This is the next installment of my chapter-by-chapter review of Rev. Jonathan Fisk's Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules That Every Christian Ought To Break As Often As Possible  so if you missed the introductory piece, then please start there, and then follow that up with the other Chapter Reviews previously published in this series.


 
CHAPTER REVIEW: 'Broken' - 'Never #1 Educated Harlot (Mysticism)' 
CHAPTER REVIEW: 'Broken' - 'Never #2 The Cowardly Warrior (Moralism)' 
CHAPTER REVIEW: 'Broken' - 'Never #3 The Tyrant Scientist (Rationalism)'
CHAPTER REVIEW: 'Broken' - 'Never #4 The Party-Girl Church Lady (Prosperity)' 
CHAPTER REVIEW: 'Broken' - 'Never #5 The Prince of Salesmen (Pragmatism)'


It's been interesting for me to go back and reread one of the first distinctly Lutheran pieces of writing that I had ever put my hands on (even before getting my own copy of the Book of Concord, Small/Large Catechism, and Lutheran Study Bible) back when I fully embraced becoming a Confessional Lutheran.

I had forgotten just how life-altering and radical it was for me at the time to go from a sort of "American-Evangelical-Though-Self-Identifying-As-A-Non-Denominational-Spiritual-Island-Unto-Himself-Because-All-Denominations-Are-Bad" type of Christian to a Confessional Lutheran who was just starting to adhere to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3), which is always Christ-centered and cross-focused, because it constantly proclaims Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind and nothing else.

For that reason, I've fallen in love with this book all over again and I hope that these meager Chapter Reviews will help to explain all the reasons why while also enticing you to pick up a copy for yourself as soon as possible.

Before we get to our next Chapter Review, however, let's quickly review Pastor Fisk's main purpose in writing this book.


"In this book, I will dissect this tactic of the thief. We will look at how the devil uses such good gifts from God as your heart, your mind, and your hands to try to trick you into placing your trust not in God but in yourself. We will explore the seven counterfeit 'Christian' rules he tries to play off as if they were authentic Christianity. We will expose these rules as patterns of thinking that try to break your faith in Christianity by creating doubt. We will call these philosophical systems what they are: lies. And then we will challenge those lies with the truth given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. The crow comes cawing, promising you freedom, but telling you that YOU must earn it. He promises you supernatural wisdom, but tells you that YOU must figure it out. He promises you comfort, but insists that YOU find it inside yourself. He tells you that you're just on the other side of glory, if only YOU can create it. He offers you the world, but he leaves you hanging on a cross all by yourself, fed up with it all and wondering in anger and frustration where Jesus is. He was supposed to make it all better. He does this the only way he can: he steals Jesus' words, and he uses YOU to do it. I am not going to let that happen." pp. 21-22


Like I said once before, that's quite refreshing. It was incredibly refreshing when I first read it and it's incredibly refreshing to read it again now almost 4 years later.

Ok, but what about Chapter 6? What is the next lie that Satan uses against us so often?


VIDEO: Never #6 Grandma Got Turned Into A Werewolf (Werechurch) 
"Never follow a rule that doesn't like rules." 


So Chapter 6 introduces us to the sixth rule that every Christian ought to break as often as possible -- Freedom, or the incorrect belief that God's will for you is that you choose your will for yourself, that His strongest presence is found in His absence, that His only law is that you become a law unto yourself.

Freedom, then is nothing more than the worship of lawlessness.


To put it another way,


This is the true final fantasy of sin, the belief that if you can gain enough control of enough of the right things, then you can force everything else in life to go the way you want it to. So, what really matters is not what you call "sin," whether it is a giant monster or all the things you think other people shouldn't be allowed to do. What really matters is that by nature you believe it is up to you to drive the things you think are evil out of your life by any means possible. According to the wisdom of our age, there are no holds barred in this quest. There is only you and your need to make everything just fine or to convince yourself that it will be soon. 
This is the highest possible good, that you be able to live your life in anyway that you see fit. It is also the real definition of sin and the sixth rule every Christian ought to break as often as humanly possible. The belief that it is God's deepest wish for you to live your life however you want is the lie that "You can find God in freedom." It is the arrogance of thinking that the purest religion is no religion, that the truest spirituality is to be a law all unto yourself.
-- pp. 193-194


To sum things up, Pastor Fisk later adds, "We worship anything promising to give us the momentary high of happiness" (p. 195).

Hammering the point home, and clearly defining how this spiritual poison can be dangerous to believers, he writes this about the false teachers that are all too common in contemporary Christianity...


Rather than telling a different story, many versions of Christianity have joined the fray as just one more way to feed the addiction. With the Bible open in his hand, one preacher or another tells you Christianity is God's way for you to get control of your life. After all, "For freedom Christ has set [you] free" (Galatians 5:1). Ripping a few verses like these out of their context, good-looking men and women who are obviously in total control of their own lives cheer on your discontent with the present. Desperately addicted sinners that we are, we latch on to their proffered lies like a junkie starving for a fix. We don't care what the lie is cut with. We just need to believe something. "God would never want you to be unhappy!" That one will justify all sorts of selfish decisions, hands down. "God is moving you from glory into glory!" That one will get you through a few hard times, so long as there is a chance of still winning in the end. "Christianity is all about love, and love means enjoying life and living it to the full!" Anybody with an itch can scratch it with that one. 
-- pp. 195-196


I liked his comparing "the Christian idol worshiper" with an addict and how both learn to forget. I've written a ton about the spiritual amnesia I see in Christ's Church today and so that helped to validate my own observations over the years.

