Monday, November 30, 2009

Bursting the BRTFSSG Bubble, Part 4: Shifting the Paradigm

Do you get the feeling, after having read the report of the LCMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG), that they're trying to sell us something? What is it they're urging us to buy? According to the Task Force, they want us to buy off on their proposals, which are presented in glowing terms: “The recommendations seek to broaden the voice and participation of the congregations in the Synod” (Final Report, p. 15) and will cause “expansion of the mutual influence and persuasion by the grassroots…” (p. 49).

But the proposals actually consolidate power in the hands of the Synod President and diminish the persuasive power of individual congregations. As Publius Aequillus points out, “Program Boards and Commissions are eliminated, thereby placing the tasks and functions handled by them under the Synod President.” With priority given to circuit and district overtures at the national convention, “it will become next to impossible for a small congregation to have a voice in the Synod,” and “all of these recommendations [#’s 3, 10, 16] take power away from the local congregations and transfer it to districts and the larger Synod.” (Brackets added)

Dr. Martin Noland, in a comment following Publius’ post, notes that this restructuring “…is the single biggest proposed concentration of power in one person that the Missouri Synod has seen in its history.” That’s a very significant comment, coming from the former Chief Historian of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

The Task Force ideas represent a huge change in the structure and function of the Synod, as well as in how it sees itself. The move from a congregational basis to a top-down structure is nothing short of a paradigm shift. Changes of this magnitude can be difficult to achieve, and must be carefully orchestrated. There is certainly ample evidence that the Task Force has worked hard to achieve this paradigm shift.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Runnin' in San Diego

I took my trusty camera on a run with me in San Diego recently, and thought I'd share some of the pics with you. I started running at the top of the hill above downtown San Diego, with a beautiful view of Coronado in the distance, palms silhouetted against the bay. Down the hill I went, towards the Convention Center. Lots of restaurants along the way as I passed through the Gaslamp Quarter, weaving in and out of a sunny afternoon crowd on the busy sidewalks. I ran past the baseball field, named Petco Park, where the Padres play. Ran along the water front - row after row of gently swaying sail boats and speed boats docked between the big hotels and the bay. Ran along the length of the retired aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway and several other big ships. I ended the run at Lucy's Taco Shop, which is a little hole-in-the-wall spot with really good authentic Mexican food, where, of course, I had to chow down (pictured below). A great run with a fitting conclusion.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Blessed Thanksgiving to You All

Lord, God, heavenly Father, from Your hand we recieve all good gifts and by Your grace we are guarded from all evil. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that, acknowledging with our whole heart Your boundless goodness, we may now and evermore thank and praise You for Your loving kindness and tender mercy; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Quoted from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 1316.

photo credit: xybermatthew

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dr. Noland's BRTFSSG Comment

Here's a portion of a comment left by Dr. Martin Noland regarding the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance on the Brothers of John the Steadfast website. His comment regards the blog post titled "Synod Renewal – Through Mission and Structure?," written by Publius Aequillus . This article is definitely worth the read. Dr. Noland's comment:

FIRST MAJOR POINT, in my opinion, Appendix Five is the most important document, which is actually from the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission. It is an excellent proposal. David Buegler, the author of Appendix Five, is a smart man, a good writer, and should have been the author of the original report from BRTFFM. The only thing I disagree with in Appendix Five is “mandated-congregational-fee-for service.” If synod pushes that, the pastors and laymen will rebel.

It is much better if the synod RECOMMENDS a certain level of giving to an individual congregation, based on the total number of communicants, %s of communicant vocations (student, military, employed, and retired), and the average income level of its census district (which is smaller than zip codes, and more accurately reflects socio-economic levels, since the congregation’s economic ability is a reflection of its local neighborhood). Recommendation is really the only thing synod CAN do in this respect, if you read our constitution correctly.

SECOND MAJOR POINT, Appendix Three needs to be looked at by the delegates very carefully. This is the new synod organization chart. If they don’t read anything else because their eyes glaze over, they should at least look at the chart.

