Unless I'm way off base with my basic translating skills (and have completely forgotten how to perform an accurate Google search!), I believe the English word "quote" (used as a noun as in "a quote") is translated to "zitat" in German.

That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post. 
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran. 
Here's the latest...



 
The truth is I do not have the foggiest idea how to have a true relationship with Jesus Christ apart from the Word and Sacraments in which Christ has hidden Himself and revealed Himself. Unless I am completely mistaken, the only way to know Christ is to know Him where and as He has chosen to make Himself known. It is for this reason we keep saying "means of grace" -- not because it is some confessional mantra. The only grace we know is the grace made known to us in the Word of the Cross, the water of life, the voice of absolution, and the bread and wine of His table. 
-- Rev. Robert Weinkauf


This is most certainly true.


Friends, this truth cannot be overemphasized or overstated enough! It's also a direct rebuttal to the "I Have A Personal Relationship With Jesus!" crowd who are often so quick to say that, but can't quite tell you exactly what that means (at least not in any way that is thoroughly and truly Biblical).

See, we Lutherans speak of the Word and Sacraments as God's means of grace. As an Ex-Evangelical, I have found a true understanding of the Lord's "Means of Grace" (His holy Sacraments) to be one of the key differences between Lutheranism and all other Christian -isms as well as one of the most comforting realities of the Christian life.

I'm just sorry it took me 30+ years to finally learn that!

So, yes, I will continue to share any and all quotes I find that beautifully convey the power of God's gifts to us. Why?


The Sacrament is given as a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself so that it will not fall back in such a battle, but become even stronger and stronger. The new life must be guided so that it continually increases and progresses.  
-- Large Catechism V 24-25


The Sacraments are the Gospel.

Here's how Rev. Daniel Preus described them...


Too often people see Baptism and Holy Communion primarily as pious acts of obedience that Christians perform out of love for their Lord. In fact, such a view transforms these Sacraments into precisely the opposite of what they are. The Sacraments are not prescribed works of piety that Christians are to perform for God or two more Commandments added to the Second Table of the Law. The Sacraments are grace. The Sacraments are the Gospel. The Sacraments are forgiveness given, salvation, and life. They are not what we do for Jesus; they are what Jesus does for us. The Sacraments bestow on those who receive them all the benefits Jesus earned in His life, death, and resurrection. The Sacraments focus on Jesus Christ. 
-- Why I Am A Lutheran: Jesus At The Center (page 108)


In a Lutheran layman's terms, "the only way to know Christ is to know Him where and as He has chosen to make Himself known."



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Normally, the annual celebration of Pentecost reminds us of the various apostasies, blasphemies, and heresies that still persist within Christianity today as believers insist on misinterpreting the portions of God's Word that describe this glorious day to justify their own delusions about what "speaking in tongues" really means let's say.

However, today, I'd like to look at Pentecost from a different angle and address another popular misconception as it relates to a more pernicious false teaching that truly perverts the Gospel of Jesus Christ and destroys our understanding of the Second Coming too.

Another year, another Pentecost, and absolutely no "Rapture" event to speak of! Are you surprised? Heartbroken? If so, then this post is especially for you, my dear friend.

There was a time (during my Non-Denominational "Look Up Fellowship" days) when I would look forward to Pentecost with feelings of intense expectation.

I was a "Pre-Tribulation" (or "Pre-Trib"/"Pre-Tribber"/"Dispensationalist"/"Dispy" believer) who was absolutely convinced that the concept of a "Rapture" (as commonly believed, taught, and confessed by Evangelicals and "Left Behind" types, which I was) was not only Biblical, but almost certain to occur during Pentecost one of these years (or Easter Sunday, or Rosh Hashanah, or Yom Kippur, or...you get the point).

After all, if Pentecost is all about the creation of Christ's Church here on earth (the Church's "Birthday" if you will), then it made perfect sense to all of us Christians who obsessively studied the "End Times" that Jesus would have to come "to save His saints" and "rapture" us all out of this life and into the next on the very same day that He created His body of believers in the first place.

Sadly, I couldn't quite see the irony in such words, because Christ already came to save us, but I was clinging to this twisted notion of a "second salvation" for non-believers and particularly the Jews of Israel!

I, like everyone else, also believed that Christ prefers to operate and interact with us "subjectively" and "symbolically" more so than directly and objectively (or in the same way with all of mankind). I didn't see it at all back then, but this was one of the key problems with this kind of reasoning.

See, I viewed His Word as being something that only the "true believers" could ever really "fully understand" and that's why only a select few who could subjectively understand the symbolism properly would be the ones raptured and not left behind.

Lord, have mercy!

