Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lost, Insolvent Beggars

"Accordingly, we poor sinners praise God for the place of refuge He has prepared for us, where we can flee even when we have to come to Him as utterly lost, insolvent beggars, who have not the least ability to offer to God something that they have achieved. All that we can offer Him is our sins, nothing else."

C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, (St. Louis: CPH, 1986) 332-333.

photo credit: Hamed Parham

Monday, March 30, 2009

We’ve Lost the Vocabulary of Scripture

Quoting Pastor Todd Wilken from the March 23rd Issues, Etc. segment on the Catechumenate with Dr. Kent Burreson:
Think about how the Scriptures describe the movement from unbeliever to believer. You know nowadays we just have this category “unchurched” and “churched.” How barren, how empty, how hollow a way of thinking about the move from what Scripture says is “death to life,” “enemy of God” to “friend of God,” “sons of wrath” to “those who have been shown mercy,” “kingdom of darkness” to “kingdom of light,” and we in the modern Church say “churched” and “unchurched?” How vacuous. Maybe that’s part of the problem.

We’ve lost the vocabulary of Scripture when it comes to the difference between the Church and the world. And having forfeited the vocabulary of Scripture in these things we think more like the world about these things. Well, it’s just a sociological category, you’re unchurched or your churched. And we are poorer for it. And in fact, we may be through our empty ways of bringing people into quote unquote membership or attendance into the twenty-first century Church not so much making Christians, or disciples, but simply making members, associates. What’s another term that they might use, clients? Who knows. When the Scripture speaks of it as going from death to life, from being an enemy to God to being reconciled to God, sons of wrath to sons of mercy, darkness to light, it means that these are not just metaphors, these are the truth of what it means to go from unbelief to belief, from the world to the Church and the body of Christ. Do we need it? Of course we need it. And if we lose it, what we lose is perhaps the Church itself.
photo credit: monkeyc 2

Friday, March 27, 2009

On My Heart Imprint Your Image

On my heart imprint Your image,
Blessed Jesus, King of grace,
That life's riches, cares, and pleasures
Never may Your work erase;
Let the clear inscription be:
Jesus, crucified for me,
Is my life, my hope's foundation,
And my glory and salvation!

LSB # 422

photo credit: Loci Lenar

Thursday, March 26, 2009

God, I Don't Understand...

Don't we all wonder what's going on some days? I know God's got a plan, but why doesn't He send me an email and let me know what it is? Lauren Malthaner, a college student and fellow Lutheran, asks a similar question in the following video, and provides a Scriptural answer.

Lauren's video appeared on her blog Irrefutable Love, the post titled "Sticky Notes for A College Student." Her Scripture references are Isaiah 43:2, Titus 3:4-5, Ephesians 3:18-19, 2 Corinthians 12:9, and Philippians 4:7.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We Cannot Depart from Pure Doctrine

Quoting C.F.W. Walther:

We know quite well that it is the duty of every individual Christian to be faithful to the truth, but thousands of simple Christians cannot see through the lies of false teachers. They simply cling to Christ in faith. Even though, by the grace of God, we have the full truth, yet we do not consider ourselves one whit better than others, we claim no better heaven, instead we rejoice over the fact that someday we will be saved together with them. But we cannot depart from pure doctrine. Woe to us, if we do not firmly cling to it! "To whom much is given, of him shall much be required." With great joy we can bear the insults that our opponents may heap upon us because of this.

Quoted from C.F.W. Walther, Essays for the Church, Vol. 1 (St. Louis: Concordia, 1992) 108.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quotable Blog Quotes #7

Quotable Quotes From Around the Blogosphere

Pastor Dave Petersen

But here was the interesting thing: under the [Third] article that is labeled " Sanctification" there is nothing about good works. The Holy Spirit sanctifies His Church through the Gospel, through the communion of Holy Things, by the Forgiveness of sins, for the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. No call to good works here.

I know: it is obvious. But you'd be sadly surprised how many pastors think the only way to increase the good works of their people is to preach the Law. In fact, the preaching of the Law increases sins, not good works. So if you want the people to do more good works: preach more Gospel, forgive them. That is how the Holy Spirit does it. And that is what the Apostles' Creed confesses.