What's the tragic end result in each and every case?


Then, without even knowing it, too busy chasing escape to have seen the last chance pass, it is no longer only the traditions of men that go missing from our personal versions of Christianity. Hungry for a new fix and unable to find it from all the same old experiences, we are ready to listen when someone says, "You don't need to go to Church to worship God. You need to find God in a way that's right for you." That's right! we think. I'll give that a try. 
-- pp. 196-197


I could've kept going, and the opening paragraphs to this chapter are stunning in how accurately he captures the process of how a falling away from the faith typically unfolds with most people.

When all is said and done, we're left believing, teaching, and confessing the most ridiculous so-called "truths" like...


Because God would never want you to do anything against your will. Because God is not a tyrant. Because God is love! That means God wants you to be free. He wants you to find yourself, to express yourself. He made you just the way you are! And anyone who stands in the way of that, well, that person stands in the way of God. -- p.198


From there, Rev. Fisk spends some time talking about "praise songs" in a section that any fan of Table Talk Radio's "Praise Song Cruncher" will definitely appreciate.

He even tackles those who preach anything but the Gospel only to tack on an "in Jesus' name" at the very end thinking that it's some kind of automatic stamp of approval or something.

The whole point is that Freedom lies to us by telling us that we can't really find God anywhere in this life. and so the danger is that we ironically cite our "Christian freedom" whenever we drift so far away from the basic tenets of Christianity.

This is precisely how Christianity is destroyed from within and is often the fuel lighting the fire of the "I Hate Tradition On Principle" types of Christians too.

At this point the chapter, I like how he addressed the "spiritualized immaturity" and how there's this dominant thinking right now that you don't really need to go to church at all to be a Christian. I used to be that way for a very long time.

It reminds me of a tweet I sent out around Christmas this past year when there was talk of many Christian churches that were actually planning to cancel services because Christmas fell on a Sunday this year.




The rest of the chapter deals with audacity of many (particularly those from the pulpit) who claim that "Doctrine divides!" and so we should be about "Deeds Not Creeds!" too, which is why we shouldn't worry ourselves over it (or so they constantly claim).

This constant redefinition of Christianity and Christ's Church has created the "Werechurch" that relies on Freedom as our preferred lord and savior while preaching another Gospel entirely.


To say, "we all believe in Jesus so the other things do not matter" does not lift Jesus up. It casts Him down because it casts His teaching down. It replaces Him with a man-made tradition of hating tradition, under which no single word of His is safe. -- p. 219


Eventually, Pastor Fisk builds an ironclad case that the sixth rule that every Christian ought to break as often as possible is that "You find God in Freedom." Why?


As a rule, it is an assault against the very existence of truth. It strikes at the foundation of Christianity by undermining the power of Jesus Christ to speak to us with any real meaning in anything He says. -- p. 220


This is why we must reject any, "Yes, I believe in Jesus, but He didn't really mean THAT!" type of mentality among us.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, please stick around for our final installment on this exceptional Christian book; a book that you need to add to your own personal library right away if you haven't already. 




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 4 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 the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (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 not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the truth myself. 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 will 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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After my last post, I recalled this heartbreaking account that was shared by an acquaintance of mine on Social Media last March 2016...


 
As some of you may remember, I posted a thread last month about my church and the on-going debate to close our school. We had our third congregational meeting on the matter today, and it was uglier than the first two combined. 
As has been the custom since these meetings started, Divine Service was absolutely packed. People who never come, came to weigh in on this and to stir up trouble. That by itself has been disheartening. These people would not have otherwise came to Divine Service had this meeting not been right after. 
From the beginning, every meeting has caused false doctrine to rise up to the surface. People making the claim that "young families have absolutely no reason to come here, we have nothing to offer them whatsoever," and therefore, we should abandon the liturgy and throw out the pipe organ. 
People making the claim that the school is our "Happy Meal" which draws people in, and McDonald's would never get rid of their Happy Meal, so why should we get rid of ours? 
It got even worse this time. 
When the congregation moved to end debate, a woman stood up and preached the "Prosperity Gospel" over the objections of the moderator. Apparently, she has received prophetic revelation that God will bless and prosper the school again, because He promises to always bless His children with wealth and material things. 
The congregation voted narrowly to close the school. 
All the school teachers and the parents got up, started hurling insults at the congregation, and then made a dramatic exit slamming every door on their way out. But no, they didn't leave the building. They posted a crying child at every exit. 
I'm not trying to air my parish's dirty laundry in public, and to that end, this is the only group I will post this in. I am posting it as a warning to all of you. 
You guys are no strangers to false doctrine -- you came out of a system of false doctrine as I have. Make sure your Pastors are catechizing your people. If your Pastors aren't, catechize them yourselves. My church is reaping decades of being taught that what happens outside of Divine Service is more important than what happens during. 
Have mercy, Lord.