Worse, I believed that His Sacraments of Baptism and Communion were just symbolic too as opposed to being the very "Means of Grace" or gifts that they really are for us.

Like I said, I don't know how I could've been so blind, but I was. As a result, I firmly believed that I was one of the "chosen few" who was able to unlock the mysteries of the Christian faith, and all because I had "a proper understanding" of anything and everything related to the so-called "End Times" or "Last Days" Bible Prophecy studies popularized by many things other than the Word of God.

I even criticized anyone and everyone that held to a different perspective than me. In fact, even though I now clearly see why "Amillennialism" is Biblical, I can remember quite clearly attacking those who tried to prove it to me in the past.

I was so entrenched in an "End Times" mindset that I didn't honestly consider that they might be right and I might be wrong. I was so convinced of my position about such things that my life as a Christian meant being a "Spiritual Island Unto Myself" where I didn't need to concern myself with any other parts of God's Word except those that I thought applied to the "last days" and a "fulfillment of Bible prophecy," where I didn't need to bother with going to church at all (except on maybe Christmas and Easter), and where I didn't need to worry about receiving the Lord's Supper since it was largely symbolic anyway.

Lord, have mercy!


Thankfully, He opened my eyes to the truth about my sinful, un-Biblical beliefs, and "uncomplicated" the whole mess for me by simply showing me, through the Biblical teachings of other faithful Pastors on this subject, why the popular ideas were way off the mark, because they were not truly Christ-centered and cross-focused like I had assumed they were all those years.

Below is a series of posts I wrote that might be helpful to you here...


Why I Left Behind The 'Left Behind' Mindset (Amillennialism: The Lutheran Perspective On Bible Prophecy) 
The End Times In Revelation 
Great Reversal: Starting Over By Starting At The End 
Why I No Longer Believe In A 'Rapture' (As It's Commonly Taught) 
No, Jesus Is Not Waiting For Jordan's King Abdullah To Attack ISIS, Fulfill The 'Psalm 83 War Prophecy,' And Start World War 3 So The Antichrist Can Rise To Power Before He Returns! 
A Lutheran Response To The 'Left Behind' Series


I can assure you that if you spend even just a few minutes of your day looking at any one of those entries, and you're like I was just a few years ago, then you will be blown away by the sheer simplicity of the truth of the matter.

While that's all well and good, I feel like this piece would be incomplete if I didn't also try to briefly explain what Pentecost actually is and why we celebrate it in the Church each year.


 
Pentecost 
Ten days after "Ascension Day" comes Pentecost. On the Day of Pentecost, we read about the Holy Spirit resting on the disciples like tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-21). This image of the Spirit as fire is the reason we drape our altars with red. The Holy Spirit filled the disciples with strength and wisdom so they could share the Good News about Jesus with many different people. The Spirit empowered them to spread God's Word, and He still gives us faith and strengthens us to share God's love with others. 
-- Lutheranism 101 For Kids

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Pentecost Sermon By Rev. Eric J. Brown 
Dear friends in Christ, a joyous and happy Pentecost to you. Pentecost, 50 full days after the Passover, Pentecost, the 50th day after Easter, Pentecost – that joyous day where we remember the disciples stepping boldly into the temple and preaching Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins to so many that needed to hear His Gospel. That is what we think of first when we think of Pentecost, isn’t it? The preaching of Christ? Is that what we think of when we speak of Pentecost? Or do our thoughts focus on the Holy Spirit off in a vacuum? Pentecost is sometimes thought of as the Holy Spirit’s day – the day where we finally focus on the Spirit – and the Spirit’s phenomenal acts of power and might. Behold the tongues of flame, behold the speaking in tongues, behold the boldness! To what point, my dear friends? Why does the Holy Spirit appear as tongues of fire, why does He grant for this day the ability to the Apostles to speak in tongues? Was it simply a demonstration of the Spirit’s power? Was it a matter of the Holy Spirit wishing to remind us that He is here and active? “I'm over here guys, don't forget Me”? Peter tells us the answer by quoting the prophet Joel – God will pour out His Spirit so that people will prophesy, and there will be visions, and wonders – and all for one reason. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the Name of the LORD shall be saved. This is what Peter tells us. And immediately after quoting Joel, telling the people in the temple what they are seeing – this is what Peter preaches. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” 7 Weeks ago, Peter had been hiding in a locked room for fear of the Jews. Now, on Pentecost, He and the other Apostles stride boldly into the temple, filled with the Spirit, and they proclaim the death and resurrection of Christ. The miracle, the wonder of Pentecost isn’t the tongues of flame. The amazing thing isn’t that the Spirit grants the Apostles the ability to speak in tongues – but rather that by the working of the Spirit they speak at all. Gone is the fear of 7 weeks ago, gone is the confusion and bewilderment of the Apostles at the Ascension as they stood dumbfounded staring up into the sky – and rather the Spirit has come, and now they boldly preach Christ and Him Crucified for our Salvation. That is the miracle of Pentecost, dear friends. The tongues of flame are neat, but they simply bear witness to the fact that these men have been anointed by God for this task. The speaking in tongues, that is simply so more people can hear and understand. The key thing, the important thing, that which the Holy Spirit has continued to do through all the ages since that first Pentecost is that the Gospel of Christ Jesus is proclaimed. This is what the Spirit does – He points to Christ, for it is in Christ Jesus that we have life and forgiveness and salvation, and there is no other name under heaven or on earth by which we are to be saved. That is how the Spirit is the giver of Life – He gives out Christ Jesus and Christ’s life.

