Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's official... John Hagee is a heritic.

Personally, I don't know much about John Hagee. I've heard a few of his sermons via KFUO on Issue's etc. but other than that, all I knew about the man was he is a staunch defender of Modern Israel. Apparently, he's gone off the deep end.



His new book, In Defense of Israel, should be an interesting read.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Atheists Pwned by Upstart Theologian, part 2

Here is Doug Powell, once again, refuting the Rational Response Squad's (RRS) silly arguments. Doug is far from an "upstart", indeed, he's a published theologian and appologist. He just put up another video continuing and explaining his argument for a transcendental God.



I'm especially fond of his renaming the Rational Response Squad, the Irrational Response Squad, or more ironically(?), the IRS!

Thought I'd just hide that one out of sight. Go and visit Doug Powell's website Here. He's a musician who's toured with Tod Rundgren.

Either way, for those who don't know what the RRS is, it's led by a young man named Brian Sapient, who believes that anyone who believes in God is delusional. In fact, he and his cohorts would like to have belief in God classed as a mental illness in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The fact that groups like the RRS exist is exactly why we need good appologists today. We might not be able to convert people with standard appologetics, but at least we can stand in the left hand kingdom when people try to make an end run around the law and class us as delusional.

Rock on Doug, Rock on.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

ELCA permits homosexuals to be pastors


This is in response to a certain ELCA Lutheran's justification for "inclusiveness".


"Check out their hearts: the hearts of a loving, committed gay couple look just like the hearts of a loving, committed heterosexual couple.
Something tells me that THAT is where God looks first."



That is true. God looks on the heart. But what does He see there? Even in the hearts of a "loving couple", He sees idolotry, bigotry, sexual immorality, deceit, malice, adultery, stealing, vanity, covetousness... People idolize their churches because those churches make it ok for them to sin, practice bigotry against those they do not agree with, hop from bed to bed on Saturday night before coming to church on Sunday, then lie about all of it with malice aforethought to make others look bad... They take illegal drugs, lying, cheating and stealing to get them, steal intellectual property and refuse to pay for any of it, covet their best friend's wives and plot how to get in their pants. They say they are 'good', but their hearts are open graves before God, wicked and deceitful above everything else. All this they practice, and more, all the while slowly abrogating God's law with doctrines of men, screaming at God while shaking their collective fists, "but this is my nature, why can't I sin as much as I want?"



The reason you can't sin is not because you'd better not sin, but because God has buried you in Christ in baptism, and raised you to newness of life. Praise God that this sinful flesh I inhabit will die one day, and along with it all that is impure. Those who would choose to sin, using as their excuse "this is who I am", are missing the point. I sin, but I hate my sin. It's in my nature to kill, steal, blaspheme, commit adultery, lie, cheat, desire evil, and worship false gods... It's who I am, but I shouldn't be allowed to do those things, anymore than anyone else should be allowed to sin.



I'm an LCMS Lutheran. I will not tolerate someone telling me that their sin is OK while mine is not. It's wrong for people to do that. Practice what you will, but when you turn around and make me into the outcast because you want to practice your sin, then you have put a heavy burden on us. Pretty soon you'll be picketting outside our churches, calling us bigots, tearing down our alters... All the while using as your excuse, "it's in my nature to sin, why can't I sin as much as I want?"



God's gospel is not "it's in your nature to sin, so I'll look the other way because you're not perfect". God's gospel is, "I am both just and the justifier of the wicked, and have not spared even my own son in order to forgive". Our response to that should not be to sin more, but to love God because he has reconciled us to himself through the death and blood of Jesus Christ. When sin requires that much blood and suffering to reconcile us before God, I as a child of God have every right to hate that sin.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nulla Salus Extra Christus!!

Of late, Pope Benedict XVI has made a couple of interesting decrees. The one on the Latin mass is interesting in and of itself, but the latest decree is one affirming St. Cyprian's Dictum "Nulla Salus Extra Ecclesiam" (No Salvation outside the church). Actually it's not so much a decree as it is a restatement of what has already been said and understood as official Roman Doctrine.

Having said that, what is most interesting about this is how The Pope makes a move concerning both Easter Orthodox Churches and Protestant Churches. In Reaffirming his document, "Dominus Iesus" and over and against what the 5th Lateran Council said (and Cyprian), he calls the Eastern Orthodox Churches "defective", a point that has never been made as far as I can find. He then lumps every other church body into one box, calling them "ecclesial communities". In that particular box he lumps all reformational churches as well. He has stated in the past that Protestant Theology is "gravely Deficient", and called Protestant churches "not true churches", and reaffirms these notions firmly.



What I'd like to do is show to both my Lutheran Brethren and any modern evangelical what it is that Rome still holds to. From the Council of Trent...

CHAPTER IX
AGAINST THE VAIN CONFIDENCE OF HERETICS

But though it is necessary to believe that sins neither are remitted nor ever have been remitted except gratuitously by divine mercy for Christ's sake, yet it must not be said that sins are forgiven or have been forgiven to anyone who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins,[47] resting on that alone, though among heretics and schismatics this vain and ungodly confidence may be and in our troubled times indeed is found and preached with untiring fury against the Catholic Church. Moreover, it must not be maintained, that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubt whatever, convince themselves that they are justified, and that no one is absolved from sins and justified except he that believes with certainty that he is absolved and justified,[48] and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone, as if he who does not believe this, doubts the promises of God and the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ. For as no pious person ought to doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so each one, when he considers himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension concerning his own grace, since no one can know with the certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.

Stunning... Absolutely stunning. The heretics are us, my friends. Because we believe, teach and confess that Salvation is by Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria, and reserve no credit for ourselves whatsoever, Rome considers us anathema. In this, Rome's Tridentine Catholic teaching tells us that no one should ever say nor believe that they are saved. This is a weird type of Pietism that robs the believer of any kind of comfort in this life. Even more so...

CHAPTER XI
THE OBSERVANCE OF THE COMMANDMENTS AND THE NECESSITY AND
POSSIBILITY THEREOF

But no one, however much justified, should consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one should use that rash statement, once forbidden by the Fathers under anathema, that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God does not command impossibilities, but by commanding admonishes thee to do what thou canst and to pray for what thou canst not, and aids thee that thou mayest be able.

Rome would have us be, at the very least, Semi-Pelagians. Note that Pelagius' teachings began because he believed that God would not nor could not command of anyone something that is impossible. "For God does not command impossibilities" Rome says. Pelagius said that same thing.

Grace alone? Rome will affirm this one, though grudgingly. Their doctrines of prevenient grace teach that it's God's grace alone that saves. But look...

Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost,[116] and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.

Rome teaches that grace is something more than God's good will. It's understood that grace is a substance that is literally poured into us. Note also that those of us that understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and that sole imputation alone is all that is needed for justification, are condemned.

Let's witness Rome now condemn the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Canon 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy,[117] which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.

I deliberately refrained from bringing scripture in until now because I was interested in making people think about what they believe as opposed to what Rome teaches. But right now, I'm going to let St. Paul talk to this particular Canon...


Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Gal 2:16-17 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

Ro 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.


Indeed, Jesus tells us this...


Lk 18:10-14 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."



Again, Because we believe, teach and confess that Salvation is by Sola Gratia (Grace alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (for Christ's sake Alone), Soli Deo Gloria (For the Glory of God alone), and reserve no credit for ourselves whatsoever, Rome considers us anathema.

