Friday, June 29, 2012

As Seen on Facebook

Lutheran dividers, because everybody knows those Evangelical dividers just won't do.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Does Sabbath Rest Mean?

Quoting from Professor John Pless's paper "Taking The Divine Service Into The Week: Liturgy And Vocation," in which he quotes Vilmos Vatja:
To him [Luther] Sabbath rest means more than a pause from work. It should be an opportunity for God to do His work on man. God wants to distract man from his daily toil and so open him to God's gifts. To observe Sabbath is not a good work which man could offer to God. On the contrary it means pausing from all our works and letting God do His work in us and for us.

Thus Luther's picture of the Sabbath is marked by the passivity of man and the activity of God. And it applies not only to certain holy days on the calendar, but to the Christian life in its entirety, testifying to man's existence as a creature of God who waits by faith for the life to come. Through God's activity in Christ, man is drawn into the death and resurrection of the Redeemer and is so recreated a new man in Christ. The Third Commandment lays on us no obligations for specific works of any kind (not even spiritual or cultic works) but rather directs us to the work of God. And we do not come into contact with the latter except in the Service, where Christ meets us in the means of grace.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Necessary Divorce

Last July President Matt Harrison released a letter to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod announcing that the LCMS was parting ways in its previous joint cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in military chaplaincy. A portion of the letter reads:
Today, like two ships at sea sailing apart on different compass headings, the ELCA and the LCMS have lost sight of each other. The two churches are pursuing different courses in our ministries to military members. The doctrinal differences and tensions have been exacerbated by the position of the ELCA on same-sex unions and the imminent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In addition, the ELCA has made its direction clear by the mutual decision between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) to hold joint denominational training conferences together beginning in 2012.

After thorough examination by the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces committee (MAF) of all pertinent cooperative ministry issues among military chaplains and with input from all LCMS chaplains now serving on active and reserve duty, I am announcing today that the past cooperative working arrangement between our two church bodies with respect to the military chaplaincy can no longer be supported. Beginning in 2012, and for the foreseeable future, the LCMS will conduct its chaplain training conferences unilaterally.
The wisdom of that move was fully illustrated recently when an Air Force airman and his gay partner were united in a civil ceremony on an U.S. military base by ELCA chaplain Kay Reeb. According to the Associated Press article,
Reeb, who had never presided over a civil union ceremony before, said she was delighted to take part.

“I told them the same thing I tell every couple — love each other and trust in each other and in God, that’s what keeps us together,” [s]he said.
Her remarks illustrate the chasm that exists between the ELCA and the truth of the Gospel. The ELCA abandoned sola Scriptura a long while ago, instead clinging to a man-made gospel. This chaplain’s failure to heed Scripture has led her to ignore the sin of homosexuality. Instead of lovingly counseling these two people that what they are doing is a sin in God’s eyes and calling them to repentance and forgiveness, she has condoned their behavior and put their spiritual well-being at risk.

I pray that every synod, including our own, would examine their own beliefs and practices to make sure they preach the full measure of God’s Word. Preaching that homosexuality is a sin is not a popular message. It is not an easy thing to do for a servant of the Word to point out someone else's sin, especially when they are sinners as well, yet it is what God calls His shepherds to do. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”   2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV

HT: Chris Johnson

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Doors Close at University Lutheran Chapel

A video of the closing service this Sunday at University Lutheran Chapel. As Pastor Hans Fiene points out, "...University Lutheran Chapel will go on. She will continue to receive Christ's salvation, continue being brought back to life through His word, continue being washed in His waters, continue feasting on His body and blood."

Meet the New Boss; Not the Same as the Old Boss

President Matthew C. Harrison attended a portion of last week’s Northwest District Convention, in which he spoke and fielded questions from the podium. For a little historical perspective, I dug out the question card that you were required to fill out if you wanted to ask President Kieschnick a question during the 2009 District Convention. Guess I never got around to asking a question. Here it is:

Click on the graphic for a larger view

Unlike 2009, President Harrison fielded questions without them being previously vetted, the questioner asking his or her question directly from the microphones on the floor. This proved to be a rather interesting affair. At times, President Harrison was applauded, such as for his appearance before the House Committee on Government and Oversight last February. At other times, the tone was tense, such as when a pastor questioned President Harrison on his position regarding a pastor in the LCMS who has been communing with his wife at an ELCA congregation. That was followed by the ELCA-communing pastor’s sister questioning President Harrison, an emotional plea that didn’t really need to be asked, since he had already said what he could say, since the case is currently being adjudicated.

Then there was the question that was three questions, presented by a District Vice-President. And the question from one woman wondering about women’s ordination in the LCMS. And the questioning pastor, who when asked by President Harrison whether or not he thought homosexuality was a sin, answered that he didn’t know. At some point I was wondering if I’d walked into the ELCA convention down the hall by mistake. Not that I agreed with every single thing President Harrison said either, but a modest degree of collegiality might be in order.

The point is, he answered every question asked in a forthright manner, and wasn’t being lobbed softball questions that were pre-selected. I think his demeanor and honesty are qualities that will resonate with many of these delegates. I’m glad to have a Synod President who calls a thing what it is.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Northwest District Convention Recap

The Northwest District Convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod concluded on Saturday. A district official might very well characterize this convention as “Mission accomplished.” All of the resolutions were adopted per the play book. For those of you keeping a box score, I’ve posted the generalized results at the bottom of this post. The original Convention Workbook, which contains all of the overtures and resolutions in their original form, is available here.

I was disappointed that the push for Licensed Deacons and distance seminary education continues unabated. As expected, Resolution 2-07 was adopted, which declined overtures that encouraged harmony and unity in district worship, which is ironic considering the theme of the convention was “Walking in Oneness.” It also declined overtures which requested evaluation of the Transforming Churches Network and which called for the district to cease involvement in Natural Church Development. (See my previous post here.)

