Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation Day 2011

From the pen of the blessed Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther, written in 1524:

If God had not been on our side
And had not come to aid us,
The foes with all their pow’r and might
Would surely have dismayed us;
For we, His flock, would have to fear
The threat of men both far and near
Who rise in might against us.

Their furious wrath, did God permit,
Would surely have consumed us,
And as a deep and yawning pit
With life and limb entombed us.
Like men o’er whom dark waters roll
Their wrath would have engulfed our soul
And, like a flood, o’erwhelmed us.

Blest be the Lord, who foiled their threat
That they could not devour us;
Our souls, like birds, escaped their net,
They could not overpow’r us.
The snare is broken—we are free!
Our help is ever, Lord, in Thee,
Who madest earth and heaven. Amen.

Quoted from What Walther Says, p. 1200.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Who's the Best Presidential Candidate in 2012?

Who makes the best presidential candidate? Somebody that's intelligent, a logical thinker, honest, loyal, decisive, computer-savvy, not given to emotional outbursts, willing to make the hard decisions, and unwilling to violate the prime directive. Who best fits the bill? Here's your answer:

HT: Becky

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Follow Stand Firm Via Email

For you die hard readers out there, Stand Firm can be sent directly to your Inbox. Simply scroll down and fill in your email address in the box in the right side bar below where it says "FOLLOW BY EMAIL" and click "Submit." Each day that there's a new post(s), all subscribed readers will receive an email which includes a copy of the posts, as well as links back to the original posts. As always, thanks for reading!

photo credit: JASElabs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Good Reason Not to Run

Firefighters in pink graced the front page of our local newspaper. People at work wore pink ties or ribbons, and NFL players sported pink gloves. What’s going on? It’s the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (like you didn’t already know). People and organizations across the country join forces to increase awareness of breast cancer, remember victims, help those who are currently afflicted, and raise funds. Since breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women after discounting skin cancer, it’s well worth the effort. (Approximately 1 in 100 cases of breast cancer occur in men as well.)

In Seattle, there’s a run/walk called the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure held every June. While it looks like a great run, I’ve avoided it. Why? Because the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation donates money to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer prevention, and Planned Parenthood is the big abortion mill in the United States.

It’s ironic that the Komen Foundation works in part through an organization affiliated with abortions, since abortion is said to increase the risk of breast cancer. While Komen works to save the lives of women, it is at the same time donating money to the organization that’s best known for extinguishing the lives of unborn children. Komen affiliates contributed $569,000 to Planned Parenthood in 2010.

There are other ways to contribute to the cause, and other runs to run in. Brian Harris, the president of Tennessee Right to Life, recommends the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Polycarp Research Institute, or Coalition on Abortion / Breast Cancer as alternatives to the Komen Foundation. Then, you can save not one life but two.

Click here for more information.

photo credit: Aglie

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Ferdie!

Happy 200th Birthday to C.F.W. Walther. The cake may not be as cool the gag cake I got for my wife, but really, how many people remember your birthday after 200 years?

photo credit: Will Clayton

Thanksgiving for Light I

We praise and thank you, O God, for you are without beginning and without end.

Through Christ you are the creator and preserver of the whole world; but above all, you are his God and Father, the giver of the Spirit, and the ruler of all that is, seen and unseen.

You made the day for the works of light and the night for the refreshment of our weakness.

O loving Lord and source of all that is good, mercifully accept our evening sacrifice of praise.

As you have conducted us through the day and brought us to night's beginning, keep us now in Christ; grant us a peaceful evening and a night free from sin; and at the end bring us to everlasting life through Christ, our Lord.

Through him we offer glory, honor, and worship to you in the Holy Spirit now and always and forever and ever.