First, they need to notice the many fine-print disclaimers: 1) in the lower right corner, organizational lines mean three things: “Additional reporting,” “Elected,” and “Appointed and Elected”; 2) in lower left corner “This chart is not intended to represent all duties and responsibilities of the President as defined in Article XI of the Constitution”; 3) in the lower right corner again, “Administrative, Organizational Chart Only (to be used in conjunction with the BRTFSSG report).”

What do these disclaimers mean? 1) They mean that the six new commissions of the synod will not really be “national convention committees.” They mean that the synodically-elected commission members will have some voice, but the appointed members will be the power and majority. Whoever appoints these members (either synod president, or Council of Presidents, or by “regional election”) will control that commission. 2) They mean that the President has a lot more power than what you see on the chart. 3) They mean that other relationships, for example, budgeting, fiscal control, theological oversight, and canon law, are not indicated at all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Certainty of Our Salvation

Here’s Pastor Wil Weedon, with a humorous start and a serious ending, answering the question “Could God have saved us in some other way?” The audio clip comes from the October 27, 2009 Issues, Etc. show on the Nicene Creed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bursting the BRTFSSG Bubble, Part 3: Excising Uniformity

We’ve all seen the battles fought in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) over the past several decades regarding worship practices and “church growth” philosophy. These battles have largely divided the Synod. If you’re the sort that argues in favor of the historic catholic liturgy of the Church, you might be heard quoting from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:
At the outset, we must again make this preliminary statement: we do not abolish the Mass [the Divine Service], but religiously keep and defend it. Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals. The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other such things. (Brackets added)
If you favor contemporary worship, you might quote the Augsburg Confession, Article VII:
For the true unity of the church it is enough to agree about the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies instituted by men, should be the same everywhere.
…or you might quote Luther from the preface to his German Mass:
Above all things, I most affectionately and for God's sake beseech all, who see or desire to observe this our Order of Divine Service, on no account to make of it a compulsory law, or to ensnare or make captive thereby any man's conscience; but to use it agreeably to Christian liberty at their good pleasure as, where, when and so long as circumstances favour and demand it. Moreover, we would not have our meaning taken to be that we desire to rule, or by law to compel, any one. (Online reference)
Who’s right? They’re both written by the reformers aren’t they? Are they both right? Well…. Yes and no.

The reformers, and in particular Martin Luther, fiercely defended Christian freedom. What they fought to regain they weren’t going to give up easily. The preceding Luther quote highlights this attitude. Yet when it comes to the Divine Service, freedom has its limits. Continuing on where we left off in the above quote, Luther says

Friday, November 20, 2009

Law or Gospel?

Thanks to that man of monstrous homiletical ability, Dave Whan, for pointing this one out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Enter Into the Holy of Holies

A portion of yesterday's excellent post from Pastor Rick Stuckwisch on his blog thinking-out-loud:

You, therefore, enter into His Passion, His Resurrection and salvation, by eating and drinking His Body and His Blood at His Word.
Here at His Altar are the fruits of His sacrifice, which has ended all sacrifice for sin, because it has atoned for all sin forever.
Here, in His holy body and precious blood, is the Temple of God and the Holy of Holies, which, having risen from the dead, shall never die again; which shall never be torn down, and shall never perish or pass away. This Body and Blood of Christ, which are given and poured out for you, have conquered death and the grave; and these also now conquer death in you.
For, as Jesus clearly says, this Body and Blood of His are given and poured out for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins; and where there is such free and full forgiveness of sins, there is no longer any death, but everlasting life and eternal salvation.
As you are assembled here, together with your brothers and sisters in Christ, in His Name, to eat and drink His Body and Blood in the Holy Communion, you live and abide in the presence of God, and you reside in His Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven.
Do not forsake this assembly, but draw near to God and enter His heaven here, as He draws near to you in the flesh and blood of Christ, the beloved Son.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Prince's Vocation