Nulla Salus Extra Christum.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Lutheran Church makes a Christian Difference

After a month long break from High Places, I'm back and announcing the blogsite is completed for our Church's Podcast, The Lutheran Difference. Four People enter, only one leaves... No, I'm only kidding. The show is a discussion of Lutheran Theology in light of today's modern evangelicalism.

It's been a blast working on this. I'll be posting here again as well as at the show's blog. When you go to the site, you'll find you can listen right from the site, download the show as an mp3, subscribe to the show in RSS and iTunes, as well as find out about future programs and find programs you missed in the archives.

Surf on over to listen to the show. I have a meeting later today with the participants to plan for more programs and such.

Monday, June 04, 2007

iSlam: The feelgood religion of the new mellinium...

This is the ultimate in natural religion.

What do I mean by this? It has all the natural human tendencies for religion simplified to the point of elegance. Here's how it works. First of all, since "Allah" is unknowable and far away, he is a very safe distance from his followers. Second of all, iSlam gives you all the rules you need to follow to keep "Allah" happy, which keeps him unknowable and at a safe distance. Third, if something goes wrong in your life, it's because you didn't follow the rules or someone nearby you didn't follow the rules. If it's not you breaking the rules, all you need to do is find out who around you did and deal with them.



By the way, there are rules on how to deal with people near you who are sinning and messing up your life. And if it's not anyone near you, it must some evil "great Satan" that is messing up your life. And by the way, there are rules for dealing with that as well.

OK, there's a possibility I'm setting up a huge strawman here, but what I'm doing is applying the average american's tendencies to make everything either thereputic or about status. Think about modern Evangelicalism's view of God. It's been called by people way more intelligent that I "Moralistic theraputic deism", God is a commodity, present to make you happy, make you prosperous, and make you moral. When things are not going well, you go to God who is very far away in any other case and ask for help. Once you do that, the next step is to locate the source of your problem and eliminate it. If it's sin in your life, you deal with it, and there are rules you need to follow to deal with that sin. If it turns out there isn't anything wrong with you, it must be someone around you or the world in general, so you need to lash out against either that someone or the world. That means getting interested in politics, running for office, joining the "moral majority", fighting the latest "moral outrage" that will make God angry... Wow, this sounds an awful lot like Islam.

That's why I'm calling it iSlam. Now, Steve Jobs is probably going to sick his lawyers on me, but I don't care. He should have thought of this! iSlam! It's the new "Moralistic Theraputic Deism", with a god who gives you the sharia law and makes it easy to keep him happy! Who tells you how to deal with those who make him mad!

Unlike the Holy Triune God who cannot be appeased by anything we do. Who has judged the world and in his love has poured out his wrath on his Son, Jesus Christ to appease that wrath against us. The Holy Triune God who is so just and so holy that he didn't spare even his own Son in order to forgive us. The Triune God who, before the foundations of world, set his will for his people and placed them in his Son's hands who lose none of them. Who, by His mercy and grace, through faith only He can give, for the sake of the innocent and bitter sufferings of His Son, Jesus Christ, has reconciled the world to Himself.

To Him be the Glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Podcasts and how-to drills...


This past Saturday we taped our first ever podcast. We used the pastor's laptop, a 4-channel mixer from radio shack, four microphones plus a backup, four table microphone stands, and of course windscreens for the mikes to keep from popping the p's. It went well, although pastor felt that we wandered around too much... We had some good stuff come up in the conversation, and there's a lot there to edit and make good use of.



We used Audicity to record the show. I didn't used to think too much of audacity as an editor, and indeed I still don't. But audacity has a few tricks up it's sleeve. Apparently, while we were taping the show, there was some interference that caused a low level buzzing noise in the recording. My heart sank when I auditioned the recording later at home. But audacity has a noise filter program that allows you to identify the noise and remove it from the audio tracks. I was able to rescue the recording!


Now, the other end of the spectrum is another program called MixCraft. This program is a fully functional recording studio with an interface not unlike photoshop. I'm using it right now to edit the audio and create music tracks for the breaks. It's been interesting, but it's also a great learning experience.


God is busy with us and this new technology. For less than 200 dollars, any church can begin using this in outreach and evangelism. I'll post the results as we go. Maybe I'll look into the idea of writing a book on this subject.

This week, on the Whitehorse Inn

This week, the boys at the inn take on the question that Jesus asks us all: Who Do You Say That I Am? Of special note is Rod Rosenbladt talking about how the Jesus of protestant liberalism would never have been crucified. To protestant liberals, Jesus was just going around telling people to do right and be good rather than pointing out people's sins and proclaiming he was God... The would have given him the keys to the city!

Click here to listen to the show!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's day...




My mother and I didn't get along very well. I really don't want to get very deep into why, since she is dead. She's been gone since August of 1995, in fact. There is a lot that I could say about her, but most of the time it's very difficult to think of anything positive... There were some good times here and there but most of the time there was trouble.



Either way, the reason I'm doing this post is because of the guilt I carry concerning my relationship with her. Yesterday my church, like many others around the world, was doing a service based around mother's day. Had I remembered what day it was I might not have gone to church. There was a children's message about mother's day, and the sermon consisted of one of our member pastor's asking people to stand up and give stories about their mothers... I would have liked to give one, but I couldn't remember anything that would have been good. I felt terrible, and remorse was all I could muster. I know full well that no one had anything else in mind other than good intentions, as does God in all his ways. How could anyone know? In fact, I wouldn't want to burden them with my problems in light of what they are called to do.


The problem is simple... I can sort of forgive my mom for everything, and there was a sort of reconciliation before she died between me and her. Our relationship wasn't one where I or she refused to speak to one another, but rather one of walking on egg shells... Where basically a lot of unsaid anymosity was laid aside in favor of polite talk and a smile... Now, that she's gone, every mother's day that comes around is only a reminder of how I can't ask her to forgive me for all the trouble I caused her. So, yesterday at church was especially rough, because the reason we are called to church is to hear the proclamation of forgiveness of sins... And I listened intently for a word of encouragement for me, but there wasn't one... Everyone else I guess got along with their mom's just fine all their lives and aren't in a place where they need to hear something good about it.


I'm guessing I need to make time to ask the Pastor to hear my confession. It's been 12 years and this isn't going away. I'm feeling desparate... I just wish I could tell her I'm sorry!!!


I miss you mom!!!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Concert from Afar...

This is a video shot in the Philipines of a Piano Concerto Competition. The winner in the under twelve catagory was eight year old Hannah F. Hua playing Mozart's Concerto number 1 in F major. The orchestra needed some tuning, but little Hannah is amazing.



What strikes me is two things. One is how incredibly far behind we are here in the US in terms of education. How so? Apparently most of the world still believes there's merit in teaching kids classical music, and studies show that studying music makes for better grades...

But the second thing that strikes me is the Philipines is a high ranked destination for men from the US to go and have sex with underage kids. How did our culture get into this mess?

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Lutheran Church makes a Christian Difference

I've been struggling. As a result, I stopped posting to this blog for the last seven days (among other things). What am I struggling with?

One is an old man/new man struggle inside me concerning people hearing the Gospel. I've been working on two projects for our church, the most pressing of which is the radio program. This has involved both technical issues and programming issues. The program will, at first, be a podcast, which will be recorded in house using cheap but good equipment, which includes a mixing board, four headset microphones, a laptop, mixing software, and storage. There's still a couple of interface issues, both unforeseeable, but they can be worked out. In the programming area, I've worked up a schedule of topics, and have been trying to think up radical ways to "drop bombs" on the listener so as to get them thinking.