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"Pentecost: A Firstfruits Harvest Festival" By Rev. Charles Henrickson 
What do you know about the Feast of Pentecost? If you’re like most people in the church today, I’m guessing not too much. Oh, maybe you know it has something to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit. And you would be right. But there’s more to it than that. OK, let’s see. Maybe you’ve heard that Pentecost is called “the birthday of the church.” Well, alright, there’s something to that. Maybe somewhere along the line you heard that people can wear red to church on Pentecost Sunday. And that does match the color of the paraments. But if it’s just a silly custom of wearing red, then there’s not too much to that. So what do you know about the Feast of Pentecost? By the way, why do we even call it a “Feast”? Well, in church lingo, a “feast” is when it is appropriate to have the sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood, as we do on every Sunday and major church festival. Oh, there’s that word “festival,” which is another way to say “feast.” And Pentecost certainly is a major festival in the church. In fact, the Day of Pentecost is one of the three highest, most major festivals in the church year, along with Christmas Day and Easter Day. But compared to Christmas and Easter, Pentecost kind of gets short shrift. We’ll try to remedy that today.

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"Pentecost Then; Pentecost Now" By Rev. Matt Richard 
The barrier of language was no difficulty for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit appeared to the disciples that Day of Pentecost some two-thousand years ago resulting in a tongue resting on each of them. Being filled for a temporary action, the disciples then proclaimed the Gospel in other languages to the devout Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem from every nation. Take a moment and think about the implications of this. The Gospel was not restricted; the message of forgiveness was not muzzled. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the message of the Gospel broke through language barriers. It was translated into foreign tongues, showing that the forgiveness of sins belonged not only to the Hebrew speaking Jews, but the entire world—every tribe, every nation, every tongue, every dialect. This Gospel was not to remain as some local story spoken with a hometown accent. It was a message for the entire world. It could not and would not be confined, but the Lord saw it fit to translate it, so that all the countries of the world were given the Gospel. As a result, thousands were converted that Pentecost Day, long ago. Thousands added to the Christian faith that Pentecost morning, some two-thousand years ago. From those thousands of new converts, the Gospel would then be returned to the people’s own homeland, spoken in their own particular language to many more individuals, resulting in the spreading of the Christian faith. This was the Holy Spirit fulfilling His office. This pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was not the Holy Spirit’s grand debut into time and history, but was the Holy Spirit pouring out above and beyond the norm. It was the Holy Spirit fulfilling His office for a specific purpose to fulfill prophecy from long ago. All this stated, can we expect more of this phenomenal “Acts-chapter-two-work-of-the-Holy-Spirit-stuff” in the church today? Should Zion Lutheran Church be looking to tap into the rushing wind, tongue speaking, and the filling of the Holy Spirit from long ago? Frankly my friends and contrary to what you might hear from Christian television preachers, we cannot. The speaking in tongues, the mighty rushing wind, and the devout Jews from every tribe gathering in Jerusalem were real events within a particular time, place, and context. A time, place, and context that the Holy Spirit orchestrated by pouring Himself out above and beyond, thus fulfilling particular Old Testament prophecy. That stated, we have not been given any promises from scripture that this could be harnessed or recreated in our modern day. Tragically though, we Christians don’t realize this all the time and we try to conjure up awe and inspiration in the church so that we can try to refashion a modern day Pentecost. Sadly, there is a temptation among all of us that we need to somehow awaken the Holy Spirit to His office through us being on fire or engaged or energized or spiritized. We read Acts chapter two and hear about the mighty rushing wind, the speaking of foreign languages, and believe that we—like the disciples—can somehow obtain this filling of the Holy Spirit and remake a modern day Pentecost. Dear friends, we cannot call down the Holy Spirit by force through our own agendas and He is not sent as a reward due to our own spiritual endeavors. Furthermore, we do not possess the Holy Spirit as a personal possession where He is put into our debt. It is idolatry to attempt to tame God and to attempt to harness the Lord for our own personal plans.

