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What Luther Says

Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (4/18/15)

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): This "The LCMS – The Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde of Lutheranism" commentary is in this particular category and considered "funny" to me ONLY because the writer sounds like a carbon copy of myself!

 I'm likely going to be faced with making a pretty significant and dare I say life-changing decision within the next week or two. Naturally, that got me thinking about how we Christians are supposed to make God-honoring decisions. Of course, the old Evangelical within me cries out that "His will can't be known apart from signs and wonders!" Right. As if butterflies in my tummy and hearing some obscure song from the 1980s on the radio today is a "sure sign" of "God's approval" of the decision He hopes I'm going to make! Yet, would you believe that I used to think that way? Ok, so what is the right way to view the decision making process in light of the Gospel? I found one helpful blog post by Rev. Scot Kinnaman titled "How Do I Know?" that answered that very question quite beautifully (and Biblically). "You have heard it as well as I have. An answer is needed, a change is desired, a need has been 'laid on your heart.' How do you determine whether it is the right thing to do, how do you determine if it is God’s will? Do you go to horoscopes? Do you wait for God to speak through random Bible verses? Do you pray that God would give you an answer, a sign? The quest to discern God’s will for an individual’s life is putting oneself back under the Law, and not living in the freedom of the Gospel. It is God’s will that we believe in Jesus Christ. It is God’s will to accomplish all that is necessary for this to occur. Trusting in Him who obeyed God’s Law perfectly in our place and paid for our waywardness on the cross is what your faith does. So, by grace through faith we are considered to be in obedience and therefore living in accordance to God’s will. That is how God sees the believer. When one’s Christian freedom is applied to choosing a vocation, determining the level of giving to the church, or making some other decision (should I buy a house, marry this person, change jobs, etc.), the Christian has no worries since whatever decision he/she makes will be in accordance with God’s will (assuming the activity is in accordance with the Ten Commandments). In other words, in freedom, the Christian, making life-changing decisions or even day-to-day decisions, does not have to worry that they will be choosing a path which God has not chosen for them. They can evaluate and assess the options with their God-given abilities and step forward in faith. This is the beautiful Gospel answer to all WWJD ('What Would Jesus Do?')-type questions. There is no 'sign' or earthly 'wisdom' which will be a sure-fire guarantee that the Christian is doing God’s will. As I tell my confirmands and speak in Bible class, 'Go and be what you are, and when a door opens for you, consider the possibilities.' Actually, such an attitude toward life is truly not only freeing, but often brings much more joy. Instead of worry, we are free to pursue things that bring pleasure as long as they are not contrary to God’s command. Instead of 'having' to go to church, we 'get' to go. Instead of 'having' to submit to husband or 'having' to love the wife with the kind of love only God has, we 'get' to enjoy companionship, friendship, mutual support, and God willing, such extras as passionate sex and wonderful children–all under His blessing. Instead of 'having' to get up and go to work we are allowed to serve God by maximizing our talents in a certain field or endeavor–and we get 'paid' for doing it too! Notice how our loving God has provided such excellent means of keeping his holy Commandments too: We 'get' to keep the first table (Commandments 1-3) when we find the church unlocked and the saints gathered in the pews. We 'get' to love our neighbor as our self in the context of Christian marriage and family and on the job. Our labor and work not only benefit us, but our employment is part of His plan to provide daily bread to others. When we busy ourselves in the 'mundane,' we are busy in the work of the kingdom."

 From the "How To Use This Book" section of the Reader's Edition of The Book of Concord: "For 425 years, the Book of Concord has united and guided Lutheran congregations, schools, pastors, and teachers. Yet today, many Lutherans are virtually unaware of its existence and use. As a result, when someone mentions the Book of Concord, one often hears, 'Aren't we just supposed to follow the Bible?' as though Christians do not use other publications based on the Bible (e.g., creeds, hymnals, catechisms, devotionals). One may even hear the Book of Concord compared to documents like the Book of Mormon, as though Lutherans were trying to add new texts to the Bible. ... Take note that the Book of Concord functions very much like the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, summarizing or clarifying what the Bible teaches on controversial topics. In particular, it thoroughly teaches God's love and forgiveness for all people based on Jesus' life, death, and resurrection -- reminding us that this is the chief teaching of the Christian faith."

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Ephesians 4:17-32 (ESV) "
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,f which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Here's what my Lutheran Study Bible has to say about this: "Paul describes the new life that results from the Gospel. Yet, the Law also continues to apply because of our sinful nature. As Luther explains the Ten Commandments in the Catechism, the Law both forbids sinful behavior ('shall not') and urges good works ('shall'). As we inevitably fail to live up to such demands, forgiveness preserves and restores the harmony of the Church. Father, forgive us our sins, that we may forgive those who sin against us. Amen."

10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE): This is a good one called "Dumber Than A Rock?" from Pastor Eric Andersen: "It’s easy to think we’re smarter than we actually are. We live in a time when technology has put unprecedented amounts of information at our fingertips. When compared to most people in most places at most times, we live in luxury. We confess the faith in its truth and purity. It’s easy for us to become like King Uzziah, strong and proud. It’s easy for us to think our wisdom surpasses that of Solomon. But pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). The Lord has a Day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up, against all the cedars of Lebanon, against all lofty mountains, against all the lofty pride of man (Isaiah 2:12—17). Uzziah grew strong and proud to his destruction (2 Chronicles 26:16). For all of his worldly wisdom, Solomon lacked the discernment to choose for himself a godly wife, instead lusting after pagan women, who turned away his heart to false gods (1 Kings 11:3—4). It’s amazing how people so smart can sometimes be so dumb. Like Uzziah and Solomon, we sin often. We know better. To sin is foolish. To put it more crassly, it’s just plain dumb. But there’s another sense in which we’re dumb. Psalm 29:1—2 says, 'All creation ascribes to the Lord glory and strength and gives Him the glory due His name.' All creation declares God’s glory: the heavens and sky, day and night, sun and moon (Psalm 19). The mountains and the hills break forth into singing, the tress of the field clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12). Our Lord says if His disciples were silent, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:38). We may not be dumb in the intellectual sense, but our tongues are often struck dumb—dumber than even a rock—when it comes to declaring the glory of the Lord. There are times when declaring God’s praise is the last thing we feel like doing. Our tongues can become like lead weights in our mouths when it comes to declaring God’s praise, but move with the greatest of ease when it comes to spewing forth the evil from that comes from our hearts (Matthew 15:18). Like Solomon, we may have all the worldly wisdom in the world, but we often put on fantastic displays of ignorance when it comes to spiritual matters. It’s humbling to realize that even the creation around us recognizes and declares the glory of God when we often do not. There’s no room for pride when we realize that even inanimate objects sometimes do a better job of praising God than we do. God brings down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of humble estate (Luke 1:52). He does this that He might show us mercy, for His mercy is for the poor and the lowly. The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). He sets on high those who are lowly (Job 5:11). Apart from God’s love in Christ Jesus, our hearts would be stone cold (1 John 4:19). When he opens our lips to declare our praise (Psalm 51:15), we realize He has indeed drawn forth praise from the stones! He softens our hearts and draws forth His praise from lips that once were more secure than Jesus’ tomb. He brings forth something where there once was nothing: faith where there once was unbelief, praise where there once was silence, and life where there once was death. 'Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!' (Psalm 72:19)."

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 in your God-given vocations.

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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