Not the easiest thing to do. I'm just a layman. But the struggle isn't there, but rather inside me. On the one hand I want the whole city (and by extension, the whole world) to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We all want that. But on the other hand, there's a lot of people out there that are downright mean-spirited... I find myself realizing that by going this route I'm opening myself up to all sorts of harassment and trouble. I myself have reveled in my anonymity all these years. If you had told me a year ago I'd be working on a radio program, let alone a Christian radio program, I'd have told you "you're nuts".

So, what to do? Do I press on with this and take whatever may come? I know that there really isn't much choice but to go forward, but... This isn't easy at all. It's funny, because I can hear Luther's words at Worms: "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me".

Maybe this is the same issue as the old "someone puts a gun to your head and says 'deny Christ or die', what do you do?" question. Do I say, "you're going to have to kill me", or do I deny him?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Issues etc.

This past Sunday evening, John Warwick Montgomery, author of How Do We Know There Is A God? (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1973), and Where is History Going? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), joined Host Todd Wilken on issues etc for a discussion on "the new atheists". The number one and two arguments that today's atheists make are, respectively, that the "God of the bible is (insert ad hominem attack here)", and it would seem the age old accusation of antinomianism. The argument goes "God likes to forgive, I like to sin... let's go kill some infidels". Both arguments are nonsense, of course, but "field marshal" Montgomery makes short work of both of these and other arguments used by today's atheist.

I find it to be very important to answer the claims made by Dawkins and Harris. Click here to listen to the program.

The Reformation, by Diarmaid MacCulloch


I have to highly recommend this book. Not only is it authoritative, highly detailed, and a good read, it's also a great reference book. The chapter on Luther is very good, although not exhaustive.

Moments of revelation in this book include how the black plague had a lot to do with the innovation of the "sacrifice of the mass", and the number of churches all around Europe with many alters where the Eucharist was performed several times a day as many times as possible to appease God. Also, the author gives us quite a vivid picture of the politics of the times, including Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples, who published commentaries on Paul's epistles in 1512, using language that described human works as "irrelevant" in God's salvation of humanity, as well as profiles for Cardinal Gesparo Contarini and others who joined Luther's reformation.

More importantly, the book traces the aftershocks of the reformation all the way to the 1700s. This book takes a bit of time to read (708 pages), but it's worth every page.

This week on the Whitehorse Inn, April 29th.

This week, Discussion at the inn concerns Christ's view of Scripture. I just love Rod's take on John 2:22: "After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken." Now, it's not that they didn't believe the scriptures before Jesus was raised from the dead, but after he was raised, THEY REALLY BELIEVED! Also, for those who say Jesus didn't say he was God in any other gospel but John's, Jesus puts his own words on par with scripture by saying "heaven and earth may pass away, but my word will never pass away". No wonder they wanted him dead.

Click here to listen to the show.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Things the culture does to us... Could be offensive to some.

Warning! I'm about to put this peekaboo hack to good use with a blog post about some garbage I got to see for free with this new service called "joost". It was offensive stuff, so I'm warning everyone who might read this not to read it in case they might be offended. There's no pictures or anything like that, but I'm going to describe some things in detail as a warning to people not to use Joost.


I recently recieved an invitation to try out this new service from a company named "Joost". It's a Peer to Peer (P2P) client you install on your computer, and video content is delivered to you to be watched when you want to, how you want to.




Now, at first glance, this seems like what a lot of people are looking for in a video on demand service. You can choose the channels you want to watch and delete the ones you don't want to watch. And other than the software itself is still in beta testing and is glitchy, it seemed to work fine.


But the problem I had was not with the software so much (although it tries to set itself up as a server and Zone Alarm blocks that activity), but rather with the content. After installing the software, I watched some rather terrible clips that were basically garbage. As I moved through each video, I began to notice that a number of them were racy videos, and I finally got mad and turned it off when...


A video came on where a scantily clad female was basically giving this guy a lapdance. When I tried to bring up the "Heads Up Display" (or HUD) so I could click past this video, the software ignored me at first. Then when it did come up and I clicked the "skip forward" button, it took quite a few seconds for the video to stop and move on to the next video. Then, when the next video was a "jackass" rip off from japan featuring a guy with a bottle rocket up his ass, I got mad. I shut the thing down and uninstalled it.


I went to Joost's support forum to register my displeasure about the content they offered and the manner in which it was displayed, that I was given little control over what was happening and got an eyefull I didn't want. But one poster to the thread I started said, quote: "


"Um dude, i am sure there are more channels, then the HOT & WET channel, what were u expecting, if you don't wanna watch it, change the channel, or remove the channel altogether, no body is forcing you to watch it.. if you don't like it, don't watch it, but don't use a strip clip which u chose to watch as an excuse"


I told this guy I wasn't trying to view any particular channel, and this was just what was coming up. I don't remember now the order of the clips, but I said in the post that the strip clip was pretty much the first clip that came up, and without my bidding. I didn't ask to watch the clip, and indeed I stopped it as soon as I could.


This is the attitude people give you when you say you don't want to view this kind of garbage. They tell us if we don't want to watch, then don't, but they don't provide any alternatives other than some guy lighting a firecracker in his ass!


Yup, I'm ranting. I'm sure some people I know will see this and say, "Matt, you're messing up your sanctification", but I'm still mad about this. I was invited by Joost to try out their service, and this is what I got.
Don't use Joost, folks.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dude, you're getting an error... Part 2



Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


One of the things that's going on right now in modern evangelicalism is it's tendency to try and blend into the culture while maintaining the label "Christian". Put "Christian" in front of anything, just like Apple Computers puts the ubiquitous "i" in front of anything, and you have something that is odd and at odds with what it means to be Christian.



Oh, doesn't all this seem so helpful? I mean, take what is the culture's, slap a Christian label on it and you get... This. You Can't make this stuff up, folks. On the one hand, I can understand what they are trying to do with stuff like this. They want to be able to have their own culture that is free of various corruptions, foul language, smutty ads, borderline unethical ideas, but this is just more false piety in action.


This magazine is sponsored by the likes of Covenant Eyes, a service that monitors your net activity and reports it to your "accountability partner". Alright, first of all, if you're a Christian and you have a computer, the entire secular world is going to assume you've looked at online porn. It's kind of like virginity. You can claim to be a virgin, but who's going to believe you?


"I've never looked at internet porn" a Christian might say, but the secular world can always choose to disbelieve him. If the Christian says, "I have an internet filter installed on my computer", the secular world can say, "see, you have to have a filter to keep your eyes off of porn", or, "well, you can always disable that and look at porn anyway", and it will never end. And, on top of all that, all the avoidance of internet porn in the world will not help you in the least... In fact, it might make you want to look at internet porn even more!


Real solution to this problem? Call God's heavenly IT techs so they can install Jesus! (Oy vey es schmer, did I just type that?)


The magazine itself has an article entitled... I kid you all not... Ephesians 6:10-18 and your computer. Offering us 6-9 biblical tips to securing your computer? Luther had a name for this stuff. He called people like this "schwarmers", busy bees, enthusiasts... people driven by emotions and impulse. It must sound good to the natural man to talk about the full armor of God for your computer. It's an impulsive need to take the culture and make it our own.