From LW, p. 291

photo credit: Stuck in Customs

Monday, October 24, 2011

Alchemy: The Pot Becomes the Potter

When the subject of alchemy comes up, the visual image that comes to mind for most people is that of an man with matted grey hair hunched over steaming beakers with mortar and pestle in hand, consumed with his quest to change lead into gold. While this image is not altogether unfounded, there’s more to alchemy than the usual stereotype.

The book Alchemy and Alchemists by Sean Martin (Chartwell Books, 2006) describes the history of alchemy in both the east and the west, expanding the more popular understanding of alchemy and getting to its roots. Mr. Martin is very thorough in his exploration of alchemy, laying bare the somewhat philosophical foundation of the practice. Alchemy is similar to Gnosticism in many ways, seeking to find secret knowledge that only a few can obtain. The stories of turning lead into gold (called transmutation), are, for the most part, not really the goal of alchemy, but rather a metaphor for the real goal, that of uniting and perfecting man and nature.

The history of alchemy certainly does have its share of interesting tales of people transmuting this or that into gold, yet there are no museums around the world sporting alchemical gold exhibits. Kings and nobleman have been involved in the quest for this gold, with alchemists allegedly gaining wealth and long life, or for those who failed, sometimes gaining the loss of their freedom. A few alchemists also expanded scientific knowledge, and some applied their craft to helping others. At the heart of the quest though is a deeper esoteric search to gain long life and spiritual wealth. It is here that alchemy fails, searching for spiritual perfection in a holistic view of nature rather than in the pages of Scripture:
They saw that there was a place within nature for alchemists (humanity) as the ones who should work with nature in order to perfect it. Because they saw within themselves the whole of creation, they were also perfecting themselves, and realising their true, divine natures. (21)
The alchemist seeks to unite the individual with nature in a pantheistic whole in which everything is divine:
Some elements of the divine are still discernible in nature, and its fallen state can be rectified through the work of the alchemist, a work which was thought to bring out the divinity in both nature and the alchemist. Alchemists believed that each person who gained the gnosis that the work required was helping not just themselves but the whole of material creation also. (47)
Alchemy “transmutes” the pot into the potter:
Alchemy has always stressed that the inner and the outer must be joined together, the body with the mind or spirit, and the individual with nature. Hence the importance of the physical side of alchemy: it is a profound engagement with matter that is also a profound engagement with the self. Alchemy teaches us that we are inextricably linked to matter and nature, and that we have the power to create and change both; changes in one inevitably mean changes in the other. (102)
We are now assigned the title of creator. Rather than acknowledge that there is a Creator who made us in His image, alchemy usurps God’s creative hand. We are to rely on ourselves and our own Hermetic formulas rather than God to sustain our world, a sin as old as man himself. The book Alchemy & Alchemists, though well written, buys into the alchemical worldview, thus arriving at a false conclusion:
Once this [spiritual change] is achieved, then we have completed the Great Work; we have redeemed ourselves and, in doing so, redeemed the cosmos. (107)
The fallen state of ourselves and of nature cannot be redeemed by efforts on our part – that work can only be done by God, and has already been accomplished for us through the death and resurrection of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Work or Play?

A nice fringe benefits of being an airline pilot is layovers at awesome places. Here's a few photos from a recent trip to Honolulu.

The view from the top of Diamondhead

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Copy Text from Your Kindle

I’ve got the Kindle for iPad app on my iPad, and wanted to copy and paste some quotes from a book I was reading – which isn’t an option the app provides. Typing the quotes out manually wasn’t a task I particularly relished, so I did a little research. Turns out that any text that you highlight in the app gets saved onto your Kindle page at Go to and log in with your password. Click on “Your Highlights” at the top of the page, and it displays everything you’ve highlighted in your Kindle product, broken down by book, with the most recently highlighted book first. Then it’s a simple matter of copying and pasting what you want. This may seem a bit cumbersome, but with 111 highlighted passages in my book, this saved me a boatload of time. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

If you’ve got the Kindle on your PC, it is possible to copy and paste, although if you’ve highlighted a bunch of text, you may prefer the above method.