Yes, Lord, have mercy!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is why we need to constantly encourage one another to remain faithful and steadfast with 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 4 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 the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (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 not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the truth myself. 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 will 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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My apologies, since I've been quiet for some time now.

It's obviously been awhile since I wrote any original pieces as I've been swamped with my responsibilities stemming from the vocations of Husband, Father, Corporate Recruiter, and Sinner In Desperate Need Of God's Saving Grace.

However, today is one of those days when I simply have to write about a few things that make absolutely no sense to me.

It's both confusing and heartbreaking so maybe some of you can help explain it to me.

As all of you know, we just celebrated another "National Lutheran Schools Week" and remembered why it's important for us to celebrate and commemorate this occasion each year. If you're new here or curious about why that's the case, then please listen to the excellent 5-part series that Issues, Etc. produced during this same week last year.

What is Lutheran Schools Week all about?


It's Lutheran Schools Week time! This is one of the best weeks of the school year, and one that our children look forward to and remember for years! Most of our national sister schools celebrate this week, as well. Here are a few facts about our Lutheran schools across the country...there are 1,190 Early Childhood Centers, 842 Elementary Schools and 85 High Schools reaching more than 250,000 students, their families and the community! There are 200 Lutheran Schools in Asia, as well as three international schools run by the LCMS in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hanoi. Praise God! His faithful servants continue to reach children and families from around the world with the Saving Word!


Yes, praise God indeed!

However, this has become a bittersweet week for me, personally, for the past few years now.

Why exactly? Well, first, a look back to last year to help set the stage...




Yes, unfortunately, that's the case here in Western New York or the Eastern District-LCMS I'm afraid. Has been for some time too.

Best intentions and hard work aside, there's simply no denying the fact that our unique Lutheran identity is downplayed significantly throughout the entire school year, and even during the annual National Lutheran Schools Week activities.

How do I know this? I'm a parent of two children and an uncle to a nephew who all attend this Lutheran Day School. Each year, I ask them when I get home from work to tell me about the activities and lessons they did during the day to celebrate Lutheran Schools Week, and it would be a struggle to try to identify something that was distinctly Lutheran about any of it.

Am I being too unrealistic? Am I asking too much? Is this a common practice nowadays? Worse, is everyone who's a Lutheran Educator ok with this? Are other Lutheran parents around the country ok with it? These are the questions that have been on my mind this week.

Now, I'm all for a Day School using fun and games with young children during the entire week, but I would hope that there would be regular daily devotions and lessons that reflected our Lutheran heritage and that highlighted what's distinct about what we believe, teach, and confess.

I know a lot of schools based their activities on this year's "Upon This Rock" theme and that makes perfect sense. I would expect that. What I wouldn't expect is a weekly schedule that included a "Gospel Reductionist" mindset.

Where's the Small Catechism? Where's the Book of Concord? Where are the hymns? Where's the history lesson on the Reformation? Where's the discussion about the importance and impact of a Classical Lutheran Education? Where's anything that even remotely resembles Lutheranism?

Can someone please explain to me how much of what was celebrated this past week in our schools has anything to do with National Lutheran Schools Week? Better yet, can anyone explain to me how many of those same ideas have anything to do with with the "Upon This Rock" theme for this year?

Friends, this isn't complicated. Each year, the LCMS publishes FREE RESOURCES that schools can use to help.


I actually asked those questions quite casually one day this past week and learned that any mere implication that you are criticizing contemporary Christianity's sacred cow, the Moral Therapeutic Deistic Private Christian Day School, is sacrilegious.

Sure, I know many people who will disagree and reject my assertions here. That's fine, but I would kindly ask them to prayerfully consider the evidence and look at recent history before arriving at the conclusion, because it may be a New Year, but there's nothing "new" about my insistence that I believe it's essential that we repent of this madness and return to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

I've mentioned this before, but it was several years ago when the local Lutheran Day School removed the title "Lutheran" from its formal name since it felt it was too "exclusive" or "offensive" and so the decision was made to replace it with the much more "inclusive" and "non-offensive" title of "Christian" instead.

I guess. Whatever.

The wisdom that fueled such a move was based on the faulty reasoning that it is *we* and *only us* who can ever grow Christ's Church and, by extension, *primarily the private Day Schools* affiliated with them too.


"How will we ever continue to attract Christian families and bring in enough students and money to help keep the school open?"


It certainly wasn't the first Private School to ask that question and it won't be the last, but I personally think that any Christian School that begins going down a road like that that's littered with fear and uncertainty is only asking for trouble.

I mean, where do you draw the line then? A name change today, removing key doctrines of the Lutheran faith tomorrow.

Don't tell me it can't happen, because it has.


Ever so subtly, that was the first spiritual battle that was lost as lifelong Lutherans sacrificed their confession about the power and truth of God's Word and Sacraments to succumb to practicality.