Mercy Journeys With Pastor Harrison
Pastor Matt Harrison

It's the kind of paper that people who like these kind of papers will like.

thinking out loud
Pastor Rick Stuckwisch

Life is a battlefield when the Kingdom of God invades the devil's stomping grounds. So, too, because Christ Jesus has been baptized to be your Champion and your Savior, He is immediately driven by the Spirit of God from the waters of His Baptism into the wilderness, there to be tempted by Satan and to engage that wicked foe in a strange and dreadful contest. Thus, the Son of David goes out to meet a bigger, badder Goliath than this world has ever dreamed of.

The wilderness is where Christ contends with Satan, because the wilderness is where you are tested and trained. The wilderness is where fallen sinners learn how to live in Paradise again. It is the long stretch between Egypt and Canaan. It is where you are taught to live in the Kingdom of God by faith. To that end, it is in the wilderness that you are called to repent and believe the Gospel, but it is especially at those two points that you are tempted by the devil.

Laughing Martin
I. M. Abaldy II

If your pastor is too busy teaching and promoting non-Lutheran studies and/or planning his next creative praise service or chancel melodrama to teach and practice the Confessions and good Lutheran theology, then you need to go find a pastor who is Lutheran. Continuing to support a man who is derelict in his duty is not beneficial to anyone--yourself included. This is especially true for someone who would have no problem finding such a pastor within reasonable travel time and distance. (Is an hour too long to travel for the Bread of Life? Two hours?) To support such pastors while solid, faithful men are being starved and thrown out and their congregations closed or overwhelmed is not healthy for the church or for you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

President Kieschnick and the LCMS BOD, Let Your “Yes” Be “Yes.”

Two weeks ago today Pastor Tim Rossow and I sent a letter to President Kieschnick regarding the trademark dispute petition, which was received, along with 76 pages worth of your signatures and comments. We have yet to hear back from him. The letter reads as follows:

March 7, 2009

Rev. Dr. Gerald R. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
International Center
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

Dear President Kieschnick:

We represent the 2000+ signatories of the Issues, Etc. trademark petition, a copy of which is attached, along with the signatures themselves.

While it appears that the immediate threat of continued legal action against Pastor Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz has ceased, and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has dropped its objection to the trademark application for the Issues, Etc. name filed by Mr. Harry Madsen, there is more work that needs to be done before this matter is resolved.

To better explain, we would appreciate it if you would first read through the following comments, which are a representative sampling of comments taken from the petition:

  • President Kieschnick and the LCMS Board... I have tried to put the best construction on everything as I try to understand why you would pursue this action. It seems to give the wrong impression of your intensions. I can think of no good reason, no purposeful or meaningful reason that this action is in the best interest of your neighbor or even yourself. Just let it go.
  • I find myself being more ashamed of my beloved LC-MS each passing month. This use of lawyers to "handle" Christian issues is unforgivable and the synodical president is personally responsible by virtue of his office.
  • This action by the LCMS Synod saddens me. It runs contrary to the interest of serving our neighbor. This action leads me to think LCMS is only concerned with the preservation of self rather than the Gospel.
  • Dear Bishop Kieschnick, Although I am a Catholic, I believe that Issuesetc and its staff do wonderful work in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all while also presenting a very favorable picture of the LCMS. I would request that you withdraw any attempts to interfere with the programming of the group. It makes you appear petty and vindicative. Sincerely, Steve Griffin

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Issues, Etc., the Metaphor

One final audio clip of Pastor Wilken: Called to preach the unchanging truth of the Gospel.

The Metaphor

Everybody’s left, the lights are turned down, and we’re just sweeping up the mess. It’s been a busy week. I’m thankful that you stopped by one last time.

What is it about Issues, Etc. that attracts us anyway? Is it the topics? Certainly, they touch on the great questions of our time, as well as delve into the past as it relates to the present. But that’s not quite it is it?

Why did people protest so vehemently when the show was previously canceled? Is it the guests? They certainly have guests who rival any show on the radio or elsewhere, but I don’t think that’s it either.

Why would people bother to sign petitions – even people from other denominations? Is it the host? Pastor Wilken is a great guy and superb at what he does, but I don’t think that’s exactly it.