As an added bonus, it saves the highlighted passages from your Lutheran Study Bible too. Sweet!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jamming for Jesus: Giving Him My Everything

The video advertisement for the upcoming New Jersey Jam contemporary worship workshop starts out with Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Pastors Greg Bearss and Matt Peeples asking
So what does it look like to really worship God? As we fix our eyes on Jesus, can I worship God with electric drums? Can we worship Him with electric guitar, or via Skype from Knoxville, Tennessee? Can we worship God on a makeshift football field with a makeshift goal? What does it mean for us as we lead others to fix their eyes on Jesus, and to worship Him with everything they are, everything that is within them. Where can we worship Jesus? Can we worship in a movie theater, a football field, a makeshift grocery store? Can we worship in a bar? What can we use to worship God? Can we use our cell phones to shoot texts? What is it to worship in today’s culture, authentically, truly?
After hearing that, a good reciprocal question would be
Is worship primarily about me and my commitment to God, me giving Him everything within me, or is worship primarily about God and everything He’s giving me?
Certainly, there is an element of action on our part in worship, but that work is in response to the Gospel, and ultimately energizes us to serve our fellow man, not God. Article V of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession points us to the primary purpose of worship, which goes unmentioned in the video:
…The chief worship of the Gospel is to desire to receive the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness (Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, CPH, p. 193).
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that somewhere in this workshop which includes modules on “worship dance” and prayer stations, there’s also a module on the Apology’s definition of worship. Dr. Martin Noland provides a helpful set of principles which can be used to determine if our worship practices conform to our Confession:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hearty and Honest Consent

Quoting Lutheran theologian Charles Porterfield Krauth:
To true unity of the Church, is required hearty and honest consent in the fundamental doctrine of the gospel, or, in other words, in the Articles of Faith.

...It is utterly false that Evangelical Lutherans are sticklers for non-fundamentals, that they are intolerant toward those who err in regard to non-fundamentals; on the contrary, no Church, apart from the fundamentals of the gospel in which her unity and very life are involved, is so mild, so mediating so thoroughly tolerant as our own.
Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, (St. Louis: CPH, 2007) 181.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Sort of Plan Is That?

Pastor David Kind, the pastor of University Lutheran Chapel, was interviewed on Issues, Etc. on September 26th. He was asked to explain what the Minnesota South District Board of Directors plan to do with the revenue from the sale of the University Lutheran Chapel property. Here is his response:
They have a plan to put the money into an endowment fund for the sake of campus ministries around the district, with the idea being that we no longer have full time campus workers, whether they be pastors or DCEs or what have you. And then we no longer have campus properties, or buildings, but that the students on campus, in conjunction with some sort of local congregation, organize themselves into a campus ministry, again, with the leadership of the congregation to do that, near them. The money then from that that’s put into that endowment fund is going to go toward hiring a campus ministry coordinator for the whole district, and then granting $5,000 grants to various congregations that are going to attempt to do campus ministry at whatever campus they’re near, whether it’s a community college or a smaller school or what have you. The problem with that is, they tried this before. At one time at the high point of the campus ministries in the district we had nine different campus ministries that followed this model, and none of them exist any more. It’s proven true over time that if you don’t have dedicated staff and a dedicated place, the campus ministries just don’t do that well. And in the places where [unintelligible] ministries do flourish it’s because they have a real dedication to it and they put money behind it and people behind it – a lot more than $5,000.

photo credit: san_drino

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Blog is Rated "G" for General Audiences

According to, this blog is rated "G."  I was hoping is would receive a "C" for catholic (universal) or an "RL" for Really Lutheran, but I guess I'm stuck with the G.  You can see how your blog fares by going here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flipping Pancakes for ULC

By now you've heard the news that the good people of University Lutheran Chapel are having their property sold out from under them.  Naturally, this means they have no place to gather to hear the Word spoken, or receive Christ's body and blood, or have their children baptized.  No place for university students to gather as they've done for decades.  Maybe your congregation could give them a hand by flipping a few pancakes on November 6th, taking a free will offering, and sending the funds through the pipeline to ULC.  Your help would give them a new start on a place to worship. For more information, check out the Pancakes for ULC blog.  Doesn't the aroma from that hot steaming pancake smell good?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What is the Christian Life?