On a positive note, there was less of a praise band presence than the last convention. The only praise band incursion occurred during the Divine Service; the rest of the time, there was organ music with Lutheran hymns. The sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe, 2nd Vice-President of the LCMS. If you were on the sidelines looking for the usual tug of war between “confessionals” and “moderates,” there was some of that going on, although not as much as in the previous convention.

Rev. Dr. Matt Harrison, the LCMS President, was here for a Question & Answer session, which was very good; more on that tomorrow. There has been an influx of confessional pastors since the last convention, which is a good thing. And while the labeling of the NOW District as a liberal district is accurate, we aren’t so liberal that we’re ready to adopt blatant Open Communion as an official position. At one point, Overture 2-05, TO ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION IN THE LORD’S SUPPER, was substituted in place of Resolution 2-02, TO ENCOURAGE ONGOING DISCUSSIONS REGARDING THE CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER. Overture 2-05 was actually an overture that resolved to encourage participation in Open Communion, though it was verbally presented as “Close Communion.” It was defeated 35/65, after which, the original resolution, 2-02, was adopted.

As a general observation, when people advocating Open Communion spoke, their comments were emotional pleas with little or no reference to Scripture. These types of pleas must be calmly met with a clear delineation of Scripture, our confession, and theology. Of course, that’s a difficult task to accomplish when you’ve got two minutes or less to do it. It’s disturbing to see major decisions of all sorts made based on a disjointed series of two minute sound bites.

Mercifully, there were no pious-sounding “red chair moments” like at the last national convention. Bible studies were led by Professor Tony Cook from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Current District President Paul Linnemann was re-elected. Complete election results are available here.

As always, the best part of the convention was hanging out with a solid group of like-minded brothers when we were in recess. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Salute

One thing you won't see as a passenger sitting in the back that we see up at the pointy end of the jet is the salute. After the jet has been pushed back from the gate (or flagged out if you're not hooked up to a tug as in the video below) and everything is out of the way, you receive a salute from the person on the ground, officially called the "all clear salute" in our manual. This is my cue that we're clear to taxi. Working for an airline as opposed to being in the military, this may come as anything from a very smart salute to some rather inventive delivery, or sometimes a slovenly substitute. It's sort of the marshaller's (that's the Brits' spelling of it) time to manifest his (or occasionally her) personality. It may be a bit non-standard, but I wouldn't mind if the marshaller did as this British marshaller does, as he flags out Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jets. A little more dancing in life might be a good thing.

If you're wondering why the marshaller squats down at the end, that's so he isn't turned into a tumble weed and end up in a blast fence at the end of the tarmac as the twin Turbo-Union RB199 jet engines crank up to get moving.

HT: Chris Johnson

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Only Legitimate Offense

Quoting Pastor Sam Schuldheisz, from his post titled “Steadfast Defense — An Apologetic for Lutheran Apologetics” on the Brothers of John the Steadfast:
How do we articulate the truth of the Christian faith clearly in the face of skepticism? What should Christians say when their faith is challenged?

Apologetics answers in two ways. Negatively, logic and reason are used to tear down arguments, rebut presuppositions and remove obstacles in front of the cross. In the end, however, a Lutheran will always find a way to steer the conversation back to the only legitimate offense: Christ Crucified (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"They're Pretty Proud of Their Pop!"

Back when I was a starving commuter pilot at the first commuter airline I worked for, I can remember one of my fellow pilots exclaiming in reaction to the grossly overpriced can of Coke he was coveting in the vending machine at the airport: "They're pretty proud of their pop!" Well the Oregon Convention Center is "pretty proud of their WiFi." This year's Northwest District Convention is being held at the Oregon Convention Center, just across the Willamette River from downtown Portland.  They have three options for WiFi coverage while you're there, none of which is free.  The most expensive option is the Premium service, which is advertised as  "higher speed, great for quicker downloads & helps you get through all those email."

    o Speed: 512Kbps download / 256Kbps upload
    o Price: $89.95 / day per computer

What a great deal! For only $90, I can get through all those emails - for one day.  Of course, it's another $90 if I want to get through all those emails on my iPad (company furnished) and on my laptop.  I don't think so.

If you'd like an equally great deal just register late for the Northwest District Convention.  They didn't sign me up at church like they said they would do.  By the time I figured it out and registered, it was after the deadline.  I didn't know until I received the bill from the District via email that they were charging me an extra $100 for registering late.   Again, I don't think so.  Do unto others....  I called the very helpful lady in the District office and asked her to take off the $100.  After a short conversation, she took off the $100.  Always nice when the District tries to make money off you for the privilege of experiencing "life together" on your three days off.  I guess they figure if it's $90 just to get email, $100 is no big deal.

photo credit: Brandon Brubaker

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Being Missional: A Short History

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Genesis 2:16-17 ESV

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15

He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. Isaiah 59:16

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isaiah 61:1

Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. Mark 14:55

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Mark 15:15

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:39-43

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Mark 15:34

Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!" Luke 23:47

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Isaiah 53:9

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Luke 24:5-9

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." John 20:19

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28

He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

Monday, June 18, 2012

One Leads to the Other

Reading the first quote below reminded me of the second quote below. The first quote was written by Rev. Scott Gress, the Director of Coaching for the Transforming Churches Network, and was posted on the Christian Coaching Magazine website. His post is titled “Coaching for Revitalization.” The second quote comes from Adolf Köberle’s book The Quest for Holiness: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Investigation, written in 1936. In it, he discusses the three ladders which people attempt to climb in order to reach heaven by their own means, the ladder of moralism, the ladder of mysticism, and the ladder of rationalism.

