'You're Too Sarcastic!'

It feels like this blog is becoming more like an online diary for me as far as this week is concerned.

That's ok though. I need to work out some things and do a better job to "notice the log" in my own eye before trying to take out the one in my brother's eye (Luke 6:41-42; Matthew 7:3-5). I get that.

Some might suggest that it's best for me to just STOP BLOGGING until I've worked these things out, but where's the fun in that? Besides, I'm willing to bet there are more than a few people out there who are struggling with this sort of thing like I am so if this helps just one of them, then that's fantastic!

"You're too sarcastic!" I had that charge thrown at me in recent months in one very heartbreaking face-to-face conversation and have also heard it many times in response to things I've written online or shared on social media.

That got me wondering -- what if they're right and is sarcasm a sin?

My initial thought was to agree with them. Yes, I can be very sarcastic at times. I fully admit that sarcasm may not be helpful when you're engaging in one-on-one conversations with people, but is sarcasm really a sin though?

I mean, after all, I believe it was Jesus Christ Himself who was quite sarcastic with the Pharisees in His day whenever he engaged them in conversation. Surely, we wouldn't try to claim that He sinned in that regard, would we?

I'm not for a single second suggesting that I'm somehow trying to follow a "WWJD" model here on purpose either, but can we quickly conclude that sarcasm is "bad" and perhaps even "sinful" in any and all cases?

In my quest to examine myself this week and to discover the answer to that key question, I came across a couple of VERY HELPFUL resources on this very same subject.

The first is a commentary from Pastor Joshua Scheer.



Pastoral Death Match -- Social Media And The Ministerium 
It doesn’t take long being Facebook “friends” with a bunch of pastors to see it unfold – fighting, feuding, snark, mockery, and downright cruelty. This is conduct unbecoming the called and ordained (1 Timothy 3:2-3) but it happens. In the short term it means a lot of passive-aggressive behavior, taking the battle to the blogs and comment threads, and who knows where else. In the long term I fear it will have a much more destructive effect. 
Doctrine is important, we get it. Pastors strive to make sure we have the proper teachings and preserve them for the good of our hearers. We strive to be the best preachers and teachers we can be. Pastors also strive to live a godly life, not as perfectionists, but as examples to the flock to which the Holy Spirit made us overseers. This means “good” behavior, but more importantly Christian behavior – confessing our sins and having faith in Christ’s work for our forgiveness. 
In studying church history and even in knowing older pastors today, this rivalry and even bitterness towards brother pastors is nothing new. The anger at each other, talking past one another, insulting one another, breaking the 8th against one another, and holding onto lifelong grudges has been and continues to be found among the clergy (of course laity also). What is changing is the rate of which the offenses can come in an environment ruled by 255 characters or less, statuses and comments that take seconds to type but have lasting repercussions, and blog posts indirectly directed at your perceived foes. 
It is a death match that is happening. We are grudging ourselves to death, and bitterness is taking root. It can be seen in communications between known opponents of the theological debate du jour. Each one rallies others to the cause, and pretty soon it is more about who can out-snark the other and come up with more “likes” or simply mock the other ones with sarcasm and plain cruelty. 
Fellow pastors, what is this doing to our Life Together? If we can sense grudges among men of God who could only communicate through letters and printed words, how much worse is it getting for we who can in a moment’s notice burn down the reputation of one another through a comment firestorm? Is “winning” the status comment war worth it? What will the ministerium of the LCMS look like in ten years? If the opportunity for offense and the temptation to trample underfoot is so easy to fall into because of the disconnected nature of this social media, should we caution ourselves and pause before entering the flame wars? 
There is time for debate and arguments over our beliefs and practices. This can happen on social media. It is difficult to have happen, but it can be beneficial. It can help us be better pastors, teachers, and preachers. I am not advocating having no debates. I am pleading that such debates do not have to leave wounds which form into scars on the surface with roots of bitterness running down to hearts hardened by grudges. Even if you “win” in such a situation, the Church loses, and even if your cause is truth, the truth is lost to those you had to kill to prove yourself the victor. 
Writing this has caused me to reflect on my own actions online. They have not been what they should. There is a time for repentance and it is always right now. Pastors need Jesus, and it does not take long lurking and reading the Facebook feed to understand that. Pastors, you have Jesus. The same one you preach for your members is for you. He is for you and for your conduct on social media. As you type the keys in front of you, remember that your unclean hands have been washed clean by your baptism and that means something.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14


Very humbling indeed. He's absolutely right too (as much as my flesh is screaming "Nooooooo!" right now because it hates the idea).

Next, I found some material from Pastor Jonathan Fisk and Worldview Everlasting that talks about the same thing, but from a slightly different angle in not one, but two excellent videos.



Mmm... Foundation... (John 1:43-51)  

"Today’s Greek Tuesday text, John 1:43-51 sets the foundation for the entire Gospel as it touches on several themes of the book. And Jesus is sarcastic, too!! Stick around for this quick side trip to the Gospel of John before we head back to Mark for the next six weeks."


You're No Good But Tradition Is 
"This Friday, AskDaPastor tackles two questions. One about tradition and whether it is good for the church and another about being nice. Cause being a Christian makes you better than other people, right? So we should, like, totally be nicer than anyone else and make sure that they know we are nicer than them and that we are better than them and that God loves us more. Right? And while we’re all about being nice, let’s forget about what any dead people taught us and just do church however we want. Cause we totally know what’s best way more than anyone who came before us possibly could. (This episode description brought to you by the Sarcasm Monkey…at midnight the night before this is published…you get the picture.)"


Good stuff, right?


Ironically, Pastor Fisk's sarcasm upset one Christian brother of mine so much that he responded by trying to claim tha Pastor Fisk was somehow into the Occult and Tarot Cards! Remember that?