Quoting Pastor Jeremy Rhode from his September 21 appearance on Issues, Etc., continuing the series on the Gospel for former Evangelicals:
Eternal life is to know the Father and the Son. Eternal life isn’t a place – it’s a relationship with God, founded upon His grace towards us in Jesus. Eternal life is not something you will get, it’s something you have right now. The Father reveals Himself to you through His Son. “And this is eternal life,” Jesus says, “that they may know the Father and the Son.” So you have eternal life right now. “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,” Jesus says. “I am the resurrection and the life.” So the life that you will have for eternity is Jesus, and nothing else. And the life that you now have, is Jesus and nothing else. “I am the life,” He says. So the Christian life is Jesus.

Anyone who wants to make the Christian life foremost about you and what you do, has already put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. In fact, they’ve already missed the whole point. The Christian life is Jesus Himself and what He does for you. His cross, His pastoral care, His Word, and His Sacrament. And of course, this includes good works as well, but let them have their proper place, and let them be understood in this light. They are His good works that He does in you and through you. Sanctification is Christ in action, in you and through you. And we have this from the very mouth of God Himself: Philippians chapter two verse thirteen says, “For it is God who works in you, both to will, and to do, for His good pleasure.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A New Hymnal for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya

Imagine sitting down in church to sing the next hymn – out of a Pentecostal hymnal, or out of a Lutheran hymnal that has no music, just words. That’s what the members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) have been doing. That’s about to change.

The ELCK will soon have a new Lutheran hymnal, in their native language of Swahili. The group working on this project, the ELCK Hymnal Commission, officially began in 2009 with the assistance of Deaconess Sandra Rhein and three Concordia Theological Seminary faculty members with experience in producing a hymnal. The ELCK has around 100,000 members, but only 150 pastors, so the majority of these pastors serve multiple congregations. The lack of a proper hymnal, combined with the lack of a pastor on many Sundays, makes for a problematic situation. Deaconess Rhein writes:
Bringing hymnody to the precious body of Christ, specifically to the suffering church of Kenya, would be a clear and effective form of human care and diakonia. Worry and despair, as the cause of many bodily afflictions related to depression and stress, can be overcome by the voice of the Gospel in hymnody. Consequently, providing hymnody, as part of a comprehensive solution and in conjunction with other forms of care, can be a fundamental way to care for the bodily needs of our brothers and sisters.
The new hymnal, called Ibada Takatifu (Divine Service), is going to print in January of next year, with a first printing of 20,000 copies. They could certainly use our help in funding these hymnals. At a cost of $100 for 34 hymnals, that equates to about $3 per hymnal. What a unique opportunity for us to help spread the Gospel in a wonderful way, that will have an impact for decades to come. If you’d like to help, you can contribute online here, or mail a check to:

Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 N Clinton
Fort Wayne IN 46825

In the memo line of the check, write “Kenyan Hymnal Project.”

More information can be found on the Kenyan Hymnal Project blog.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pastor Joel Osteen on Piers Morgan Tonight: Word-Faith Confusion

Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight last Tuesday, October 4 – the release date of Pastor Osteen’s new book Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week. The interview covered a multitude of topics that might lead a sharp viewer to a couple of general observations: 1) Joel Osteen is an incredibly nice guy and 2) Joel Osteen knows very little about the basic articles of faith of Christianity, i.e. Christian doctrine. That’s really a shame because you want such a nice guy to be on top of his pastoral game, especially since he’s the pastor of the largest church in the United States (Lakewood Church in Houston), with 40,000 attendees per week.