It's just silly. Can't even reach the level of heresy because it's just too silly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dude, you're getting an error...




First in a series of silly errors running around in modern Christianity. First up?


21 Days to a Complaint-Free Life: No complaint bracelets.



The website exclaims (with a picture of Oprah Winfrey) "The complaint bracelet has changed the lives of millions of people by helping them to break their addiction of complaining. Over 1 Million people across the world are wearing these complaint-free bracelets and they have been featured on OPRAH, The Today Show and in People magazine. To get your free no-complaint bracelet and to learn more about them please enter your email address below to continue."



Rev. Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity came up with the idea for this while taking a shower. The bracelet come with a pledge to not complain for 21 days. Everyone who has tried this little evangelical wonder has failed repeatedly in each attempt. If you fail, you have to change the bracelet to the other wrist.

Why is this my first "dude, your getting an error" story? Several things come to mind. One, this is an evangelical pastor trying to teach people that they can actually pull this off without telling people that this in no way will improve their standing before God. Second, if you don't catch yourself complaining, you obviously will have falsly claimed to have made it 21 days. Another thing is, if Jesus were to take this challenge he would fail.


Yup. You read me right. When Jesus cast out the money changers from the temple he said two things. He said, "Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?" That's a complaint, and then he said, "But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’" That's another. Jesus fails the test. But yet, Jesus was without sin. But if Jesus is complaining, isn't that a sin? No, it isn't folk. In fact, if you pray about something that isn't right in your life and you pray to God to fix it for you, that's complaining.

This is such a silly attempt at false piety it's ridiculous.




Monday, April 09, 2007

Peekaboo hack for blogger...

I just implemented an awesome hack on my blogsite. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with trying to hack people's computers. What it does is allows me to make huge posts, but have after a paragraph or two a "read more" link that opens up the rest of the post. Click read more... to read more!

I found the hack on this website name Hackosphere. It turns out, as long as you make sure you locate the exact places to put the new code and copy and paste, you wont break your template. I've wanted this functionality for a while but bloogle didn't add it to the recent beta upgrade. Now, anyone can have it.

Keep in mind, this particular hack only works for the new blogger. There are hacks for the old blogger. I'm putting a permanant link in my sidebar.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Johnny Hart, dead at 76.



I just read on the associated press that Johnny Hart, creator of B.C., died of a stroke on Saturday at age 76. He was at work at his drawing table and apparently suffered a stroke. He died doing what God called him to do.

At the right I put up a copy of one of his easter sunday comics from a few years back. His simple way of putting things was always refreshing. I know I will miss his wit and humor, and his family will be in my prayers.

Rest in Christ Johnny. Till we meet on God's golden shore.

This week on the Whitehorse Inn



This week, Mike Horton interviews Ben Witherington, author of What Have They Done with Jesus: Beyond Strange Theories & Bad History - Why We Can Trust the Bible. Recent books by Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code), Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus), John Shelby Spong (The Sins of Scripture), as well as the entire issue of the "Jesus Tomb" supposedly have many Christians questioning the particulars of the faith, but the truth is always stranger and more difficult to accept than conspiracy theories and modern day myths.

Click here to listen to this special Easter Program that affirms Jesus is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

All Chrisians wind up Lutheran in the end


In Luther's day, in the Augustinian monestary, when one of the monks was on his death bed, it wasn't uncommon for them to be thinking in terms of what they had done in life and whether they had done enough good works to make the cut in God's eyes. This is when someone would hold a cross or crucifix before the dying man, and then they would finally remember where their salvation lies. In the end, every Christian has only the cross of Christ to look to. Even Roman Catholic Christians, who when their head hits the pillow at night are thanking God that He sent His son to die for their sins.




Today's evangelicals live by an odd paradox. They have such a shallow view of sin and grace that it's a wonder they cling to any faith whatsoever. I'm not trying to cut them down in any way. I believe they are as sincere about their faith as any Christian throughout the ages could be. The paradox is that the things that they believe strengthens their faith actually destroys faith. And that can actually be a good thing!


What am I saying? Consider this for a moment. We are about to embark on the season of Easter, wherein the celebration of Christus Vicktor will be our song and praise. Our faith comes by hearing what God has done for the sake of Christ on our behalf, and our faith is strengthened by hearing it repeated and eating it and drinking it. The wonderous word made flesh in our ears and on our lips. That's something that is unique in Lutheranism, this reveling in the work of our savior for his sake.


Today's evangelical goes down a different path. They will say prayers that sound not too different from what we would, and worship in a way that, at first glance, roughly resembles Christian worship. But as soon as this easter day is over, they will turn to the law again for advice on how to live a virtuous Christian life and recieve blessings in return.
We Lutherans teach of three uses of the law. The use, being a curb, is there to reign in unrightousness in the world and applies everyone, believer and non believer alike. The second use applies to only Christians, and is the mirror that reveals to us our sins and drives us to dispair of our situation. The third use is the advisory use, that tells us what a Christian life should look like, and this third use is what modern evangelicals are predominately concerned with. They take third use and take it such and extreme that it becomes a heavy burden, which then becomes second use that reveals to them how much they fall short of God's demands. The law of God is always the law of God, no matter what use we may make of it. We might try to use the law to get a blessing or even to try to prove how worthy we are, but the Holy Spirit will use it however HE sees fit. The person who tries to live by the law will die by the law, and that death will come because of second use of the law, or the law driving us to Christ.

In Galatians, 3:24, St. Paul makes a reference to a cultural practice in the greek word, paidagogos. That word refers to a person who was hired by the father of a son to follow the son around and whack him with a stick any time he stepped out of line. Each time the kid did something his father deemed against the rules, the paidagogos whacked him. Pretty mean, eh? So also the law whacks us, till eventually we turn to Christ for relief.

So third use, advisory use, of the law turns easily to second use, driving the one who strives to be justified under the law of his own strength to flee to Christ. The faith we may have in the works done in the flesh is destroyed by the accusation of the law, and faith in Christ is built up by the repentence and turning away from the socalled "virtues of the flesh". Just as the monks in Luther's time were driven by the law's accusations to believe that they hadn't lived up to the standards of God, so also do the sincere evangelicals find they are accused by their own attempts to follow the advise of the law. And just as the Monks in Luther's time were reminded by the Cross of Christ where their only hope lies, so also is the sincere evangelical reminded by the Cross of the hope, no, the only hope, which is Christ alone.


It's good that their faith in their works is destroyed. It's good that their faith in Christ is renewed. In the end, every Christian winds up a Lutheran.

Friday, April 06, 2007

This is a test... Podcast link.

It's taken a bit of trial and error to find a host for my churches podcasts that's reliable, but I think I've found one. Switchpod actually offers 200 megs of hosting for free with real urls for each file.

Click here to listen to the podcast and tell me if it worked and what the quality was like.

This file is a larger higher quality version of the above file.

Good Friday: A litany on Christ's Passion.

O crucified Jesus, Son of the Father, concieved by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, eternal Word of God,

we worship you.

O crucified Jesus, holy temple of God, dwelling place of the Most High, gate of heaven, burning flame of love,

we worship you.

O crucified Jesus, ruler of every heart, in you are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in you dwells all the fullness of the Godhead,

we worship you.

Jesus, lamb of God,

have mercy on us,

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us,

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.

Almight God, look with mercy on your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and to be given over to the hands of sinners and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever.
Amen.