Yes, this is still the #YOHBT (the Biblical reality is that EVERY YEAR will be the #YOHBT due to what it says about the wolves and false teaching always being with us in this life), but I think I personally need to learn a thing or two about contending for and defending "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) better than I have by letting it essentially control me and my mood all the time.

I know that there was one lecture delivered at last week's BJS "When Heterodoxy Hits Home" Conference that dealt with this topic too, which is why I can't wait to listen to it later this weekend.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, I may be too sarcastic, and if that's a sin per se, then the good news is that Jesus Christ died for that sin too while forgiving me even though I may be one of the most sarcastic Christians who ever lived.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. 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 point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category 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!?!). In addition, 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 we 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 notes 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 have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. 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 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. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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I Have This Problem...

Please pray for me. I have this problem.

I've been baptized and catechized. Please pray for me (this is no joke or snark)!

Seriously, it's a major problem that's been affecting all aspects of my life for a couple of years now and it all came to a head earlier this week. To be blunt, I'm getting a little sick and tired of it too. No, really, I am.

Being "Baptized And Catechized" is not the "missing chapter" to the bestseller "How To Win Friends & Influence People" that everyone's Small Group is reading and studying this month in the LCMS like I thought it was when I first found the Lutheran church and became a Confessional Lutheran (or should I say, "when God found me where I was and brought me to the Lutheran church" per John 6:44).

Instead, being "Baptized And Catechized" likely means you're ostracized.

That's funny. That word "ostracized" reminds me of an ostrich, which is ironic in more ways than one due to our subject matter today.

You see, it's commonly believed that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger. That's actually a myth!

Similarly, there are many Christians today who will tell you that doctrine doesn't matter ("Deeds Not Creeds!") and that they prefer instead to be "relational" and "unified" in "the things that really matter" instead, because that's supposedly "the proper Christian response" when interacting with people who hold a different confession than you, according to the Bible.

Guess what? That's a myth too!

The Scriptures actually have a ton to say about not just being on guard against false teachers and their false teachings, but also our expected response to it all (yes, we're supposed to respond to it lovingly rather than simply ignore it and look the other way per Ephesians 4:15 as just one of many examples).

So, when lifelong Lutherans are the ones getting it completely wrong when it comes to basics like Baptism, or when they are the ones despising the simple suggestion of sound catechesis both inside and outside the church, or when they even recoil at the mere mention of anything Lutheran, it's almost impossible to stand up and stand alone against the tidal wave of "Get Alongism" in the church.

I gotta hand it to "Evangelerans" in the Lutheran Church today though. They're always so happy. That's probably because they have nothing to be unhappy about.

Think about it! When "A Personal Relationship With Jesus" and/or "A Personal Relationship With Another Christian" is elevated to sacramental status within a church (like it is at mine), then you never have to worry about any doctrinal debates since your only concern is "How will make actions in Jesus' name bring me closer to God?" and/or "Which of the 15 Fellowship Groups do I want to join this month? Who do I want to get to know better and spend my free time with?" with the understanding that "fellowship" does not mean the same thing that it did in the New Testament and that it just refers to "Hanging Out With Other Christians From Your Local Church."

The Madison Avenue marketing successes like "Have It Your Way!" and "Obey Your Thirst!" have definitely infiltrated Christ's Church to the point where "liturgy" and "tradition" of any kind are akin to Ford's Edsel and Coca-Cola's "New Coke" failed marketing campaigns.

That's why the holy Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper have been replaced by "Personal Relationships" and "Fellowship" by so many -- the new and improved sacraments.

As a tragic result, people no longer go to church to receive God's gifts of absolution, forgiveness, and mercy from their sins, but to learn how to be part of the "Every Member A Minister" crowd so that they can be the ones doing the absolving, preaching, teaching for those out in the world who "need it more than we do."

But "Don't Hate The Players, Hate The Game!" right? Well, can I just ask when Christ's Church became a "game" or a "social club" whose members are made up of women who are Pollyannas and men who have "Peter Pan Syndrome" and children who don't want to go to church unless they can sing and dance and get free candy from the Pastor at the end of his Children's Message?



 
See, this is why I need your prayers right now! This is why I'm desperately trying to engage in self-reflection more so than in any kind of finger-pointing. I know I shouldn't feel this way or at least as strongly as I do. Why does the existence and presence of false doctrine and false teachers anywhere get me so riled up all the time when I know the Bible tells us to expect it and that it will never go away in this life!?! That's what I need to discover and that's why I please ask for your prayers, my dear friends.


Is there something wrong with me? Is my "Old Evangelical Adam" trying to reassert himself in my life perhaps? I thought "Living The Victorious Christian Life" meant 365 days of "Puppy-Dogs-And-Ice-Cream" with "Get behind thee, Satan!" always on the tip of my tongue in the event I had an occasional "bad day" which, to a believer already "Living The Victorious Christian Life" should only be as bad as trying to figure out how I can raise enough money to be a part of the "voluntourism" mission trip to some Third World country to show how "radical" my life is for Jesus all because I have been "anointed" with enough "crazy love" for Him and His people.

This is my life. This is how I'm feeling inside. This is what I'm thinking about most of the time. Where's the hope? Joy? Love? The good news is that I know something's wrong with me. The bad news? I'm not quite sure exactly what that is let alone how to fix it just yet. Please continue to pray for me. Lately, I've found myself feeling angry, beaten down, depressed, heartbroken, hopeless, lonely, mad, sad, and just tired of it all.

Sometimes I can't eat. Sometimes I can't sleep. Sometimes I can't bear to be around certain people. Sometimes I don't even know how to pray about it or for others (including myself) anymore! Sometimes (Lord, forgive me!) I even think I would be better off to just give up and throw in the towel so-to-speak and utter the words that everyone in my life is anxiously waiting for me to say to them.