The first quote, by Rev. Scott Gress:
Church members and clergy can both fall into cycles of blame and guilt and a sense of hopelessness — even as they worship a God of eternal hope and promise. Yet what can be done? Is there a magic bullet that will solve the problems associated with decline and propel the church to a more happy and fruitful time? Certainly faithfulness to the Word and promises of God and the ongoing nurture through the sacraments are indispensable in caring for hurting people. But solutions that are easy and quick (magic bullets) exist only in our imagination. What we need are real solutions.
The second quote, by Dr. Adolf Köberle:
Here in the execution of Jesus all the destructive corruption of the egotistic will comes to light in its unadorned nakedness as it reveals itself as a coarse or refined, as an individual or collective egoism, but always nicely adorned by itself or by others with plausible insignia to cover its nakedness. Now it is the priest at Bethel, Zion, Rome or elsewhere who speaks of the honor of God and the salvation of men, when he means the influence of his personality and the power of his Church.

Adolf Köberle, The Quest for Holiness: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Investigation, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress; Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2004) 46.

HT: Synodocat

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Prayer of a Housefather

Gracious and Eternal God! Who Thyself in Paradise hast ordained holy matrimony, vouchsafe unto me Thy grace and help in my married life, that I may ever maintain the true Christian love and fidelity toward my spouse. Grant, that I may dwell with her, as with the weaker vessel, in kindness and harmony according to knowledge, giving honor unto her, as being heirs together of the grace of life, and guide her together with my children and servants to the true knowledge of Thy divine glory, and to modesty and honesty. Grant to them also, O Lord, that they follow Thee, and suffer themselves to be guided. Preserve us, O Thou God of Peace, from strife and dissensions, and the calumnies of the enemy, from undue suspicion, which the devil sows as a seed of perdition, and for the destruction of conjugal love and faith. Grant, that as Thy children we may suffer and forgive each other in love and charity. Give us faithful servants and keep them in good health. Bless our labor and all that contributes to the wants of the body. Enable us to bear our cross with patience, and grant that we be together again in the after-life. Amen.

John Habermann, Morning and Evening Prayers for All Days of the Week, Trans. Emil H. Rausch, (Fairbanks: Project Gutenberg, 2011) eBook edition, location 650.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good News for University Lutheran Chapel Coming Out of the Minnesota South District Convention?

As reported by Pastor Matt Lorfeld (and relayed by Pastor John Frahm, via smoke signals and horseback), the MNS voted to give $2 million to help ULC relocate, and also voted to implore both parties to drop their court cases. More to follow as the information becomes available.

The Rocky Mountain District of the LCMS: No New Licensed Deacons

The Rocky Mountain District passed the following resolution at their convention last week. It is significant because it starts to turn the tide on the flood of people who do what only a rightly called and ordained pastor is permitted to do according to Holy Scripture, and as our confession states:


     WHEREAS, all our congregations and all our pastors unanimously confess the doctrine of the Augsburg Confession as a true and clear exposition of the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ; and

     WHEREAS, all our congregations and all our pastors speak with one undivided voice in extolling our Lord’s gift of the Office of Holy Ministry, publicly confessing that “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach or preach in the Church or administer the Sacraments without a rightly ordered call [rite vocatus] (Augsburg Confession, Art. XIV); and

     WHEREAS, in certain situations today, the Synod approves of preaching and administration of the sacraments by men who have not been publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry (i.e., without rite vocatus—this position is expressed, e.g., in 1989 Res. 3-05B, “. . . when no pastor is available, and in the absence of any specific Scriptural directives to the contrary, congregations may arrange for the performance of these distinctive functions [preaching and administering the sacraments] by qualified individuals”); and

     WHEREAS, since the Synod adopted Res. 3-05B at its 1989 Convention, our Synod’s language and practice are not in agreement as to whether a Licensed Deacon, requested by a congregation or District to serve in the Public Ministry of the Gospel, with the approval of the District President, meets the requirements of Augsburg Confession Article XIV; and

     WHEREAS, the Rocky Mountain District in the 2000 convention adopted Res. 4-02a PROFESSIONAL CHURCH WORKER SHORTAGE which resolved “That the LCMS Rocky Mountain District in convention 2000 so move to encourage her congregations to humble themselves before the Lord in prayer and careful study of the Holy Scriptures regarding the office of the pastoral ministry…” and also “That the LCMS Rocky Mountain District 2000 convention send a memorial to the 2001 Synod Convention urging the LCMS not to succumb to the pressures of the world, but to seek biblical solutions to the shortage of professional church workers.”; and

     WHEREAS, the Rocky Mountain District in the 2003 convention adopted Res. 4-01a CONCERNING THE PUBLIC OFFICE OF THE HOLY MINISTRY AND THE TRAINING OF LAYMEN FOR THE OFFICE which resolved “That all our pastors and our congregations encourage laymen to prayerfully consider entering into training for the Office of the Holy Ministry through District and Synodical training programs leading toward certification for a call and ordination…” However, since the adoption of the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) program there is no longer a District level training program leading toward certification for a call and ordination; and

     WHEREAS, the Rocky Mountain District in the 2006 convention adopted Res. 2-08A TO SUPPORT THE LICENSED DEACON PROGRAM which resolved “That the District Convention support the recommendation of the Committee that when a Licensed Deacon, at the request of a congregation and with the approval of the District President, conducts Word and Sacrament ministry under the supervision of an ordained pastor, after being trained, educated, examined, and certified through an alternate route to ministry, then accordingly he should receive a divine call and be ordained…” and also “That the Rocky Mountain District Convention, through an overture to be prepared by its Licensed Deacon Committee and approved by the Board of Directors, request the Synod at its 2007 Convention to amend its Bylaws to clarify the terminology, call and ordination of Licensed Deacons…” Yet, at the 2007 Convention, Synod took no action; and

     WHEREAS, the Rocky Mountain District in the 2009 convention adopted Res. 01-11 TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO MEMORIALZE THE 2010 SYNODICAL CONVENTION TO CONTINUE DISTRICT LICENSED DEACON PROGRAMS AND TO AMEND THE BY-LAWS OF SYNOD TO SUPPORT THE CALLING AND ORDAINING OF ELIGIBLE DEACONS TO THE PASTORAL OFFICE which resolved “That the Rocky Mountain District Convention authorize the District, through an overture prepared by its Committee on Licensed Deacons and approved by its Board of Directors, to recommend to the Synod’s 2010 Convention the continuation of District Licensed Deacon Programs and the amendment of the Synod’s Bylaws to clarify the terminology, call and ordination of eligible Licensed Deacons into the pastoral office in accordance with Augsburg Confession Article XIV, rostering them as ordained ministers, and amending the bylaws accordingly.” Yet, at the 2010 Convention, Synod took no action; and