You know what I think it is? I think it’s because what the show really offers is what people really thirst for, and that something is the truth. Truth is in short supply in our world. It isn’t manufactured, so you can’t buy it. You usually can’t find it on the television, so you can’t watch it. But truth does exist, and it’s found spoken, through plain ordinary words. It’s most often found spoken from the lips of God’s called servants of the Word, faithfully laboring in a pulpit on Sunday mornings, but sometimes on other days too. Sometimes even on the radio, or on the internet.

The Samaritan woman at the well didn’t know exactly what it was she was looking for, but yet she knew she had found it. People today often don’t know what they’re looking for either, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, they know it when they’ve found it, or more properly, when they’ve been called. When they find it, they rejoice. They’ve found what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined.

People thirst for the water of life that only Jesus Christ can provide. They search for water that is pure. Issues, Etc. is one source of that pure water. From the lips of Pastor Wilken and his guests flows that pure water, the Word of God that is the power of God to grant forgiveness to fallen sinners. They find spoken the Confession of the one catholic Church – the same Confession spoken by our fathers and their fathers before them.

The CAnniversaryTM Celebration, Day 7

Welcome to Day 7!

Coming tomorrow on Day 8 - just kidding. Seven days is enough already.

Today's guest introductions:

The last treats, including lots of great bump music, a clip of Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, more "outtakes," and Pastor Todd Wilken:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guest Blogger Pastor Todd Wilken

You all know Pastor Todd Wilken, so I'm going to skip the intro and platitudes, and get right to it.

Here's a couple of clips of Pastor Wilken to get things rolling:

A Very Good Thing

for March 18, 2009
by Todd Wilken

“Well gentlemen, I’ll get right to the point. The purpose of the meeting is to let you know that after --believe me-- a great deal of consideration, it’s my decision to discontinue the Issues, Etc. radio show, meaning the elimination of both your positions.

“‘Terminate’ is a harsh word, but that’s the meaning of ‘eliminate the positions.’

“And it’s a very difficult thing to do. At times it almost makes you sick, but that’s the decision that’s been arrived at.”

We knew it couldn’t last. And we were right. It lasted only until holy Tuesday, March 18, 2008.

Jeff had always told me, “The best thing that could happen to Issues, Etc. would be if someone were stupid enough to cancel the show.” And, as he has been so many times over the last 15 years, Jeff was right.

Luther was right too: “Where God's Word is preached, accepted, or believed and produces fruit, there the holy Cross cannot be missing.” (LC, III, 70)

But remember, in Jesus, the holy Cross isn’t a bad thing; it’s a good thing.

What do I mean?

Was the cancelation of Issues, Etc. on March 18, 2008 a bad thing? Yes, it was. Did it disappoint and hurt many? Yes, it did. Did it prove to be a debacle for LCMS Inc. and KFUO? Yes, it did.

Luther also said, “A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the Cross calls the thing what it actually is.”

The Craig Chronicles

Craig Fichtinger is the board operator at Lutheran Public Radio. He’s the man who keeps the electrons headed in the right direction at LPR, making sure all of us on the user’s end of the Issues, Etc. wire get a smooth ride. He also answers the phone when Jeff’s out buying paper clips.

Craig is the least visible of the team members, but plays an important part. He adds a sense of “balance” to the whole LPR operation. And Craig also adds something that neither Todd nor Jeff can match, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

So let’s all give Craig a big round of applause. That's him, standing next to Todd Wilken (with the Man-pris) and Jeff Schwarz (with the whiskers).

Here's a few clips of Craig in action:

The Chelada Files

Surely you’ve heard Craig, Jeff, and Todd talk about Chelada at some point since the revitalization of Issues. It’s made by Anheuser Busch, the makers of Budweiser. Chelada is created by the ever popular combination of beer and brussels sprout. Oops. Wait a minute. I don’t think that’s right.

O.K. I’m back. I checked on the web - it’s beer and clamato juice. That sounds a lot better doesn’t it? What do you mean you don’t know what clamato juice is? Clam juice plus -ato. Get it? I’ll give you a hint: Bob, the host of Veggie Tales. Yes! It’s Budweiser, clam juice, and tomato juice.