"That's ok then. It's not a big deal. I guess we can just agree to disagree."


I absolutely hate that idiom!

It's not like I go looking for trouble either. As I've learned more about the Doctrine of Vocation, I've come to pick-and-choose my spots carefully and have confessed Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind when put in a position to do so in my daily life.

In the past, I used to aggressively seek to proselytize anyone and everyone I came into contact with. Now, I usually wait for the opportunity to present itself like when other people in my life bring up the subject of faith and religion or come to me with specific questions about either of them.

This approach hasn't done much to change people's impression of me either I'm afraid. There's still this "Avoid The Redhead At All Costs When It Comes To Spiritual Matters!" unspoken thing going on. Maybe that's me just putting the worst construction on things though. I'm not so sure.

My relationships with my family members have been affected. My relationships with my friends have been affected. My relationships with my co-workers have been affected. My relationships with the people at my church have been affected.

All of the relationships in my life have been "affected" not for better it seems, but only for the worse and all because I'm viewed as being "infected" so-to-speak.

Admittedly, there's a part of me that wants to be cured of this madness; that wants the "infected" part to just go away already. That part of me is named "Old Adam" and, you didn't hear this from me, but he's a real bastard.

Ironically, there's another part of me that doesn't want to be cured of this so-called "madness" (that part of me is called the "New Man") and yet, strangely enough, I'm constantly told that he's more of a bastard than the Old Adam is.

What!?! How does that work exactly?

See, the New Man, the "new creation in Christ" that I became when I was baptized, and the New Man I am becoming through catechesis, is someone who is willing to talk about God's gifts for us including such "messy" things like doctrine. Somehow that makes me "toxic" at least to many who are a part of my daily life.

May Matthew 5:11 and John 13:16 be my constant comfort and guide. Please pray that I will maintain perspective, be given patience, and the ability to persevere.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I have this "problem" of wanting to talk about having been baptized and catechized with others who I care about and love.

Pray for me and also pray for them.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. 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 point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category 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!?!). In addition, 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 we 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 notes 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 have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. 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 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. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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I Just Want To Be In The Company Of Those With A Common Confession (At Least Part Of The Time)

Wow. What a week! Last week, for me personally, was one I'll never forget for many different reasons (some good, most bad).

The year that was quickly dubbed the #YOHBT only a few days into 2015 has certainly proved to be true and has become an appropriate description of this new year that's not even three months old yet.

Unfortunately, last week's contribution to such a Confessional Christian label left me hopeless, praying, rolling my eyes, sad, shaking my head, and shrugging my shoulders in disbelief and frustration. Worse, in some cases, it even caused me to sin against some of my brothers and sisters...and, therefore, caused me to sin against God.


Psalm 51:12 (ESV) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.


I take full responsibility for my actions, my tone...my sins. Regardless of who and/or what it is I'm responding to, there's gotta be a better way to do it without getting myself so worked up all the time to the point where I'm literally angry and depressed by it all for hours on end.

What in the world is wrong with me!?! Seriously.

Part of me thinks I'm the way that I am because I understand what's at stake having almost made shipwreck of my own faith only a couple of years ago (1 Timothy 1:19). The other part of me thinks I'm the way that I am because I'm just a sinful jerk sometimes and tend take everything way too personally for some reason too (1 John 1:8; Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42). The truth of the matter is probably somewhere in the middle between both realities.

That's why I loved the unexpected advice I received yesterday from a new acquaintance thanks to Twitter. She gave it to me straight and I greatly appreciated it.


 
"If you have not listened to Pr. Todd Wilken's lecture at the BJS conference, do not delay! I think this is one you, in particular, need to listen to and maybe more than once. For those of us coming into the LC-MS, it is important that we listen carefully to what the men who have been in the struggle (some for decades) have to say, as they share their perspective on this point in the history of a synod that has had to contend for the faith from day one and will until the last day. Same is true across Christendom throughout history." LINK: http://t.co/Q5RnO8MQQh


It's funny to have received that message from her, because I did bookmark that page and made a mental note to check it out as soon as possible. It's also funny that a Christian Conference called "When Heterodoxy Hits Home" was taking place in the background of all that transpired last week.

Given her comments, I'm thinking it may be a continuation of what he said back in 2013 (in the "What's So Special About Being Lutheran?" piece we published recently) that really caught me off guard at the time when I heard Pastor Wilken say that we shouldn't assume that things will change so dramatically for the better in our own lifetimes. I just never thought of it like that before.

Here's what I wrote after listening to that lecture of a similar nature...


Such a pastoral, sober-minded presentation for us to prayerfully consider. 
What really surprised me was his point that while we should never become apathetic about false doctrine, we also shouldn't assume that things will change so dramatically for the better in our own lifetimes. Wow! 
That was a shock when I first heard it, but he's right, isn't he? I mean, much like the "Missionalists" are always making things sound so "urgent" all the time, "Confessionalists" like me have been guilty of the same thing in some respects. 
I've been focused on the immediate, short-term rather than the delayed, long-term. 
To put it another way, any time I've tried to make a bold confession of faith in the church and public arena, I've treated the whole cause as though it were a sprint instead of a marathon. 
I suppose it's similar to the type of thing that Pastors go through when they are called to serve a new congregation only to find that it takes several years (maybe even decades!) of God-given faithfulness, patience, and perseverance to truly change that congregation's doctrine and practice to where it needs to be. 
We find that Rev. Wilken's statements echo Rev. Harrison's when he wrote, "To act pastorally means that change takes time and teaching."  
That's why I think that the better approach, from now on, is to be much more realistic about things like Pastor Wilken said and like my new acquaintance encouraged me to be (Matthew 5:11; John 13:16; John 15:20).



Maybe then I won't get so hung up on "hurt feelings" all the time, which can lead to a pity party of self-loathing and, if I'm not careful, self-righteousness too. 
Even so, for me, being Lutheran means something.