     WHEREAS, the Synod does not recognize the District understanding of the request of a licensed deacon, the solemn appointment by the District President, and the rite of induction to be synonymous with being rightly called and ordained into the pastoral office; therefore be it

     Resolved, that the Rocky Mountain District, rejoicing in our common and unanimous subscription of the Augsburg Confession, giving thanks for the unity of doctrine expressed in the Church’s confessions (including the Augsburg Confession), and extolling our Lord’s gift of the Office of Holy Ministry (Augsburg Confession, Art. XIV), work together to teach of our Lord’s gifts of his Gospel and Sacraments and the Holy Office, and support and encourage those men who are being trained up (or are contemplating being trained up) to be called and ordained servants [rite vocatus] of the Lord to his beloved sheep; and be it further

     Resolved, that the Rocky Mountain District, apart from renewals, discontinue the licensing of lay deacons to serve as pastors (preaching and administering the sacraments) without being rightly called and ordained into the pastoral office and that the District President be respectfully requested to discontinue issuing any new licenses; and be it further

     Resolved, that the Rocky Mountain District encourage those men who are currently serving as licensed lay deacons to enroll in a residential seminary program or in the SMP program, leading toward call and ordination into the pastoral office, and that the District work with those currently serving as licensed deacons with appropriate care given for the allowance of their continued service; and be it finally

     Resolved, that the Rocky Mountain District in convention memorialize the Synod in convention to direct the synodical entity with oversight of pastoral education as well as the Council of Presidents to develop and implement a plan to ensure that all men engaged in Word and Sacrament ministry are rightly called and ordained into the pastoral office.

Respectfully Submitted Floor Committee 03a, Life Together (Theology)
Rev. Randy Bolt, Chair
Rev. Terry Beltz, Secretary

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Does Verbal Inspiration of the Bible Mean?

Host Todd Wilken explains the significance of the phrase "verbal inspiration" as it relates to Scripture on the April 13 Listener Email and Issues, Etc. Comment Line segment:
…When we talk about the plenary verbal inspiration of the original autographs, that’s another way of talking about the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture. We mean it’s all inspired, that it’s inspired of the Holy Spirit, and that the autographs themselves, the actual words, grammar, syntax, everything in there, is inspired. The grammar of the New Testament is the grammar of the Holy Spirit. There’s no light between what the Holy Spirit inspired, and what the apostles or the others wrote. That’s what we mean when we say verbal inspiration. Don’t let anyone push you back on that position because nowadays there’s a view of “inspiration,” small “i,” becoming popular, especially in evangelical circles, where what the Holy Spirit inspired was the man, not the writing. He inspired Paul to write, and then Paul wrote what Paul wrote, rather than, as Scripture says, “All Scriptures are God-breathed,” and that men moved along by the Holy Spirit wrote what they wrote. It is, it is the words that are inspired, not the man who wrote them that is inspired. There’s also a nuance on that, again popular in evangelical circles, that says “Well, what’s really inspired are the ideas behind the words.” Well I’m sorry. I’m a simple guy. I can’t get to ideas behind words. I can sit there and scratch this New Testament in front of me with my fingernail all I want until the words disappear, but there’s nothing behind them. Where are the ideas? I know that this sounds so naïve. But the ideas are carried along by the words. They’re not behind the words. They’re not sneaking up behind the little letters in the words, they’re carried along by – the words are inspired. So the words of the New Testament are the words of God. The word of the New Testament is the word of God, and there’s no light between what God inspired and what the authors wrote….

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"It Is a Tragic Mistake"

Here is the text of LCMS President Matt Harrison's June 12 letter to the Minnesota South District Board of Directors regarding the sale of University Lutheran Chapel. I'm glad he sent the letter. It certainly doesn't reflect favorably on the MNS BOD when the Synod President, after all this time, feels he needs to again state his position due to their own lack of transparency.

Dear Directors,

As you well know, I have refrained from involvement in the ULC matter. I am compelled, however, to send this note to you as my name has been used, in part, to justify the action of the board in selling ULC. I want to be very clear to you and for the sake of the good people in the Synod who have been so troubled by this whole affair.

In your presence I acknowledged the board’s legal “right” to sell the chapel. However, I do not in any way, shape, or form, condone the sale of ULC. It is a tragic mistake, which has unleashed a blizzard of sin on all sides. Our life together has been deeply embittered.

I continue to name you in my daily prayers, as I have from the beginning of this affair, praying the Lord would grant us all repentance and rescue us from our sinful selves.

Fraternally in Christ,

Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

The Absolution Is Never Free

Another great clip of Pastor Will Weedon, in this segment discussing the absolution - Part 3 of the ongoing Issues, Etc. series on the liturgy.  You can listen to the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Good, the Sad, and the Ugly: A Sampling of 2012 Northwest District Convention Overtures and Resolutions

The Northwest District Convention (LCMS) is coming up in Portland, Oregon on June 21-23. I’ve been reading through the overtures and resolutions since I’m a delegate, and thought I’d share with you a sampling of the good, the sad, and the ugly. You can download all three here.

The Good

This overture resolves to encourage district congregations to offer public worship services exclusively according to the rites and services of the Synod’s three hymnbooks/agenda, and that district conferences and conventions utilize the Lutheran Service Book.

Resolves to utilize LSB.



Unfortunately, like the scapegoat cast into the desert to die a lonely and horrible death, the District President-selected Floor Committee 2 “has concluded, for various reasons, that certain overtures should be declined,” including the above four overtures, and they have thus been banished to Omnibus C (Resolution 2-07).

