I agreed that the we should be calling such items part of the “Uncle Frank’s inactiveware ” collection.

Cool, ain’t it, seeing youngsters ready to step up to the plate and put out the fires of bad theology?

Are you a pastor? Do you have any idea how bad you make Christianity and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod look to the world. This is a hate blog and it's public. How sad.

Hi Red Bridges Home,

I’m wondering what exactly you read in the 14 minutes and 24 seconds that you were on the blog that make you believe this is a “hate site”? You only scrolled through 3 pages so I’m wondering what upset you so much?

Is your problem that I have serious theological misgivings about Ablaze! Did you read my seven part series that lays out these concerns from both a Scriptural and confessional view? Do you have a problem with my declaring that the mission and the message cant be separated?

Do you have a problem with my discussion of historic hymnody, teaching youth, or general catachsis?

Do you have a problem with my defense of Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz who were threatened with legal action if they didn’t relinquish their first and seventh amendment rights by synodical lawyers, paid for with our tithe monies?

Or, do you just throw out the word hate for yucks and giggles? At least some folks, like the nice women who challenged me to defend my positions that produced the seven part series now used a teaching tool in several districts, had the decency to email me and find out if I was even able to defend myself before labeling this a hate blog.

Now, if you would like to engage in a calm debate, I’d be happy to entertain any question that you might have. See, no hate involved.

RBH, for you to claim Frank is running a hate blog and then go and put up a post hating on Frank, isn’t that hypocritical?
Do you have any idea how bad you make Christianity and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod look to the world when you fail to follow Matthew 18:15"Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault -- but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.
Last I checked, Frank has actually engaged in serious, albeit sometimes irreverently presented, debate with people that he has disagreed with. Take him up on his offer and I think you’ll see he’s not filled with hate. He certainly wouldn’t pull the stunt you did with your own blog, a public one I might add.

Paul G.

Programs like Ablaze!(tm) make the Church look bad.

I make the Church look pretty bad too.

Frank - I would have contacted you privately, but your blog offers no such option. Your email link in not active in your profile. - discovering that, I should have left it alone and continued surfing the ring. My intended tone was one of saddness - nothing more.

And now, I'm thinking I should do that still - however - I at least owe you a reply after using the word "hate" - that was too strong, I'm sorry.

You are passionate in your beliefs and that is not wrong. Please understand that I too am passionate about what our team does.

I'm a graphic designer so the first thing I see is the visual layout of the page - Your Malachi scripture verse with your logos implies that all ablaze workers are arrogant,evil doers who will stumble and be condemned by God. The burning church, scary. Put out the fire with cold baptismal waters? I don't get it. And all of those images together,sends a condeming message to those who don't share your beliefs. Mainly, those of us on the field. the visual branding condems missionaries. Seriously

Can you see the branding? That is the first thing I noticed.

And I am reacting to the repeated use of the phrases "Bad theology" in regards to "all" Ablaze Mission work.

I believe what we are doing makes an eternal difference. We see the fruit. The joyful faces, the lights coming on when people "get" it and understand who they are in Christ. I wish others saw that as well. I wish you could see the kids who come to us. I wish you could see the little girl who takes a running leap into my arms when her dad brings her to our church. Such trust. So much joy.

We host a community event in the fall to celebrate reformation, with contemporay Christian music (That is still theologically accurate)written by the band, and a solid message delivered by an ordained pastor, that gives people hope and brings them to our doors, is that wrong?

I am a part of a mission church sponsored by my home congregation, and our pastor preaches the same exact sermon's there as he does at the home church and he teaches Bible study out of the same Small Catechism you were probably confirmed on.

I see no "bad theology" in our mission work. No one is teaching anything that wouldn't be taught in any other LCMS church - to lable all of Ablaze like that is disheartening. That's all.

I've been on your blog before as we are part of the same blogring. Some of the posts are good - The branding is what spoke to me - louder than your words.

My calling this a hate blog - was not needed. I should have found a better word or better yet, moved on.

Our church has a neighborhood Egg Hunt, is that heritical? What about VBS? Or our food kitchen, or meals on wheels? Or coaching an inner city basket ball team for under priveldged youth. Those things all fall under the Ablaze Umbrella - those things are good, always were, always will be.

LCMS has never been perfect, we try, we fall, we pick ourselves up again - but at least we try and we usually hang together don't we? I thought we used to anyway. Or maybe I'm just niave.

Sorry for the disrespectfulness of my first post - it was a reaction to the visual cues - no more.


Red Bridges Home,

Ok, lots of stuff here…

No, I do not believe all mission workers are evil. The mission of the Church is to make disciples, baptize, and teach all things that Christ has given us. I feel it is the latter two tasks where Ablaze! falls short but that’s another issue, or maybe not…

I chose the Malachi verse to feature front and center because every time I turned around district and synod were saying that fire was a good thing when clearly, in Scripture, it is not. My district has even gone so far as to rewrite Scripture verses so that they include the word ablaze when the word, or even fire, is not in the text at all. The only time fire is a good thing is when it is used by God to purify and make and make clean, but it is always the Lord’s doing not ours. I’ve tried to ask those in my district why they are doing this in the most respectful way possible but they do not respond and continue to this day making every verse about being on fire and raising money.

