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Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (5/30/15)

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): Yes, I actually chuckled out loud when I first read this...

8:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN B (BEST OF THE BLOGS): A non-Lutheran and newer acquaintance of mine shared an article on Facebook titled "6 Problems With The Evangelical Church: Can We Save The Modern Church From Its Theological Bankruptcy?" with this comment to introduce it in which he absolutely nails it: "This only confirms why I am studying Theology in seminary and why I have a passion to teach it in the local church and one day in higher education. Whatever your opinion of what should or should not be taught in church regarding theology this research is evidence that every church teaches a theology to their congregants either by proclamation or by omission. Do you value a historic and essentially Christian worldview in your church? Chances are those in leadership might not. Or maybe they do but don't think it has a place on Sunday, when the majority of people are in attendance. 'The Barna Group’s research goes on to reveal that 79 percent of those identifying as 'born again Christians' firmly believe the Bible is accurate in all its teachings -- which is pretty good, I guess -- but it also reveals that only 46 percent of these 'born agains' believe in absolute moral truth, only 40 percent believe Satan is real, and only 47 percent strongly reject the idea that you can earn your way to heaven. Further, only 62 percent of the born-again Christians surveyed strongly believe that Jesus was sinless.' How does this sit with you? For me it is a denial of basic Christian doctrine." Amen! See, for me, while I obviously believe that there is only one "faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) and that this is problematic for all the different denominations out there, I also know that the Lord preserves a remnant for Himself in each one even if a certain denomination is filled with more false teaching than another let's say. While that's never a good and noble thing, I can still appreciate it when a heterodox church body at least adheres to what it professes to believe, teach, and confess...even if they're wrong. If only we Lutherans in the LCMS were more consistent about making sure our beliefs, teachings, and confessions (practices too!) matched the "Lutheran" label, then perhaps we'd have far less "L.I.N.O"'s ("Lutherans-In-Name-Only") in our churches today.

Loved this from my devotion reading this morning courtesy of Dr. Martin Luther: "Saying, 'I wish you a strong and healthy body and mind,' doesn't mean much. But if I were to hand you a thousand dollars and say, 'I would like you to have this money,' now that would be different. Similarly, Jesus told the paralyzed man, 'Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home' (Matthew 9:6). If He were merely wishing the best, He would have said, 'Poor man, I wish you were healthy and strong.' But that wouldn't have cured or strengthened the sick man. Those good wishes would have accomplished little. The Bible isn't filled with good wishes. It contains real blessings that actually come to pass. We have these kinds of blessings in the New Testament through Christ. We receive a blessing when the pastor says, 'Receive forgiveness for your sins.' If he were to say, 'I wish that God would show you favor and mercy, give you eternal life, and forgive your sins,' it would be merely an expression of love. Instead, he says, 'I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.' These words have the power to actually forgive you, if you believe."

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): John 3:1-17 (ESV) "1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.' 3 Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' 4 Nicodemus said to him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' 5 Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.' 9 Nicodemus said to him, 'How can these things be?' 10 Jesus answered him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world,i that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.'" Pastor Tony Sikora's sermon on this Biblical text this week is a good one. He writes: "Nicodemus is no different than any other man and neither are you. Jesus knows what is in Nicodemus and He knows what is in you. You and I desire the same things from Jesus as Nicodemus. We all want Jesus to affirm us. We want to be praised for the kind of life we’re leading. We want Jesus to see what we’re doing and smile on us. Jesus knows this about us and He won’t let us remain in such delusions." Pastor Sikora draws some stunning parallels between Nicodemus and each and every one of us. In fact, he drills down to explain how Jesus' response to Nicodemus that night is His very same response to you and I right now! Later, Pastor Sikora adds: "Nicodemus thinks he sees and because he sees he thinks he knows. You and I see what’s on the outside and because we like, well really because we love what we see, we think Jesus does too. We think we know -- but we don’t. And Jesus won’t let us remain in such ignorance. What see in ourselves, what Nicodemus thinks he sees, is not nearly as good as we believe. Jesus says we need to be born again. We don’t need to be reformed. We don’t need to try harder. We don’t need to practice longer, develop better methods, or do things with a more fervent sincerity. We don’t need to tweak a part of our lives a bit here or a bit there. We don’t need to be more passionate about our relationships, our vocations, or even our worship. We don’t need to show God how much we love Him. We don’t need to improve our piety. In fact we don’t need to be better. Jesus says we need to be born again. That means our first birth wasn’t good enough. That’s offensive. That hurts my feelings. That certainly doesn’t affirm my beliefs or my lifestyle. When Jesus says I need to be born again He’s telling me that I’m not good enough for the kingdom of God, that I’m not good enough for Him. And you know what? He’s absolutely right on. I do need to be born again. But to be born again I need to die first. But I don’t want to die? I am afraid to die. How can I die and survive to be born again? How can these things be? Jesus dies first!" Please check out the rest of that sermon when you can. Grace and peace to you and yours!

10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE): Yes, Satan is just as real as Jesus Christ is and he has hordes of demons just waiting to do his bidding in this life (1 Peter 5:8). Now, Christians have nothing to fear even though we may suffer thanks to sin and the devil from time-to-time. Even so, NO ONE should ever think that it's mere child's play, harmless, or just fun-n-games when it comes to participating in a new popular game on Social Media where kids are expected to actually attempt to summon a demon. The Bible makes it crystal clear that Jesus Himself took demons seriously...and so should you!

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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