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Archive for March, 2012

#OccupyMom

March 26, 2012 Leave a comment

This is just wonderful:

Thanks to Difster.

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Categories: Pro Life

Appreciate the Liturgy? Why Not the Prayers, Too?

March 25, 2012 Leave a comment
O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
(Ps 51:15, KJV)

Why is it that some who, for any number of reasons, appreciate and regularly use the liturgy fail to appreciate or regularly use the prayers that are printed in the same book?

Not the appointed weekly collects, mind you. But look at the dozens of examples of rich prayer for various occasions that are given. These are wonderful patterns for us to follow.

From Lutheran Service Book:

O Lord Jesus, Your mercies are new every morning. We thank You for another year of married life together for N and N. Open their hearts always to receive more of Your love that their love for each other may never grow weary but deepen and grow through every joy and sorrow shared; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Anniversary of a marriage, Pew Edition, p. 318)

Lord Jesus Christ, hear our prayers on behalf of Your servant N as (s)he undergoes surgery. Bless him/her with faith in Your loving kindness and protection. Endow the surgeon and the medical team with ability and skill so that, according to Your will, this surgery may bring Your servant to a full restoration of health and strength; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. (For those undergoing surgery, Pew Edition, p. 316)

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of food You have provided and for all those whose labor brings Your blessings to our table. We pray that at this meal we may be strengthened for Your service and together may await with joy the feast You have prepared for all the faithful in Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Asking a blessing at mealtime, Pew Edition, p. 315)

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Before the study of God’s Word, Pew Edition, p. 312)

Almighty God and Lord, as You have called us to labor in Your vineyard, so grant us now Your presence. Enlighten and guide us by Your Word that in all matters of deliberation we may always consider the best interests of Your Church and this congregation. Let Your Holy Spirit rule and direct our hearts that, in the spirit of Christian love, we may present and discuss matters and be kindly disposed toward one another, to the end that all we say and do may please You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (To open a congregational meeting, Pew Edition, p. 307)

Categories: Right Worship

A Helpful Suggestion for Non-Liturgical LCMS Congregations

March 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Pr John Frahm provides a very helpful statement that can be used by not-very-Lutheran congregations of the LCMS in place of AC XXIV in their Books of Concord (if they still recognize such a thing):

Rightly are our churches accused and convicted of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is rarely seen among us, and celebrated so casually one would never know we are dealing with heaven on earth. Nearly none of the historic ceremonies are observed among us. For ceremonies are observed among us for these purposes alone — to draw a crowd, make everyone happy, and convince them we are no different than the Methodists down the street. To paraphrase St. Paul, we have become all things to all protestants, if by some means we may solve our budgetary problems. In some places, the people are accustomed to partake of bread and grape juice together, about once or twice per month. For everyone is admitted regardless of whether they are examined, under the catch-all of pastoral discretion and outreach. The people are rarely taught regarding the sacrament and are pastorally encouraged in the belief that it is more special if it is celebrated less often, and that it is properly there for a warm fuzzy feeling. This kind of worship is more acceptable to the masses and keeps up the church budget and prevents the pastor from being fired. Therefore it certainly appears that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us, but that doesn’t bother us anymore. We do abolish the Mass and religiously purge it from our churches, at first making it only one flavor on the buffet of services, or relegate it to nostalgic Sundays at the very most. Again, almost none of the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, prayers, or the use of any vestments at all, even the black Pietistic sort, in many places. For we confess that the Mass is indeed a sacrifice, a praise service and worship experience designed to generate a certain spiritual mood. We indeed, also shun and persecute those who refuse to abolish the Mass. For ultimately we appear to question whether the Word of God in itself is effective, as it does not appear to produce the results we expect, neither on our schedule nor in the quantity we prefer. Therefore we prefer to trust in personal charisma, entertainment, programs, and liturgical karaoke. For these make for effective, successful, seeker-sensitive, and truly missional experiences, in our opinion. This is hopefully true. This is our abiding confession, which we have no intention of departing from, at least not until the next new big culturally relevant (indulgent) program comes our way.

Categories: Wrong Worship

How Are You Saved?

March 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Dr. Carl Fickenscher, II, Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, and Dean of Certification and Pastoral Education at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., explains that we are saved from our sins by Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection, and that deliverance is given to us through the means of grace.