If you check out the website for Pastor Osteen’s church, you will find that it does contain a basic Gospel message, yet his sermons and public appearances are nearly devoid of orthodox Christian doctrine or teaching. It’s as though someone else wrote the web page. Why is that? Because he’s a Word-Faith preacher (although a less egregious example). The Word-Faith movement, also called “positive confession,” “name it and claim it,” “blab it and grab it,” etc., believes that you speak reality into existence. If you believe what you’re speaking, your words create that reality. Faith is a power or force to be harnessed by visualization followed by verbalization – God becomes your personal valet controlled by your “faith” – you speak it and God’s obligated to make it happen.

You can see evidence of Pastor Osteen’s Word-Faith beliefs in his interview with Piers Morgan. For instance, when speaking of putting your faith in God, he says that “When you do that, to me, you’re releasing your faith, and that’s what allows God to change things.” His oft repeated creed “I believe it and declare it” is another example of this “faith.” What is lacking in this theology is true faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, without which, no one can be saved. Believing that life is about speaking reality into existence, there’s no need to emphasize your real need, the forgiveness of sins, and thus no need to trust in Jesus; the Gospel is subtly replaced by a prosperity gospel. Your faith becomes not faith in Christ, but faith in faith, which is ultimately faith in yourself. There may be Word-Faith people out there that will be saved in spite of what they’ve been taught, because they do believe that Jesus is their Savior, a case of felicitous inconsistency.

The Word-Faith movement has many iterations (whose gurus include Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Kenneth Hagin), but one thing all Word-Faith proponents realize is that their belief system often fails them, hence they need to leave themselves an “out.” The failure of their words to create reality is generally attributed to a lack of faith, or if something bad happens, it’s because you thought something bad. You can see evidence of this in the interview as well. This ought to be a rather obvious red flag – their theology doesn’t “work.” Here is precisely the spot where we can jump in and help people trapped in the Word-Faith movement. An honest person will admit that they’re not having a lot of success with their “faith,” which presents an opportunity for us to share with them what real faith is all about.

It’s a shame that the world fawns over those with the biggest following, who are often those with a false message. “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them” (1 John 4:5 ESV). Yet we can be thankful that their false beliefs offer us an opportunity to become “little Christs” and share the message of the Gospel with those in need.

An overview of the Word-Faith movement can be found here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Here's Looking at You, Kid

Another amazing part of God's creation - a closeup of the compound eyes of a long-legged fly. Next time you'll have a greater appreciation for this little guy as you splatter his innards across your kitchen cabinet door. For those of you that are of a slightly younger generation, the famous line "Here's looking at you, kid," was spoken by Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman at the end of the 1942 silver screen classic "Casablanca."

photo credit: Thomas Shahan

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Reformation Week on Issues, Etc.

The lineup of guests for Reformation week on Issues, Etc. looks great. Don’t forget to tune in.

Monday, October 24 – Rev. Paul McCain on Confessional Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism

Tuesday, October 25 – Dr. Ken Schurb on Confessional Lutheranism and Calvinism

Wednesday, October 26 – Dr. Martin Noland on Confessional Lutheranism and liberal mainline Protestantism

Thursday, October 27 – Dr. Ron Feuerhahn on Confessional Lutheranism and liberal Lutheranism

Friday, October 28 – Dr. Larry Rast on Confessional Lutheranism and American Evangelicalism

Considering a Vocation in Church Work?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quotable Blog Quotes #14

Quotable Quotes From Around the Blogosphere

Confessional Gadfly
Pastor Eric J. Brown

Missouri has in her pride and arrogance turned away from her first love - that is simply being a collection of congregations and pastors, faithful to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, desiring to walk together in love and peace as each congregation and pastor worked the place that was given to them.