The reason for declining Overture 2-07: “The overture places undue limitations upon District leaders.” Yes indeed; they would no longer be able to select their favorite praise band to lead the Divine Service. 2-10 was declined because “NCD is primarily a sociological tool & well-trained Pastors have the ability to present these materials appropriately.” Maybe in 2015 we can present an overture which prohibits the use of “primarily sociological” tools.

Floor Committee 2 is eliminating this overture and three other similar overtures in their entirety by associating them with Resolution 2-02, which is discussed below under The Ugly. Fortunately, they also included Overture 2-05 in Resolution 2-02, which resolved to practice open Communion.

This one is in Omnibus Resolution E, those found “good” and “acceptable,” and might actually make it to the floor.

The Sad

Believe it or not, this overture resolves for Concordia University Portland “to continue to lead the way in honest dialogue and academic freedom by calling one or more faculty for the theological department who endorse the position on Creation and Evolution articulated in the Brief Statement, and pursue hiring for their departments of physical and life sciences one or more individuals who also endorse the same.” In other words, the resolution would require Concordia Portland to have somebody in the theology department who articulates what the Synod historically believed – a six-day creation and a rejection of evolution. It’s a sad day when you have to require an institution to have at least a token representative who holds to the literal words of Scripture for fear of its total abandonment. The district is avoiding this overture by lumping it into Omnibus Resolution A and sending it to the Concordia University Board of Regents, where the fox guards the hen house.

The Ugly

The 1989 synod resolution referenced in the title is better known as “The 1989 Wichita Recension of the Augsburg Confession.” Augsburg Confession Article XIV reads: “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.” Let me offer a syllogism:
- Only a pastor may preach or administer the Sacraments in the Church
- Licensed Deacons are not pastors
- Therefore, Licensed Deacons may not preach or administer the Sacraments in
the  Church
According to this resolution, “the LCMS has for several years been conducting ongoing theological conversations regarding the celebration of the Lord’s Supper among its members in order to seek common ground.” It doesn’t specify exactly what the conversation is about, so I’m going to hazard a guess and say that this regards open Communion. Three points: 1) Since when do we determine doctrine by seeking “common ground?”; 2) The ongoing discussion is much like that which ELCA Synod President Mark Hanson encourages – keep talking until a more liberal and inclusive policy is established; 3) They were plenty happy to cite “What the Synod has said in convention and affirmed repeatedly” when it came to Resolution 1-04. Why don’t they cite what the Synod has said in convention and affirmed repeatedly for this resolution as well, that the Synod's position is closed Communion?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rev. Chad Lakies On the Emergent Church: A Non-foundationalist Epistemology

Rev. Chad Lakies, a doctoral candidate at Concordia Seminary who was recently called to serve as Assistant Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Portland, has written an article in the most recent Concordia Journal titled “The End of Theology? The Emergent Church in Lutheran Perspective.” In it, he critiques two articles on the emerging church, one by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations titled “The Emergent Church: An Evaluation from the Theological Perspective of the LCMS,” and the other by Dr. Carol Geisler titled “Reframing the Story: The End of the Emergent Conversation.” I’d like to add my response to his response of their response.

I agree with Rev. Lakies that emergents are open to conversation. The average emergent attends an emerging church because their friend said it was a good church and they like the overall worship experience, not because they were looking for a church which “caters to postmodernism” or “rejects absolute truth.” Much of the emergent terminology and thinking is learned once they get there, not discerned on their own over a cup of coffee with a couple of friends at Starbucks. I also agree with Rev. Lakies that there is no specific body of doctrine that you can point to and say “here is exactly what they confess.” As Christians who are free in Christ, we can and should engage them and, like the Bereans, examine in a respectful way what they have to say to see if it is true.

Rev. Lakies says that
To be emergent then means seeing the world in a particular way. It means having certain suspicions about the way various Christian traditions have seen the world because on the basis of historical experience, emergents have learned that here might be better ways to see the world—and they find these possibilities in Scripture. They see Jesus turning the framework of the Pharisees upside down. They wonder if their own frameworks (the traditions in which they have been raised) are not something which Jesus would perhaps turn upside down.
This perspective doesn’t seem unreasonable. Luther was suspicious of the way the Catholic tradition saw the world. He (and the Lord through him) turned the pre-reformation understanding of the phrase “the righteous will live by faith” upside down. But that isn’t what Rev. Lakies is referring to here. He is referring to a non-foundationalist theology, which is a horse of a completely different color. Rev. Lakies continues:
Their sensibilities seem, from my perspective, to jive quite well with the spirit of Luther when he noted that “[I]n reality, the Word of God comes, when it comes, in opposition to our thinking and wishing. It does not let our thinking prevail, even in what is most sacred to us, but it destroys and uproots and scatters everything.”
The rest of Rev. Lakies’ essay rests on this supposition. He characterizes this as the emergent sensibility, and suggests that “they are on the same page as Lutherans.” But this is a false supposition. Why? Because for emergents, the word of God doesn’t come in opposition to the thinking and wishing of the community, it’s just one of the voices in the conversation. Emergents espouse a non-foundationalist theology which interprets Scripture within the context of the culture and the “situatedness” of the community, rather than relying on Sola Scriptura. This, as Rev. Lakies points out, is the “particular way” in which emergents see the world, referred to by them as their “chastened hermeneutic” or “chastened epistemology.” Since we are all located in a certain place or context, our viewpoint must be subjective, and we cannot be neutral. We cannot know how things really are, and must therefore determine truth by means of a larger community. Truth is “situated.” Essentially, it allows for the community to interpret Scripture without necessarily following the original meaning of the authors, and concludes that Scripture can mean different things to different communities in different times and places, including contradictory meanings. The ultimate authority is not Scripture alone, but the response of the community to their own interpretations and feelings, as somehow directed by the Spirit along with tradition, culture, and the Bible. But that doesn’t jive with Luther’s understanding at all. To illustrate the point, here are several quotes from emergent theologian John R. Franke’s article “Reforming Theology: Toward a Postmodern Reformed Dogmatics”:
A nonfoundationalist approach to theology seeks to respond positively and appropriately to the situatedness of all human thought and therefore to embrace a principled theological pluralism. It also attempts to affirm that the ultimate authority in the church is not a particular source, be it Scripture, tradition, or culture but only the living God. Therefore, if we must speak of “foundations” for the Christian faith and its theological enterprise, then we must speak only of the triune God who is disclosed in polyphonic fashion through Scripture, the church, and even the world, albeit always in accordance with the normative witness to divine self-disclosure contained in Scripture.