Grace Before the Cross: Lazarus

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Lazarus(John 11:1-44)

There’s so much going through my mind right now. What is death? What is Life? Who can know how to answer these questions? O Jesus, you should know. You called me out from the grave. Now, we’ll have to prepare a grave for you.

Who am I? I am Lazarus of… Bethany. Yes, I’m the same Lazarus, the onethat that man up on that cross raised from the dead. Why is he up there if he can raisepeople from the dead? That’s a good question. The reason he’s up there… Is because of me. About two weeks ago when I was still back in Bethany, I started to feel sick. It wasn’t like an ordinary sickness, like the kind that makes you feel run down but isn’t so bad that you can’t keep working and doing your normal daily routine. No, this was different. When this illness struck, I couldn’t even get out of bed. My sisters, Martha and Mary, hadn’t seen me like this since I was child and were afraid that I wouldn’t survive, so they sent word to Jesus of Nazareth – That man up there on that cross – because many people had witnessed him do great miracles. They thought surely if he came he could heal my sickness. And I believed he could too.



But Jesus was delayed. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because there weren’tmany placed left where he could travel in the open. In fact, a good number of the people in and around Bethany in Judea wanted him dead, and had tried to stone him! What I remember most about lying in the bed waiting for Jesus to come and my fever was growing and I slipped in and out of consciousness, was wondering if he would get here in time. We were friends. I knew that he cared about me and although at the time I didn’t know how much he cared, I thought that surely he wouldn’t just let me die. I remember hearing some people cry, my sisters most likely, and some other people from the village. I remember a breath where it felt as though a huge weight were laid upon my chest. Each breath came harder and harder, and my eyes were so heavy I couldn’t keep them open.

What happened next I can only tell you from what I was told. I died. My family and people from the village cried for me. My sisters prepared my body in the customary way, and laid my body in the family tomb. I’d seen that tomb I don’t know how many times. When you walk past a tomb like that and you can smell the dusty odor, you should be reminded that it’s a tomb in use. It’s the family tomb. But when you’re young you don’t think about how one day you’ll be lying in it.

I know, that’s a good point. I’m standing here alive right now, but I’m telling you I was dead. You should think it’s crazy, it’s only natural. They tell me, though, that when Jesus came to Bethany and they led him to the tomb, he didn’t say anything like what you would expect a great healer to say, or even like someone who knew he was about to raise me from the dead. No, rather… Jesus wept. All the tears from Mary and Martha and the other people had moved him deeply. You would think that he would have winked at them and said, “if you think my other miracles were great, just wait till you see this”, but instead he cried bitterly. It’s as if… He hated death. It’s as if he hated that death was causing such sorrow and pain.

But yet there he is, and he’s dying.

I was in the tomb for four days. We’re taught by the rabbis and the teachers that it takes that long for someone’s spirit to leave after death. I remember, though, as I lay in my bed dying thinking “Jesus will come”. He will. He wont abandon me. I closed my eyes and it felt like I couldn’t breath. I felt the weight of death.

But the next moment, it seemed, I heard a voice shouting, “Lazarus, come out!” My eyes, which had been heavy just before snapped open wide, and what I saw was not the ceiling of the house I had been laying in, but rather stone! And what else, but I realized I was seeing the rocks through a veil that was rapped around my head! I breathed in, and it was as though I had never taken a breath in my life! Fresh air came into my chest and the heaviness was gone. I raised my head and I could see light, and in that light I could see a silhouette of a man, and in an instant I recognized both the man and the voice that had called out my name. It was Jesus! He had come for me! I struggled to roll over and I realized it wasn’t just my head that was wrapped in strips of cloth, but my whole body was wrapped. I caught a whiff of dust, and I realized where I was. I finally rolled over and as my feet touched the ground the strips of cloth hampered me as I tried to stand. The strips gave way somewhat and I began to move towards the light and the voice I had heard. I walked toward that man! Once I came out into the light, I heard Jesus say, “take off the grave clothes and let him go”. I was led aside and sat down on a stone and some people began working quickly but carefully to get the strips of cloth off of me. They started with my head, and they pulled the veil fully off my eyes and I saw Mary with Jesus standing close by. They were both smiling at me. I was alive!

We invited Jesus to come back again soon, and six days before Passover he came. He should never have come, but we were so glad to see him and we were laughing and crying. Mary went to get the gift we had got for him. We had put our money together and bought Jesus a jar of pure nard. We knew that Jesus didn’t have any family that cared about him and we were trying to say to our dear friend that should he pass on, we would provide care for him – Not that we wanted him to die anytime soon. We wanted him to live a long and full life.Jesus understood our intentions and you could tell he was overwhelmed. Mary used some the nard to anoint Jesus’ feet. We did this out of love for him, but O how naïve could we be? Judas was there as well. He turned on Jesus and complained that the nard should have been sold to buy food for the poor, but Jesus flat out rebuked him. He said, “the Poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me”.

Then a large crowd of people found out where he was and we were telling them all about what Jesus had done, and many of those same people believed in him. Many of those same people were there when he rode into Jerusalem! And many of those same people also put him up there on that cross. They were crying out, “crucify him!” It’s like they are all dead too, but in a different way. It’s like they are all dead inside.

I was just like that once, too.

Because of all of that, Jesus is up there on that cross. The same man who less than two weeks before was smiling and laughing with us… The same man who called me out from the grave. He’s naked up there. They’ve nailed his hands and his feet. There’s blood everywhere. They stuck a crown of thorns on his head. He’s bleeding from that too. He’s sunburned. I can see he can’t breath. It must be like a heavy weight on him. It’s getting dark too, almost like night and it’s the middle of the day! What can that mean!

Oh Dear God! Speak to him like he spoke to me so that he can rise from the dead too!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Theology: The Art of Making Distinctions

Pastor Tom Baker has a daily radio show at KFUO called Law and Gospel. He has many sayings he loves to use, but perhaps the most insightful (inciteful?) statement he makes is "theology is the art of making distinctions". In a post just three spots down from this one, I wrote a piece about The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and his statements about genetic reasons for homosexuality and curing it if such a thing were possible. That's fine. He can make his distinctions if he wants to, although there are a lot of people who disagree with the distinctions he makes.



But that's not what this post is about. I have some great teachers, not the least of which is the Holy Spirit, but both Pastor Tom and Pastor Gary (of Risen Savior Lutheran Church and School in Palm Bay) have been challenging me to make fine distinctions. I tell them, "hey, I'm an artist. Asking me to make fine distinctions in theology is a bit like asking Botticelli to paint one thousand songbirds on a one inch canvas". I'm game for trying, always, and ready to be corrected if necessary, but I do like to try.

Another blogger asked me in the comments to the Mohler post the following:
I would like, however, to explore this statement regarding "not for the sake of Christ's work alone." When you say "work" do you mean the work of Redemption, or are you referring to the work that God does in the sinner? If the latter, then I agree with your statement. Faith can never be in what God accomplishes in us. But if the former, I would like you to elaborate more. In once sense is our faith not also in the finished work of Redemption? That is a fine edge indeed, and I am not sure where you are going with it (if that is indeed what you meant). Perhaps that could be the subject of a new blog entry.


I promised him I would, so let me get out my tiny little one-hair brush and get to painting those songbirds.


The Bread King?