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VIDEO: Everything You Thought You Knew About Pentecost Is Wrong 

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A Message To Those Who Have Hijacked The Holy Spirit And Pentecost


So, to reiterate, another year, another Pentecost, and still no Rapture -- though hardly shocking.

I don't mean to be "contentious" with a statement like that, but I do know that there are many Christians out there who were hoping that "this is going to be the year!" and that "today is going to be the day!" Not too long ago, that was me. In fact, I would've been surprised and maybe even a little depressed right now over another non-eventful year, but that was because I believed in so many things about Pentecost and Bible Prophecy that were not Biblical at all.

Lord, have mercy!

Yes, there was a time in my life when I was so consumed by the "End Times" and "Last Days" Bible prophecy stuff that it's all I talked about as a Christian to anyone and everyone who would listen. No, I was never one to play "Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Antichrist" or a true blue "Rapture Ready" date-setter by any means (like that false teacher Harold Camping who made international news headlines a few years ago), but I did still explore such topics quite extensively over the course of several years on my own personal blog and podcast.

Unfortunately, I also didn't see how a majority of it wasn't derived from the Word of God, but from Christian Bestsellers and man's own opinions and presuppositions about God's Word instead. In short, anything and everything I believed was largely determined by what was popularized by the "Left Behind" books/films. Yeah, not so good.

Thankfully, my errors were finally brought to my attention by others, I eventually learned the truth and admitted and repented of my sins, and now humbly do what I can to undo any damage I may have done in the past.

Anyway, that's why I decided to share all of this today on Pentecost. The above links tell the complete story of how the process unfolded for me personally as well as the pure, simple, unadulterated truth about these things, according to Scripture, which is what's most important. I hope it is helpful to some of you, especially given all the links to various resources I tried to include.

To paraphrase what I've heard Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller once say, "Jesus can come back at any time! He's not waiting for a Nuclear Power Plant to melt down! The thing that's holding Him back is His patience and love. There are no events that need to occur before Jesus comes back. So, seeing all the events around us and saying, 'Hey! Hey! That means Jesus is coming back!' the answer is 'No! No! That's a wrong way of looking at it!' Jesus can come at any moment."

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Pentecost is not about the Rapture, it's about Christ, Christ's Church, and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by His Church.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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More sobering satire from The Babylon Bee....


 
Armed With Just His Personal Relationship With Jesus, Man Invents Several New Heresies 
PORTLAND, OR -- Local lone-ranger Christian Bill Pershing, proud of his individualistic approach to faith unrestrained by creeds or orthodoxy, proudly announced today that he came up with at least a half-dozen new ways of thinking about Jesus, all of which constitute grievous heresies. His theology, though vague, seems to be a strange mix of Arianism, semi-Nestorianism, and what commentators have identified as teachings from the Teletubbies and Dora the Explorer. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before . . . it’s actually pretty innovative -- though to be clear, it’s damnable heresy of the basest sort,” noted pastor and Bible teacher John MacArthur in a phone interview Friday morning. “His theory of the atonement seems to have integrated ideas from Rasputin, Oprah Winfrey, and the popular video game Starcraft. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes says there’s nothing new under the sun, but this one’s pretty new to me.” Pershing is also reportedly beginning work on a new book chronicling his journey out of the institutional church and into a stronger relationship with Jesus, which is rumored to contain a systematic rejection of systematic theology.


I'm embarrassed to admit that this was definitely me not too long ago.

I was a "Spiritual Island Unto Myself" who only prayed when I needed something, who only went to church on Christmas, Easter, or for baptisms, funerals, and weddings, and who determined my beliefs about God The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit by referring mainly to my "Personal Relationship With Jesus" (whatever that meant since it varies from person-to-person to suit their own needs!) instead of the immutable Word of God.

That's why I'm forever grateful to those complete strangers who called me out on it (Proverbs 27:5-6), who lovingly pointed out the errors of my thinking (Ephesians 4:15), who lovingly pointed me to the truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and also to the Lord Who forgave me for my sins and converted me to true faith in Him and His Word (John 14:6; John 3:16; Romans 5; Jude 1).

Given my own experience, I'm willing to bet this is how far too many people have defined their faith in these Post-Modern "Let's Agree To Disagree!" days (even if they call themselves "Christians") -- with their own ideas, opinions, preferences, prejudices, presuppositions, and thoughts that are influenced daily by the devil, the world, and the flesh when they should be letting their faith be defined by the One who is the very source of that faith (Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Speaking from experience, the sad reality is that many people believe the parts they like and ignore and reject what they don't like (or don't completely understand). Yes, even well-meaning "Christians" with good intentions can be deceived like this (Galatians 2:4-5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2).