…A nonfoundationalist conception envisions theology as an ongoing conversation between Scripture, tradition, and culture in which all three are vehicles of the one Spirit through which the Spirit speaks in order to create a distinctively Christian “world” centered on Jesus Christ in a variety of local settings. In this way theology is both one, in that all truly Christian theology seeks to hear and respond to the speaking of the one Spirit, and many, in that all theology emerges from particular social and historical situations. Such a theology is the product of the reflection of the Christian community in its local expressions.

…From the perspective of Christian dogmatics, this approach seeks to nurture an open and flexible theology that is in keeping with the local and contextual character of human knowledge while remaining thoroughly and distinctly Christian.

…In addition to listening for the voice of the Spirit speaking through Scripture, theology must also be attentive to the voice of the Spirit speaking through culture. While Western theology has tended to focus on the church as the sole repository of all truth and the only location in which the Spirit is operative, Scripture appears to suggest a much broader understanding of the Spirit’s presence, a presence connected to the Spirit’s role as the life-giver. The biblical writers speak of the Spirit’s role in creating and sustaining life as well as enabling it to flourish. Because the life-giving Creator Spirit is present in the flourishing of life, the Spirit’s voice resounds through many media, including the media of human culture. Because Spirit-induced human flourishing evokes cultural expression, we can anticipate in such expressions traces of the Spirit’s creative and sustaining presence. Consequently, theology should be alert to the voice of the Spirit manifest in the artifacts and symbols of human culture.
To translate that into English, a few examples of how a non-foundationalist theology is articulated may be in order. Emerging church leader Tony Jones opined
…The beauty of the Spirit controlling the text is that it can, indeed, have different meanings in different times … and that the Spirit can use our own experiences and viewpoints to enlighten us to the meaning of the Word.” (Quoted from R. Scott Smith’s book Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church.)
Neil Livingstone, in his article titled “How can you trust the Bible,” says
This, then, is how he has produced the Bible. He works in his people's lives, and then sets them to talking and writing about it. When the people write down their passions, visions, call to holy life, and their interpretations of how God is working in history, and when the believing community around them says "Yes. This is what God is saying to us", then God is pleased. He is succeeding. The humanity of the Bible is not a mark against the divine influence in it. In fact, it is proof that God's mission on earth is indeed going forward. People are willingly joining him -- heart, mind, and soul.

If God had simply dropped a book from heaven into our laps, or used his human creatures as dictation devices, can you see how that would have undermined his whole purpose in speaking to us? But what we see in the Bible is itself an example of the outworking of God's purposes. It's done by people in true partnership with the illuminating Spirit of God.
Notice that inspiration is no longer a player – it’s now about illumination. The Bible, for some emergents, is a man-made product. Revelation doesn’t come in opposition to our thinking and wishing as Rev. Lakies’ Luther quote demands, but comes from multiple sources, including our own imagination, as emergent Brian McLaren states: “We believe that image (the language of imagination) and emotion (including the emotion of wonder) are essential elements of fully human knowing, and thus we seek to integrate them in our search for this precious, wonderful, sacred gift called truth….”

Rev. Lakies comments that “in many ways their voice is worth hearing.” Yes, sometimes their comments may cause us to examine our own house. I doubt however, that if Dr. Geisler were to sit down with the typical emergent and have a friendly chat, that there would be any of the “conversation-stopping rhetoric” that Rev. Lakies assigns to her. People that write articles of the caliber of hers are also often very good at carrying on a winsome conversation with those of a different camp. There’s a huge difference between writing an article for a Lutheran audience as opposed to carrying on a personal conversation with an emergent.

The question remains, what would Luther say having been given the opportunity to study the emerging church. I suspect there would be a hailstorm of invectives that would make Sodom and Gomorrah’s fire and brimstone blush. Luther has given us his opinion on the chastened epistemology of the emerging church in The Bondage of the Will:
To take no pleasure in assertions is not the mark of a Christian heart; indeed, one must delight in assertions to be a Christian at all. (Now, lest we be misled by words, let me say here that by ‘assertion’ I mean staunchly holding your ground, stating your position, confessing it, defending it and persevering in it unvanquished. I do not think that the term has any other meaning, either in classical authors or in present-day usage. And I am talking about the assertion of what has been delivered to us from above in the Sacred Scriptures. [Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, Trans. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1957) 67].
Rev. Lakies says of emergents in his concluding remarks that “they even have something in common with Luther himself and how he did theology.” The non-foundationalist sensibility which Rev. Lakies regards so highly is a position that is foreign to Luther’s thought and our confession. Emergent pastor Spencer Burke once said “I no longer consider myself a tour guide, but a fellow traveler.” 1st century pastor Saint Paul once said “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Which sensibility will you choose?

There is nothing wrong with listening charitably to what the emerging church has to say. There is something wrong with romanticizing their epistemology and hermeneutic, and torturing Luther in the process.