As it should for you too if you're a Lutheran who's reading this, but that's not what this is about today. Instead, I can't help but think that, yes, while we are the "Church Militant" right now, there has to be a better and more Biblical way for me to process what I'm going through if not also a better and more Biblical way to respond to it all.

I know that our faith should never be defined by our feelings since feelings change and are highly subjective, but I'm just getting awfully tired of being on guard all the time when I think I'm in the company of those who share a common confession of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

No, I'm not saying that you and I have absolutely nothing to talk about if you're a non-Lutheran or that I'm some kind of "Denominational Snob" (as I was called a few days ago) who will only associate with others from the same denomination that I belong to. Quite the contrary, my dear friends! Quite the contrary.

I just want to be in the company of those with a common confession (at least part of the time). Is that too much to ask? Is that too much to expect?  
Thankfully, my family and I seem to have found a new church with a truly Confessional Lutheran Pastor so at least I know I won't be starving as much. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Matthew 18:20), right? I'm still hungry for more though and I pray that this hunger for consistency in confession and unity in doctrine, practice, and truth -- as well as a hunger to be around other Christians who feel the same way -- never goes away as challenging and painful as it might be for me.

I should probably stop writing at this point. See, while this is a personal blog where the format allows me to share some rather intimate and personal things like this from time-to-time, the truth of the matter is that it's not about me, and it shouldn't be. It's about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For me, it's simple really. If Jesus is "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), and He is, then I don't see how any of us could attempt to downplay or minimize any doctrine at all, which is always derived from that very same Word of God.

We should be striving toward unity with one another by discussing our differences in doctrine and working them out based on what the Scriptures clearly say, shouldn't we?

Better yet, if we claim to share the very same confession, then we should easily agree on what it is that that particular church/denomination believes, teaches, and confesses, shouldn't we?

If we can't do that, if we don't do that, if we won't do that, then one of us (hint: the one who disagrees with those beliefs, teachings, and confessions or the one who simply ignores them completely) should leave so as not to cause any further division, which is also a sin, right?

Of course, the danger here (and the spiritual landmine that I personally need to watch out for myself) is that doctrine can be lorded over others "unlovingly" under the guise of speaking "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).

Sure, some might try to assert and warn us that "doctrine can become an idol" too even though the truth tells us another story.


Ultimately we must remember what is important, though. It’s not about being right. It’s about confessing Christ clearly and purely to the glory of God and the comfort of sinners. It’s about Him being right. If we elevate our confessions above scripture, rather than having them point us to scripture, we taint them with our own self-righteousness and conceit. 
As long as we hold fast to His Word and continue to test everything against scripture alone, we shouldn’t worry about our doctrine — our confessions, our beliefs — becoming an idol, because it will be solely focused and centered on His Truth. For we can no more turn Christ’s pure teaching into an idol, than we can turn Christ Himself into an idol.  
Doing so is not idolatry at all, but is instead Holy Worship.


All that being said, I want to listen to Pastor Wilken's presentation tonight first and think about these issues a little more before I say (write) anything else here in this space even though I'm bursting at the seams with so much on my mind that I want to get off my chest.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I still have so much to say, but I'm willing to keep my mouth shut and my fingers from marching across this keyboard like dutiful soldiers for doctrinal truth until I've at least had a chance to prayerfully consider the content from the BJS Conference (and even then I might still refrain from writing anything for awhile).

Then again, for all I know, listening to it might only inspire me to become even more passionate about things, and I'll be back tomorrow with something new to say!

Either way, while I know with complete certainty that there's no need for me to put my foot in my mouth or to eat crow following all the things I've published/tweeted/written in the past week (since all of it was merely quoting the Bible and our Confessions), I'm definitely not opposed to eating a huge slice of humble pie so I can learn how to better communicate the truth to those who disagree with me on so much -- even those who say they're Confessional Lutherans like me (Jude 1:20-23; Matthew 5:11; John 13:16; John 15:20).

Perspective. Patience. Perseverance.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. 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 point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category 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!?!). In addition, 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 we 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 notes 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 have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. 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 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. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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We Don't Desire To Point The 'False Teacher Finger' At Anyone! We're Just 'Zealous For Lutheranism' Because 'Doctrine Is Heaven'

For the record, God's kingdom is much, much bigger than any one denomination and/or Synod.

When you get to heaven, God's not going to turn you away because you aren't a Lutheran.

That's because true believers in Jesus Christ can be found in Baptist churches, Catholic churches, ELCA churches, Evangelical churches, Methodist churches, Non-Denominational churches, Pentecostal churches, Presbyterian churches, Reformed churches, etc.

The Holy Scriptures are crystal clear on this fact and our Lutheran Confessions (as well as the many Confessional Lutheran writings of our church fathers) even emphasize and point us back to that truth.

At the same time, Scripture is also quite clear when it tells us that while only God knows a person's heart (a.k.a. whether they are a "true Christian" or not), we will know them by their belief, teaching, and confession (a.k.a. it's ok to judge a person by their confession).

In addition, Scripture is unwavering when it warns us repeatedly about the dangers of false doctrine and how we are to react and respond to false teachers.

If you call yourself a Lutheran, then you should know better than most Christians why doctrinal debates and discussions are always loving and necessary, because the very church that you belong to was born out of a response to false teachers and their false doctrines masquerading as Biblical truth.

We should never take doctrine for granted or think that it's somehow "separate" from Jesus Christ Himself. They are one-and-the-same and so if you profess to love Jesus, and profess to love His children, and yet, you detest any mere mention of the "D" word because you think it's "divisive" and "unloving" or something, then I would strongly encourage you to go back to the New Testament and make note of how many Epistles (if not ENTIRE Epistles!) have something significant to say to us about this topic.