Plus, even though the Bible doesn't contradict itself, there are still a few parts that will forever remain confusing to us, but rather than let them exist in tension, we want to rationalize everything to death since allowing for "The Mystery of God" to exert itself upon us is just too much for us to accept and to handle.

It's a shame that we think we know better than God Himself about anything and everything, but it's hardly surprising due to our fallen, sinful nature that's at war daily with our new spiritual nature.

It's not "arrogant" to believe, teach, and confess creeds and doctrine derived from the holy Word of God itself or "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) that have defined the Christian faith for thousands of years from the very beginning, but the height of arrogance to assume that you personally have discovered something "new" all on your own through this "Personal Relationship" nonsense. That's being a cultist wrapped in a Christian label.

Again, I would know, because that was me.

It's supposed to be about faith, not feelings.


Ephesians 4:14 (ESV) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.


Faith fueled by pure, unadulterated doctrine always endures.

Feelings are fickle and often change for any number of reasons.

Typically, those who always want to talk about their "Personal Relationship With Jesus" all the time use it as a defense mechanism, and they rarely roll up their sleeves to sit down with another concerned brother or sister in Christ to go through the Bible to discuss the serious un-Biblical beliefs that they hold to.


Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.


What Christians who live and die by this un-Biblical belief fail to realize is that if "A Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ!" is all a person ever really needs, then they certainly don't need the Lord's Word and Sacraments let alone Christ's Church and the Office of the Holy Ministry (a.k.a. called and ordained Pastors) for the forgiveness of their sins and the strengthening of their faith.

The problem? The Lord actually says that those things are supposed to be important in a believer's life whether they think so or not for it's His Word and His Sacraments that are spiritual gifts that He uses to come to us for our benefit here on earth, and Christ's Church and His servants that were created to deliver those spiritual gifts to us on a regular basis.

By rejecting all of that, aren't you really saying that you're willing to reject all of Him and all that He has to offer you?


In a Lutheran layman's terms, a "Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ" may be a popular Christian phrase these days, but it is not the Gospel.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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The description of this blog is as follows: "Thoughts From An Ex-Evangelical Turned Confessional Lutheran (And How Jude 1:3 Led Me Here)."

To some, the use of the word "Confessional" might seem a bit excessive or redundant. To others who came to true Lutheranism later in life after having been deceived for many years, we've found that use of that word is absolutely essential.

Unfortunately, this is due to the fact that there are far too many so-called "Lutheran" churches out there that are anything but. Worse, there are some LCMS congregations out there that give lip service to our Confessions, but then you will attend one service there and you come to find out that they have strayed so far from that rock solid foundation of faith that any claims to the contrary are just laughable.

For me, personally, it took 3 years before I finally realized that the LCMS church me and my family were attending preferred to follow Max Lucado more than Martin Luther.

So, sadly, I know a thing or two about Lutheran churches that want to be as popular as their American Evangelical and Non-Denominational counterparts in the community and will do whatever it takes to let others know that the sign out front might say "Lutheran" on it, but they don't have to worry about that impacting the doctrine, practice, sermons, and studies.

With that being said, I think it only makes sense that every now and then I would try to generate some serious discussion and prayerful consideration regarding the critical differences between American Evangelicalism and Confessional Lutheranism.

Today, I want to share an EXCELLENT presentation delivered at the Issues, Etc. "Making The Case Conference" back in 2014 by Craig Parton in which he talks about the spiritual dangers involved with Lutherans imitating Evangelicals.

Why do so many Lutherans want to imitate Evangelicals? Why do Lutherans always seem to want to imitate Evangelicals even if it's right down to their theology or their doctrine and practice?



 
AUDIO: Making The Case Against Lutherans Imitating Evangelicals


That was the very first time I ever listened to a presentation by Mr. Parton let alone heard of him, but I thought it was a very good lecture and was nodding in agreement several times throughout it.

I agree with him that we have an historic opportunity to demonstrate that Lutherans have everything Evangelicals are always looking for, especially as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Here were some of the highlights I noted...