Of course, I know some who vehemently disagree with me on this point. They contend that changing the name by removing the title of "Lutheran" was the best thing that ever happened to the school and assure me that the Day School can be (and still most certainly is) distinctly Lutheran no matter what I think.

Really? That's interesting though, because I don't seem to recall hearing, reading about, or seeing any Baptist or Catholic parochial schools in the area making the same decision to remove the very title that clearly communicates to the public what their Christian identity is.

Plus, I'm no "Church Growth Expert" (or even a "Missionalist" for that matter), but it would seem to me that once you open your doors to children and families from various denominations (which is a VERY GOOD thing, by the way, so please don't misunderstand what I'm trying to say here!), and then operate in such a way that your beliefs, teachings, and confessions are watered down to the lowest common denominator (a.k.a. "Gospel Reductionism") so as not to "offend" anyone, then you run the risk of not only losing your identity, but inadvertently creating crises of faith.

Don't tell me it can't happen, because it has (I know a couple of people there who are experiencing this "crisis of faith" themselves and a couple more who have fallen away from the faith completely!).

Maybe this is why "Moral Therapeutic Deism" is the prevailing course of study there (as in most Private Christian Schools today) as opposed to a "Classical Lutheran Education" that prepares our children and grandchildren for serving in their God-given vocations in the 21st Century.

There used to be a time when families who were interested in having their kids enrolled in Lutheran Day Schools had to go through a formal catechesis with the goal of converting them to Lutheranism and making them and their families new members of the Lutheran church.

There used to be a time when you had to be a Lutheran in order to be employed at a Lutheran Day School.

There used to be a time when Lutheran Schools Week meant emphasizing and highlighting those beliefs, teachings, and confessions that make us Lutheran. Imagine that! Not any more I'm afraid.

Don't tell me it can't happen, because it has.


Today, it seems as though Lutheran School Weeks is an annual celebration of Parochial Schools in general and everything that makes them "better" than the "evil" and "satanic" Public Schools (how's that for "love your neighbor" because that's not very "missional" is it?).

As a result, there's this pious push to constantly pat ourselves on the back all because we're the good, moral, noble ones in our local community simply by way of attending a Christian School in the first place, and it's up to us to "change the world!" for Christ.

Pragmatism may have won the day, but now heterodoxy and pietism rules it.


Last year, I remember this same school encouraging its students to attend a "Vacation Bible School" at a local United Church of Christ (UCC) parish during its Winter Break, which was on the heels of celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week!

Yes, because nothing says "Lutheran Schools Week" like encouraging the very students entrusted to your care to attend a local denomination's VBS during Winter Break when that denomination is so completely at odds with EVERYTHING we believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans.

This is most certainly true.

Ironically, an acquaintance of mine wrote this on Twitter at the time...




To which I replied...




Now, in case you think I'm "overreacting" here, let's just take a quick look at what the United Church of Christ (UCC) believes, teaches, and confesses as Biblical truth...


We believe in the triune God: Creator, resurrected Christ, the sole Head of the church, and the Holy Spirit, who guides and brings about the creative and redemptive work of God in the world. 
We believe that each person is unique and valuable. It is the will of God that every person belong to a family of faith where they have a strong sense of being valued and loved. 
We believe that each person is on a spiritual journey and that each of us is at a different stage of that journey. 
We believe that the persistent search for God produces an authentic relationship with God, engendering love, strengthening faith, dissolving guilt, and giving life purpose and direction. 
We believe that all of the baptized 'belong body and soul to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.' No matter who – no matter what – no matter where we are on life's journey – notwithstanding race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, class or creed – we all belong to God and to one worldwide community of faith. All persons baptized – past, present and future – are connected to each other and to God through the sacrament of baptism. We baptize during worship when the community is present because baptism includes the community's promise of 'love, support and care' for the baptized – and we promise that we won't take it back – no matter where your journey leads you. 
We believe that all people of faith are invited to join Christ at Christ's table for the sacrament of Communion. Just as many grains of wheat are gathered to make one loaf of bread and many grapes are gathered to make one cup of wine, we, the many people of God, are made one in the body of Christ, the church. The breaking of bread and the pouring of wine reminds us of the costliness of Christ's sacrifice and the discipleship to which we are all called. In the breaking of bread, we remember and celebrate Christ's presence among us along with a 'cloud of witnesses' – our ancestors, family and friends who have gone before us. It is a great mystery; we claim it by faith. 
We believe the UCC is called to be a united and uniting church. "That they may all be one." (John 17:21) "In essentials -- unity, in nonessentials -- diversity, in all things --charity," These UCC mottos survive because they touch core values deep within us. The UCC has no rigid formulation of doctrine or attachment to creeds or structures. Its overarching creed is love. UCC pastors and teachers are known for their commitment to excellence in theological preparation, interpretation of the scripture and justice advocacy. Even so, love and unity in the midst of our diversity are our greatest assets. 
We believe that God calls us to be servants in the service of others and to be good stewards of the earth's resources. 'To believe is to care; to care is to do.' 
We believe that the UCC is called to be a prophetic church. As in the tradition of the prophets and apostles, God calls the church to speak truth to power, liberate the oppressed, care for the poor and comfort the afflicted. 
We believe in the power of peace, and work for nonviolent solutions to local, national, and international problems. 
We are a people of possibility. In the UCC, members, congregations and structures have the breathing room to explore and to hear ... for after all, God is still speaking, ... 
[Source]


Are Lutherans down with the UCC? Yeah, apparently! Yet, the above statements of faith are in no way, shape, or form consistent with our own.