For further reading:  Pastor Lucas Woodford’s blog post titled “Sense and Sensibility: Emergent Mystique or Emerging Mistake?

photo credit: Nealy-J

Friday, June 8, 2012

Beware the Speed Table

When running in Maui, watch out for those speed tables. A speed table is variously known as a “speed bump” or “speed hump” on the mainland. “Speed table” is the Anglicized wording for the original Hawaiian word speedhumuhumunukunukuapuaa, not to be confused, of course, with the Tlingit version, speedkaagwaantaan. You likely didn’t know that the speed bump signs are there for the protection of runners, not motorists. I was running through an asphalt parking lot and nearly removed the skin from both palms as I skidded to a stop, having tripped over a very deadly, dark, black, unmarked and unseen, nearly invisible speed bump. Hence I’ve grown to appreciate the speed table warning. A safe runner is a happy runner.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Lord over Sin, Death, and the Devil

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther from his preface to Georg Major's edition of Lives of the Fathers, found in the latest volume of Luther's Works from Concordia Publishing House:
It is not difficult, however, to distinguish and discern which of the two groups should be approved. For the Pelagians and Origenists advocate Stoic apathies and all sorts of ways of perfecting one’s life. In such maters they also made trouble for Augustine. But concerning grace, faith, the forgiveness of sins, and the true mighty works of God—by which, as Isaiah [11:6-8] says, an infant conquers death, sin, and hell—they murmur very discreetly and softly, if they do not remain completely silent. Instead, they trumpet their Stoic apathy with both cheeks puffed out. By contrast, the orthodox, proceeding on the middle path, the correct one, neither treat sins with indulgence nor claim perfection for themselves, but proclaim the forgiveness of sins, grace, life, and salvation to sinners who repent and believe. These works, since they are the works of God Himself and of our Lord Christ, are hidden from those wise and understanding people [Luke 10:21]. For who among them sees that a little one who has been baptized is a lord and victor over sin, death, and the devil? but having long ago forgotten their own Baptism, they seek by their own powers to attack and overcome that enemy—the devil, sin, and death—who, they should have known, has been conquered for them in their Baptism, that is, in Christ, the Seed of the woman [Gen 3:15]. Let this be our rule, as it has been and will be forever. To God be praise and glory. Amen.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, American Edition, ed. Christopher Boyd Brown. vol. 60, Prefaces II, (Saint Louis: CPH, 2011) 322.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Is the Nature of Confession?

This audio bite comes from Part 2 of the Issues, Etc. series on the liturgy with Pastor Wil Weedon on May 24. In it Pastors Wilken and Weedon discuss the nature of confession. Another great segment; you can listen to the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lutheran View on Consubstantiation and the Lord’s Supper

This post can be downloaded as a pdf file here.

In the latest issue of the Christian Research Journal (Vol. 35, No. 02), Rev. Dr. Michael Ross, a Presbyterian pastor, had this to say about the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper in his article titled “The Sacrament of the Supper”:
Consubstantiation (Lutheran view): The bread and wine remain just that, but through the liturgy (Word) and the Spirit they become vehicles to communicate to believers the body and blood of Christ. Christ is received “in, with and around” the Communion elements. Hence, con (with) substantiation (substance).
    “It is taught among us that the true body and blood of Christ are really present in the Supper of our Lord under the form of bread and wine and are there distributed and received. The contrary doctrine is therefore rejected.”
Putting the best construction on Dr. Ross’s remarks, it appears that he was trying to articulate the Lutheran position, even quoting Article X of the Augsburg Confession in the second paragraph, but his use of the word consubstantiation confuses the issue. Lutherans do not believe in consubstantiation in the historical sense of the word, but rather repudiate that position.

Lutherans believe that Christ’s true body, the same body that was incarnate in the Virgin Mary, crucified on the cross, touched by the apostles, and ascended into heaven, is essentially (truly and substantially) present here on earth in the Supper, although invisibly in a way beyond understanding. It is received orally with the bread by the godly and the wicked alike, because the Sacrament is not founded on people’s holiness, but upon God’s Word; likewise Christ’s blood with the wine. Thus, the Holy Supper works consolation and life in the believing, and condemnation in the unbelieving.

Just as Christ’s unchanged human and divine natures are inseparably united, so the natural bread and Christ’s true natural body are united (likewise the wine and the blood). This is not a personal union (as that of the two natures of Christ), or a mystical union (as that between Christ and the believer), but a unique and incomprehensible sacramental union; not a natural or spatial combination, mixture, or fusion, but a supernatural union.

The definition of consubstantiation, taken from the Lutheran Christian Cyclopedia, which is an online version of the original print edition published in 1954 says
View, falsely charged to Lutheranism, that bread and body form 1 substance (a “3d substance”) in Communion (similarly wine and blood) or that body and blood are present, like bread and wine, in a natural manner.
Dr. Francis Pieper, in Christian Dogmatics, the three-volume standard that was used by nearly every Lutheran seminary in the United States in the 20th century, states:
The same principle of a solely local and visible mode of presence results in a polemic against the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper on the part of the Reformed which is untruthful through and through. Because the Reformed, the moment they hear of a true presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament, always visualize only their visible and local presence, “as the peasant fills out jacket and breeches,” they ascribe to us Lutherans a local inclusion (localis inclusion, Hodge, Syst. Theol., I, 83) of the body of Christ in the bread, or a local consubstantiation (consubstantiatio), or even a physical compounding (permixtio) of bread and body of Christ. Because of the same bias they apply to us Lutherans the titles “carnivorous beasts,” “blood guzzlers,” and “cannibals,” and call the Supper instituted by Christ, with the real presence of the body and blood of Christ which is given and shed for us, a “Cyclopean meal” and a “Thyestean banquet.” All this is the result of their adoption of the thesis that Christ’s body can have only a visible and local mode of presence as their principle of Scripture interpretation. [Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950) 326-27.]