Please don't just gloss over it. It's there for a good reason, my dear friends.

That brings me to a couple of things I saw just this morning. The first was written by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, LCMS Synod President, back in 2011, and it's so appropriate in light of current controversies and debates whether they are taking place in Christ's Church or on Social Media.


 
Doctrine Is Heaven. Life Is Earth. (Published 17th August 2011)   
Here's a passage from Luther's 1535 commentary on Galatians. It's quoted in Walther's "Church and Office," and is thus an official doctrinal statement of the LCMS. The quote is under thesis VIII b. on the church: B. Every believer for the sake of his salvation must flee all false teachers and avoid fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with heterodox congregations [Gemeinden] or sects. M.H.

So also today we regard all as cursed and condemned [verbannet und verdammt] who say that the article concerning the Sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is unclear, or who distort the words of Christ in the Holy Supper. For we – in short -- desire to retain all articles of the Christian doctrine absolutely pure and sure, whether they be great or small (though not one is small or insignificant), and we do not want to surrender one tittle of it. And that is as it should be; for the doctrine is our only light that lights and guides us and shows us the way to heaven. If we let it be made weak and dim in one particle, then we may be sure that it will become altogether powerless. If we fail here, love will do us no good. We certainly can be saved without the love and unity [Einigkeit] of the sacramentarians, but we cannot be saved without the pure doctrine and faith. Hence, we gladly keep peace and unity with those who with us treat and believe all articles of the Christian faith in a Christian and right way. Indeed, we are willing as much as possible to keep peace even with our enemies; we will pray for those who in ignorance slander and persecute our doctrine but never for those who knowingly and contrary to their conscience attack one or more articles of the Christian faith. 
“And if we are so rigid and stubborn, we are taught that by the very example of St. Paul, who publicly and vehemently condemns the false apostles in a matter that they and their adherents regarded not only as insignificant and secondary but even as highly unfair (for they believed both, [namely,] that they [the teachers] taught rightly according to God’s Word and that they [the hearers] believed rightly and according to God’s Word); for he says: ‘He who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.’ Therefore, as I often and in many words have admonished to do, we must diligently distinguish between doctrine and life. Doctrine is heaven; life is earth. In life there is sin, error, discord, labor, and sorrow. There love must not listen but overlook; it must suffer and always forgive sins, that is, if sin and error are not defended. But doctrine is a far different matter, for it is holy, pure, undefiled, heavenly, divine. Whoever desires to pervert that, to him must be shown neither love nor mercy. [Pure] doctrine requires no remission of sins. 
“Therefore, it is not at all proper to try to compare doctrine with life; for a single letter, indeed a single tittle of Scripture is of more and greater importance than heaven and earth. Hence, we will not have anyone pervert it in the least. We can well excuse and overlook weaknesses and faults in life, for we too are weak human beings who daily fail and sin; indeed, all dear saints confess most earnestly in the Lord’s Prayer that they are sinners and that they believe in the forgiveness of sins. But by the grace of God our doctrine is pure. There is not a single article of our faith that is not well and firmly grounded in Scripture. But these [articles] the devil would like to besmirch and pervert [befudeln und verkehren]. Therefore, he also attacks us so insidiously with the argument, accusing us through the factious [Rotten] spirits that we do not keep the peace but are quarrelsome and destroy the unity and love in the church or Christendom. 
“Here, then, we learn how St. Paul regards a little error in doctrine that might appear as very insignificant, if not even as the truth. He regards it as so great and dangerous that he dares curse the false apostles, though these seemed to be great persons. Therefore, we dare not regard the leaven of false doctrine as insignificant. No matter how small it may appear, its result is that the truth and salvation will be suppressed and crushed and God will be denied unless we guard against it. For if the Word is blasphemed and God is denied and blasphemed (and this must follow of necessity), then there is no longer any hope for salvation. But though we are slandered, cursed, and killed, we shall not be overpowered; for He who is never destroyed can again raise us up and deliver us from the curse, death, and hell. 
(In epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas commentarius, ex praelectione D.M. Lutheri collectus. 1535 (Nach Luthers Vorlesung 1531); “Detailed Interpretation of the Epistle to the Galatians” [Gal. 5:9–12], 1535, Auslegung des Briefes an die Gal. 5, 9-12, vom J. 1535; Walch1 8, 2652ff.; St. Louis, 9:642-653; WA 40 I, 45ff.; Aland 229)


Of course, that was also shared in "'Doctrine Is Heaven' (Shhh! Don't Say The 'D' Word!)" which was our very first podcast.

Many of you may be thinking that this seemingly incessant obsession with doctrine all the time is "unhealthy" and "wrong" for any Christian, especially when it seems like all those of us who broach the subject do is wait until we can play "gotcha!" and point the "False Teacher Finger" at our brothers and sisters.

No, we believe "doctrine is heaven" and are simply trying to encourage you to honor and view it in the same way. It shouldn't be that hard if you call yourself a Christian, should it? Then again, it's also true, unfortunately, that self-identifying as a Christian (and especially as a Lutheran these days) means jack!

Ok, so why am I so passionate about sharing the Lutheran confession of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) with others, you ask? We're Christians first, Lutherans second, right? Why not just share what the Bible says? Why do I always have to share what we Lutherans believe?

All great questions! All questions I was asked in the past 24-48 hours. The short answer?


Because as an ex-Evangelical-Non-Denominational-Type who almost caused shipwreck to my faith due to the things I was taught as Biblical truth that I then believed, taught, and confessed myself, I can say with complete joy and thankfulness that Lutherans do share only what the Bible says, and it has always been a denomination that was primarily concerned with calling the faithful back to the one, true faith as taught by the Apostles.


Please hear me out.

Faith can never rely on feelings, but only on the Word of God. We cling only to the Word as our source of what is true and what is false.

