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Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 9/27/14)

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): We begin with The Lutheran Satire's video titled "The 'How To' Show: How To Be A Biblical Scholar (Ep. 8)" to help set the stage for our journey this morning.


8:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN B (BEST OF THE BLOGS):
If you haven't heard about "Five Two" or the "Wiki Conference 2014," then please take some time to read "Haters Gonna Hate (From Their Moms' Basements, In Their Beds, Which Are Lined With Star Wars Sheets)" by Rev. Thomas C. Messer that will not only fill in all the blanks, but clearly (and Biblically) explain why there's nothing Christian let alone Lutheran about both except maybe for the fact that they're like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses who have hijacked our words and given them completely new definitions. The part that most resonated with me personally? "In the last few days, I've heard from several laypeople in our synod, many of whom came out of Protestant and Reformed traditions, leaving behind all the nonsense promoted by the WikiFolk and approved by several of our District Presidents, because they fell in love with our Lutheran confession of the faith. Contrary to District Presidents and Synod blogs, what upsets them is not the 'bickering' over this they see in social media and around the blogosphere, but the fact that this kind of thing goes on in our synod with the approval and endorsement of our Ecclesiastical Supervisors, who should know better. I know how they feel." At least someone in the LCMS does. Once you've read it, please share it with as many people as you can within the LCMS. After yesterday's post on the ACELC, the laity certainly needs to play an active role in exposing this and in holding our leaders (a.k.a "Those Who Should now Better") accountable for such a perversion of Law and Gospel (Galatians 1:6-10; Jude 1:3). It's the only way things are ever gonna change. If not now, when?


9:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN C (CONFESSIONAL):
In light of the "Five Two/Wiki 14" nonsense, let's take a moment to remind ourselves about the importance of the Church's true Doctrine and true Mission. Here's something from a Lutheran I never heard of until this morning. This is taken from Friedrich Pfotenhauer in At Home In The House of My Fathers (p. 697): "When the synod had gathered at Jerusalem, they immediately began to deal with the matter of doctrine. The doctrine of Christian freedom was a burning question. The debate was very lively. Not merely a few spoke, but many did so, including congregation members. Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James gave longer speeches. From God’s Word they convincingly demonstrated that one must not continue to lay the yoke of Moses upon the necks of the disciples. Salvation comes only through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. All would be convinced, and they confessed the right doctrine by resolution. We, too, have long dealt chiefly with doctrine at synods. We have not decided doctrinal questions according to majority or in respect of persons, but according to God’s Word. At this synod, we will again deal chiefly with doctrine [Lehre trieben], and indeed together [we will] treat the Sixth Commandment. It will be the most earnest matter we deal with. We will acknowledge the deep corruption of original sin of all human nature and God’s abhorrence and horrible anger over all sins of impurity. Precisely because of the sins against the Sixth Commandment, God drowned the first world and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. Precisely on account of these sins, the wrath of God will soon come upon the child of unbelief on the Last Day. Oh, how we should then faithfully warn church and school against the horrible sins of the Sixth Commandment. How we should keep body and soul chaste and unblemished and be blameless midst perverse generations of this world! But the first synod at Jerusalem dealt not only with doctrine, it also dealt with mission. It says: 'And they declared all that God had done with them' [Acts 15:4]. 'And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles' [Acts 15:12]. Also at our sessions, the mission [of the Church], after the treatment of doctrine, takes the most time. Our dear traveling preachers [Reiseprediger] have given their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Suffering great deprivation out on our often inhospitable prairies and in solitude in the wild mountains of Montana, without making much fuss, they have done the most difficult work. They recount to us how the Lord has opened doors for them every- where, and congregations have sprouted up like gardens of God. By reporting this to us, they bring great joy to all the brethren. In so doing, they move us to holy determination to take the Word of God ever further and to work ever more diligently. Indeed, last year, we unanimously decided to assist in taking the Word into the land of the heathen [the American Indians]. It was the reports of our traveling preachers that warmed our hearts and have given us courage to implore God that He give still more because He already has given us so much. To be sure, it is our chief task to preach the Word to brethren in the faith who live in scattered places. But we have now done that beyond what anyone would have thought possible. From Winnipeg to New Orleans, there is a string of one congregation after another. Our missionaries carry the message from the east to the setting of the sun, to the Rocky Mountains and back. To be sure, we always lack the necessary workers. Thus the prayer of the Lord “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, pray the Lord of the harvest that He send workers into his fields” is applicable for the Church of the entire [era of the] New Testament. And so the workers will remain few until the Last Day. If we had enough workers, we wouldn’t need to pray what the Lord asks us to pray. God desires our prayer that He may give us what is needed. Our Confessions also testify that along with the advancement of understanding of the pure doctrine, the mission should be the chief matter of a synod. Luther writes in the Smalcald Articles: 'But let us return to the subject. I should be very happy to see a true council assemble in order that many things and many people might derive benefit from it. Not that we ourselves need such a council . . . we see so many vacant and desolate parishes everywhere that our hearts would break with grief. Yet neither the bishops nor the canons care how the poor people live or die, although Christ died for them too. Those people cannot hear Christ speak to them as the true shepherd speaking to His sheep. This horrifies me and makes me fear that He may cause a council of angels to descend on Germany and destroy us utterly, like Sodom and Gomorrah, because we mock Him so shamefully with the council [SA Preface 9–11; Tappert, 290].' Walther remarked on this at the synod of the Iowa District: “Behold, dear brothers, we should be so minded also. We come here not for the sake of ourselves. We stand in the faith and with this faith we hope to be saved! But how many millions are there still who have no faith! We exist and have founded a synod in order, as much as possible, to bring men to salvation, and thereby to check the misery in Christendom and the number of the lost in the poor blind heathen world. If we do not do this, if we fail to seek the honor of Christ and the salvation of souls, Luther fears, as he says, 'then may the dear God convene a synod, namely a 'council of angels' in order to carry out his judgment.'' (Iowa Synodal-Bericht, 1:113)." Beautiful and inspiring, isn't it? Did you notice the emphasis on how the "including congregation members" (a.k.a. the laity like you and me!) were part of the process of determining the true doctrine and practice of the Christian Church? Did you notice the part about how mission work (as in intentionally taking the Gospel to other people in other places is something that belongs to "traveling preachers" or to the vocation of the Pastors and not us laymen "Sacramental Entrepreneurs" as some are calling us? I pray that we all take these things to heart now more than ever.


