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What Luther Says

Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 1/31/15)

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 which include 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). For the most part, these will be things I either bookmarked, read, wrote down, and/or simply couldn't get to myself during the week. 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" when all we want is some "cartoons," right? Let's get the show started already, shall we?

8:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN A (AMUSEMENT): So the classic hit from the 1960's "Spirit In The Sky" came on my iPod on the drive into work yesterday morning. It's not funny, but I had to laugh, because I think if you ask most Christians about that song they'll say something to the effect of how that was "a good Christian song" from back then. But then I caught the lyric "Never been a sinner / I never sinned / I got a friend in Jesus" and almost lost control of my car! Yeah, um, definitely NOTHING Christian about that except for the fact that he hijacked Christian words and stripped them of their true meaning. It's my own fault though. To borrow an observation from Jerry Seinfeld, I shouldn't be all that surprised by the lack of doctrine since Orthodox Jew, Norman Greenbaum, is the man he wrote and sang that one.

Vanessa over at Bible, Beer And Babies published another great commentary this week. In the piece titled "Self-Identifying As A Lutheran Means Jack" she accurately diagnosed the problem so prevalent today with such specificity that I almost broke my neck nodding in agreement with everything she wrote, especially this part, which is almost a dead-on description of my own experience and feelings on the subject: "Lutherans-in-name-only are nothing new. And while I'm not an expert on the history of it all, I at least know it's not something that has crept up in the eight years I've been a Christian, or in the six years I thought I was a Lutheran, or in the two years since I actually learned what it actually meant to be a Lutheran. Whether it’s whole synods/denominations... or districts within a synod... or congregations within a district... or individual Christians, there are many attempting to take the title as their own, self-identifying themselves as Lutherans... but are they, really?" And then this gem: "There seems to be an oddly large number of folks within Lutheran churches who have no grasp for what Lutherans actually believe." Finally, there was this: "If you do not know what the Book of Concord is, or you argue that the bible isn't really God's Word, or you deny the saving power of Holy Baptism or the real presence of Jesus' body and blood in the Supper, or you insist that whole literal six-day creation thing is total bunk. You might not be a Lutheran. Sorry." What she said.

I haven't written about "Lutheran Schools Week" at the school that my kids go to and that my wife works at yet, but I do want to set the stage so-to-speak in preparation for what's coming. I'm sure I've referenced this before, but "Steadfast In Education: Why Lutheran Schools And Why Lutheran Teachers?" is worth a look, especially with segments like this: "But why Lutheran? After all, there are lots of other Christian schools and Christian teachers. Why does Lutheran identity matter? Simply put, it is when Lutheran schools are staffed with Lutheran teachers that the gospel has the best chance of being proclaimed in its purity. (For the record, the word 'Lutheran' here refers more to one's actual confession than simply on which roster one's name appears.) To be sure, there are lots of Christian schools and Christian teachers and they are dedicated and sincere. But any adulteration of the gospel runs the risk of the Christian doubting — or worse, in causing him to trust someone or something other than Christ for his eternal salvation. The world thinks this is unloving, but it's why Lutheran schools ought to be for Lutheran teachers. No one else confesses justification the same as the Fourth Article of the Augsburg Confession. No one else's theology is designed to reflect salvation by grace alone through faith alone in all its articles. No other theology ought to be taught in our schools, and the way to ensure this is twofold: First, the pastor ought to oversee the theological curriculum and instruction of the school (if not outright do all the instruction himself). Second, teachers ought to hold to the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran churches (and remain diligent in the study of that confession) so that any time theological matters are discussed in class, students can be directed to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a quick read and it emphasizes the importance of called Lutheran Teachers being true to their calling." Is this really too much to ask from our Lutheran Teachers who are "called" and who sign a "Confession of Faith" as well? Sadly, you'd be surprised.

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): John 8:31-32 (ESV) "31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" I felt it was fitting to take a quick look at these verses in light of current events within the LCMS right now (my goodness there are so many!). Here's what my Lutheran Study Bible has to say about this text: "Speaking to those whose belief in Him was superficial, Jesus explained that discipleship meant accepting all of His teaching and remaining faithful to it. Only in Jesus and His teaching will anyone be free from sin, death, and Satan's rule, and thus free to serve God with a pure heart. In contrast, Judaism taught that study of God's Law made a person free. In this passage, Jews with a weak faith in Jesus balk when He says that true freedom comes through Him and His teaching. Humans are self-centered from birth and in bondage to sin, unable to please God (Romans 8:8). Through Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection, He provides liberation from sin, death, and the devil to all who believe and are baptized into His name."

10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE): We really can't keep talking about this enough, because if false doctrine is tolerated and allowed to co-exist with the truth even after it's been clearly identified, then we're talking about souls potentially being at stake for all of eternity. That's why I want to echo what Scott Diekmann wrote over at Steadfast Lutherans earlier in the week: "In 2008, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod canceled Issues, Etc. That single event galvanized an entire generation of do-nothings like me to sit up and take notice. People began to take an interest in what was happening in their Synod. The ensuing confessional tsunami in some ways redefined the face of the LCMS at the 2010 National Convention, including unseating the Synod President. But it wasn't enough. This week has been a sobering reminder of how much more needs to be done. The recent decision of a group of three men in the Northwest District not to initiate formal proceedings against the poster boy for aberrant doctrine in the LCMS is our next wake-up call. Today our Synod President, Matt Harrison, rose to the occasion, stating that, 'The system of doctrinal discipline in the LCMS is not functioning as envisioned and implemented by our Fathers. It must be repaired.' We will not allow the truth of the Gospel to be undermined by our own infighting, inactivity, or egos. It's time for the next confessional tsunami to arrive. Please join with me in supporting President Harrison as we work together to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."

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: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


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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