A brief commentary that appeared today from Concordia Academic about Wilhelm Loehe and his thoughts on all of this are quite compelling.


"Zealous For Lutheranism" 
Faith cannot rely on feelings, but on the Word of God, the redemption through Christ which happened "outside of us" and is not conditioned "by our moods and feelings." Decisive is the "total faith without feelings" -- that means faith that is not dependent on feelings -- "which clings only to the Word." 
This faith experience Loehe found affirmed in the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, especially the three Old-Church confessions or "symbols," namely the Apostolic, the Nicene and the Athanasian Creeds, also the Augsburg Confession, Luther's Small and Large Catechism and the Formula of Concord of 1577, which permanently defined the teaching of the Lutheran Church and distinguished it from the other denominations. 
In comparison to other denominations, the Roman Catholic and the Reformed Church, the Lutheran Church seemed to him to be the "unifying middle of the confessions," a "fountain of truth," because it "keeps Word and Sacrament in its pure confession."


I couldn't agree more and have found Loehe's description to be spot on accurate.

That's why I'm a Lutheran.

I know, I know -- I still sound like I'm putting my denomination over-and-above Christ's Church or that I'm putting Luther over-and-above Jesus. don't I?

Look, I get that, because I had ALWAYS felt the same way for many years and NEVER wanted to talk about denominations either since I thought they were silly and actually a big part of the problem (or what has actually hurt Christianity).

It wasn't until I came face-to-face with the very real possibility of shipwrecking my faith (1 Timothy 1:19) that I began to not only ask myself WHAT it is that I believe, but WHY it is that I believe it.

That was difficult, but necessary, and it led me here.

Again, while I fully admit that there are true Christians to be found in other denominations, I must also admit that I truly believe the Lutheran church is the most accurate and faithful confession of Christianity there is.

I mention that because of something else that was written about Wilhelm Loehe in that Concordia piece. They highlighted his views on being Lutheran, on other denominations, and on the mission of the Church.

I think it's worth prayerfully considering particularly within the context of this discussion (and in light of the many different debates we've seen on Social Media recently).


Thus the task of missions is to gather the one Church out of all nations. 
One Church -- and yet there are many "particular churches," each one having its own "jewel." They are different in their understanding of the Word and in the administering of the Sacraments, and therefore in their Confession. 
Which church possess "the greatest truth?" The criterion has to be whether its "Confession is according to the Scripture." And here Loehe wanted to "present the laurel wreath" without reservation to the Lutheran Church.


As do I! Interestingly enough, Loehe and I even share the same reservations.


The only thing that bothered him was the name "Lutheran," because it is not appropriate to describe the "great work of the Church" with the name of a human being.


Couldn't agree more!

Maybe that's why so many Christians (including other Lutherans) cringe and react so violently to my attempts at proselytizing them with Lutheran doctrine. Even Luther hated this though!


"The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone. How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?"


Sadly, even when you try to point these things out to other Christians they still recoil in horror that you would self-identify as a "Lutheran" and not just a "Christian" instead.

The irony is that people still fail to realize what the Lutheran church is.


In reality it is the old Christian Church of the apostles. Luther had restored its pure confession against the "innovations and misuses" of the Roman Church. Therefore the Church would have to be called "Christian, Catholic, or Apostolic," were it not for the fact that other Partikularkirchen (individual churches) have usurped those names for themselves. 
"The true Church calls itself Lutheran for the time being until it is given a better name. But in heaven it has always carried the better names and still carries them."


Yes, I believe that wholeheartedly too.

Does that make me a "Denominational Snob" as some charged me with yesterday? Does that mean I "hate Christians from other denominations" too? Does my willingness attend a church service at another denomination even though I will not pray with heterodox Christians or take Communion with them mean that I think I'm "better" than them, or that "they're all going to hell" even?

You've read what I've written here. What do you think are the answers to those questions?

Do you understand why we Lutherans point out these differences in doctrine? Do you have a better idea of why doctrine matters (or should)? Are you now starting to see why we believe that "doctrine is heaven" and it cannot be divorced from Jesus Christ because they're one-and-the-same?

Maybe the problem is with the word "heterodox" perhaps. Is it "too negative" a label? Why are people so sensitive to it? From a Lutheran perspective, "heterodox" Christians are those who mix false teaching in with true teaching such as Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, etc.

From a Lutheran perspective, the actions of unionism/syncretism are expressly forbidden in our Synodical Constitution and also forbidden by the Holy Scriptures.

My point?


What do all these insights mean for the work of missions? If the Lutheran Church possesses the "true teaching which flows out of the Confession" it must carry "the torch of truth to all nations" by itself and has to begin mission work among the heathen. But that does not mean that it should exclude others: "We will never interfere with or destroy the good deeds of other confessions among the heathen. But we will do our part, as much as possible, to see to it that the purest doctrine will demonstrate and prove its power to save.


That's why you'll find some of us Confessional Lutherans reacting so strongly (like "babies" I was told) to certain things we see and read online from other supposed Confessional Lutherans.


"But Jeff! If we all believe the Gospel whether we're Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Methodist, Lutheran, LCMS, ELCA, WELS, Presbyterian, or Reformed, then why not celebrate that and ignore our differences?"


My answer? Galatians 5:9 "A little leaven leavens the whole lump."

My dear friends, it's just confusing to me how other Lutheran Pastors can participate in an event like the Liberate 2015 Conference last week with other Presbyterian and Reformed types when they definitely know all the history regarding our major differences in doctrine (most notably Salvation and the Sacraments) with those we view as heterodox Christians and never address the subject.


"But Jeff! How do you know they didn't discuss such things while they were there together like over dinner and drinks or something?"


You're right. I don't know if that happened.

