Monday, October 30, 2006

Sermon Packs a Punch!

In our local newspaper this morning, The Plain Dealer, in the Metro section, there was a picture (unfortunately I could not load the actual picture of it in my blog) of Pastor Paul Endrei knocking down another man in the middle of a boxing ring. It happened inside his church in Westlake, Ohio- The Church on the Rise. It was an illustration of a theme that he was talking about, "A Bout with Doubt." "There are lessons we can learn from boxing that have real-life application to our everyday lives."

One wonders what is next. I thought I have seen a lot, but this is now at the top of my list. The boxing world and the church are now one. Where will it all end? Pastor Endrei, also said that children could volunteer their parents to go into the ring during the service, as well. How amusing! Lord have mercy!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Stewardship Renaissance?

I received an email from the Synod. I quote a portion of it, "He also spoke about the recently released report of the Synod's Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission and its recommendations, especially that a 'stewardship renaissance' take place in the Synod, and that ways be sought to increase unrestricted giving in the LCMS." A stewardship renaissance, huh? Interesting. This sounds an awful lot like money is becoming an idol for us as a synod. How about a Gospel renaissance or a doctrinal renaissance? That is what we need. If we preach and teach the pure and unadulterated Gospel and administer the Sacraments according to the institution of Christ, the money will follow. Everything will follow. Our priorities seem to be completely mixed up. I wonder if they realize how ridiculous a "stewardship renaissance" actually sounds? Just my humble opinion. Lord have mercy!

The New Hymnal

I want to thank CPH for making such an appealing looking new hymnal. From the outside, it looks like something you want and need. However, what is on the inside leaves something to be desired. Our congregation uses both TLH and LW and we have little desire to go to a new hymnal. The only thing that would have drawn us into considering using it might have been if what we love about TLH was in the new hymnal. All the good hymns, as well as, the services of TLH included with some newer expressions of reverent and confessional hymnody. However, that is just not the case. Now, they say that the TLH service and TLH hymns are in the new hymnal. Some are and some are not! The TLH service is the TLH service, with all the "thee"s and "thou"s in there! I have heard for years that I should not support using language that is out-dated and not relevant to the generation of today. What they fail to understand is that the language of TLH is the language of the church. The "thee's" and the "thou's" take us out of the world and into the church. Holding onto the TLH language is far more than just something done because we are comfortable with or used to it. We hold on to TLH because the hymns are superior and the language is churchly. Why did the editorial committee choose to keep some of the old language and disregard other parts of it? It makes no sense. It seems arbirtary. On the other hand, I want to thank some of the modern hymn writers for their contribution. We plan on using them in the future. May God bless our Synod!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Augsburg Confession- Article I- God

All theology must begin by answering the question of: who is God? That is why our Lutheran Confession begins with God. If we don't know or clearly confess who God is, then, everything else we say really doesn't matter. Article I of the Augsburg Confession confesses God to be three persons in one divine essence. God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost. That is the only confession of God. Therefore, confessing God as only Father, or only Son or only Holy Ghost is not a Christian confession of Him. All three persons must be confessed. The Augsburg Confession, Article I, condemns the Jewish and Muslim definition or confession of God; because, it is incomplete. May we continue to honor God by clearing confessing him to be Father, Son and Holy Ghost! Anything less is not the right confession. Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ranting About Sports in Cleveland

Since I arrived here in October of 2003, I have become an avid Cleveland sports fan. I cheer for the Indians, Cavs, and the Browns for 14 games (I am also a Steeler fan. Sorry, I have cheered for them since the 70's) . The Indians season was a huge disappointment this year and I find myself slowing getting the Cleveland chip on my shoulder. Somehow, it is a great and grand conspiracy that we haven't won a major sports championship since the Brown's teams of the fifties. Oh, we have come pretty close. But, we haven't gotten over the hump. I have heard some pretty wild conjectures as to why we haven't won. I still like the Indian curse theory. The stadium was built on old Indian land. You get the picture. But, anyway, this year, I know will be different. This is the year that we finally break through. Lebron and the boys will do it! They will find a way to win a championship! If not, it is because everything is predetermined anyway and the powers that be don't want us to win. There I go again. Sorry. Hope springs eternal. God bless.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Makes up the Book of Concord?