Now, why in the world would we encourage our young and impressionable students to attend a 3-day event where this particular church and group of people admit that "the UCC has no rigid formulation of doctrine or attachment to creeds or structures" because "its overarching creed is love" when that is so completely at odds with what it means to be Lutheran?

Seriously, can someone please answer that question for me, because this parent is dumbfounded (though not surprised). My gosh, even a casual familiarity with the Book of Concord should set of bells-and-whistles here as one should be seeing multiple red flags too.

Sadly, discernment is severely lacking, and not a single person will stand up and say, "Wait a minute! This isn't right!" Not even the Pastor who is called to faithfully serve and protect God's people from such "leaven" (Galatians 5:9).

I'm sure there's probably a UCC family that attends this Lutheran -- err, excuse me, Christian Day School -- and they merely thought they were doing a good thing by letting the school know about this upcoming event at their local church.

I get that.

However, it's a path that will only lead to confusion within the kids' hearts and minds and could very well lead some to eventually "shipwreck" their faith (1 Timothy 1:19). Our confession of faith matters!

Friends, this is what happens when we go through our days with spiritual amnesia and intentionally forget that we are supposed to be Lutherans. This is hardly anything new I'm afraid.


"In the Preface of his Large Catechism, Luther states substantive reasons why the Christian faithful should continually use the catechism. Both the weighty reasons and the urgency remain today, Luther was concerned with the lack of teaching of the faith that he saw in the churches of his day. I believe that we face a similar crisis today. Churches are full of activity, but may often fail to ensure quality teaching, especially for the young. The Church continues to struggle against the prevailing winds of the culture. ... While the culture pushes toward a conception of faith lacking in distinctions, faithful Lutheran pastors, DCEs, teachers, and, most importantly, parents seek with much prayer to impart the unique claims of the Christian faith into the hearts and minds of young people. ... Catechesis is an educational practice of the Church that provides a portion of the pushing back against the tide of our culture. Through the sounding again of the truths of Scripture, one generation bequeaths to the next the essential core of Christianity." 
-- David Rueter, Teaching The Faith At Home, p. 10 
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010)


This is most certainly true.


I guess what frustrates me the most is that we as parents have a tough enough time at home and outside of school teaching our kids the truth when we're in constant competition with the Old Adam, Satan, the world, family and friends, and so we'd like to think that a Christian Day School (and a Lutheran one at that!) is helping us day-in-and-day-out by reinforcing the very same things we're teaching at home day-in-and-day-out.

Instead, often times than not, they're only serving to create more problems by wavering from (or outright ignoring) the very confessional identity that we have come to cherish and are trying to impart to our kids, because now we have to constantly monitor anything and everything that is being taught during Chapel and Religion Class to ensure that it is consistent with Scripture and our Confessions.

I'm sure if you made it this far reading this you're probably thinking, "If he's so frustrated and unhappy, then why doesn't he just save himself the aggravation and money and remove his kids from that school then?" That's fair. I guess I just don't believe in putting my tail between my legs and running away in fear of being ridiculed, especially when this is such an important issue to contend for.

Look, I don't have a problem with the Teachers as faithful Educators. They're FANTASTIC! I have a problem with the Teachers as faithful Lutherans.

The staff at this Private Christian Day School are all EXCELLENT Teachers who all love the Lord (of that I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever since I know each and every one of them personally), but they are all clearly reluctant to be distinctly Lutheran in their doctrine and practice within the classroom and it's a shame, especially during National Lutheran Schools Week each and every year.

Is is possible to rediscover our Lutheran identity? I believe it is, especially as we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, don't tell me it can't happen, because it has in other places around the country I'm sure.

Please feel free to share your experiences with other Lutheran Day Schools in the Comments Section below.



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. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 4 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 pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" 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!?!). 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 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 both past and present 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 (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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Jesus Christ, "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14), is doctrine.

This morning, my Pastor reminded us of that simple, but often overlooked truth and preached to us about St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians and our need to debate with each other over doctrine when necessary.


1 Corinthians 11:17-19 (ESV) But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV) For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.


In a day-and-age when we are so passionate and so vocal about political affairs, we might often wonder, "Why aren't we equally as bold and passionate about our faith and the life-saving Gospel?" 

Now, that's not to somehow suggest that only those who are said to be "On Fire For The Lord!" are the *true* Christians or something. That would be absolutely absurd, but it is a good question to ask and think about, especially only a few days removed from the Presidential Inauguration I think.


Back to Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

The divisions, though sad, made clear who was following apostolic teaching and who was not. So, while we should never strive to cause divisions with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to accept the truth that this is just bound to happen from time-to-time, and should fully expect them rather than act surprised by them all the time.

Yes, it's easier said than done for sure! I'm a perfect example too. My own rants, reflections, and writings here over the years bear witness to that harsh reality.