Chelada is a shortened version of the Spanish word "michelada," which when loosely translated means “my cold beer.” I bet you Spanish speakers are really impressed with that. Sort of like how the Chevy Nova didn’t sell well down in Mexico, because in Spanish, “nova” means “no go.” Anyway, it’s been the subject of a lot of Issues, Etc. banter over the months. Pastor Wilken thinks it's the best drink in the history of humanity, and these clips are well worth a listen as he attempts to advance his gustatory machinations:

The Chelada Files, Part 1:

The Chelada Files, Part 2:

The CAnniversaryTM Celebration, Day 6

Welcome to Day 6!

Coming up on Day 7, closing thoughts and a few more goodies.

We lost our remaining Guest Blogger, Mollie, along the way this week, due to the weight of other responsibilities. You can check out Mollie's latest Christianity Today article here.

You might note that I put the "Sign the Petition" graphic back on the right side of the blog. If you haven't signed the Issues, Etc. trademark petition and you'd like to, clicking on the graphic will take you there. More to follow on the continuing trademark drama on Monday.

Here's today's set of guest introductions:

Today's set of treats includes some great bump music, a clip from the famous Dr. Robert Schuller interview, "outtakes," and more:

The Issues, Etc. trivia question:

What’s the name of the only blog to hold the singular honor of Issues, Etc. Backup Blog of the Week?

Click on "Read More..." to find the answer:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guest Blogger Chris Rosebrough

Rosebrough. A name that strikes fear in the hearts of purpose-driven and emergent types everywhere. I’ve been soaking up Chris Rosebrough’s teaching for a lot of years now. He’s got more blogs and websites than anybody I know (even more than Cwirla) – too numerous to list, although I’ll hit the high points.

Chris grew up as an Evangelical, but escaped from his own purpose-driven prison with the help of Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. Not only does Chris collect blogs, he also collects degrees, which have certainly helped in his apologetic efforts, both theologically, and in a business sense. He’s got a degree in Religious Studies and Biblical Languages from Concordia University in Irvine, as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

He is the author of the well-know apologetic blogs Extreme Theology and A Little Leaven (which houses the Museum of Idolatry). Since the original scuttling of Issues, Etc., his creation, Pirate Christian Radio, has been the online radio network that airs all of those great programs we’ve all come to love, such as Issues, Tabletalk, The God Whisperers, Take the Stand, Radical Grace, Higher Things Radio, and his own show Fighting for the Faith.

Fighting for the Faith is a show I really can’t get enough of. I like Chris’s ability to point our error in today’s churches, while at the same time interjecting a little humor, and teaching Law and Gospel along the way. His philosophy might be humorously summed up by this quote from a PCR advertisement: “Finally, a Real Christian radio station that is free from the scurvy plagues of pop-psychology, goofy fads, self-help, pietism, liberalism, purpose-drivenism, emergent nonsense and the sissy girly Oprah-fied spirituality that is being passed off as Christianity.”

I’d go on about what a great guy Chris is, but my pen’s running out of ink. So let’s get to it. Here's a sound bite from Chris's August 11th, 2008 appearance on Issues, Etc.:

Cancelling A Radio Program Launched an Entire Radio Station

One year ago this week my phone rang. The caller ID said that it was Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller who was calling me. I love talking with Pastor Wolfmueller! Not only is Bryan smarter than I am he is funnier than I am. But, when I answered the phone Bryan’s voice didn’t sound right. The tone that he was using was the same tone that people use when they call to tell you about a death in the family. In this case, there was more than a death in the family, there was a murder.

Bryan asked me if I had heard the news.

“What news?” I asked.

“The synod has cancelled Issues, Etc.”, Bryan stated rather flatly.

“What!?!? They cancelled Issues, Etc.! It’s Holy Week!! What!?!?! Are you sure?!”

“It’s all over the internet and the Wittenberg Trail”, said Bryan.

I felt like I had been punched in the face. Issues, Etc. had been a lifeline of sanity and sound doctrine for me. Issues, Etc. was the only program I’d ever heard that unashamedly, day after day, proclaimed Confessional Lutheran doctrine and Christ crucified for our sins. I couldn’t imagine any sane Biblically grounded Lutheran leader canceling Issues, Etc. What Pastor Wolfmueller was telling me just didn’t make any sense.