Let us make our pastors once again pastors in congregations, and not simply idea men or paper pushers in some cubicle where they think up abstract theologies for the "greater good." Let them be where true theology of the best sort happens - in the pulpit and sanctuary, in the classroom, at the hospital bed, at the shut-in's side, at the congregational pantry...

Confessional’s Bytes
Jim Pierce

Religious leaders caught up in this universal spirit of the age fall all over themselves in taking opportunity to show their unity in the doctrine of religious multiculturalism. What used to be simply a call for tolerance of each other's beliefs is now a silent killer. Rather than physically executing a Christian for confessing the truth, we now have a politically correct apparatus through multiculturalism in which to "kill" the message that there can be only one truth found in Christ. Claiming to have "the Truth" is a message held by hyper-radicals like Islamofascist terrorist groups, by today's "standards." "Live and let live" is the message of the day and sadly too many American Christians are buying into it.

Pastor Christopher Esget

"The Spiritual Sickness of Independence and Autonomy"
My denomination (the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) is old (by American terms), and has not aged particularly well. We have weird layers of bureaucracy, odd traditions, and a really ugly logo. Most of her members don’t like me very much. (But then, I’m not very lovable, and don’t try real hard to make friends, either.) But I love her. Not because I was born into her, but because her confession is my confession. Not everybody in the Synod entirely agrees with our confession, and not everybody is practicing it. Here’s a surprise: she’s full of sinners, too. But her confession is my confession, and that’s what makes me stick with her.

Father Hollywood
Pastor Larry Beane

Upon listening in the car, it wasn't quite what I expected. The music did feature (nearly all) Latin chant by the female choir - but there was more. The vocals were overlayed with New Age licks reminiscent of Enya. Don't get me wrong, I like Enya. I know I'm probably not supposed to, but I don't really care. I also like pineapple-amaretto daiquiris and little umbrellas in my drinks. You want my man card? Μολὼν λαβέ, tough guy! But Enya is not sacred music. I didn't dig the whole Gregorian Chant thing with massage music going in the background.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sinful Separatism or Doctrinal Common Sense?

In President Matt Harrison’s recent comments on the sale of University Lutheran Chapel, he mentioned the dissensus occurring in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod over what it means to be Lutheran. While there are likely many laymen completely unaware of these problems in our synod, the majority of those involved in the “synodical process” are acutely aware of these disagreements. A recent convention highlights the difficulties.

Our last district convention was an exposition on dissensus. While there was a thin veneer of civility on the surface, hidden beneath were a multiplicity of discordant pieces of particle board, tenuously held together with a minimum of glue. One of the most glaring examples of this friction occurred during the Divine Service on the last day. Was there some sort of outburst by someone? No – just the opposite. There was an absence – of Confessional pastors and laymen in the Divine Service; at least a few of them opted to skip the service rather than commune with those with whom they so vehemently disagreed. This action may seem inappropriate, actually skipping the Divine Service because you disagree with some of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Is this a case of sinful separatism?

The district where I reside is certainly one that isn’t overly Confessional – it’s more like a showcase for novel approaches to doing ministry that push the boundaries of Confessional propriety. Exploring new ways to do Word and Sacrament ministry using other-than-ordained-pastors is encouraged, open Communion is abundant, and practices which disregard our Confession through the embrace of non-Lutheran practices are all amply represented. Some people in the district fit the description which Robert D. Preus warned us about over two decades ago:
…Those who wish to be touted confessional Lutherans have mouthed the pure doctrine of the confessions, but sometimes abandoned or rejected a practice or worship which conforms with the pure Lutheran doctrine. Pastors, conferences, conventions, and even church bodies fall into this quasi-docetic self-delusion when they give lip-service to the creeds, pro forma subscription to the confessions, and reaffirmation of orthodox doctrinal statements, while their practice and worship lapse into Reformed or sectarian or generic forms, disconnected from their high doctrinal assertions.
With this lack of a district-wide confessional stance, could a refusal of pastors and laymen to attend the Divine Service because they disagree with the doctrine and practice of fellow district members be considered sinful separatism? There are certainly people who will make the argument that the answer is “yes.” Before you make that argument, however, consider what the following three Lutheran theologians have to say about the relationship between the Lord’s Supper and fellowship (quotes come from Cyberbrethren):
There cannot be a more inward, brotherly fellowship than that into which one enters with those in whose fellowship he receives the holy Supper.
- C. F. W. Walther