It's only by the grace of God and not due to anything that I've done or am doing that I can sit here today and tell you that the way 2016 ended and the way 2017 is beginning has me looking at such divisions with a new perspective.

With that in mind, I would like to cite an excellent commentary written way back in 2011 by Rev. David H. Petersen, which was "A Response To The President's Koinonia Project" and republished a few years later in 2014 by another Confessional Lutheran blog (by the way, the BOLD portions are my own highlights)...
 In short, everybody needs to calm down. 
Those who are tired of the fighting and wish we would all just get along need to calm down. We live in the Church Militant. The Church has always fought within itself. Iron sharpens iron. It is good to care about eternal things. It is good to care about the details, about the lost, and about how we interact with each other and the world. Our fighting is caused by sin but refraining from fighting does not remove the sin. It only hides it. Our Lord does not call us to ignore the speck in our brother’s eye but to love him enough to take some risks and to try and help. 
Next, if we are going to do this, we need some nomenclature. We have to drop “liberal” and “conservative.” They are not only pejorative, they are inaccurate. I like the label “confessional.” This doesn’t mean that I think I am the only one confessing. It simply means that this is my focus and identity. I suspect that this self-chosen description rightly fits and is comfortable on about 51% of the synod. The other side, the roughly 46% who supported the reelection of President Kieschnick, seem to have chosen the term “missional” for themselves. Just as I don’t think that I am excluding others from confessing by calling myself a confessional, I do not think that the missionals are accusing me of being disinterested in missions, lazy, or complacent. They simply understand this as their particular focus and identity. If indeed this is the adjective they wish, I promise to use it respectfully. If this is the wrong term, or not accepted by all, I am sorry. For the time being at least, it seems to me to be what they have chosen – and it also seems accurate. When I am corrected and given a better self-description, I promise to use it. But we can’t impugn one another with conservative and liberal. 
For years I have heard complaints from Jesus First and other proponents of the missional camp that there is a terrible danger and mis-emphasis among the confessionals on doctrinal purity. I think, in part, they are right. This charge has been too easily dismissed, as though being accused of being obsessed with doctrinal purity were akin to being accused of loving too much, having too much money, or being too good-looking. We have been called to doctrinal purity. This is what God desires and demands. But it is not true to think that doctrinal purity trumps all else. Doctrine was made for man, not man for doctrine. David ate the showbread. The Lord’s disciples plucked grain and Jesus healed on the Sabbath. St. Paul allows the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Love is the ultimate principle behind the Law. So also, love is the ultimate principle, both in content and application, of doctrine. If doctrine does not serve love, or if it serves pride, it is false. 
Some might rejoin that these are Law examples not Gospel examples. These are, however, ultimately arguments about the Law. The Law commands we evangelize. To fail to confess and witness is a sin. The Law also commands that we teach pure doctrine. False doctrine is a sin. It is possible to love a system of doctrine for its own beauty and reasonableness apart from its actual content. That was the sin of the Pharisees. The missionals do well to warn us of this danger. 
We, the confessionals, need to calm down. We should not be issuing ultimatums. We should not be setting ourselves up as the judges of Israel. We should not be operating out of fear as though it is our duty to cleanse and purify the Church. And we should be careful in our language and criticisms so as not to hurt the feelings of our brothers. 
We, the confessionals, need historic perspective on doctrinal purity. We sometimes speak and act as though there was a golden age in the Church to which we must return. There was no golden age. The history of the Church is a history of disunity, confusion, heresy, abuse, and schism. The history of the liturgy is equally messy. St. Gregory did much to foster unity but even then there were local customs and variances in almost every locality. Those who waited for and expected the Messiah at the time of Christ were divided between the Pharisees, the priests, the Essenes, the zealots, Gentile proselytes, and the quiet in the land. The Lord has provided amazingly clear and articulate voices from time to time. Athanasius was such a voice at the Council of Nicea. So also were Luther and then the Lutheran fathers in 1580. But they are few and far between. They are the exception. There does not look to be a great, charismatic, theological mind and voice in our age. 
We are insignificant men in an insignificant synod in an insignificant time. The history of the Missouri Synod is not the history of great preachers, scholars, or obedient Germans. We are not a sleeping giant. We are a raging, self-important mouse. Our history is the history of fools plodding along without really knowing what they were doing. Pastors taught false doctrine from their ignorance. They got caught up in politics and culture. Missionaries instituted crazy practices. The synod grew by immigration and inertia. Members insisted on acting and looking like their neighbors. They stuck to the truth out of nostalgia as often as conviction. Yet the Lord provided. Babies were baptized. The Word of God was read. The Absolution and Body and Blood of Jesus were bestowed, and the half-hearted, confused prayers were heard by a gracious God. Sometimes the best thing we ever did was stick the name “Lutheran” on the sign. If nothing else, it forced us to use the Small Catechism and keep a copy of the American Edition of Luther’s Works and the Book of Concord on the pastor’s shelf. Then sometimes, somebody, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, no doubt, read them. The Lord doesn’t need us to purify or unite or fix or do anything to the Church. It is His Church. We confessionals need to calm down and stop acting as though every time a pastor does something stupidly or chooses a weak practice or even commits an unintentional heresy the walls are going to come crashing down. So what if they do? Calm down. 
The line between doctrine and practice is blurry. That is because practice matters. It confesses and witnesses. But it is hard to talk about it, hard to critique. Just recently, I had a brief and casual exchange with a confessional brother in a theatre while we waited for Garrison Keillor to appear. He has switched, for many reasons, from the historic lectionary to the three year lectionary. He complained that some of the proponents of the historic lectionary, of which I am one, went too far and were dogmatic about its superiority. I thought that was a straw man and said so. I asked for an actual name and example. He named another confessional brother whom he claimed had denigrated the three-year lectionary. Then the curtain came up and the man in the red shoes began his shtick, so I never got to respond. If I had, I would have said that denigrating is not dogmatizing. We might well denigrate the three year lectionary and praise the historic lectionary. That is the way argument works. There are three possibilities: the three year lectionary is superior to the historic lectionary, the historic lectionary is superior to the three year lectionary, or they are completely equal in every way. If they are completely equal, then it is stupid to talk about it. 
If we are to debate practices — and we must — then we will denigrate. This might be slightly painful, but it should be no surprise. Consider the matter of LSB hymnody. We must all surely know that its hymns are unequal. They all passed doctrinal review. Thus we trust that they are all free of blatant false teaching. But some are abysmally weak, have to be explained away from their original context, and do little actually to teach the faith. Others are confession, praise, and catechesis of the highest order. We may not agree on which hymns fall into which category, but we all know that some hymns are stronger than others. We all choose hymns in context. We don’t use the strongest hymn in the hymnal each Sunday. We vary hymns week to week. So also, not every hymn, regardless of its merits, is necessarily immediately accessible, while some hymns, weak as they are, are simply congregational favorites for sentimental reasons and for the sake of love we sing them. We don’t dogmatize the hymns of the day. But we certainly should teach both our pastors and laity to practice theological discernment in hymn choice and also encourage them to strive for stronger and stronger hymnody as they are able. A congregation or pastor without discernment who choses hymns merely for entertainment or emotional value deserves rebuke. 
We confessionals need to admit that we all live with some level of compromise. No one has perfect practice. We need to stop trying to force our brothers into orthodoxy through legislation. It’d be blessedly nice if everyone in the synod would limit himself to the confines of our hymnals, but they don’t and they won’t, and we have to give a better reason than simply “we make the rules.” We need to be able to talk about what is allowable but weak, what is strong, and what is right out. We cannot pretend that everything the Commission on Worship has produced is equal. 
The point of this is simply that we have to be careful in our speech and careful in our listening, and we have to be honest. This debate must center on practice. That is where our doctrine hits the road, where our confession and witness is actually made. But we can’t have real discussion and debate without denigration. We have had synodical attempts to brush over our real differences in the past. We have been told they are not real or significant, and we know that is not true. That fantasy didn’t create unity. It didn’t create trust. It was a waste of time and money. If all things are equal, then we are worse than fools to debate them. If this is all just splitting hairs, then those who determine that is the case ought to give in for the sake of us weaker brothers. But they won’t, will they? That is because these things are important. So they need to be not just discussed, but actually debated. And we have to take the risk that such debates could lead to division. It could well turn out that debating practices leads to the realization that we cannot abide one another’s doctrine and aren’t actually in fellowship. 
I don’t say this to alarm anyone. My goal is to find the logs in my own eye. How have I failed in this process? How are the criticisms laid at my feet valid and invalid? But my desire is that everyone would calm down, speak carefully, and listen carefully. It will be hard. It will be slow. It will be frustrating. But we must try and pray God’s blessing