Purple Palace Protest

Remember way back to the 2000 Presidential election, the one with the “hanging chads?” On November 22nd of that year a group of Republicans purportedly staged a “riot” at the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board offices, protesting the manual recount of certain ballots that weren’t counted by the original machine count.

Can you imagine that? A group of Republicans in polo shirts staging a riot! Well, the LCMS has it’s own equivalent to the Republican “riot.” Were they protesting hanging chads? Hardly. Something of much greater import. They were protesting the cancellation of Issues, Etc. of course. It happened on April 14th, 2008 at the International Center, the spiffy looking headquarters of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, “lovingly” called the “Purple Palace.”

This was the first and only demonstration at the IC. Not too amazingly, there were no arrests, just a few ruffled hairdos from the wind. Included in the crowd were Pastors Fritz Baue, Paul Beisel, Charlie Henrickson, Wil Weedon, as well as journalist Mollie Ziegler Hemingway. The big protest made the local newspaper, but not any of the official LCMS publications.

Photos compliments of Pastor Paul Beisel

Always Have the Truth on Your Side!

Many of you will recognize the audio clip created by Pastor Wilken that's found below - it played on my Wittenberg Trail page for quite some time. It's got Pastor Todd Wilken speaking and Regina Spektor singing in the background.

Somehow, I just can't get it out of my head that Pastor Wilken's comments and the following quotes of Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod President Gerald Kieschnick are somehow related. Maybe you can figure it out. The first quote comes from Rev. Kieschnick's response to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway's Wall Street Journal article on the cancellation of Issues, Etc., and the second a memo sent to the District Presidents in response to the recent Issues, Etc. trademark skirmish:

The CAnniversaryTM Celebration, Day 5

Welcome to Day 5!

Coming up Friday: Guest Blogger Pastor Todd Wilken

Let's move on. How about calling it Super Tuesday from now on? They're BACK!

My favorite clip:

Today's guest introductions:

Special audio treats for today: More bump music (including one I did myself - see if you can guess which one), Pastor Paul McCain, "outtakes," lots of Pastor Wilken.

Jeff Schwarz and Todd Wilken moving the board into LPR.

Issues, Etc. trivia quiz

Name the two people who say "God" and "Gawd" in the following sound bite:

Click on "Continue Reading>>" for the answer:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guest Blogger Pastor Bill Cwirla

Cwirla. There’s a lot that could be said about Pastor Bill Cwirla, some of it even good. He’s one of those guys that’s impossible to avoid – a little like Savoir Faire, the mouse character in the ‘60's cartoon Klondike Cat, whose tag line was “Savoir Faire is everywhere.” That’s a fitting line for Pastor Cwirla.

I have to confess though that I find his writing to be a little bit annoying. Every time I read something he’s written, especially if it’s taped to the wall of his underground bunker, I find it annoyingly good. I wish I could write like that. I look at his post. I look at my post. Mine looks like a wilted flower by comparison. A little like a jumble of junked, rusted-out ‘74 Mustangs. Maybe they got the job done, but they sure were ugly. But you shouldn’t covet your neighbor’s writing ability! If you're in the neighborhood, check out his blogging "manscape" at Blogosphere Underground.

So what else could Pastor Cwirla possibly do that would garner the "everywhere" crown? Most notably, he’s the Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California. If that’s not enough for you, he’s the President of Higher Things, the Confessional Lutheran youth organization (highly recommended). He’s also the author of another blog, Rev. Cwirla's Blogosphere. And oh yeah, he’s also co-host of the hugely popular Lutheran talk radio show The God Whisperers, along with sidekick Pastor Craig Donofrio. Did I miss anything? Yep. He also writes the occasional post for The Brothers of John the Steadfast, plus intermittent appearances on Issues, Etc., Fighting for the Faith, and whatever else I omitted. This guy’s got a resume longer than a giraffe’s neck. And all of that he does when he’s not busy scuba diving.