-- "Lutheranism has an uncanny ability to hide its light under a bushel." 
-- "Leave it to the Lutheran church to want all the discarded crap from Evangelicalism and Evangelical worship, jumping on that boat at the moment Evangelicals are leaving it." 
-- "As I say to Pastors, I will be the easiest parishioner you ever had. All I want is Law and Gospel, the Hymnal, hymnody, the Liturgy, absolve me, get the bread and wine into my mouth, and I won't cause trouble. Don't do that and I will be a nightmare to you." 
-- "To a lot of Evangelicals, 'Lutheran' means either 'Liberal,' 'Catholic,' or 'both.'" 
-- He made some powerful comments about how Evangelicals tend to take Daniel and Revelation very literally, but then they take all the verses in the Bible about the Sacraments as being entirely symbolic. 
-- The fact that he says that "I read my way into the Lutheran church" I think is much more common for people than we'd assume it is. I mean, the same is true for me personally. It was reading Luther and the Book of Concord at a critical time in my life that finally convinced me that Lutherans were far closer to (if not spot on with) the whole truth of Scripture than any other denomination out there today. 
-- The problem with most churches today? "Each Sunday, we heard a lot of entertainment, a lot of Moralism, but no Gospel!" 
-- "The roots of Evangelicalism are not in the Reformation." 
-- "Whenever I go into a town for the first time I always ask, 'Can you please tell me where a dead, orthodox church is? I'd like to attend one.'" 
-- "Sanctification is the primary focus of American Evangelical preaching. There's also an emphasis on Revivalism too." 
-- "Evangelicals think they're all called to the ministry! Every single one of them has their own ministry! They don't believe it's their Pastor's duty to evangelize their neighbor." 
-- "Even a 'bad' Lutheran sermon is better than all of the Evangelical sermons that I've heard, because of Law and Gospel."


In a sense, Parton's presentation was as much an encouragement for Lutherans to evangelize Evangelicals as it was a critique of American Evangelicalism itself.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, any discussion about the merits of Lutheranism versus Evangelicalism is always about finding normalcy and content in Christian worship through faithfulness to doctrines that then inform our practices week-in-and-week-out.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Apologetics. Faith. Reason.

I rediscovered something today. I wrote it down in my personal journal 4 years ago.

I'm not sure if it's my own original thought or if I just forgot to include the source.

In any event, here's the simple truth of the matter...


According to the world, the Gospel emerges in the context of two "impossibilities." Jesus Christ entered the world through a door marked "No Entry" (a.k.a. a virgin womb). He left through a door marked "No Exit" (a.k.a. a tomb). 
According to Christians, we rest on true wisdom that says "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), and "all things are possible for one who believes," and so we cry out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:23-24).


It's interesting to see the stark contrast between human weakness and divine power side-by-side here in the statements listed above, isn't it?

Just as being born of a virgin and defeating death by resurrection is only possible by God Himself, faith and salvation from death and eternal punishment for our sins is only possible through God's power and grace as embodied in His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Despite our fickle feelings, despite reason that wants to war with our spirit, we have been given this thing called faith that is supposed to receive the gifts that God has prepared for us.

Sometimes that's easier said than done it seems.


Worthiness does not depend on the greatness or smallness, the weakness or strength of faith. Instead, it depends on Christ's merit, which the distressed father of little faith (Mark 9:24) enjoyed as well as Abraham, Paul, and others who have a joyful and strong faith. 
-- Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord VII 71


I'll admit, I've felt like "the distressed father of little faith" lately.

Stumbling upon this several year's old note of mine led me on an unexpectedly journey today. It was a journey of introspection and self-reflection.


 
The Afflicted Take Comfort In God's Mercy 
It is not uncommon for the soul to grope for comfort where there is none. As such, it is often said by Christians who are afflicted from the pressures and problems of this fallen world, that “God will not give me more than I can handle.” The text to which that common phrase refers is 1 Corinthians 10:13. Though, in it, the Apostle Paul does not talk about what the Christian can and cannot “handle,” but rather the limits of temptation. 
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13) 
God has not designed our fall into temptation. He warns against the dangers of complacency and pride calling us to “take heed lest [we] fall” (1 Cor. 10:12), and to “flee from idolatry” (1 Cor 10:14). But God does not strengthen your faith in your own ability to cope, saying “Don’t worry about your suffering, you can handle it.” Rather He teaches us that He has not allowed any temptation that will force us into damnation. 
Yet, regardless of its validity, this phrase that God will not give you more than you can handle is not where the Christian can find comfort. So God knows your ability to deal with stress. What good is that? Such a notion does not promise an end to your suffering, nor does it assure you of forgiveness when you fail to “handle” suffering. No amount of meditation on God’s divine sovereignty can bring solace to the afflicted. 
Therefore, take comfort not in the measure of your pain, nor in your ability to “handle” distress. Take comfort only in Christ. Take comfort that He has born that which brings you despair. Your affliction has already been suffered by the Son of God. That is why you are to seek refuge not in God’s power over your situation, but in His mercy. It was His mercy, for which you cry “kyrie eleison,” that caused Him to send His Son to death in your place. As such, God’s baptized and redeemed children should not lose heart, though not because God will give them more or less affliction according to their ability to handle it, but because their affliction has already been suffered in the flesh of the Son of God. 
Therefore, when you are acutely aware of the sin of this fallen world as you are afflicted by its grip around your neck, look upon your suffering and rest assured that this too has been taken to the cross and laid in the grave. 
"All-loving God, Your mercy has no end, and Your kindness is new each morning. See, I, an afflicted and sorrowful soul, come before Your holy face to pour out the great grief of my heavy heart. My distressful condition and great misery that has overtaken me are well known to you. My soul is sorrowful; my spirit is in anguish; numberless afflictions surround me. I look around me for helpers, but find none. Some people refuse to give me comfort; others do not know my distress and I do not reveal it to them. But to you, O God, I make complaint with a heart full of grief. I know that You are merciful and moved to pity by our distress. You took pity on the stricken widow weeping for her son. You were moved to compassion when You saw the people who had gathered to hear You and had nothing to eat, and Your compassion went hand in hand with Your mercy and comfort. And so I come to You and plead: have mercy on me! O God, I am Your creature; do not forsake the work of Your hands. Yes, I am even more: I am also Your child whom You have taken into the arms of Your mercy in Holy Baptism. And so I say to You: O my Father, have compassion on Your poor and forsaken child. My Jesus, I have been bought with Your holy blood; I am Your portion and inheritance, purchased with Your precious blood! I know You will have compassion on Your own. O precious Holy Spirit, bear witness with my spirit that despite all my suffering I am still a child of God. And when I am faint in praying and can hardly put words together any more, You Yourself cry within me: ‘Abba! Father!’" (Starck's Prayer Book, 186.)


