Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 9/13/14)

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): Here's what I think about the President's comments during Wednesday night's speech about ISIS/ISIL. This is what happens when you worship at the Altar of Political Correctness.


8:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN B (BEST OF THE BLOGS):
Rev. Eric J. Brown recently asked the question "Who's Afraid of The Big Bad Gospel?" and it is definitely on point! He writes: "The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector always gives me a bit of mixed emotions. On the one hand, it is my favorite of the parables. It is the 'Lutheran' Parable - it is Lutheranism in a nutshell. It is 'Salvation Unto Us Has Come' in parable form. It's the first one I remember learning in Lutheran Day School - the simplest and most basic point of the Christian faith - we are forgiven by God on account of grace, not our works. But on the other hand, it depresses me. Why? Because I see just how harshly it cuts across the grain of the church today (really, pretty much the church in all times, but hey, I live today). The parable is such strong Gospel, but the problem is, we've become afraid of the Gospel. We have to add caveats. We want to add on extra stuff to keep us safe from the end - this man went down to his house justified. But where were his obvious fruits of repentance!? But where was his progress in sanctification!? But how could the priest REALLY know he was sorry for his sins!? But did he stop being a tax collector!? But did he increase his giving to a tithe level!? We are so afraid of the Gospel. We are afraid of who might 'accidentally' hear it when they aren't 'supposed' to. We want to see actions, we want to have something tangible to judge and compare (and line up our contempt) with...and the parable doesn't keep going - it doesn't leave us any latch to continue to judge or compare. It just says that the tax collector is forgiven. And the dude with all the works - he isn't. The Gospel terrifies the Old Man because it leaves nothing for man, for the hearer to do. It doesn't revolve around the hearer, it is not curved in upon man. It simply forgives, freely, without any merit or worthiness in the one receiving. And the Old Control Freak that would rather be God Himself is terrified of that. But now, today - today is the day and age of the Old Adam. The Liar has convinced us that in the face of the moral decline of society and the cultural abandonment of Christianity and the (re-)rise of militant Islam, the Gospel just won't cut it anymore. We NEED to know who is good and who is bad and who is doing the stuff they are supposed to be doing - we need to know the villains of the piece...and the Gospel just gets rid of villains. Shoot, it makes us love our enemies. It makes us love those people destroying America, and possibly even ending up with them forgiven and with us for all eternity. Eternity with a tax collector? Surely you jest! So let us thank God that we are not like all these crazy forces around us and talk about how we are growing and maturing and see all that we do, and did we not do great things in your name, Lord? This man went down to his house justified rather than the other one. God be merciful to me, the sinner!"


9:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN C (CONFESSIONAL):
Pastor Donavon Riley on Article V of the Augsburg Confession: "Article V of the Augsburg Confession states: 'To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, giving the Gospel and the sacraments' (German). That means, no more prophets who have the Spirit fall on them one day so they can go out and bring about repentance, no more temple sacrifice and Levitical priesthood, and no more covenant signs like circumcision. All these 'means' have now become 'old' on account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Instead, the office of preaching offers something entirely 'new' in the form of a public service where God gives his Word and sacraments to sinners as through means (German) or instruments (Latin). Thus, the Augsburg Confession understands ministry as an instrument, – not a 'co-redeemer' – a holy instrument played by the Holy Spirit. God institutes this office of preaching by sending his Son, who is the living Word, to be a preacher: preaching forgiveness, cross, and resurrection. Jesus then gives his words to those he calls, authorizing them to preach what he preached, and so the preacher becomes the preached. That is, 'we preach Christ and him crucified.' Through these preachers, preaching the two words of law and the Gospel 'he gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when he wills, in those who hear the gospel.' Equally as important for this confession, then, is the assertion that the Holy Spirit never speaks a word apart from or in addition to Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God lets the letter of law kill, and then gives life. Through the office of preaching alone the Spirit does this. The office of preaching is therefore the fulcrum of the universe, 'not on account of our own merits but on account of Christ, [who] justifies those who believe that they are received into grace on account of Christ.' (Latin). An important matter must now be addressed because here, at this point, the old Adam will attempt to assert himself and make the office anecdotal, but killing and making alive is never the preacher’s job as a personal responsibility. Killing and making alive is what the Holy Spirit is doing with the preacher who is God’s instrument. Therefore, Article V continues, condemned are the Anabaptists and others (German and Latin) 'who think that the Holy Spirit comes to human beings without the external Word through their own preparations and works' (Latin). That the Holy Spirit works in this particular way, apart from 'their own preparations and works,' through preaching, has greatly disturbed this old world and its normal religions. Why?" For the answer to that question, you can CLICK HERE.


9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): 1 Timothy 6:2-10 (ESV) "2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." My Lutheran Study Bible says about this passage: "Worthless matters only serve to distract souls from the sound words and teaching (1 Timothy 6:3). The universal and timeless truth of 1 Timothy 6:7 is recognized by those possessing godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6), but ignored by those who are ambitious only for earthly gain (1 Timothy 6:5). The necessities of life come from God (1 Timothy 6:8). The temptation for riches acts as a trap (1 Timothy 6:9). Money itself is not inherently evil, but the love of it is. Rather than being content with what we have, we by nature covet the things we do not have. Those who covet often see money as a wonderful solution to all of life's problems. But those who love money are in grave danger; they risk losing their faith in Christ. Our Savior has blessed us with the riches of his priceless salvation. Nothing can separate us from His love. As He tenderly cares for us through His Word of promise, we are able to enjoy lives of godliness with contentment. All that we can take with us when we leave this world is the life and immortality that Jesus has given us through faith -- and that is more than enough! Give us grace, dear Lord, rightly to regard the wealth we call our own, that it might not be a curse in our lives but a blessing. Amen."


10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE):
Here's Martin Luther on solitude and depression from his Table Talk: "More and graver sins are committed in solitude than in the society of one’s fellow men. The devil deceived Eve in paradise when she was alone. Murder, robbery, theft, fornication, and adultery are committed in solitude, for solitude provides the devil with occasion and opportunity. On the other hand, a person who is with others and in the society of his fellow men is either ashamed to commit a crime or does not have the occasion and opportunity to do so. Christ promised, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' Christ was alone when the devil tempted him. David was alone and idle when he slipped into adultery and murder. I too have discovered that I am never so likely to fall into sins as when I am by myself. God created man for society and not for solitude. This may be supported by the argument that he created two sexes, male and female. Likewise God founded the Christian church, the communion of saints, and instituted the sacraments, preaching, and consolations in the church. Solitude produces depression. When we are alone the worst and saddest things come to mind. We reflect in detail upon all sorts of evils. And if we have encountered adversity in our lives, we dwell upon it as much as possible, magnify it, think that no one is so unhappy as we are, and imagine the worst possible consequences. In short, when we are alone, we think of one thing after another, we leap to conclusions, and we interpret everything in the worst possible light. On the other hand, we imagine that other people are very happy, and it distresses us that things go well with them and evil with us."


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


In a Lutheran Layman's terms, you've been fed a balanced spiritual diet this morning so I hope you're full and wide awake and ready to face the day.


Grace and peace to you and yours!

NOTE: 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, 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 "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. 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). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. 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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2 comments:

  1. Good stuff! Though I feel like I need a full morning to ponder all of this. If only the kids cooperated more with what I wanted to do ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Vanessa! Yeah, I always seem to be "chewing" on these "vitamins" all weekend long so I know what you mean.

    ReplyDelete

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 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 sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction 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 mature spiritually (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!