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther:
Of course, a prince can be a Christian, but he must not rule as a Christian; and insofar as he does rule, his name is not "Christian" but "prince." The person is indeed a Christian, but his office or his princedom does not involve his Christianity. Insofar as he is a Christian, the Gospel teaches him not to do injury to anyone and to put up with any injury or injustice that may be done him. This, I say, is the Christian's duty. But it would not make for a good administration if you were to preach that sort of thing to the prince. This is what he has to say: My status as a Christian is something between God and myself. It has its own directions about how I should live in relation to Him. But above and beyond this I have another status or office in the world: I am a prince. The relation here is not one between God and this person but between me and my land and people. The issue here is not how you should live in relation to God, what you should do and what you should tolerate for yourself. That applies to you as a Christan person who is not involved with land and people. But this is not the business of your princely person, which should not do any of these things but should think about the administration of the government, the maintenance and protection of justice and peace, and the punishment of the wicked.
Ewald M. Plass, compiler, What Luther Says: A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian, (St. Louis: CPH, 1959) §675, 227-8.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bursting the BRTFSSG Bubble, Part 2: Conscience-Bound

You can’t help but notice the proposed constitutional changes in the final report of the LCMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG). Some of these changes contain new and novel language requiring subscription to the Constitution of the Synod and upholding the “collective will” of the Synod. For a document that repeatedly emphasizes the advisory nature of the Synod, it’s starting to sound less and less “advisory.”

The most dramatic change related to subscription is found in Article VII of the Constitution. Previously this Article contained three simple sentences delineating the relation of the Synod to its members (which are defined as congregations, pastors, and commissioned ministers such as teachers and DCEs). The recommended changes add an entire section, delineating the relation of members to the Synod (Appendix 1, p. 1.6), and reads as follows:

B. Relation of the Members to the Synod

In their relation to the Synod, all members of the Synod, by voluntarily subscribing to the Confession (Article II) and the Constitution of the Synod, make a confession of faith, a joint commitment to God’s mission, and a mutual covenant of love. In so doing, they

  1. Bind themselves to the confessional basis of the Synod (Article II);
  2. Agree to abide by, honor, and uphold the collective will of the Synod as expressed in its Constitution, Bylaws, and convention resolutions;
  3. Pledge their active involvement and support of the Synod’s efforts to carry out its mission and purpose; and
  4. Promise that, if they find themselves to be in disagreement with the Synod’s actions or positions, they will so advise the Synod in a loving and evangelical manner, and if necessary follow the Synod’s authorized procedures for expressing dissent.
This addition (as well as the addition of Constitutional subscription as one of the Requirements of Membership in proposed Article VI, p. 1.5) insists that members of the Synod subscribe to the Confession and the Constitution. But what does “subscription” mean? According to The Book of Concord, “Confessional subscription is a solemn act of confessing in which I willingly and in the fear of God confess my faith and declare to the world what is my belief, teaching and confession. This I do by pledging myself with my whole heart to certain definite, formulated confessions. I do this in complete assurance that these confessions are true and are correct expositions of Scripture. These symbolical writings become for me permanent confessions and patterns of doctrine, according to which I judge all other writings and teachers” (redacted from Dr. Robert Preus’s article “Confessional Subscription”).

From that short explanation, it’s obvious that subscription to the Constitution isn’t going to work – at least not in the same sense. No one is going risk their hide to confess the entire Constitution of the LCMS, let alone Bylaws and convention resolutions by extension. In large part they contain no doctrine, and what little doctrine is present, as we saw in Part 1 of this series, may be subject to change. Walther had this to say about Lutherans who want to play with the doctrine of the Church:

A doctrine does not become an open question when supposedly loyal Lutherans are not in agreement. And whoever permits such doctrines to be treated as open questions surrenders the fortress of the confession of our Church and is in reality no loyal Lutheran. (Matthew C. Harrison, At Home in the House of My Fathers (Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy Press, 2009) 130.)