Despair threatens to overwhelm our faith by pointing out how we fail to change or improve, suggesting that God neither cares for us nor has power to help.

However, Jesus graciously descends to a world of despair and doubt so that He might deliver us.

Thankfully, God accepts us by grace through faith in Jesus, not through obedience or status, just as children receive love they do not earn. We are to trust the Lord as a child trusts a parent.


Lord, thank You for Your compassion, which brings You to our world of pain and dismay. Give us faith to overcome our doubts, and help us believe that all things are possible with You. Lord, give us the lasting faith that can persevere through every trial. Empty our hands of anything that competes with You, and let us hold firmly to You eternally. Amen.


Nothing is more important than retaining the faith unto eternal life.

Let nothing come between you and the Savior.

Though He tests us with fire, He does not consume His own people.

Rejoice, for God graciously gives us the faith in which He preserves us unto eternity!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the simple truth is that through faith in Christ, we receive the Lord's undeserved gifts for us, and God freely gives us the most precious gift of all, which is His Son, and the gift of eternal life.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Unless I'm way off base with my basic translating skills (and have completely forgotten how to perform an accurate Google search!), I believe the English word "quote" (used as a noun as in "a quote") is translated to "zitat" in German.

That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post. 
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran.

Here's the latest...


 
Jesus Christ is with you and for you in the midst of your deep and dark battle with the world, the devil and your own sinful flesh. He has suffered and died for you and all your sins, without any worthiness or merit within you. You are loved by God in His eternal grace and mercy. Habitual sin attacks and cripples everyone of us, each in our own way as the Fall into sin has affected us. Nevertheless, all sin is equally condemnable in God’s eyes. Therefore the medicine and defense against such pernicious and wicked sin is the same -- Jesus Christ crucified for us for the forgiveness of our sins. So, in faith, we direct our gaze on Him, who saved us all with His precious blood. 
Paul in Romans 7 expresses the struggle every baptized believer endures, who wrestles with habitual sin. "I think I need to go to confession, but I am terrified of telling this to the pastor." You are right! Private Confession & Holy Absolution are exactly what the Lord would have for you. And as a penitent myself, I understand the fear associated with the idea of going to confession. Yet, I would counsel you to look at this Sacrament as the precious gift from God that it is. 
The last thing the world, the devil, and your flesh want you to do is audibly confess your sins to the one sent by God to loose (forgive) your sins. The unholy trinity does not want you to claim your sin as your own so as to have it forgiven. And because they don’t want you to confess your sins, they stir up fear within you. They do this by introducing doubt into the promises of God. "Did God really say?" The unholy trinity appeals to the core of your fallen nature. They arouse unbelief. According to the fallen flesh, no one believes God’s Word & Promises. But all is not lost. To overcome this unbelief God gives you His Spirit & Word. He sends you the beautiful feet of His pastors to remind you of His Gospel promises and to actually deliver everything Jesus is for you. 
The Sacrament of Confession & Holy Absolution is a gift of unimaginable comfort, especially for habitual sins. In the confines of the confessional, all your darkest sins are called what they are before the pastor so that the pastor, in the stead of Christ, can intimately forgive you, by name, with God’s Holy Name -- the very name spoken and given to you at your baptism. 
Does confessing your sins hurt? Yes, but only because the flesh, the old man, the sinner in you is being crucified to death so that a new man may arise to live in God’s grace and love for Jesus’ sake. The comfort that comes from Confession and Holy Absolution is the certainty that God forgives you all your sins, every single one of them, no matter what they may be, even homosexuality. 
The habitual sins of which Luther speaks of in the Smalcald Articles are those sins that are held outside the forgiveness of sins. That is to say, to persist in sin without any concern or care with what you are doing. Faith cannot survive without the reception of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus sake. You are not that man! Consider King David, he committed sin after sin, because sin breeds sin, that is until it is confronted and killed by the Law of God, which says, "You are the man!" Then, repentant faith says, "I have sinned against the Lord." It is that man, who is then absolved with the Gospel, "The Lord also has put away your sin…" You are the man and you know it! More than that, your sins are put away, they are forgiven in the bloody cross of Jesus. Believe it and receive it. The fruit of the cross, the forgiveness of all your sins, is delivered to you superabundantly through the means of your baptism remembered, Holy Absolution heard, and Christ’s body and blood eaten and drunk. None of these are dependent on you, but come from outside of you by grace in the beautiful feet of those who are sent to deliver them to you. 
The thorn you bear is difficult, but the grace of Christ is greater! He is ever for you and so are those pastors sent by Him. There is no greater joy that a pastor has than to forgive sins in Jesus’ name, no matter what they might be. 
-- Rev. Dustin L. Anderson