9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): 1 Timothy 1:1-11 (ESV) "1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." My Lutheran Study Bible says about this passage (and it's such an appropriate response to the "Five Two/Wiki 14" crowd, IMHO): "The work of the Gospel ministry carried out by Paul and Timothy flows from God's command. The words they speak are His words, not their own. Their competence for ministry comes from God, who called them to His service. Today, we should not judge the effectiveness of those called to serve as Gospel ministers only according to their personality traits or other outward characteristics. Ministers should instead be regarded according to how faithfully they proclaim the Gospel message entrusted to them. The Lord Jesus has called ministers to be His representatives in our lives. The work of administering the Gospel was to be carried forward by faithfully teaching sound doctrine. The fruits of faith in Jesus Christ cannot be produced by false doctrines, myths, or genealogies. Paul's use of the words 'sound doctrine' in 1 Timothy 1:10 is literally 'healthy teaching.' It's a phrase used by Paul only in the Pastoral Epistles. It implies that the so-called teachers of the law (1 Timothy 1:7) in Ephesus were peddling unhealthy and diseased doctrines. The Good News that we are saved eternally from the Law's condemnation through faith in Jesus is the only means by which sinners can be cleansed and saved. The effectiveness of the Word they proclaim and the Absolution they pronounce rests on the power and authority of the Savior Himself. This Epistle was written to stop the teaching of false doctrine among the Ephesians churches and to promote the teaching of sound doctrine. Our sinful nature often leads us to be unconcerned about the doctrines God has given us in His Word. When this happens, we are guilty of being poor stewards of the Gospel. Yet, in the Good News of Jesus Christ, we are given a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith -- all of which enable us to receive God's gift of sound doctrine with thanksgiving and eagerness. Lord Jesus, teach us to regard the servants of Your Church not according to their individual strengths and weaknesses but as Your spokesmen, called to serve sinners with Your gifts of forgiveness and life. Apply Your Law to our hearts, that we might recognize our sins and be brought to repentance. Give us a love for the healthy teaching of Your Gospel, that we might be faithful stewards of all You have entrusted to us. Amen."



10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE):
This was shared by an acquaintance on Facebook who I just learned is a -- gasp! -- Confessional Lutheran like me who actually lives nearby! You'll have to excuse my shock and surprise, because I'm used to being an "endangered species" here in the LCMS Eastern District. Anyway, while part of me was comforted by his post (since it clearly demonstrates that I'm not the only one who's experiencing certain challenges), the rest of me was heartbroken to read of an incident that took place last evening between him and some fellow LCMS brothers in Christ. Here's what he shared on Facebook: "I went out for a few beers last night with a couple friends. We all happen to belong to different LCMS churches. My one friend said he is thinking of joining the local non-denominational mega church because they teach more like what he believes. I said maybe instead of finding a church that matches what you believe; you should find a church that teaches what the bible says. That started his hour-long assault on Lutheranism. With every rant I asked him 'could you find scripture to support that?' Of course he couldn’t. When I used scripture to show him why, for example, we believe we are saved through baptism, he would say I was taking it out of context. I asked him to please show me within the text the proper context but he just used (flawed) reason to defend his position. He was pretty agitated when we left, probably because God’s Word was assaulting his beliefs. I never would have forced him to defend his position with scripture that way if it wasn’t for Worldview Everlasting videos. Thanks for all the solid and practical teaching. You guys are the best thing on the Internet." To which I replied: "Richard, thanks for being a 'good example' for a 'Newtheran' like me of what it means to speak 'the truth in love' (Ephesians 4:15) by having a difficult conversation with a dear brother in Christ. I pray that the Lord would give me His grace and faithfulness to do the same if I ever find myself in the same position (which I think may happen sooner rather than later). I also pray that your friend meditates upon the Word of God you shared with him last night. Grace and peace!"


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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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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