Those Lutheran Pastors who were there should at least let people like me know what transpired along those lines even if it's just a general "we discussed our mutual doctrinal differences with one another as amicably as possible within that venue" since that would silence much of the criticism that came about in response to pictures of everyone each wearing a smile from ear-to-ear as though those who we believe pervert the Gospel were our BFFs or something.


"For we -- in short -- desire to retain all articles of the Christian doctrine absolutely pure and sure, whether they be great or small (though not one is small or insignificant), and we do not want to surrender one tittle of it. And that is as it should be; for the doctrine is our only light that lights and guides us and shows us the way to heaven. If we let it be made weak and dim in one particle, then we may be sure that it will become altogether powerless. If we fail here, love will do us no good. We certainly can be saved without the love and unity [Einigkeit] of the sacramentarians, but we cannot be saved without the pure doctrine and faith. Hence, we gladly keep peace and unity with those who with us treat and believe all articles of the Christian faith in a Christian and right way. Indeed, we are willing as much as possible to keep peace even with our enemies; we will pray for those who in ignorance slander and persecute our doctrine but never for those who knowingly and contrary to their conscience attack one or more articles of the Christian faith." 
*- Martin Luther


Please go back and re-read that piece that Rev. Harrison published back in 2011 from Martin Luther, especially if you're a Lutheran yourself. How can we not agree with any of that?

If you don't agree with it, then why are you even a member of the Lutheran church to begin with? I think that's a legitimate question, but I'm sure I will be branded "cult-like" and "hateful" for asking it.

I'll defer to Martin Luther one last time.


We can well excuse and overlook weaknesses and faults in life, for we too are weak human beings who daily fail and sin; indeed, all dear saints confess most earnestly in the Lord’s Prayer that they are sinners and that they believe in the forgiveness of sins. But by the grace of God our doctrine is pure. There is not a single article of our faith that is not well and firmly grounded in Scripture. But these [articles] the devil would like to besmirch and pervert [befudeln und verkehren]. Therefore, he also attacks us so insidiously with the argument, accusing us through the factious [Rotten] spirits that we do not keep the peace but are quarrelsome and destroy the unity and love in the church or Christendom. 
Here, then, we learn how St. Paul regards a little error in doctrine that might appear as very insignificant, if not even as the truth. He regards it as so great and dangerous that he dares curse the false apostles, though these seemed to be great persons. Therefore, we dare not regard the leaven of false doctrine as insignificant. No matter how small it may appear, its result is that the truth and salvation will be suppressed and crushed and God will be denied unless we guard against it. For if the Word is blasphemed and God is denied and blasphemed (and this must follow of necessity), then there is no longer any hope for salvation.


"Therefore, we dare not regard the leaven of false doctrine as insignificant." For me, that's the bottom line here.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, we don't desire to point the False Teacher Finger at anyone! We're just "zealous for Lutheranism" because we believe "doctrine is heaven" and are simply trying to encourage others to honor and view it in the same way.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. 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 point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category 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!?!). In addition, 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 we 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 notes 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 have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. 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 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. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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The Twitter Patter 5 (Week #6)

So, according to that bastion of truth known as Wikipedia...


Patter is a prepared and practiced speech that is designed to produce a desired response from its audience. Examples of occupations with a patter might include the auctioneer, salesperson, dance caller, or comedian. The term may have been a colloquial shortening of "Pater Noster", and may have referred to the practice of mouthing or mumbling prayers quickly and mechanically. From this, it became a slang word for the secret and equally incomprehensible mutterings of a cant language used by beggars, thieves, gypsies, etc., and then the fluent plausible talk that a cheap-jack employs to pass off his goods. Many illusionists, e.g., card magicians, use patter both to enhance the show and to distract the attention of the spectators.


If we're talking about Christians on Social Media, and Twitter in particular, then we must add "sinners" to that list of the types of people associated with the use of patter.

And so, with that, the "Twitter Patter Five" is born! Cheesy? Maybe, but I do love cheese (especially Dubliner!), and I also love to have a little fun when it comes to learning and then sharing what I've learned with others, and if there's one thing we've seen from our friends at Table Talk Radio, it's that such an approach can be highly effective (even if you're only "mediocre" too).

Despite the somewhat negative connotations to the term "patter" (not to mention the negative perception associated with the often unholy marriage between Christians and Social Media), there's actually a lot of thought-provoking Biblical truth that can be found on Twitter that's shared in a mere 140-character tweet.

My goal in this weekly series is to highlight the "good" rather than the "bad" and to promote the ones we should prayerfully consider from the ones we should "mark and avoid" (Romans 16:17) since they pervert our cherished and shared faith.

Here's how this will work.

I'll select just 5 Christian tweets from the week (hopefully, 1 from each day of the week leading up to and perhaps even including Saturday and Sunday) and give you the "Twitter Patter Five" Finalists for that week.

Then I'll select the one that I like the best as that week's "Twitter Patter: 'This Is Most Certainly True' Top Dog" (yeah, I know it's a MOUTHFUL, but please gimme a break, because I'm trying to incorporate some distinctly Lutheran language here! haha).

The best part of this weekly feature? It's also a contest that every single one of you with a Twitter account can play at any time! Just include #TwitterPatter in your tweets (if you can; helpful, but not necessary though).

At the end of the year, we'll take a look at all the Weekly Winners and select only 1 to be the best of 2015...but we'll do it "Bracket Busters" style (think the NCAA March Madness Tournament!) by setting one Weekly Winner against another! Should make for some fun and entertaining theological discussions once we get to that time of year!

Oh yeah, the 2015 Champion will receive, courtesy of A Lutheran Layman, the ultimate Twitter tool: What Luther Says... It's a $60 value and "this book contains more than 5,100 quotations on 200 subjects from the writings of Martin Luther. All quotations are alphabetically and topically arranged for quick and easy reference. The introduction explores Luther's life and writings, gives a historical perspective for this volume, and provides a description of how Ewald Plass went about producing this book."