I just love that!

Unfortunately, even though I know who it's from, I don't know where I saw it and can't link to the source (I'm guessing it was from the Worldview Everlasting website).

Now, since I know that this is a topic that so many of us often struggle to understand even after reading something like that (I know I do!), I thought I'd share a couple of Worldview Everlasting videos from Rev. Jonathan Fisk that should help to answer any remaining questions and fill in the blanks for us.


The Way God Prefers To Kill You (Romans 7:1-13) 

Exposing The Wretch Within (Romans 7:14-25) 


Personally, I think Romans 7 can be summed up by simply stating that our struggle with sin is not a past event; it is a present reality.

We know God's will and desire to serve Him, but we cannot overcome sin.

Even if we try, we fail.

We cry out, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" There is only one answer: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Jesus rescues us for He is the Savior!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, though we sin daily, He continues to forgive and restore us.
 


NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!
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I'm still in an Apologetics state of mind these days.

So, I was thrilled to find a 2-part series titled "Christianity And Logic" that Issues, Etc. did with Dr. Gregory Schulz of Concordia University Wisconsin last week.

   

 
AUDIO: Christianity And Logic - 3 Acts of The Mind 
AUDIO: Christianity And Logic - 4 Modes of Reasoning


Is Christianity logical? Yes and no (sorry, but I'll let you listen for the answer to how that can be rather than ruin it for you here).

As stated several times throughout this series, in this Post-Modern age we live in, there is no "objective truth" anymore, because "truth is relevant" and the general mindset is that we should be taught a certain set of presuppositions, which includes this notion that no one needs to learn how to to think for themselves anymore.

More specifically, we're being taught that we need to abandon all reason -- even Bible-believing Christians too!

As a result, we're constantly bombarded with messages that proclaim that the Bible is an "illogical" and "unreasonable" book and, therefore, we ought to reject it completely. Worse is when this is being encouraged by others who identify themselves as Christians!

This discussion actually comes at a perfect time for me as I've been focusing more attention on the area of Christian Apologetics, but also because of a recent conversation I had on Twitter a few days ago.













It's certainly not the first conversation along that line of thinking and it won't be the last either.

However, it got me thinking about how we can still reject the truth even despite clear evidence that's presented to us.

Yes, there will be people who choose to ignore that kind of hard evidence and even the hard evidence in the form of an empty tomb.


1 Corinthians 1:18-30 (ESV) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."


Those who see only foolishness in the crucifixion of Christ upon the cross deny its power to save them from eternal destruction, because Christ's crucifixion upon the cross (His death and resurrection for the sins of all mankind) is the instrument of God's love and free gift of salvation to each and every one of us.

Human wisdom cannot lead anyone to God, Who reveals Himself in the message of the cross. The heart of the Gospel is Jesus' atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. Though Jesus' death appears foolish and shameful to some, it is the only basis of our salvation.


The forgiveness of sins ... cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. How would we know about it otherwise? 
-- Large Catechism V 31


Is Christianity logical and reasonable? Again, yes and no.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, we must be ready to explain not just WHAT we believe, but WHY we believe it (2 Timothy 4:2).



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


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