1. Apostles' Creed- 2nd century AD
2. Nicene Creed-325, 381 AD
3. Athanasian Creed-6-8th centuries AD
4. Augsburg Confession-June 25, 1530 AD
5. The Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession-1531 AD
6. The Smalcald Articles-1536 AD
7. Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope-1537 AD
8. Luther's Small Catechism-1529 AD
9. Luther's Large Catechism-1529 AD
10. The Formula of Concord: Epitome and Solid Declaration-1577 AD

With Intrepid Hearts!

How important is the Lutheran confession of faith? The Formula of Concord answers the question. "This declaration... is our faith, doctrine and confession. By God's grace, with intrepid hearts, we are willing to appear before the judgment seat of Christ with this confession."
In our world, what you confess means very little. What one person confesses is just as important or unimportant as what anyone else confesses. But, to a Lutheran, our confession is a matter of life and death. We are willing to die for our confession. It is that important! A countless number of our forefathers died to preserve, protect and hand down to us our confession. So often, I have heard, "Why do we care so much about doctrine? Can we give a little for the sake of unity and compromise?" Answer: No, we can not give in. Not one inch. If doctrine matters to God, it matters to me. If by teaching true doctrine, I preserve Christ crucified and risen for those who will come after me, then true doctrine I will preach, teach and confess. Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Help for Pastor Rippy

(From Pastor Sean Rippy)


I have been called to serve St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in Sunderland, England while I attend nearby Newcastle University on Tyne. St. Timothy’s is a member of the ELCE- The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, sister church to the LCMS. She is a solid Lutheran church- a beacon of hope in the midst of the spiritual chaos that is England.

The problem is this light is dimming. There are currently only 15 congregations in the ELCE. 15! And most are struggling. We all know the cycle. As congregations struggle financially, it is difficult to support pastors and their families. Without pastors and more specifically the means of grace which pastors are called to provide, it is difficult for congregations to remain stable. Without stability it is difficult to maintain finances to provide for pastors. And the cycle goes on and on.

A few years back St. Timothy’s was struck with a hardship that left her weak and vulnerable. Recently, when her last pastor left, they believed they would have to close the doors because they could not afford another pastor. In the LCMS closing one of our 6,000 congregations is a deep sadness, no one wants to see it, but in the ELCE when 1 of 15 congregations closes- that is a tragedy. That very often means an entire part of the country will have no Lutheran presence at all. The result is those poor Lutheran saints must suffer, not to mention those who would benefit from good solid Lutheran teaching and preaching.

St. Timothy’s is in the far Northeast corner of England. There isn’t another ELCE church for hundreds of miles in any direction. If St. Timothy’s were to close that would mean the Lutheran light would go out in that part of the country.

In every sense St. Timothy’s is a mission. She can provide a parsonage and possibly a car (the ELCE provides for congregations a very economical car option at 60 pounds a month) but no salary at all. She requires financial aid and subsistence from outside sources and right now the ELCE as a Synod is not able to provide much help. She too is financially hurting.

I call on you as fellow pastors who know the power and importance of Word and Sacrament ministry. As we follow God in this call and literally step out in faith, my family and I need your help, but perhaps more importantly St. Timothy’s and northeast England needs your help.

I write this not to create guilt, but to make you aware of a problem that you may not have been aware of. If we do not know the trials of our brothers and sisters, we can not help. If you or your congregation find yourself able to help in any way, you may contact me up to the end of December at:

Pastor Sean L. Rippy
673 Clayton NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
(616) 735-0890

Alternately, you may make a check out to: St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church
And mail to:
Queen Alexandra RoadAshbrooke, SunderlandSR2 9AATelephone: 0191 528 4424

Or go to and click on: “Support Us” and then click on: “St. Timothy’s” to donate via credit card.