Our participation in the Lord’s Supper is a public profession on our part that we are not only in fellowship with Christ, but that we also are in fellowship with those with whom we commune at the Lord’s Table. For those that approach the same altar together profess to be one, one in all points of Christian doctrine and practice….
- George Stoeckhardt

Because altar fellowship is the most intimate expression of confessional unity, those who commune at the Lutheran altar are those who are in complete confessional agreement and fellowship with the other communicants.
- Norbert H. Mueller
With these quotes in mind, the sinful separatism argument doesn’t make much sense. Participation would mean an affirmation of some people’s ill-formed doctrine. Perhaps this refusal to commune at the district convention was not sinful separatism, but rather doctrinal common sense.

There are people out there who work hard to make it look like we’re all one big happy family here in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and share the exact same doctrine, thereby trying to legitimate their practice. Our synod president obviously disagrees with them, and for that I’m thankful. Admitting that we’ve got problems is the first step toward reconciliation, or, worst case scenario, separation. While reconciliation is the greater goal, separation may be a distasteful option if consensus cannot be achieved. Concord will take repentance, prayer, hard work on everyone’s part, and the blessing of our Lord.

It grieves me that we have such animosity towards one another, and long for a day when we will truly walk together as one in Christ. We must all acknowledge that the other guy isn’t the enemy – our battle is against the evil one.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2 ESV).

photo credit: Meredith_Farmer

Monday, October 3, 2011

Which Ascended Master Should You Trust?

Looking for a special gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend or loved one? You might want to skip that box of Ascended Masters Oracle Cards found on

The back of the oracle cards box exclaims
By popular demand, Doreen Virtue has created a beautiful deck of cards based on her best-selling book Archangels & Ascended Masters. The deck includes gorgeous paintings of 44 male and female cross-cultural deities, such as Ganesha, Merlin, Saint-Germain, Apollo, Pallas Athena, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Jesus, Moses, Yogananda, Green Man, and Kuthumi. The enclosed guidebook gives expanded explanations of each card’s meaning, and a brief history of each ascended master. As with each of Doreen’s oracle-card decks, the messages for each card are positive, accurate, and life-affirming.
As an example of what this deck of cards would do for you, if you were to randomly draw the “Balance Career and Home Life” card out of the deck, it would tell you
You drew this card as a reminder to keep balance in your life. You can do this more easily than you may imagine. You already know which part of your life is lopsided, and you may be feeling symptoms of burnout from this imbalance. You can rapidly shift your energy in positive ways by devoting time each day to your priorities. Even 30 minutes a day spent in meaningful ways will shift your mood, morale, and motivation.
Personally, I’d hope to draw a card that didn’t take up any of my personal time. I’ve already got enough to do. And if I want to shift my energy, I’ll stick my tongue on the positive and negative terminals of a 9 volt Duracell.

The spiritual power behind this particular card, though, comes from the Egyptian goddess Isis:
Isis demonstrated a perfectly balanced life as a great spiritual teacher and devoted wife and mother (to Osiris and Horus, respectively).
Isis is a much-revered Egyptian goddess who symbolizes feminine strength and power. She can help you find enough time and energy to enjoy all aspects of your life, if you’ll ask for her assistance.
According to the intro, the message for each card is supposed to be accurate, yet on the copyright page it says this:
The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for emotional and spiritual well-being. In the event you use any of the information in this book for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author and the publisher assume no responsibility for your actions.
Apparently, they don’t have a whole lot of faith in their product.