I’m glad you are able use Ablaze! monies to be part of a mission, I am. I am well aware of the fact that there are a good number of folks that are benefiting from Ablaze! mission monies. But, what we see promoted in the Reporter is more than a little bit disturbing like congregations being highlighted for being the top “soul winning congregations” (we have no idea if anyone’s soul has been “won” and our confessions and Scripture speak against this kind of counting) and “thinking outside the box” by renting space away from their church to hold evenets so that they don’t offend the “seeker”. One issue of the Reporter had four or five articles featuring the “soul winners.”

So what about the churches that keep pointing people back to church and choose to count only those who are being baptized or listening to a sermon and receiving the sacrament? Well, in my circuit, you actually pray for them as if they are doing something wrong during your Sunday worship that “the Lord would open their hearts to be Ablaze!” so that they might be encouraged get with the program. Or better yet, just call up the members of that church (even get the pastor to do it) and ask them to leave their congregation so they can be part of real mission work. Both of those examples have been directed at my congregation who wish to make disciples by teaching and baptizing, both of which Ablaze! says can’t be counted.

I’ve never said that all Ablaze! workers or missionaries are evil doers or ignorant. If I ever give that impression, call me on it. Missionaries are vital to growing the church and they are becoming fewer and fewer as we struggle to find the money all the while paying millions of dollars for brochures, flyers, and ad campaigns.

FYI, my logo is a satirical spin on the fact baptism is not allowed to be counted under the Ablaze! program. When the counting site first went up it was explained that baptism couldn’t be counted because it was only an outward sign which is a theology that Scripture and our confessions condemn as heresy. That was taken down long ago now but the fact it was even up is proof that we paid way too much money for consultants who didn’t know what Lutherans believed, taught, and confessed.

Finally, “LCMS has never been perfect, we try, we fall, we pick ourselves up again - but at least we try and we usually hang together don't we? I thought we used to anyway. Or maybe I'm just niave.” I think we are all naïve if we think that doctrine and practice hasn’t always divided us. I think part of the problem is a sociological one because of the fact that we live in a post modern age where all things are right and above criticism. But then again the faithful of the church has always fought amongst themselves.

I accept your apology and I myself apologize if my website or my snarkyness offended you.

Pax, Frank

I "get" your point Frank - at least about the counting - and I guess I can see their point if you look at how many places do altar calls and the sinners prayer and count them as "saved souls" when in reality, we don't know. I mean so many people can and do make emotional responses and do nothing to follow that up. No relationship, no church, nadda. So, the goal becomes sharing the gospel and letting God do the rest. Personally, I can see counting both rather than one over the other, but I wasn't on the committee and true to form no one asked me my opinion. ;-) Which is good because I am more like Peter in the garden of Gethsemane (cant' spell it) than anything else. I tend to draw swords and cut off ears more often than not - especially when dealing with the churched. I'm working on that one.

And just to be clear, because I do understand the financial issues - our group, doesn't receive a dime of Ablaze money in loans or otherwise. We're doing it the hard way. Trust me, I'd love to see the finances. And that piece of the equation frustrates me too. So, I share that with you guys. I do not understand the math and reasoning behind who gets money and who does not.

There are two mission starts in Tulsa (one get's support and one does not) and we could have left our home congregation to be a part of just that one but chose not to. We didn't want to leave our home church. We are the bible teachers, youth leaders, sunday school teachers, choir members, etc in our home church and then work on our plant in Northern Broken Arrow,on top of our careers. We get tired. ;-) But it's worth it.

The Holy Spirit is often referred to as fire - in that sense, I think it's good. Being on fire for God is better than being luke warm. I don't want to get spit out of his mouth. No body does.

Thanks for the dialog - glad we were able to work through my first emotional response. I was having a bad day, and that's not your fault.


I need a bib just like that one for summer barbecue season.

I mean... I need a bib like the t-shirt... lol. :)

Perhaps the proud wearer of the bib will grow up to be a theologian, and rightly distinguish Law and Gospel, and preach the theology of the cross.

In our denomination, the leafers are the ones wearing the bibs.

Drooling over themselves and wrecking our church are their specialties...not necessarily in that order.

Red Bridges Home,
The fact that you’re in a mission that gets no support from a program that purports to be all about missions highlights one more thing that is troubling about Ablaze!
Where I’m at, the district only supports missions that can be self sustaining within three or four years. If you can’t provide a business plan proving that your model will work, you get squat. If you are a small faithful congregation that is struggling, you will get squat. There is much talk about “revitalizing” smaller congregations but short term grants ain’t really addressing the problem.
Now, I do believe that we should be good stewards of our monies, no doubt about it. However, If Paul took the same approach he would not have taken up any collection for churches that were struggling. Instead, following the model currently being used, Paul would have let those congregations fade away and started new missions that could support themselves. Maybe Paul would have even called for restructuring who knows.

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  • From The Haut South
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