This is most certainly true.

There's a lot more that Pastor Petersen wrote so do take a few minutes to read the rest of it.

Like the congregation at Corinth, we also suffer from divisions and party spirit, which undermine God's work among us. Yet the Lord still leads us to true confession through Jesus, our Savior, and the Spirit's work among us.


Mute our idolatrous pride and curb our party spirit, O triune Lord. Combine our hearts in works that praise You, even as You unite our voices in the true confession of Your name. Amen.


Believers are united to Christ and to one another.

Holy Baptism, in which the Spirit is poured out (Acts 2:38-39), is the basis of Christian unity. Even unto this very day, Christ continues to unite us in Baptism, and makes us His very Body (Galatians 3:27-28). Then, the Lord's Supper offers us the forgiveness of sins, which creates unity with Christ and unity with one another.

Does this mean that we should "Agree To Disagree" and let "Deeds Not Creeds!" rule the day as we all practice "Gospel Reductionism" and rally around John 3:16 for the sake of love and unity? Not a chance!

However, it does mean that we continue to pray.

We pray fervently for those who loved Pastrix Paula White's Inaugural Prayer to the nation.

We pray fervently for those sitting under the preaching and teaching of a false teacher each and every week.

We pray for our co-worker who bounces between being an agnostic and an atheist.

We pray for our friend who is a Muslim.

We pray for our dad who is ambivalent to anything pertaining to Jesus.