Crazy sounding statements like "salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone, Not for the sake of Christ's work alone" jar people, and I'll admit that part of the reason I make them is to make people stop and do a double take. This one in particular is becoming a favorite of mine because it helps people (lutherans especially) understand how weird the statement "faith alone" must sound to Roman Catholics. The word "alone" makes Christians crazy, and sometimes the hearer is thrown into a fitted battle between his old man and his new man.

Let's consider Jesus' actions in John Chapter 6 when the people wanted to make him king by force. "Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself." (John 6:15) It's interesting that Jesus would do that. Why wouldn't he want to be king? That was part of his mission on earth, wasn't it? Was it because he didn't want to be king? Was it because the people had missed the point of his miracle?


The problem with talking about Law and Gospel is twofold in this current culture (there's actually more, but we'll stick with two for time being). Because it's pretty much unique to Lutherans, the evangelical on the street has no idea what you're talking about beyond maybe a old testiment/new testiment dichotomy. But even once you've dispelled that view, usualy what comes up next is "works vs. faith", which isn't necessarily true all the time either. The discussion I had (and am sure to have again in the future) ended up in a question, "When you say "work" do you mean the work of Redemption, or are you referring to the work that God does in the sinner?"

Answer? Both.


THE way, THE truth and THE life.

Ok, I've only painted half the birds, so let me continue. In John 6 starting with verse 25, the people have followed Jesus to Capernaum and he told them, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." I can hear them saying to themselves even, "well, duh!" So he says, "work for food that endures to eternal life". They immediately ask, "what must we do to do the works God requires". Then Jesus says, "the work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent".

Then what do they do? Demand a miracle from him so they can believe. They are right back where they started, wanting more miraculous signs. "Feed us more bread and fish" they might say. "Raise a man from the dead" they might say. They might even say, "die on a cross and then be raised from the dead yourself so that we can believe in you." In fact, if Jesus wanted to have maximum marketing effect to draw more people into his church on earth then he should have opened up in Jerusalem playing three performances per night at the temple. "Come one, come all and see the Amazing Jesus of Nazareth and his performing 12. Be amazed at the spectacle of people raised from the dead! Watch as the deaf hear, hear as the blind see, jump as the lame walk." In fact, it could have been the beginning of the election campaign of all time. "Cast your vote for Jesus for King of Israel. Free bread and fish and wine in large jars provided at no charge." The Herods wouldn't have stood a chance.


Does all that sound right? After all, the people with Jesus bring up the point that their forfathers ate manna in the wilderness and that was a miraculous sign. God gives signs and commands the people to remember the things that he's done, repeatedly saying to them, "I AM the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt", and one could add the rider, "with no help from you people, thankyou very much". What Sign indeed? What sign will wicked people accept?

No, Jesus dropped a bombshell on them. "The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." When they demand that he give them this bread he says... "I AM the bread of life." Why they didn't try to kill him right then and there is a mystery. They grumbled about it. They wanted a sign, but all Jesus seemed to want to talk about was himself. In fact he get's more and more explicit as time goes by, talking about flesh and blood in a way that's strangely intimate. No signs, no wonders, just eating flesh and drinking blood. True food and true drink. In fact, Jesus puts himself on the scene in the wilderness as the giver of life, as does St. Paul, when he wrote in 1 Corinthians, "They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ."

But before the conversation was over with, all of the disciples left save the twelve. I mean, Jesus can give you just about anything and everything you could want, right? Bread for the feast, and turn water into wine. Outcast? Jesus can fix that. Dying? Jesus can fix that too. Lame? Deformed? Blind? Deaf? He can fix all of that, and more! He can even die and rise again! Amazing! Where do I sign up? I believe! I believe in Jesus.

Thing is, there are a lot of people who believe in Jesus who aren't saved at all. And I don't mean the backslidden Christian, the carnal Christian, or any of that. No, they believe everything the bible says. They believe the miracles happened. They believe Jesus died and rose again from the dead. They believe it all. What they don't believe is the promise. Jesus kept coupling the promise of eternal life with a kind of intimacy with himself that is both strange and yet familiar, even to my own ears even today. "I will raise them up in the last day"... "Eat my flesh and drink my blood"... "The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life"...

"...and I will raise you up in the last day". Luther said that, in the Lord's supper, the most important words in the institution is "for you". Because if you don't believe that all of this is "for you", you have nothing. How many times did Jesus say that? "...and I will raise you up in the last day". Four times. Remember also, what St. Thomas had to say about this, silly though it was. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it (he rose from the dead)." Jesus pretty much "nails" Thomas after that. "Because you have seen me you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen and believe". In fact, if you stop and think about it, this stuff about Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life is preposterous. This whole thing is too loopy to believe. In fact, even if Abraham Zapruder (famous for his film of JFK's assasination) had been on the scene with his camera filming the Jesus' death and resurrection... People still wouldn't believe. CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC could have been camped around the place of the skull broadcasting the event to the world with commentary and interviews with the Caiphus and the others, even Pontius Pilot could have been soundbyte of the week: "What I have written, I have written."

Thankfully, Salvation is by grace alone (God has created a way to be overtly overgenerous to sinners), through faith alone (the tool that God provides to grasp and hold onto the promise), for Christ's sake alone (grounded in the person and work of Christ himself), for the glory of God alone (He alone has done this, at great cost). What we have in Christ is not just a miraculous sign of resurrection, but a living Christ who serves himself up to us in a way that's as startling as it is intrusive in our faithless world. It's not just Christ's work that saves, but his presence, "the word of eternal life", as Peter put it. The word that is spoken that is spirit and life. The Word made flesh.

So it's sort of a trick saying. "...For the sake of Christ alone, but not for the sake of Christ's work alone". That very fine edge, especially during this time of lent, is a fine thought indeed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I would like to thank each person who's responded to this blog. One thing I'm certain of, God wont let me run to far astray, mainly because of the great people He's put nearby me to act as shepherds in his stead. This was by far one of the hardest and scariest posts I've done so far. Hard, in that I'm being made to reach out hard for things I don't fully understand yet, and scary in that I don't want to lead people or myself out into weird places.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

When to be outraged...

Female Judge in Frankfurt Germany says Koran Verse allows Husband to beat Wife.

In an absolutely bizzarr ruling, a divorce Judge in Frankfurt German quoted a Koran Verse that is often interpretted to mean a man can beat his wife if she is "unchaste".




The woman wanted a "quickie" divorce from her husband because he hit her and threatened to kill her. The judge ruled that being "castigated" by a husband was not sufficient grounds for a divorce.

It's seems to me that the judge missed the point. What we have here is a man threatening to kill his wife... That's murder folks. The west needs to wake up and rethink this stupid notion that Islam is a religion of peace. Case in point...




There's more youtube video of this nature than anyone can realize. If Sharia law were to come to the United States, and actually be tolerated, then this would be what we would get in so called "sermons"... Practical advice on how to beat your wife.

Heavenly Father, have mercy on us all. Amen.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Under His Wings...




Psalm 91

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday. (4-6)



This Psalm is often seen as a messianic Psalm, for two reasons. One is because it seems to point to someone other than your average Israelite (including David), and the other because it includes a passage that Satan used to tempt Jesus. Satan had taken Jesus to the top of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: " ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’"

Of course, Jesus replied back with better from Deuteronomy 6:16. It's known today that a sign the Israelites were expecting of the messiah was that he would be able to jump off the top of the temple and angels would come to rescue him. They probably took this also from Psalm 91, but Jesus refused to do this, even though it would have shown the whole world he was truly the messiah. In this case, he proves himself to be God's own son by obeying his Father, saying, "it is written; you shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test".