Seriously, Pastor Cwirla’s a true theologian of the cross, who calls a thing what it is. I’m happy that he’s taken the time to share his thoughts with us. Hopefully I’ll have the pleasure of breaking bread with him sometime soon. In the meantime, we can all savor what he’s got to say about Issues, Etc. and “our boys.” Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read - but before you do, here's a quick clip from Pastor Cwirla's August 5th, 2008 visit to Issues, Etc.:


Reflections on the Issues, Etc. Cancellation One Year Later

The Issues, Etc. “incident” of March 18, 2008 was a perfect demonstration of institutionalism in action. All human institutions, no matter how benevolent their purpose or well-intentioned the people behind them, are beastly in character. By beastly, I do not necessarily mean bad, just wild - untamable, undomesticated, and potentially dangerous, always needing to be caged by checks and balances.

Institutions are legal fictions, created to bring people together for a common purpose. In a sense, they are nearly inevitable. Where two or three are gathered, there will almost always be an institution of some sort. Being man-made legal fictions, they tend to take on a perpetual life of their own, refusing to die at any cost and becoming self-protective and self-promoting. Just look our government’s futile attempts to bail out failed institutions today. Institutional authority in the hands of fallen men easily turns into power to control, hence the “beastly” character. The old Adam is a control freak.

The case of Issues, Etc. revealed the beastly side of the Lutheran Church MIssouri Synod, what has come to be dubbed “LCMS, Inc.” As a federation of like-minded congregations and pastors, the LCMS is a relatively benign advisory body whose purpose is to maintain a recognizable measure of confessional uniformity in doctrine and practice and do the common heavy lifting of running seminaries. But as an institution with property, pensions, and financial holdings as well as a matrix of standing boards and committees, LCMS, Inc. is a left-handed, wild thing with all the inherent institutional beastliness.

Black Tuesday

In what is the irony of ironies, while Todd and Jeff were being handed their pink slips over at the International Center (the headquarters of the LCMS) by someone from Human Resources one year ago today, someone from the International Center was over at KFUO-AM giving an interview. That someone was Gerald Kieschnick, the President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Here's a little of what President Kieschnick had to say that day. After you've read it, listen closely to the following audio clip of Pastor Wilken. Are their two comments related?

I see congregations who are packing the pews, to use your words. As congregations who take seriously their responsibility to communicate the Gospel in a language that people in our country can understand, and to which they can relate. Some of them use so-called contemporary worship, some of them use so-called traditional worship. All of those congregations who are packing the pews are doing worship and other activities, other ministries in the congregation and in the community in a way which is well done. Quality. They pay special attention to the details that go into a worship service, planning and actually implementing. And that takes time. That takes energy. That takes effort. That takes expertise. So the congregations that are packing the pews, to use your words, are those congregations that take seriously their responsibility, and the privilege they have to reach people, and to impact people with the Gospel...

The above graphic made its debut on the House, M. Div. blog shortly after the cancellation.

The CAnniversaryTM Celebration, Day 4

Welcome to Day 4!

It was one year ago today that Issues, Etc. was canceled. The above graphic appeared on Paul's page on The Wittenberg Trail, and captured at least one of the feelings that many of us shared. Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz were fired, on the spot. It was Tuesday of Holy Week - now not so affectionately known as Black Tuesday. Here's your pink slip. Oh, and by the way, have a blessed Holy Week.

The major airline I work for decided to lay people off a couple of decades ago, and they informed those people on Christmas Eve that they were going to be without a job. Merry Christmas. People still talk about the company's heartless behavior twenty years later. You might expect such behavior from a Godless corporation, but from a synod? As we'll see in Pastor Cwirla's remarks, it's hard to tame the beast.

Coming up Thursday: Guest Blogger Chris Rosebrough

More guest introductions:

Today's treats, including a soundbite of Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, plus Todd and Jeff:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mystery Guest Blogger Frank Gillespie

Frank. He’s our mystery blogger, although he won’t be a mystery to most of you. He’s the LCMS’s official Chief of Volunteer Fireman, and the author of the blog Putting Out the Fire. Pastor Tim Rossow dubbed Frank the “satirical southerner,” the “southerner” part of that name coming from Frank’s place of residence, the “haut south.” I’m not sure what “haut” means, but it sounds exotic.

