Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (6/20/15)

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, we got a lot of mileage (pun intended!) out of this sign we saw with the kids! Yes, we REALLY did drive through an actual place called "Buttzville" in NJ! Plus, on our way home we stopped at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Luke, who will be 10 in a couple months, walks in and the first words out of his mouth were, "Oh man! I hate Texas and I hate Country Music!"

8:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN B (BEST OF THE BLOGS): I read an extremely thought-provoking piece titled "'The Gospel Frees Us To Fulfill The Law' Is A Thoroughly Christian Statement" that I wanted to share here. Here's the intro: "The chief article of the Christian faith is the free justification of sinners by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone, apart from the works of the Law. This is the Gospel, the article on which the Church stands or falls, the fundament without which no other doctrine matters or makes sense. But it’s not the only doctrine that “matters” in some totemic sense, as though apophatic silence must reign in the face of other theological questions. Nor does simple reiteration of its truth suffice. To say that 'justification is the only thing that matters' smacks not a little of Seminex prof Ed Schroeder’s 'Gospel reductionism'—and that’s not an epithet: Schroeder owned the term quite unabashedly. For whatever reason, though, this bad penny is turning up again among Lutherans, even among those who identify as 'Confessional.' (For my non-Lutheran readers, 'Confessional' is a self-applied label for many Lutherans who consciously subscribe to The Book of Concord as a Biblically-normed rule of Christian doctrine, holding it to be fully in complete accord with, and indeed a confession of, the catholic and apostolic faith. 'Confessional Lutheran' should be redundant, but for some reason it's not.)"

9:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN C (CONFESSIONAL): 
"Without telling them how to attain to faith in Christ, your hearers will be spiritually starved to death if you do not allow the Gospel to predominate in your preaching. They will be spiritually underfed because the bread of life is not the Law, but the Gospel." *- C.F.W. Walther, Law & Gospel, Thirty-Ninth Evening Lecture

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) "38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, 'Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.' 39 But he answered them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here." My Lutheran Study Bible has this to say about this passage: "The Jewish legal scholars asked for some compelling miracle to verify Jesus' messianic claims. Jesus described His contemporaries with a term often used by Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah 3:8; Jeremiah 13:27; Ezekiel 16:15). To seek a sign from Jesus after all He had already done revealed the spiritual impurity and wickedness of these religious leaders. Like Satan, they wanted Jesus to certify that He was the Son of God (Matthew 4:3; Matthew 4:6). This certification would come in the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:40). We are privileged to hear and receive Him in His Word. Sometimes, like the unbelieving leaders, we seek signs of God's goodness in success, wealth, and health. One sign is sufficient for faith, the sign of Jonah. In this sign we find peace, joy, and hope. O Jesus, my Prophet, Priest, and King, accept the praise I bring because you revealed to me the sign of salvation. Amen."

10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE): From Martin Luther's Commentary On The Epistle to the Galatians (1535), translated by Theodore Graebner (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949) p. 60 we find this gem, which I've come to appreciate so much in recent weeks: "[Ch. 2] VERSE 14. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel. No one except Paul had his eyes open. Consequently it was his duty to reprove Peter and his followers for swerving from the truth of the Gospel. It was no easy task for Paul to reprimand Peter. To the honor of Peter it must be said that he took the correction. No doubt, he freely acknowledged his fault. The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. If it is a question of works, then lift high the lantern of works and the righteousness of the Law. If your conscience is oppressed with a sense of sin, talk to your conscience. Say: 'You are now groveling in the dirt. You are now a laboring ass. Go ahead, and carry your burden. But why don’t you mount up to heaven? There the Law cannot follow you!' Leave the ass burdened with laws behind in the valley. But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain. In civil life obedience to the law is severely required. In civil life Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, Christ Himself, do not count, but only Moses with the lawbooks. If we bear in mind this distinction, neither Gospel nor Law shall trespass upon each other. The moment Law and sin cross into heaven, i.e., your conscience, kick them out. On the other hand, when grace wanders unto the earth, i.e., into the body, tell grace: 'You have no business to be around the dreg and dung of this bodily life. You belong in heaven.' By his compromising attitude Peter confused the separation of Law and Gospel. Paul had to do something about it. He reproved Peter, not to embarrass him, but to conserve the difference between the Gospel which justifies in heaven, and the Law which justifies on earth. The right separation between Law and Gospel is very important to know. Christian doctrine is impossible without it. Let all who love and fear God, diligently learn the difference, not only in theory but also in practice. When your conscience gets into trouble, say to yourself: 'There is a time to die, and a time to live; a time to learn the Law, and a time to unlearn the Law; a time to hear the Gospel, and a time to ignore the Gospel. Let the Law now depart, and let the Gospel enter, for now is the right time to hear the Gospel, and not the Law.' However, when the conflict of conscience is over and external duties must be performed, close your ears to the Gospel, and open them wide to the Law."
 

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!

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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 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!