But what else might Jesus have been up to? Many of today's teachers say that Jesus was proving himself in wilderness, and indeed it's obvious that he was. But what's even more remarkable is that in that same Psalm that Satan used to tempt Jesus, it says, "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways". (Ps 91:11) This line, I think, is important because later on, on Maundy thursday night, Jesus said as the temple guards were preparing to arrest him...


"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him (one of his companions), "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Mt 26:52-54)



Here, we have Jesus saying he could call out for help, but refuses so that the scripture would be fulfilled. He could call, but he didn't. Isn't it remarkable that only a short while before a ministering angel was there in the garden with him? (Luke 22:43) Jesus, while being tempted by Satan, turned down the help of angels, even if it were to show all the world he is the Messiah. Here, Jesus turned down the help of angels... to show the world he truly is the messiah!

Jesus said, many times, that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. (Mat 3:15, 4:14, 5:17, 8:17, 12:17, 21:4, Jn 12:38, 13:18, 15:25). He also said, he came to be a ransom for many. (Mat 20:28, 1Ti 2:5-6, Heb 9:15). His entire life, from start to finish, was about fulfilling the righteous demands of God, even to the cross itself and death on Golgotha for all. Each time he turns down the gifts that God would give his only son, whether it's food in the wilderness, or angels to rescue him, or riches or the world, or life itself... he turns it all down, suffering instead in our place, taking our sins, our trials, our torments, our hunger... Just as the prophet said, "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows" (Is 53:4) And because of this, we can now have the promises of God in the Psalm:



Just as it says, "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways". Guard our hearts and minds in the true faith unto life everlasting. This, for our lenten season, we see your glory and sacrifice, and recieve the promises ever in your name, Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sin as act or sin as condition.


The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Souther Baptist Theological Seminary, has created a furor by publishing and article entitled, "Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?" Click here to read his article.

The furor comes over his admission that there could be a genetic cause for homosexuality and if so, could there be something done about it. Gays, of course, are up in arms over this because they still mix a strange worldview wherein they want free will but at the same time want to uphold that free will by saying they don't have free will (hence the genetic arguments).



But that's not the issue I'm going to pick on. In a news article written by David Crary for the Associated Press, he reports that "Proof of a biological basis would challenge the belief of many conservative Christians that homosexuality - which they view as sinful - is a matter of choice that can be overcome through prayer and counseling."

I'm glad he says "conservative Christians", but actual conservative Christians aren't interested in a list of sins, but rather the sinful condition. Historic Christianity says that all human beings (save for one) exist in a fallen state wherein it is in their nature to sin. Martin Luther, in his work Bondage of the Will, expounds on the biblical concept of sin and mankind's fallen state, reiterating the Christian doctrine that "all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God". The reason we are all sinners is because our wills are in bondage to sin, and the only solution to that problem is a savior, Christ the Lord.

I'm not certain about the assertion that we should look into a medical treatment for homosexuality. It's my belief that the cure would turn out to be curse. I would be curious as to whether anyone would be interested in a cure for, say, hateful thoughts, or gossip, or depraved indifference to fellow human beings. But that's a discussion for another time. People do need to understand that just because another person's sin seems greater than yours does not make you less in bondage to sin than another. Both Albert Mohler Jr. and the gays that assail him need to understand this.

Lord Grant your command, In Jesus name. May it be so.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

This week on the Whitehorse Inn March 11th...


This week the boys at the Inn are joined by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, to discuss how to do outreach without it being "sellout" reach. In fact, Driscoll's point is that people in America have been so oversold on religion that they are done with it. Moreover, most of the time the niche marketing tactics used by today's church is seen to be, for the most part, insulting to people's intelligence.

I tend to agree there. I know from personal experience that it's very difficult to go to a church where you are talked down to by people who don't know enough about a given subject to fill a gnat's naval. And it's even worse when you are being talked down to on a subject (like say, the Bible) and the person talking down to you should know more than you and they don't. It's a bit like going to the dentist and finding that he or she talks to you like you know nothing as they are about to drill on your teeth without giving you novacaine first.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nothing to do with anything...

But I thought this was pretty neat. I wish I'd had something like this when I was a kid. He's playing a video game called "dance dance revolution", which is played on a special control pad that you dance on.



Daddy says to his son, "That's amazing", and the kid calls out to mom to come and look. It is amazing.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Faith Connected to Something Real...


What is the point of Faith? The reason I ask the question is because there seems to be some growing confusion as to what faith is. Christians understand (at least Lutheran Christians do) that their faith is based on extra gnose, or knowledge that is outside of us. That knowledge comes from God in His word and is demonstrated in real human history by His acts and His intrusion into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. This Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to God's will, suffered on a real wooden cross, shed real RH typable blood, and died a real, true death. He was raised from the dead, really and truly, in the flesh, was touched by real people, ate real fish in front of his disciples, and breathed real breath on them. It's all true.


But even more so than all that of that, our faith is based on promises that are connected to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "Whosever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life". This is just as true as anything else about Jesus, whether people believe it or not.


Faith is nothing more than the utensil -- the empty hand -- that grasps and hangs onto these truths. But lately, there seems to be a push to redirect people's attention away from that which faith grasps and believes, and turn their attention to faith itself. After the recent "documentary" about the lost Jesus tomb, there was a discussion panel moderated by Ted Koppel. It would seem that there was a concensus, led by the Roman Catholic (priest?) that it wouldn't matter how much proof there was that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. No matter what, they would still believe.


No matter what, eh? On a recent broadcast on a Christian radio station, the host of the show gave the following fake scenario as a news report: Archeologists have found a second chamber near the "lost tomb" of Jesus that contains a cross, and on that cross is a sign written three languages that says "JESUS OF NAZARETH - KING OF THE JEWS". The letters on the sign are written in Aramaic, Greek and Latin. DNA testing shows that the blood on the cross matches the DNA samples of the bones in the ossuary that bears the inscription, "Jesus, son of Joseph".


Ok, what I'm hearing is that, faced with such a scenario, people would continue to believe no matter what. I'll grant that this amount of evidence that Jesus didn't rise from the dead isn't incontrovertable, but it's pretty good. But what I'm hearing that's even more disturbing is that quite a few teachers and pastors are, in essence, telling people to look at the fact that they believe that Jesus rose from the dead as proof that it's all true and the report is not.


That's exactly the trap that Satan has set for us. He absolutely loves it when God's people examine their faith in times like this. I mean, after all, do I really have faith? In the face of such strong evidence that Jesus never got out of the tomb, never was resurrected... is my faith strong enough to withstand that? Or should I turn away from myself and my faith and look to God and his promises?


Any time we tell someone to examine their faith, we could well be doing the work of Satan. Satan's biggest single trap is he wants us to doubt. He wants us to say goofy things like "I'll believe, no matter what" rather than simply looking to the Cross of Christ for comfort. In fact, if people want to do something in times like this as a bible study, just start with chapter one of Job. God's message for Job, whose faith was assailed on all fronts, is exactly the message we need to hear. If anyone points you to your faith as proof, or tells you that you have strong faith or weak faith in the face of Satan's barbs and schemes, just think about Job when he said "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. "


Along with the truth of Jesus Christ, his life, his death, his resurrection, and his promise to "raise you up in the last day", is the truth that God's plans cannot be thwarted. It's impossible for people to refute the Jesus of God's plan. They can try, but they cannot succeed. So let them keep digging in the sand. They wont find peace there.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Pearl of Christian Comfort



The Pearl of Christian Comfort was written in the sixteenth century by a Dutch reformed pastor named Petrus Dathenus. The book consists of a series of letters written between himself and an aristocratic lady who was afraid for her soul.

