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Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 2/15/2014)

Remember when Saturday mornings used to be so much fun when you were a kid?

For me, I'd usually stay up as late as I could the night before (after what I thought was such a "hard" and "long" week at school), and then sleep in as late as I wanted to on Saturday morning.

The best part? Whether Dad would make us breakfast or not (his French Toast!), the even better part of my Saturday mornings growing up was plopping myself down in front of our TV to watch cartoon after cartoon! You know, the kind that were only on once-a-week and not available in an instant through YouTube and/or Netflix?

I thought about that recently and decided it might be cool to come up with a new weekly tradition of sorts for us adults to enjoy each and every Saturday morning now that we're all grown up (ok, at least some of us more than others anyway). I mean, isn't it time for us to look forward to Saturday mornings again?

Besides, it will be good for us to recall that childlike faith in fun and laughter if only for a few moments each week. You'll remember that laughter was for Luther a sign of divine grace and also an antidote against the devil too.

From the very beginning, humor had been a theological topic for Martin Luther, embracing the dramatic scope of his whole world view. He himself explained: "When I was unable to chase away the devil with serious words of with the Scripture, I often expelled him with pranks." And so this unique concept is born! Ok, so it's really not all that "cool" or "original" or "fun" to be sure, but it will be our new tradition here, and I'll try to make it worthwhile too. So who's with me then?

Please keep in mind, it won't be flashy, and it will hardly grab and hold your attention like a classic episode of the Care Bears, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, or Voltron would, but these "Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane" should satisfy the Confessional Lutheran's appetite for a balanced breakfast that includes your VDMA Vitamins like Vitamin A (Amusement), Vitamin B (Best of the Blogs), Vitamin C (Confessional), Vitamin D (Doctrine), and Vitamin E (Everything Else).

Each Saturday morning, God willing, I'll do my best to share some of the things I remember coming across in my unpredictable journey through Cyberspace during the week (hence, the "Along Memory Lane" part). Of course, this is also where the things you send me via email (if any) will show up too.

Ok, enough with all the commercials! Let's get the show started already, shall we?

8:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN A (AMUSEMENT): I'm told this video is a classic, but I just watched it for the first time. It helps you to better understand the "Sacramentarian" view of the Lord's Supper. Here's "Your Friends and Neighbors: Kenny The Sacramentarian Kindergartener" from The Lutheran Satire. Meet Kenny. He thinks that "is" means "represents" or "symbolizes" or anything else other than "is" when it comes to Holy Communion.

After our last podcast that had a segment in which we discussed abortion in this country, I wanted to highlight a website that I forgot to mention on the program. He Remembers The Barren by Katie Schuermann is excellent at giving a face to the "other side" of the abortion issue that is rarely talked about -- women who cannot have children living amongst those who can but choose to kill them when they get pregnant.

Now more than ever, we're seeing an improper view of the Holy Spirit infiltrate the LCMS Church and affect the way we understand and practice worship thanks to the "Church Growth" movement. Here's an excellent piece written by a new acquaintance of mine: "How am I made holy? By doing holy things? No, but rather through the Church, where forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given through the Word and Sacraments. I have recently been thinking about some negative influences to the Lutheran Church. Where have we come up with this now popular notion to follow the Spirit wherever your heart tells you He is leading you now? This is prevalent even in many Lutheran churches now. It comes straight out of pop-American Christianity, which contains a theology foreign to historic Lutheranism and Lutheran worship. It should be no surprise that Lutherans have pulled this theology straight from leaders of the church growth/mega-church movement. For example, 'Worship Pastor' Rick Muchow of Saddleback Church writes, 'Many worship services are held, but worship doesn’t always happen. One reason is that we sometimes fail to allow the Holy Spirit to fulfill his proper role in worship. ... We...must be careful to give proper place to the Holy Spirit. ...Worship happens when the Holy Spirit in us rises to magnify the Almighty, giving the Father the honor he deserves and lifting up his Son, Jesus. ...when the time comes to enter into worship, leaders and congregation alike must allow the Spirit to control the service." (Article: http://www.ccli.com/worshipcorner/Article.aspx?ContentId=015c3720-1f6c-412c-8342-d6b6f49a31b1) In short, Muchow’s theology says that it is up to us to allow the Spirit to fulfill His role in us. Worship is all about finding the Spirit 'in us' and letting Him do His thing (whatever that is). Here’s the problem: when we go searching for the Spirit in us, we fail to recognize a few things: 1) We are looking inside ourselves. This is never a good thing. Our hearts, feelings and emotions are broken by sin and are just that: feelings and emotions. They do not last, and that is not where God says He will come to us. 2) When we are concerned about finding the 'Spirit in us' and such things, we are the ones doing the looking for the Spirit. This undeniably carries the assumption that we can find God. 3) Worship is about Jesus serving us, not us finding the Spirit or however you want to put it. This is why Lutherans call our highest form of worship the 'Divine Service.' It’s where Jesus 'comes to us' in the ways that He has instituted: the external Word and Sacraments, not the 'Spirit in us.' The result of this sort of 'Saddleback theology' has permeated Christian worship throughout Christianity and even much of Lutheranism. Worship leaders strive to cook up services that will help ignite hearts for Jesus and find the Spirit in our hearts. Lutherans should take a good look at what they believe and how this affects how they worship. I would suggest that the variety of styles of worship found in Lutheranism today are the result of a variety of beliefs. Many who profess themselves to be Lutheran have bought into this Saddleback theology, the church growth theology of pop-American Christianity. Therefore, they worship like those who believe the same. The reason that others stick with the 'Divine Service' in its fullest objective liturgy, Word, and sacraments is that they believe what Lutherans have always believed: 'So the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive gifts from God. On the contrary, the worship of the Law is to offer and present our gifts to God. However, we can offer nothing to God unless we have first been reconciled and born again. This passage, too, brings the greatest comfort, as the chief worship of the Gospel is to desire to receive the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness' (AP V (III):189)." Man, I just love that. Please take a few more minutes to read the rest of that article titled "The Holy Spirit In Me Or Extra Nos?" that contains several statements from of Confessions that will help to explain why this sort of thing is dangerous.

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Boars In The Vineyard's Pastor Lewis Polzin presented a Bible Study on February 6th, 2014 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bemidji, MN, titled "Growing In Christ - Matthew 5:21-26, Philemon." It was a sermon on Matthew 5:21-26 and the book of Philemon. This Bible Study is based on the curriculum from Concordia Publishing House's Sunday School curriculum, "Growing in Christ," a curriculum for all ages, helping to teach parents and teachers the material God in Christ wishes His children to learn to trust more in Him.

One of the books I just started reading is Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's hard-to-find book Testing The Claims of Church Growth, which has been nothing short of spectacular! Here's a small taste: "Drawing heavily upon concepts of pragmatism and marketing, CG supplants the biblical doctrine of justification by grace with a strange admixture of outreach strategies directed (they profess) to nonbelievers while catering to the felt needs of the apostate. Orthodox Lutherans have responded that this approach is foreign to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. If the center of the church becomes the unchurched, the church itself will be off-center. Instead, we should uphold God's Word and His true center: the means of grace that bring people to faith and sustain the saints eternally." Chapter 2: The Goal of The Gospel, A Final Thought (p. 40)

Sorry, but that's all I have for you this week.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, you've been fed and, hopefully, you're wide awake by now.

Grace and peace to you and yours!

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. 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 not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, you might discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog 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 "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. I decided to leave those published posts up only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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