Is it possible that the constitutional subscription that’s being demanded is meant in a different sense than that of the subscription to the Confession? That would make sense, but yet the word “subscribing” in the proposed new wording is used only once and attaches itself to both of the words in the sentence, “Confession” and “Constitution,” indicating it has the same meaning for both words. The wording indicates that subparagraphs 1-4 define what that subscription entails: “…In so doing, they …agree to abide by, honor, and uphold the collective will of the Synod as expressed in its Constitution, Bylaws, and convention resolutions.”

No person is going to subscribe to resolutions as though they were heaven-sent, whose birth pains occur on the floor of a convention. Resolutions are totally at the mercy of the floor committee and the prevailing political winds and ideology of whomever appointed them during that particular convention cycle. At any moment the resolution might read one way, and the very next moment have a completely different meaning attached to it in helter-skelter fashion.

Friday, November 13, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Imagine Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things” in The Sound of Music for this blog post and you’ll have a modestly grand time.

If you’re a blogger or a website administrator, there’s about a 99% chance that you check your “stats.” Your stats can tell you a lot about who’s visiting your website, where they’re located, how long they stay and what they read -- even the screen resolution of their monitor. If you’re a business owner, your stats translate into dollars. Many a web guru has spent a sleepless night or more figuring out how they can drive their “stats” up. (A little like Ablaze! officials I guess.) Sophisticated web designers will go to great lengths to design everything on the page, including the wording, to drive up their “Google rank.”

On the other hand, I don’t look at my stats a whole lot. You won’t see me writing blog posts in a certain way just to attract more readers. One thing I do check on occasion though is the keywords people type into their web browser (i.e. Google) to arrive at this blog (and also at, which is a Lutheran apologetics website that I also have a hand in). It’s kinda fun to see some of the things people type in to get here. Today for instance, somebody in Korea ( typed in the word “schadenfreude” and ended up at Stand Firm, specifically at last Friday’s humorous post about Pastor Weedon, called “Was it Schandenfreude?" I’m still not sure how they got here. I looked through ten pages of schandenfreude on Google and couldn’t find the link for Stand Firm, but it’s gotta be there somewhere. Your “page rank,” where your website page is positioned in relation to all the other links that come up on the search engine page, changes from day to day, based on a very sophisticated (and secret) set of parameters that Google uses. They tweak their parameters often, which is one reason why the same page’s page rank can vary from day to day.

An easier to understand visitor to Stand Firm was the one who typed “the green bible criticism” into the search box on Google in the U.S. That brought up an article called "The Green Bible: Environmentalism Gone Awry" that I wrote a while back. It was the second link listed on the first page of Google’s results, so it’s not surprising that they would end up at Stand Firm.

The visitors that constitute “a few of my favorite things” are the ones who end up at an article that may give them a bit of a surprise when they get there. Imagine the consternation the person who’s trying to track down some information on their favorite “movement,” the Transforming Churches Network, gets when they type “transforming churches network” in, and they select the third Google link, which takes them to "The Transforming Churches Network: Part 1, A Non-Native Invasion."

The unsuspecting person who’s not paying attention when they type in “pli lcms” during their search for the official Pastoral Leadership Institute website and accidently selects the second Google link instead of the first one will end up with a real shock at “A Third Seminary in the LCMS?

When you type in "’emerging church’ lcms” the sixth Google link will take you to “LCMS Inc.: We R In Control,” which is actually an article on the BRTFSSG, and Google also lists a sub-article, "The Emerging Church, Part 2: A 'Chastened Hermeneutic'.” The hat tip for the first article listed on the Google results goes to my friend Ingrid Schlueter for her blog post at Slice of Laodicea called “LCMS Invites Emerging Church Guru Dan Kimball.”