In case you missed any of them, check out the Twitter Patter Archive for all the past winners from previous weeks. 
Now, here are this week's Twitter Patter Five Finalists (in no particular order)...



TWITTER PATTER FIVE - WEEK #6








Wow! Choosing ONLY five tweets each week is going to be very tough for me!

I really must commend all of you. I mean, the range of rock-solid theology consistently presented by so many of you in a mere 140-character message is mind-boggling and this past week was no exception.

Ok, drum roll please...

This week's Winner?


'THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY TRUE' TOP DOG - WEEK #6




So many good tweets from this past week (heck, so many god tweets from just the past 24 hours alone!), but this is the one that resonated with me given its relevance to so many issues Christianity is facing today regardless of one's denomination.

The thing I've come to like about @Ryan033 is that he has a backbone. There are men and then there are manly men. In all my interactions with him he seems to be the latter.

What I mean is that we've somehow lost the ability to disagree and discuss doctrine within Christianity (especially the men it seems) all because of the 11th Commandment of "Thou Shall Not Offend" and that's what's led to the Pollyannas and Peter Pans in our churches today. Well, he's no Peter Pan!

I just like the fact that he's willing to challenge others when they spit out Christian platitudes if not outright error and he's not afraid to try to correct them by pointing them back to the Word of God. Plus, it helps that his resume includes being the one I credit with starting the #YOHBT trend.

See, there's this silly notion that "doctrine" is somehow separate from Jesus Christ Himself; like they're two vastly different things and as long as you "have Jesus" you don't need to "have doctrine" or something. His tweet shatters that myth with the truth.

In addition, it was quite the week for me personally, and so I'm sure my selecting his as this week's "Top Dog" also had a lot to do with my own experiences.

I remember something Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, LCMS Synod President, once wrote: "Here's a passage from Luther's 1535 commentary on Galatians. It's quoted in Walther's 'Church And Office,' and is thus an official doctrinal statement of the LCMS. The quote is under Thesis VIII b. on the church: B. Every believer for the sake of his salvation must flee all false teachers and avoid fellowship [Gemeinschaft] with heterodox congregations [Gemeinden] or sects."

Yet, in the span of a single week, I cam face-to-face with some pretty ridiculous stuff from Christians who, quite frankly, should know better when it comes to that subject, especially if they call themselves Lutheran.

First, I saw a very popular "Confessional Lutheran" group promote the writings of heretic Ann Voskamp and when I asked them why they would do that (and even provided quotes from her book that would make anyone cringe) the response was several hours of silence followed by an admission that they didn't have the slightest clue who she was! Well, then why are we promoting her as somehow we should be reading and learning Biblical truth from!?! Am I crazy to think it's reasonable to expect that we know a little about the belief, teaching, and confession of those we ask others to follow and/or read for Biblical truth?

Second, a controversial picture from a certain Christian Conference ignited a Social Media firestorm it seemed, and I spent several hours yesterday going back-and-and forth with some brothers in Christ who I never would've guessed are Lutherans. I mean, to be a Lutheran and act like false teachers and false teachings aren't that big a deal when the church you belong to was born in response to false teachers and false teachings doesn't quite make sense to me.

To be blunt, I'm a saint and a sinner, and my sinful "Old Adam" is losing patience with some brothers and sisters since this past week has demonstrated to me that I think I've had it with all the doctrinal debates with those from "Within The Same Camp" so-to-speak.

That is, I'm getting really frustrated and tired of having the same debates -- debates that were already settled by our Confessions hundreds of years ago -- with other Lutherans who should know better.

If you want to move the discussion outside of the denominational realm, then I'd also say that I'm getting tired of trying to discuss Scripture with Christians from other denominations attempting to use Scripture to support my assertions only to have those Christians ignore God's Word that I cite if not refuse to counter any claims I make with Scripture to support their position. It's maddening sometimes! So much for Sola Scriptura, huh?

In any event, @Ryan033 says about his Twitter account that "y
ou'll figure it out by reading my nonsense" but I'm here to tell you that I've already figured out that this guy's confession of faith is anything but "nonsense" as it's actually quite enlightening and inspiring to this "Newtheran" over here who's escaped Evangelicalism and knows just how dangerous false teachers and their false teachings can be to the sheep. For that, I am grateful.

Remember, as fun as this little weekly contest is, it's NEVER about us and ALWAYS about Jesus Christ in the sense that we should want to point people to Him and not ourselves by proclaiming Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind.

Unfortunately, one of the real dangers of having a Social Media presence of any kind (whether on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or with a blog like this one) is that you quickly become susceptible to the sin of pride setting in.

If you're not careful, you can become disillusioned into thinking it's all about you, your words, and your followers when it needs to remain all about Jesus, His Words, and His followers (of course, this can occur even without the use of Social Media).

Sure, we're all sinners, which means we're all bound to fall into this trap from time-to-time. The key, as you know, is repentance. If the situation should call for it, then it's also ok to detach, sign off, and take a step back if you need to.

So, yes, use online tools like Twitter to confess "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) and let the Holy Spirit do His work when and where He pleases (John 3:7-8; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration II, 56).

Just remember it's Him who does the work of converting souls through the preaching of the Word and the administering of the Sacraments -- not you through your own witty tweets (John 6:44).

Well, that's it for this week's edition of Twitter Patter. Please feel free to let me know if you come across any tweets that you don't want me to miss so that they can be considered for next week's edition (@LutheranLayman).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, keep it short, keep it sweet, but above all, keep it Biblical in all your "Christian" tweets!


[TWITTER ICON IMAGE SOURCE HERE]


NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. 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 point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category 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!?!). In addition, 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 we 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 notes 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 have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. 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 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. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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