Therefore, we are saved by His Word, by His Baptism, and by His Body and Blood. Yes, the Word saves us; Baptism saves us; the Lord’s Supper saves us.

His explanation during a recent episode of Table Talk Radio (starting at 21m56s):

Categories: Right Worship

Loving God Alone – Johann Gerhard

March 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Reflecting on Loving God Alone, Johann Gerhard wrote Meditation IX in Sacred Meditations, reprinted by Repristination Press.

Excerpt:

Loving God Alone

May Love Bind Thee Fast to the Lord

Rouse thyself, O faithful soul, and love thou Him who is the Highest Good, in whom is every good thing, and without whom there is nothing truly good. No created thing can really satisfy our souls’ desires, for no creature possesses all of perfect good in itself, but only that good in which it participates. A rivulet (a small brook or stream; a streamlet — The Free Dictionary) of goodness from the divine fountain may flow down to it from above, but the fountain itself always remains in God. Why then should we desire to leave the fountain and follow the rivulet?

Every manifestation of good in the creature is but an image of the perfect goodness which is in God, nay, which is God Himself. Why then should we desire to leave the reality to grasp the image? The dove sent out from Noah’s ark could not find, amid the raging waters, a place of rest for her feet (Gen. 8:8). Thus our souls, amid the vast multitude of earthly comforts, can find nothing to satisfy fully their immortal desires, because these things are so very frail and fleeting in character. Does not that man do himself injury who loves anything beneath the dignity of his nature? Our souls are far more noble than any created thing because (they are) redeemed by the passion and death of God. Why then should we stoop to love the creature? Would not that be inconsistent with the dignity to which God has exalted the human soul?

Whatever we love, we love because of its power, its wisdom, or its beauty. Now what is more powerful, what is wiser, what is more beautiful, than God? All the power of earthly monarchs is from Him and is subject to Him; all human wisdom, compared with the divine, is foolishness; all creature beauty in comparison with God is absolute deformity.

Categories: Right Worship

Confession Mirror: The First Commandment

March 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Since so many pastors don’t know how to preach the Law to their members, perhaps this will help. From the Confession Mirror in Brotherhood Prayer Book:

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?

We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

To whom have I looked for the highest good?

Have I doubted God’s Word and thus committed idolatry by seeking my highest good from other “sources”?

Which one was more important when I made my daily decisions: God or myself?

What do I fear, what do I love, what do I trust more than my God?

Have good times deluded me into thinking that I am in control?

Am I tempted to think that I have God and everything I need when I have money and earthly goods?

Have bad times caused me to despair and lose hope and trust in God?

Have I doubted God’s love for me when I have money problems, loss of possessions, sickness, or injury?

Have I been discontent with what God has spoken of Himself in Jesus Christ and in the Scriptures?

Have I put my own notions or the notions of others above what the Scriptures say about God?

To trust in God above all things is to have faith.

Have I thought or done things that have weakened or hurt my faith in God?

Have I denied the faith out of indifference or cowardice before acquaintances, relatives, friends, or those who believe differently?

I have God as my Lord over me. What contradicts Him in my life?

Does my self-consciousness, my pride, my sensitivity, my temper, my dissatisfaction, my laziness, my “rights,” my fearfulness, or weariness with my life contradict God in my life?

Have I cursed God and His Church?

Is it noticeable to others that I am a Christian: baptized, redeemed, made holy? Or have I been ashamed of my salvation?

Consider the things that you have done to weaken or hurt your faith according to the next nine commandments. Remember that your flesh is weak with sin and the old man in you must be killed daily.

Categories: Right Worship

Chemnitz Quote

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

We must not believe and teach concerning this mystery (Christ’s two natures) with the words which man’s wisdom teaches, as Paul says (1 Cor. 2:13), but with those words which the Holy Ghost teaches, that is, we must not pattern and conform the things revealed and taught in Scripture regarding this doctrine to the principles, norms, and judgment of reason, but we must compare spiritual things with spiritual, things that are foolishness to the natural man.” — Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures in Christ, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House (1971), p. 17.

This reinforces C.F.W. Walther’s quote farther down this blog:

The value of a sermon depends not only on this, that every statement in it be taken from the Word of God and be in agreement with the same, but also on this, whether Law and Gospel have been rightly divided.  (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, pp. 31–32. http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/lecture-04.html)

Categories: Right Worship