But my most favorite thing happens when an unsuspecting Jehovah’s Witness types in “nearest kingdom hall memorial,” hoping to attend the memorial, which is their equivalent to Holy Communion (minus the Holy part). If they select the first Google link in the list, they end up at Sound Witness, faced with an apologetics article on the very same topic titled “Our Visit to the Kingdom Hall Memorial!” Written by my apologetics partner Greta Olsoe, the article lays out the works righteousness of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and how their “memorial” contradicts the Gospel. Hopefully they’ll read it, and other similar articles at Sound Witness, and be rescued from their Law-driven organization.

Of course, while I say these things somewhat jokingly, it’s no joke. All of the apologetics articles that are sighted above have something in common, even though their subject matter is different. They all discuss the same error, in which man relies on himself to get things done, instead of relying on his Savior, who’s already completed His task on the cross. He’s already gotten it done. Whether you’re trying to save yourself through your own efforts, or trying to save someone else through your own efforts, neither will work. It’s only through trust in Jesus Christ, in what He has done, and in what He continues to do through His Word, that people come to a knowledge of the truth.

So when I see someone reading one of these articles I know that they’re being led to the truth, and that really is one of my favorite things.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is This a Compliment?

Overheard recently on the ALPB Forum Online, a pan-Lutheran internet community, in a thread on the constitutional basis for the LCMS pre-convention gatherings. The conversation drifted to the Pastoral Leadership Institute and a quote from a previous Stand Firm post titled “A Third Seminary in the LCMS,” causing Atlantic District President Dr. David Benke to remark:

Although some might view the Stand Firm blogspot as the font of wisdom, it's representative of pretty much none of the leadership of the Missouri Synod as pertains to the Pastoral Leadership Institute. That doesn't make it wrong, of course.

…But for anyone on this board to look in thinking that the Stand Firm blogspot is representative of the Missouri Synod with regard to PLI would be a complete mistake.

Immediately following President Benke’s remark was a post by Rev. Charles Austin, who comments:

That's good to know. (Sort of like wondering whether the Word Alone or CORE blogs are "representative of the ELCA", no? )

You never know what’s going to turn up on the internet.

I wonder if Dr. Benke is sore at me for my blog post from 2008 titled "This Must Not Be Your Grandfather's Pope," in which I comment on his and President Kieschnick's visit with the Pope. I emailed Dr. Benke and offered to let him write a post about his visit at the time, but never heard back from him.

(Word Alone and CORE are groups within the ELCA which are trying to arrest the doctrinal freefall within their Synod.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Is Christ? Look to the Eucharist!

Quoting Dr. Carl Beckwith from the October 12 Issues, Etc. show:
…In the early Church when the Fathers are thinking about who Christ is as true God and true man, they always want to point to the Eucharist; they always want to point to the Lord’s Supper, and the argument is something like this, that if you undermine who Christ truly is, that God has in fact entered into His own creation, assuming a true humanity, that He humbles Himself and comes to us in what appears to be a lowly manner in that humanity, well so to we see that in the Eucharist, that these common elements of wine and bread, yet God uses these to communicate His presence to us, and there we encounter the true body and blood of our Lord and Savior. They see an analogy here that God is the one always coming to us, serving us with His Word and His Sacrament, and this is what we do as we gather together in that worshipping community to hear that Word proclaimed, to receive that Sacrament, to offer our prayers of thanksgiving and our confession of who Christ is, and what He has done for us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Institutionalism: A Lack of Confidence

Heard on the October 23 Issues, Etc. segment on "The Reformation Today" with Dr. Laurence White, Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston:

Institutionalism is by nature a reflection of a lack of confidence in what the founding President of our church body, C.F.W. Walther used to talk about as the power of the Word of God in convincing. We don’t need constitutions and bylaws and more power and centralization for the officials and elected officers of a denomination to draw us together, because all of those things are inherently inimical to genuine Scriptural doctrinal unity, and when we resort to them we’re indicating a lack of confidence in the power of the Word of God and convincing.

