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What Luther Says

Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (11/21/15)

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): Maybe this story will make Table Talk Radio's "Ten Commandments In The News" segment. In a classic case of "He-Said, She-Said" a man is being accused of assaulting his girlfriend...for refusing to smell his armpit! Now let me be clear -- physical violence of any kind is certainly no laughing matter, but a headline like this is. I mean, the depth of sin that would prompt someone to threaten violence against someone they supposedly love just because that loved one wouldn't smell his armpit is absolutely mind-blowing! Lord, have mercy! A man in Texas is accused of assaulting his girlfriend after she refused to smell his armpit. Robinson Pinilla-Bolivar’s girlfriend said the argument started while she was washing dishes and he asked her to smell his armpit. When she refused, an argument reportedly ensued where she was hit in the back of the head with a closed fist and held up against a knife. Horrifying circumstances if it's true (like I said, that's no laughing matter!). The victim says the man then fled the scene and she called officials. Pinilla-Bolivar was arrested Nov. 13 at a traffic stop. He told authorities he did not threaten the woman and that he threw the knife into the sink angrily. He is being held at Midland County jail on a $25,000 bond.

8:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN B (BEST OF THE BLOGS): By now, even if you're a "Newtheran," I'm sure you've come to discover and thoroughly enjoy the writing from Vanessa at Bible, Beer, And Babies like I have for quite awhile now. I get that there's so much content on social media that's competing for our limited time and attention each week, but her latest piece "Breaking The Eighth In Marriage" is a MUST READ for all married Christian couples whether you're newlyweds or about to celebrate your 50th Anniversary together. Here's a quick taste of what makes this one so good: "We should take care with our words and consider what they -- even if said in playfulness and good humor -- might reflect about our spouse. We might mean some teasing to be a silly, harmless jab, but those who witness it may not agree, and it may actually taint the way they view our spouse. ... Remember, that eighth commandment isn’t just about not lying about our neighbor (i.e. our spouse); it’s also about not blabbing -- even truthfully -- in such a way that damages their character."

It seems that no matter how hard we try, and despite our collective best efforts to enforce and resolve a doctrine that derives from God's Word, we still can't escape the constant attempts by other Lutherans to completely ignore and violate Article XIV as it pertains to so-called "Lay Ministry" in Christ's Church. Regular readers and visitors here know all about my past and recent struggles with this (including a local LCMS Pastor who pushed the Board of Deacons to allow for a layman to perform Word and Sacrament ministry on a regular basis in non-emergency situations), but I'm not the only one it seems. An Open Letter titled "Thoughts By A Concerned Layman On The Diaconate..." was written by an anonymous "Concerned Layman" and published by Steadfast Lutherans this past week. It's a long read, but definitely worth your time.

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Instead of the usual Bible passage and the Lutheran Study Bible footnotes that go with it this week, I thought I'd share an excellent sermon instead from Pastor Matt Richard. It's titled "Follow The Trail Of Blood" and it opens with these powerful words: "'As soon as My Word is proclaimed, men will divide into two camps: some will receive it with joy, others will be offended [and angered] by it and will begin to hate and persecute those who receive.'[1] These are the words from an old Lutheran theologian talking about the reality that the church cannot be built up in peace, for it is located within the domain of the devil, who is the prince of the world. Even though the church is a safe ark of comfort in the raging winds and waves of this world, she is also at war. Make no mistake about it my friends, the church is at battle and it is not hard to track down the church, all you have to do is follow the trail of blood.[2] Indeed, we hear it from Jesus when He says that the church, that is you and me and our brothers and sisters who confess Christ around the world, will experience suffering, persecution, and death. From the church drips the blood of the martyrs. But what possible reason could there be for such bloodshed and suffering and pain, especially for the church? To answer this we must consider that in this world the church never has had peace and never will—peace as the world understands it. But rather, the church is marked by suffering from the world and the evil one; the church leaves a trail of blood wherever she goes. More specifically, this suffering from the world is due to the fact that when the Word of God is properly taught, proclaimed, and confessed, there will be tension. Sure the Word of God will feed the hungry in spirit and it will comfort those who mourn over sin, that is to say, it will be graciously received by some; however, the Word of God will also cause the self-righteous and the proud to get angry. And we know what angry people do; they lash out and inflict wounds; and from those wounds the church bleeds." You can read the rest or listen to this sermon by clicking the link above.

10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE): I've been receiving a daily devotion via email every day now for the past couple of months from Rev. Scott Murray in Houston, TX called the "Memorial Moment" and have been enjoying his preaching and teaching quite a bit. Here's what he wrote back in late October for Reformation Sunday that I wanted to share with you: "Wishy-washy church leaders are not new in the church. The church has always been plagued by spineless leaders. Gregory Nazianzus lamented the way in which the spirit of his day had invaded the church and led churchmen to be double-minded, unable to make a definite and unshakeable confession of the divine truth about the holy Trinity. In our day, we can think of the Swedish lesbian bishop's willingness to remove signs of the Crucified from a Christian chapel or the cowardly capitulation of the Roman Catholic bishops to the imposition of Obamacare in 2009, just when a clear stand for freedom would have been most helpful. We can all think of ways in which our own pastors have pulled their punches rather than landing them for the truth, just as, we must confess, we ourselves have. One obstreperous liberal in our midst silences cowardly, but well-meaning, conservatives every time. One aggressive enemy will silence the faithful. I share that fearfulness, to my shame. We must never lose sight of the One whom we are representing, whose divine plan is at work among us, and whose Word we are proclaiming. Only in that proclamation will God's will and work be done on earth as it is in heaven. Martin Luther reminds us of this in his explanation to the first petition of the Lord's Prayer from his Small Catechism: 'God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father' (SC 3.2)! We must be found on the side of the truth if we are to keep God's name holy among us. God's name is certainly holy in itself, but we are to keep it holy among us by proclaiming it faithfully against all comers. When we don't it is to our shame and to the profanation of God's Word. We must recognize that God's Word is not ours to possess or to control. It is a Word that must possess us and control us. God must speak. We must listen. To turn this around is a blasphemy; a self-deification. If God must listen and we must speak, then there has been a tragic and complete reversal of roles. Yet this is exactly what is happening when cowardly church leaders adjust the divine speech to be acceptable to the world with its changing and vacillating 'values.' We should fear God's wrath when we meddle with rather than proclaim His Word (Matthew 10:28). We will never be able to satisfy the world's insatiable desire to re-image God and to adjust His Word along politically correct lines. Once we start down that road, it will be similar to being forced to provide an addict with more and more of his self-centering drug. He will never accept revision nor will he thank his enabler, but will devour him in the end. It is easy, of course, to think of the world as someplace far from our churches and families; say, in Washington or some other national capital, among the powerful. But Paul warns us that the world is as close as our own hearts (Romans 7:16-19). Worldly-mindedness must be battled in ourselves first. Then we must be aware that our enemies might lie closest to our hearts. Our Lord Jesus says a cruel but entirely true thing to us when He warns us: 'A person's enemies will be those of his own household' (Matthew 10:36). It is both cruel and true that my own wife and children may be the enemies that are most dangerous to the faith. The household of the church also has enemies sown among the faithful (Matthew 13:28). Only God's speech is capable of sorting this out with the glorious truth of God's Son come among us in the weakness of the flesh to die for the sins of the world. About that we can hardly be wishy-washy."

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: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, 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 disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. 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 repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" 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!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, 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 both past and present 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 (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). 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 "Christian 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. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. 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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