The “satirical” part of Frank’s nickname comes from his blog posts. Frank has a habit of putting out Ablaze! fires with cold baptismal water, as his logo indicates. He seems to think there’s something that’s just not quite right with the whole Ablaze! “movement.” I think he’s right.

My friendship with Frank was forged in the fire of the Issues, Etc. cancellation. I’d seen his blog long before then, but got to know him through our sometimes rapid fire email conversations. One of my favorite blog posts was my short post on The Wittenberg Trail dissing Frank for admitting to wearing an Ablaze! bracelet, which was titled “A Shocking, Frank, Unrepentant Admission.” That post resulted in a storm of comments and a follow-on mock war of blog posts.

Behind the firefighter’s visored helmet and heavy nomex uniform is a guy who’s a bit like you and me – he’s picked up a lot from Issues, Etc. over the years and was hit hard when it was canceled. Here’s what Frank has to say:

When Issues, Etc. was canceled a year ago many of us had trouble picking our jaws up off the floor. We just couldn’t wrap our heads around why, when reaching out to those who would listen is the order of the day, anyone in their right mind would cancel such a great program. Myself, I was concerned that I’d lost forever something that had helped me make the transition from an enthusiastic new Christian who knew nothing about what or why he believed what he believed to being a Confessional Lutheran.

I had left the faith for fifteen long years for reasons that don’t need to be reviewed here. From the time I was a teenager I was a declared, chip on his shoulder, I’m gonna prove everybody wrong, card carrying atheist. I had left a seeker sensitive Lutheran church that didn’t bother to teach or catechize its members when I was only a teen. At the time, I had no idea Dr. Luther even wrote teaching materials such as the Small Catechism and only knew of him as a historical figure from public schools. Needless to say, my knowledge of what Christianity and the Church was and who was her Head, was sadly lacking.

When I did return to the faith that was promised at my baptism, I was fortunate enough that my wife Laura had already found a faithful church home for the both of us. It was there at that welcoming parish that I was properly catechized and had many patient people help me make the difficult transition of thinking that we just need to do something for Jesus to being able to distinguish Law and Gospel and looking to Christ alone for my salvation. It was one of those patient people that suggested that I listen to Issues, Etc. to further my ongoing catechesis.

The CAnniversaryTM Celebration, Day 3

Welcome to Day 3!

Tomorrow's guest blogger: Pastor Bill Cwirla

Today's guest introductions:

Today's treats include some sweet bump music, a clip of Dr. Louis Brighton, "outtakes," and more:

Todays Issues, Etc. trivia question:

Which Issues, Etc. guest told Pastor Wilken he was wrong, and that he wasn’t Christ motivated or guided? Here's an audio hint:

Click on "Continue Reading>>" for the answer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Guest Blogger Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

Rosenbladt. There’s a name that brings a smile to my face. Dr. Rod Rosenbladt is Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Apologetics at Concordia University in Irvine. That sounds a little intimidating doesn’t it? I picture a stereotypical “delicate-genius” sort of guy with really thick glasses and an inability to communicate with the poor slob who lives across the backyard fence, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Most of you already know what I’m talking about, but if you’ve missed Dr. Rosenbladt so far, check out his February appearance on Issues, Etc. discussing repentance, or his series last September on the Solas. You can also catch him on the national Christian apologetics radio program The White Horse Inn, where he’s one of the Co-Hosts.

One of my friends had Dr. Rosenbladt over to speak to a group of us a few years back. After the dust had settled and most people had headed home, one of the attendees remarked that Rod was “a little rough around the edges.” Exactly! I don’t want some stuffy pious sounding highbrow snob teaching me theology, I want somebody who’s actually been down in the trenches, drinking the muddy water that’s pooled in the low spots. Somebody who’s a real live sinner. Rod isn’t afraid to use the vernacular to make a point - in that regard he’s a lot like Luther, and is a master at teaching Lutheran theology in an easy to understand way.

So why does “Rosenbladt” bring a smile to my face. Certainly, what he teaches should bring a smile to anybody’s face, but there’s more to it than that. He’s also got a dry sense of humor that matches my own, which draws me like a skeeter to a bug zapper. My email conversations with Rod are entertaining all by themselves, even when they weren’t intended to be. What could be better, theology and humor all rolled into one! God is good.