There was a time in our own Missouri Synod where, when the Synod gathered for a national convention, the major feature of the convention was the doctrinal essay that went on and on and on throughout the convention. And that was what the delegates talked about when they went home - how we as a church body discuss the truths of God’s Word together and celebrated our unity in that truth. But the less confident we are, about the truth as it is confessed in God’s Word, and the power of that Biblical truth to unite us and bring us together, the more prominent human rules and regulations will necessarily become, and the more grasping for additional authority our leaders will become because we really don’t believe any more that God’s Word and a common confession of the truth of that Word can unite us and hold us together.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bursting the BRTFSSG Bubble, Part 1

The LCMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance Report – where to start? First off, let’s thank the Task Force members for the work they’ve put into their recommendations in service to the Synod. Their task was not an easy one. They’ve spent countless hours arriving at this point and they should be commended for the time and effort they’ve made.

Of necessity, I’ll mainly address areas where I disagree with the Task Force counsel, although there are areas where I agree as well, and will touch on some of these spots in the future. My comments are in no way meant to reflect personally on the members of the Task Force, whom I’m sure have done what they feel is in the best interest of the Synod. You may have other ideas as well, and I encourage you to share them here and discuss them with your peers. Some of these areas are adiaphora and some of them are not. None of them are unimportant. God grant us the wisdom to walk in His Word, as He preserves His Church through Word and Sacrament.

What’s Going On?

Looking at the broad landscape that has been sculpted by the Task Force, there are a few thoughts that initially come to mind. First, there is hardly a convention hall or dust-filled closet of the Synod that hasn’t been reengineered by the changes that the Task Force endorses. This truly is a “new way of doing ‘church,’” to turn an overused phrase that shouldn’t be uttered in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (not that we would confuse the Synod with the Church).

Second, what the Task Force has wrought is a top down structure where, like the yellow eye of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, nothing moves in Synod without the watchful gaze and consent of the Synod President. The report’s attestations to the congregational nature of this new structure are hollow promises, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Third, there are a number of characteristics of the Task Force proposals that contain the hallmarks of a Church Growth Movement mentality. Some of these characteristics include an overemphasis on church growth (often called “mission”) at the expense of doctrine, a dubious view of the function of the Office of the Holy Ministry, a “bigger is better” theology of glory, a two-fold de-emphasis on the liturgy (both in terms of use of the liturgy itself in the Divine Service and in terms of the Sacramental life of the Church, which should be one and the same), and a reliance on worldly methods instead of the Word of God. While this list is not all inclusive, it illustrates where we are headed as a Synod if we do not carefully scrutinize the Task Force endorsements and reject those which are unsound.

Finally, and by far most importantly, there are changes and additions that deliver a serious body blow to the doctrinal integrity of the Synod. If these Task Force ideas come to fruition, we will have curved in on ourselves, reserving the haughty right to rule over and create doctrine through our own resolutions. Like the grinding weight of a glacier trekking down its appointed slope, the doctrinal bedrock of the LCMS will be gradually and unrelentingly reduced to glacial till, solid rock crushed to gravel and silt, carried away to an awaiting pool of doctrinal indifference and heterodoxy. Though these changes may seem small, they reflect the same steps other Synods have taken on their way to apostasy. This, we cannot allow to happen.

Whose Doctrine Is It?

A good metaphor for the Task Force handling of doctrine can be seen in their question on page 49 of the report: “What benefits do they [the recommendations] offer for carrying out the mission and vision of the church?” The Task Force seems to believe the one doctrine of Christ is plastic – it can be molded and changed as we see fit and as our “vision” becomes more enlightened. Yet the Church has no vision of its own. The Church’s doctrine was built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. It is the same doctrine of the apostolic Church. It is the same doctrine of the Church Fathers, the same doctrine of the Lutheran reformers, and the same doctrine of our grandfathers. It does not change.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Was it Schadenfreude?