The discussion of the twofold material and the unio sacramentalis gives rise to the question how to define more definitely the manner (modus) of the taking of body and blood. We say: (1) Because the twofold material is combined into a sacramental unity, that is, since Christ gives His body with the bread and His blood with the wine, we receive with the mouth (manducatio oralis) not merely the bread and wine, but also the body and blood of Christ. (2) Since, however, the union of the material coelestis with the material terrena is not a natural or local, but a supernatural union (no localis inclusio, impanatio, consubstantiatio), we receive the body and blood of Christ with the mouth not in a natural, but in a supernatural manner. On the basis of the unio sacramentalis the Formula of Concord, on the one hand, adheres to the oral receiving of Christ’s body and blood; on the other hand, to the supernatural manner of the reception. It says: “When at the table and during the Supper [mensaie assidens], He [Christ] offers His disciples natural bread and natural wine, which He calls His true body and true blood, at the same time saying: ‘Eat and drink.’ For in view of the circumstances this command evidently cannot be understood otherwise than of oral eating and drinking, however, not in a gross, carnal, Capernaitic, but in a supernatural, incomprehensible way.” (Trigl. 995, Sol. Decl., VII, 64.) [Pieper, Vol. III, 362]

Monday, June 4, 2012

Are You Generis? Probably Not. But Your District Might Be.

A look at fund raising and the theology behind it.

You can download a pdf copy of this post here.

Times are hard. The money just isn’t there, and synod districts are having to cut back, resorting to all sorts of ways to come up with cash. Why not hire a professional to raise the money for you? It works for other non-profits. Okay. Let’s do it. Enter Generis.

Generis is a consulting firm that works with “churches and Kingdom focused non-profits in matters of stewardship, generosity and fundraising,” and it is currently advising some of the districts of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Their mission: “Accelerating generosity toward God-inspired vision.” They provide things like Generosity Coaching, Generosity Audits, Stakeholder Summits, Annual Fund Development, Lifestyle Stewardship Campaigns, and assessments to create “a culture that gives out of it’s [sic] abundance and sustains giving in times of drought.” They see “changed hearts toward a lifestyle of generosity, rather that [sic] a moment of ‘feel good’ giving that may wither and fade.” (Unless otherwise noted, all quotes come from the Generis website.)

Generis has a large and diverse group of consultants, including many pastors, as well as laymen with a great deal of business and fundraising experience. There are at least nine pastors, four of whom are Baptists, one Methodist, at least one non-denominational, and several of unknown denomination. The laymen on staff include three Certified Fund Raising Executives, authors, MBAs, as well as several other business backgrounds. Also included is one Lutheran, Mr. Larry Ulrich, who served as the Director of People Ablaze! for the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, as well as the district’s Lutheran Church Extension Fund Vice-President.

If you can speak the language of the Transforming Churches Network (TCN), you’ll feel right at home with Generis, because they both have as their goal transformation. Generis consultant Dave Anderson sums it up:
I have a passion for assisting churches in resourcing their financial needs through developing a culture of generosity. But even more than that, I have a passion for helping church leaders catch a vision for how contagious generosity can completely transform their church’s culture.
The transformation process begins with the leader casting a vision, generating enthusiasm and commitment to unity around the new goal, and then monitoring to make sure the vision is being carried out and the goals are met by ensuring accountability.

Pastor Matt Summers uses the lingo of transformation in his comments in the opening video on the Generis home page:
For our staff, our generosity initiative has really created a great sense of alignment and togetherness, and unity, and really more than anything else that we’ve done in the life of our church, looking at generosity has caused us to get together and to move forward together as leadership.
You can see the transformation process rising to the surface in the comments of their consultants on the “our people” page. Note again the consistent argot. Many of their thought processes aren’t built on Scriptural truths (though you’ll see the occasional Bible verse), but around business strategies:

Julie Bullock, CFRE:
People ask all the time the ’secrets’ to raising money. There’s no secret really. The key lies in a perception shift we MUST make.
Money doesn’t fund vision, it FOLLOWS vision. If you don’t have any money, then you might not have any vision big enough to demand that money!
It is my passion to help mobilize leaders and organizations to experience the joy that comes from a generous life….
Rusty Lewis, CFRE:
Every initiative requires its own uniquely creative approach to ignite passion for a project that will ultimately drive ministry expansion and effectiveness. From the first meeting to final completion, I help leaders and organizations create strategies that promote awareness, build momentum and stimulate action….
Craig Loscalzo:
…Together we will vision ways to produce the greatest Kingdom impact your church can have for today and tomorrow.
Brad Leeper:
For any generosity and giving culture to succeed, three key questions must be answered: ‘Is God in this plan? Have church leaders cast a vision for the project that exceeds the brick and mortar story? And does each church member understand the sound, biblical basis for engaging in joyful giving in support of that vision?’ Creating an environment where individuals ask God what He wants them to do—in light of what He has called their church to do—is my ultimate task.
Rev. Bob DeWaay breaks through the pious outer shell of these sorts of programs and gets to the creamy center where the real content lies:
We saw that in the New Testament, true unity is gospel-centric. The false unity that is being promoted today is not like that. In most cases it is unity under a religious leader‘s “vision.” What is meant by the term “vision” is not the same as the Biblical usage. It is used in a modern marketing sense and relates to the leader‘s mental image of what he wants the product and corporation to be like in the future.

The unity that is necessary to create a church molded from the mental image of a religious leader‘s dream of an optimal future is unity under the religious corporation‘s vision. To fulfill the dream each piece must work together and each piece must contribute to the purposes determined by the visionary leader. The wisdom of business gurus has been mined by Christian leaders who have created religious versions to help pastors market the church. (Critical Issues Commentary, May/June 2005)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Adriane Dorr Memorialized in Stone

Adriane Dorr, the Managing Editor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s official periodical The Lutheran Witness, has previously been chosen the LCMS’ most eligible bachelorette by the Issues, Etc. team. Well, she’s now been bestowed an even more singular honor. Because of her outstanding editorialness at The Lutheran Witness, which really is a first-rate periodical, she’s been “memorialized” in stone.  It's amazing how limestone sculpting has advanced since the days of the 4th Dynasty. You can now visit the plains of Giza and see Adriane, with sphinx-like grace, casting her editorial gaze into the future pages of The Lutheran Witness for the benefit of upcoming generations of confessional Lutherans. If you’d like to offer your congratulations to Adriane, you can track her down on her Facebook page.