This is a short, sweet, masterful presentation of Law and Gospel. The book itself only costs 9.50 from Amazon.com, and I highly recommend it. Dathenus rightly places the law in it's accusitory position and shows us how our sin is so great that we have no hope of ever living up to that standard and allows us along with the woman to whom he is writing to look to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He shows how the Law is fulfilled In Jesus Christ to it's fullest.

What's particularly nice is how he responds to at first to a question concerning the famous passage from Deuteronomy, "Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out." When she states that she knows she hasn't kept the law and questions why God would require us to do something we cannot do perfectly, his startling answer is, "it's because you do not rightly know Jesus Christ".

An amazing read for anyone trying to understand Law and Gospel as a distinction, especially how it pertains to the reformation.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tonight on Issues Etc...

Tonight on Issues Ect. Tod Wilken talks to Dr. Craig Evans of Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada about the new Documentary called "the Jesus Tomb". This program begins live on KFUO.org at 10 PM EST and is live for two hours. You can call the show with questions, just talk to Jeff and tell him Matt sent you.

"The Jesus Tomb" is a film made by film maker Schimca Jacobovici with hollywood director James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator). The claim that is made is that a tomb found in Jerusalem contained the remains of not only Jesus, but Mary Magdalene, another Mary, and a son named Judah. The claim is based on "statistical analysis" that shows that the odds are 1 in 600 that these names would be found in the same tomb and supposedly means that this is the actual tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

Click here to begin listening live. If you don't have Windows Media Player, you can find a link to the program to the right of this column under links to KFUO.

This week on the Whitehorse Inn March 4th...



This week on the Whitehorse, Mike Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, Rod Rosenbladt and Ken Jones take discuss "Finding truth in a world of Spin".

Justice? How do we spin a word like that in today's culture? Sin? Grace? Do Christians understand what these words really mean with regards to God's word? Holiness? Does that have anything to do with man, or does it have everything to do with God? Rod Rosenbladt says that today's evangelical church is a "comfortable materialism". He believes that the materialism of our culture makes us blind to being frightened by death and a judgement by a just and holy God.

Click here to listen to the show.

Number 2 on google!

Don't know how that happened, but it's pretty cool. Tear Down the High Places comes in second on a google search. It used to not be listed at all!

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=tear+down+the+high+places

Now all I need to do is figure out how to bump off this "branches in the vine" site. ;)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lenten readings


This year for wednesday night services, we are having a series of "dramatic readings" that read like a testimony from each person from scripture that Jesus touched in a special way. Ash Wednesday featured Pastor Gary doing "the Leper", which reads as though he's there near the cross as Jesus is hanging there. It was outstanding, since Pastor Gary seems to have had considerable training in oration.


I've been asked to do one of these readings. I've been tasked with doing Lazarus on Maundy Thursday. Gary gave me the text from the reading booklet, and he also gave me one of the ones that he already completed a rewrite for. Each "reading" is not too bad on it's own, but He said that he felt they needed some work. He's letting me rewrite it.


It's pretty cool, actually. It means that I'm going to be reading during the time when the sermon is normally given. What's nice is, each reading is very much like a sermon and contains law and gospel. I'm about to record what I've written to an MP3 to send to the Pastor for his approval.


I'm excited.

New graphics for a new perspective

I just finished doing a custom graphic package for "High Places". I wanted my own look that I haven't seen on a website before, one that glows and seems to be lit from behind.

The new perspective comes just as I find been accepted into a lutheran blog webring, "Blogging Lutherns". It's interesting seeing some people like myself perhaps just as interested in a new reformation as I am.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More on "the Jesus tomb"


On KFUO this week, Tod Wilken talked to Dr. Paul Maier (Western Michigan University) about the so called "Jesus tomb" revelation in a documentary by Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron (the Terminator). I'm amazed at what Cameron had to say about this. He says he's really not trying to derail Christianity, but rather provide for the first time real, tangible evidence that Jesus really existed.


What's he thinking? Very few people think that Jesus was a mere fairytale. Almost every modern scholar will tell you that Jesus was at least a real historical person. It's the resurrection that bothers people. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then there is no Christianity.




Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Odds are 1 in 600...




If you were being prosecuted in a court of law for murder, would you want to be convicted on a statistical probability? Lets say, for example that the prosecution says, "The murderer was in the same city as the victim, was wearing bluejeans, a black dresscoat, and had white hair. The defendant was was in the same city as the victim, was wearing bluejeans, a black dresscoat, and had white hair. The odds are only 1 in 600 that anyone that night would fit that description, so the defendant must be the murderer".

First of all, the prosecutor would be laughed out of the courtroom. Second of all, better evidence is needed to convict someone of murder. Statistical probabilities are not going to go very far in a court of law.


Enter James Cameron. (right) He and filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici have put together a documentary on a tomb that was discovered 26 years ago in Jerusalem. In the tomb was found some caskets, or ossuaries, that have inscribed on them the names of Jesus son of Joseph, Mary, and another Mary called "Mariamene", supposedly Mary Magdalene. The filmakers had some experts in statistics run the chances that these names would be found together and the results were 1 in 600. James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici say that this is conclusive and proves that Jesus died and was buried rather than raised from the dead.

Now, first of all, I want to address the name "Mariamene a mara". They say that this is Mary Magdalene. Nice try guys. First of all, "Magdalene" is not Her last name, but rather refers to where she is from. Mary of Magdala (Magdala near Tiberias, on the west shore of Galilee), like Jesus of Nazareth, or Joseph of Aremathia. The Filmmakers haven't even addressed what Mariamene a mara even means. Do a search of Google, look at any Greek dictionary... it can't be found.


Second of all, these names were extremely popular hebrew names. Joseph of course is famous in the old testiment as Joseph son of Jacob, who went down into Egypt and was made second by Pharoah. Mary, is famous from the name Mariam, sister of Moses. Jesus, or Yeshua, is famous because of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land. Add to that the fact that after the time of Jesus, these names would have become even more popular because of their connection with the gospel accounts, and you could have lots of Josephs, Jesuses and Marys running around being related to each other, not to mention buried in a tomb together.


Third, the tomb was found inside Jerusalem's walls. Jesus was recorded as being born in Bethlahem, and lived in Nazareth. Mary, his mother, lived in that area as well. Same story with Joseph. Why would they be buried in Jerusalem rather than on their own family ground? And what about Mary of Magdela? Why would she be buried there as well? Why would Jesus' ossuary say "Jesus son of Joseph" while Mary Magdelene's says "Mary of Magdela"? Why wouldn't Jesus' say "Jesus of Nazareth"?


Fourth of all, the purpose of an ossuary was to make it easy to move the remains of the deceased. It was always Jewish custom to move the remains of relatives should they need to be moved, and it wasn't necessary that the remains be kept together because the hebrew people kept copious records of geneologies. So it's not entirely clear that any of the ossuaries that were found in the tomb were even related to each other.


Silly people. A 1 in 600 chance isn't good enough. It wouldn't stand up in a court of law, and it shouldn't stand up in the court of public opinion either.

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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