I was listening to Pastor Wil Weedon during Part 3 of the five-part series on the Nicene Creed on Issues, Etc. (October 7). In Pastor Weedon’s Weedonish way he was jumping back and forth from one language to another. First Greek, then Latin, then German and back to Greek again. After all of that came Hebrew too! All flawlessly pronounced and inflected. I wish I could do that! And then, IT HAPPENED! He mispronounced a word! A weak spot in the Weedon armor. He wandered a little too far off the path and related the Latin carnis resurrectio (the resurrection of the flesh) to the Spanish word “con,” as in “chili con carne” (chili with meat). But he pronounced the “o” in con with an “ah” sound instead of a long “o” – a grave mispronunciation of the Spanish. Was it schadenfreude? Was I secretly happy that Pastor Weedon had mispronounced a word. Nah, not really. If I was secretly happy about it I wouldn’t be telling you about it now would I. I’m publically happy about it because there’s a word somewhere in the wide wide world that I can pronounce that Pastor Weedon can’t. So yeah, I guess it is a case of schadenfreude!

Seriously, I’m thankful that we’ve got Pastors like Pastor Weedon who are willing to teach us the tougher stuff, and I’m thankful for Issues, Etc., which continually supplies us with quality teachers. I live vicariously through Pastor Weedon as he quotes Scripture and theologians in their native tongues. And I share in his joy as he revels in bringing to us the history of the Church and through it the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I just hope he stays away from the Spanish!

The series on The Nicene Creed was excellent, so good in fact that I'll have another [slightly] more serious post or two in the future inspired by it. The first episode was on October 5. Go to the archive page on the Issues, Etc. website and scroll down to find it.

Pastor Weedon's blog, unusually titled Weedon's Blog, can be found here.

The graphic comes from

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Pastoral Leadership Institute Devotee?

Another LCMS synodical official was caught on tape recently talking about pastoral leadership, and what it takes to be a good “leader.” Who was it, and what did he have to say? It was Pastor Matt Harrison, Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, preaching to the faculty and students of Concordia Seminary. Here’s what he had to say:

…The more the difficulties you face, the challenges, the crosses, these will make you the kind of leader, the kind of pastor the Lord would have you be -- His own, after His own heart.

How about that! Pastoral development without a classroom, through the cross. You can listen to Pastor Harrison’s entire sermon on the October 12 Issues, Etc. program.

For more information on the Pastoral Leadership Institute, read the post "A Third Seminary in the LCMS?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sit Down and Eat

Our son had a good time at the school dance the other night. He and his “date” and a bunch of other kids went to Red Robin to eat prior to the dance. I asked him if he paid for his date's dinner. He answered with a somewhat less-than-enthusiastic “Yes.” I pointed out to him, half in jest, that every time we sit down to a meal that’s what I’m doing – times three! For every meal, I’m “buying” it, Cheryl is preparing it, and all Zach and Paige have to do is sit down and eat it. That’s a pretty sweet deal. And that’s exactly the way God intended for it to be.

A family is really a picture of a heavenly reality. Just as our heavenly Father provides for us, the mom and dad provide for their little flock. Look around. Everything that we have, and everything that we need, are provided for us by God. He grants us food, clothing, and the roof over our head. He blesses us with a spouse and children. Our marriages should reflect the intimate love that Christ has for His bride, the Church. The husband should provide and sacrifice all for his bride, and the wife should trust and honor her husband. And both parents are overjoyed as they help their children grow in the knowledge and trust of their Savior.

So the next time you sit down for dinner with your family, look around. Though we’re often beset by the burdens of life, at the same time we are blessed in our families with the picture of that heavenly reality. Physically, God promises to provide for our needs – and there they are, spread out before us. And spiritually, God promises to provide for our needs as well. All that we need to do has already been done for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. What's left for us to do? Sit down and eat.

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Your gifts, which we receive from Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

photo credit: presta

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Exclusion of Truth

Quoting Professor John Pless, from his paper "The Ordination of Women and Ecclesial Endorsement of Homosexuality: Are They Related?," presented at the Lutheran Theological Conference of South Africa in August of this year:

"When truth is sacrificed for unity, unity will finally demand the exclusion of those who insist on truth."

photo credit: naughton321