Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Did You Get Everything You Wanted for Christmas?


Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Did you get that new pair of pants, or new shirt or new tie or new necklace or Play Station III that you wanted? News reports are saying that for many retailers, this was somewhat of a disappointing year. Disappointing for what reason? They weren't at the stores I was at. Our country has become so obsessed with material possessions. Our stuff owns us, not the other way around.

Thanks be to God that I got everything that I wanted for Christmas. I wanted to celebrate with all the faithful the blessed incarnation of Jesus. Got to do that! I wanted to sing the joyful Christmas hymns. Did that! I wanted to see the look on the faces of my boys and wife when they opened their presents. Enjoyed it! I wanted to get together with my family to enjoy a Christmas dinner. Had the pleasure of that! I got everything that I wanted for Christmas. Have a blessed Christmas and Christ-centered New Year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

When Sinners See Their Lost Condition!


TLH- #65

1. When sinners see their lost condition and feel the pressing load of sin, and Jesus cometh on His mission to heal the sin-sick heart within, all grief must flee before His grace, and joy divine will take its place.

2. When Jesus enters meek and lowly to fill the home with sweetest peace; when hearts have felt His blessing holy and found from sin complete release, then light and calm within shall reign and hearts divided love again.

3. When Jesus enters land and nation and moves the people with His love; when, yielding to His kind persuasion, our hearts His truth and blessing prove; then shall our life on earth be blest, the peace of God on us shall rest.

4. When Jesus comes,- O blessed story!- He works a change in heart and life; God's kingdom comes with power and glory to young and old, to man and wife; Through Sacrament and living Word, faith, love and hope are now conferred.

5. Then stilled are cries and lamentation, then loosed is Satan's every band; in death is hope and consolation, the soul is safe in Jesus' hand. When we shall walk through death's dark vale, His rod and staff shall never fail.

6. Oh, may He soon to every nation find entrance where He is unknown, with life and light and full salvation, that heathendom may be overthrown and healing to the hearts may come in heathen land and Christian home!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Let the Light Shine!


On Wednesday, December 13th, the Western Church recognizes the minor festival of St. Lucia- who was an early 4th century martyr who refused to recant under the persecution of the Roman emperor, Diocletian. At one point in her persecution, Lucia's eyes were cut out, which makes the symbolism which would come later that much more significant.

Particularly in the country of Sweden, in Lutheran homes, St. Lucia is remembered on this day, by having one of the daughters of the house dress in a white robe with a crown of lighted candles and go singing from room to room early in the morning, while it is still dark, to awaken the other family members and to offer them cakes of bread.

The symbolism is clear: Jesus is the Light of the world and the Bread of Life. We are covered with the righteousness of Christ in our Baptism. As we wait for the celebration of Christ's first Advent, as well as His Second Advent, may the Light of Christ shine in our world! May we also remember that we shine not with our own inward light, but reflect the light of Christ, who is our Head! God bless.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Science As Evangelism


Recently, I received an article written by George Johnson entitled, "Natural evangelism." It is subtitled, "Science is urged to vie with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told." It appeared in the Toronto Star: www.thestar.com. The point of the article is that scientists should not be afraid to "evangelize" their beliefs over and against those that support creationism, much like churches do.

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, is quoted as saying, "the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief." Also, Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said, as well, "We should let the success of religious formula guide us. Let's teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome- and even comforting- than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know."

Oh, really? Man-made beliefs and theories are more comforting than God's most holy Word? How tragic! It is time for our churches to take a stand against Darwinian evolution! What so many churches and pastors fail to recognize is that if you take away or question what God says in Genesis, then you open the door to questioning God's Word at any point. If you don't believe the Bible to be God's Word, then there is no possibility of discussion. But, if you believe the Bible to be God's Word, then it is fundamental that you believe that what is recorded in Genesis 1-11, i.e., the origin of the world in Genesis 1 and 2, the fall of man, the flood, the Tower of Babel, is historical and not mythical. There is no reason to question the truth and veracity of God's Word in those chapters. We must believe that God created the world in 6 twenty-four days and rested on the seventh day! We must believe that Adam and Eve were real historical figures! We must believe that a global flood occurred! We must believe that the Tower of Babel really occurred, as well! If we try to accommodate science by trying to work Darwinian evolution into the Genesis record, then we are wrong, first of all. But, fundamental passages in other parts of the Word of God are then, also open to debate. Therefore, we open the door to sexual immortality, abortion, homosexuality, and the undermining of the office of the Holy Ministry, and many other things.

I recommend a great resource in this area. "Answers in Genesis" at http://www.answersingenesis.org/. It is not written by Lutherans, but contains some very good working videos, books and contains some great information.

Again, it is obvious that those who support Darwinian Evolution are encouraging one another to continue to "evangelize" the world. They are getting bolder in their approach. As Christians, we too need to be educated in having answers for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15), especially as it relates to the creation of the world. God bless!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Believeland!


On Sunday afternoon, I braved the bitter temperatures to watch the Cleveland Browns battle the Kansas City Chiefs at the Stadium. (Thanks Tom Gunter for the ticket.) At one point in the game, I stared up at the crowd and saw a sign that read, "Believeland." Apparently, enough people believed, because the Browns were victorious, 31-28.

But, the sign got me thinking- a dangerous idea, I know. But, the sign"Believeland" other than being a little corny, is indicative, of our culture. If enough people just believe in the Cleveland Browns, or in Santa Claus, or in a change of the weather or in world peace or whatever it is, it will happen. Where is the true "believeland?" The church, of course. It is in the church, in the divine service, through the Word of God and His Holy Sacraments, where God works and strengths our faith in Jesus Christ. It is God's work, not ours. We can believe all we want; but, it is God who brings us to and keeps us in the faith.

Despite the sign, I enjoyed the game and hope the Browns can keep going in the right direction.

God bless.

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's back!



Coming January 0f 2007, the second edition of Concordia- The Lutheran Confessions will be available. I encourage every Lutheran household to own either this edition or one of the older versions, such as Tappert or Kolb/Wengert. This edition is nice because it contains many helps that make studying the Confessions more user friendlier. Not only should all Lutherans have a copy of our Lutheran Confessions in their home; but, also should read, mark and inwardly digest it. Start with the "Small and Large Catechisms," then, "The Augsburg Confession" and move on from there. God bless.