We pray for our mom who is under the spell of "Spiritual But Not Religious" Facebook memes.

We pray fervently for our sister who believes in Astrology and Horoscopes.

We pray fervently for our spouse who hates going to church.

We pray fervently for our in-laws who think that "God's will" for their lives is doing whatever feels good and makes them happy.

We pray fervently for our cousin who is a rabid supporter of Planned Parenthood.

We pray fervently for our best friend who believes Catholicism and the Pope saves us.

We pray fervently for our Lutheran Day School's Teachers who think it's ok to jettison our Confessional Lutheran beliefs and practices on a daily basis.

We pray fervently for our District President who insists on charting his own course within Christ's Church.

We pray fervently for our Pastor to remain a faithful and true servant of God's people in the midst of growing challenges and temptations.

We pray fervently for ourself that the Lord would help us to examine our heart and mind (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to remain steadfast in our God-given faith (Hebrews 10:23; Hebrews 3:12-19).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Jesus Christ is doctrine, and we are expected "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3), but we also need to do so with a measure of perspective and restraint, because we are the "Church Militant" and "everybody needs to calm down."



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 4 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 the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (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 not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the truth myself. 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 will 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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Today, millions of Americans will be hitting the road to travel to the home of a loved one to enjoy the company of family and friends while eating a feast that's fit for a king.

While there is much for us to be thankful for, a day like today reminds me of Psalm 122...


 
Psalm 122:1-9 (ESV) I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed fora Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!" For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, "Peace be within you!" For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.


Like David, we are welcomed to the Lord's house and can rejoice at the invitation.

We are drawn to a heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). At the throne of Christ, the eternal Son of David, we find a place of peace (Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1). May God give us a place among all his people who walk by faith in Christ (Galatians 6:16).

In the introductory remarks to his explanation of Psalm 122, Martin Luther tells us whence thankfulness should come...


4354 The Roots Of Gratitude 
To begin with, we must rejoice at the less important good things (exiguis bonis) which we enjoy according to the Second Table of the Law in that our bodies and possessions are protected. For these gifts are of minor importance when compared with those which we enjoy according to the First Table: that God has revealed Himself, has made known what He intends to do with us, gives His Word, grants faith and the Holy Spirit, hears prayers, daily increases His church, etc. These things are so great that no tongue is able to amplify and praise them as they deserve. ... To this David turns his eyes; on this he meditates, and so he is moved to gratitude. ... For only those who are truly thankful who receive the gifts of God joyfully and rejoice in the Giver. 
-- (W 40 III, 80 f -- E op ex 19, 225 -- SL 4, 1810)


This is most certainly true.

Gratefully doing so is worship at its best.

In Reading The Psalms With Luther, we also find the following words on Psalm 122 written by Luther...


The 122nd psalm is a psalm that gives thanks with joy for the Word of God, which in a specific city, namely Jerusalem, was given through a specific people, namely the Levites and kings, and received by specific hearers, namely the tribe of Israel. How much is it to be lamented that, seeking everywhere for God's Word and being nowhere able to find it, the children of Israel wound there way to idols? And we Christians did the same with our running to pilgrimages and winding our way to the cloister. But the Holy Church is our Jerusalem, and Christ is our temple, city, altar, and mercy seat, to which, from which, and with which we seek and hear His Word. 
Our hearts are glad and our souls rejoice before You, Lord, our God, because by Your Word of truth You have made us members of Your Holy Church, in which You daily and richly forgive the sins of all those who build their trust on Jesus Christ. Grant us grace to abide in the love of Your Word, in purity of faith and in piety of life, even to our end. Amen.


May we never forget that the Lord is the provider and source of all our blessings in this life.

We are reminded of this whenever we pray the words "give us this day our daily bread" too, and yet, we are so often tempted to forget Him and honor ourselves or others instead.

Speaking of God being our provider in this life, here's something else I found...


God Is Our Provider 
The Scriptures teach that God is not only our creator, He is also our provider. The catechism teaches that "He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life." But why do we give God credit when, in fact, we purchase the things we need from grocers, builders, clothiers, and so on? 
The answer is in the doctrine of vocation. The Christian doctrine of vocation teaches that God works through means, that is, He provides for us physically just as He does spiritually, through specific channels or means. Spiritually, He provides for us through His Word preached and His Sacraments properly administered. Physically, He provides through bakers, butchers, and builders. In other words, it is God who is at work behind the people we go to in order to meet our needs. 
This is why we celebrate Thanksgiving, to thank God for His providence. He gives gifts (talents) to people that they might use them to serve others as good stewards of God's varied grace (1 Peter 4:11). This is also why we pray, "Grant, O Lord, that children may develop their talents not for their own sakes but to Your glory and the welfare of their neighbor." 
So, give thanks to God for all His many blessings this Thanksgiving Day. 
-- Rev. William Heine / Headmaster - Memorial Lutheran School


Amen!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, when we sit down at the Thanksgiving table today, let us give thanks for our First Table and Second Table gifts from our gracious God.




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, Executive Recruiter, 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 disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted 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 pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" 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!?!). 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 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 both past and present 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 (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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