I guess I should stop talking now. It’s a little embarrassing when the intro rivals the guest blogger’s target post length.

Here's Dr. Rosendbladt:

Congratulations to Issues, Etc. for this benchmark.

What is the strength of Issues? Very simple, I think. Issues presents the theology of “old Missouri,” the theology of Missouri’s grandfathers, to 25-yr. olds! Theology done by Scripture verses, and in particular, Scriptures about the Bible’s “Grand Story,” C.S. Lewis’ “The Grand Miracle” and Dorothy Sayers’ “greatest plotline in all of human history.” Put even more simply, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45) Or “But to him who does not work, but believes in the One who justifies the wicked, his faith is reckoned to him as if it were righteousness.” (Rom. 4:5)

The CAnniversaryTM Celebration, Day 2

Welcome to Day 2.

Here's today's intros for various Issues, Etc. guests:

Today's treats include bump music, a clip of Uwe Siemon-Netto, "outtakes," and more:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

The following post originally ran on Pastor Wil Weedon's Blog, shortly after the cancellation of Issues, Etc. Written by Mark Dowell, it does a great job of summarizing what Issues, Etc. has taught us, and offers a very fitting conclusion.

Each day this week I'll be offering a few clips of various guests being introduced on the show. Here's today's installment:

I'll also have a daily treat of sound bites. Today's collection includes bump music from the original show, a clip of Dr. Nagel, "outtakes," and several clips from Pastor Wilken:

Tomorrow's guest blogger: Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

A Tribute: What Have We Learned from Issues, Etc.?

We were taught not be ashamed of the Gospel “for it is the power of God.”

We learned that good sermons teach the truths of God faithfully and clearly. Listening to Christ-Centered, Cross-focused sermons from Rev. Bill Cwirla, Rev. Will Weedon, and Dr. David Scaer were favored by all. When we applied the sermon diagnostic tool to the Christ-less sermons so prevalent today we were appalled.

We now know what we believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans because of Dr. Lawrence White, Dr. Karl Barth, Rev. Peter Bender and Dr. Ken Schurb who provided catechetical instruction grounded in God’s Word.

Welcome to the Issues, Etc. One Year CAnniversaryTM

Where were you, and what were you doing on 9/11, the day the Twin Towers collapsed in a heap of twisted metal? You remember don’t you? Similarly, many of us remember where we were and what we were doing on the day that Issues, Etc. was silenced. Those moments are seared into our collective consciousness. Unlike 9/11 however, on Black Tuesday we couldn’t turn on the TV and see the story unfold. We were never reassured by a confident and caring President standing at ground zero, putting his arm around us and saying “Thank you for your hard work.” We could only wonder and fret, pray and console one another as our Holy Week meditation was interrupted by such unwelcome news. Of course, as time passed, all sorts of things were said and postulated as to why the show was canceled. Explanations were proffered, charts plotted, blogs born, radio shows spawned, and mutual tears shed. There were Purple Palace protests, petitions, and a posturing Council of Presidents utterance. There was even a new theological term introduced – the 4th Use of the Law. There were articles in national publications that rightfully splattered egg all over the face of the LCMS, and official LCMS responses. Yet happier times have prevailed.

This week on Stand Firm, we’ll relive some of those feelings, not to rant and rave about the cancellation of the show, but to celebrate its return and new found freedom. In some ways, its been a hard won freedom, but our real freedom wasn’t won by carrying signs or signing petitions, by soldering wires or sending emails. Our real freedom was won by Jesus Christ on a cross. So we celebrate twin freedoms really, our freedom of speech and our freedom in Christ to receive His gifts and serve our neighbor, and to proclaim His truths. We celebrate the freedom of the Issues, Etc. crew to forevermore proclaim the Gospel boldly, without encumbrance, as they should.

I emailed one of my friends a graphic. It was a photo of the Hogan’s Heros cast – Hogan with his smirky smile, Colonel Klink with his monocle, and Sergeant Schultz with his beer belly. Accompanying them was a simple caption which read “Where’s My Issues, Etc?” His response on seeing the graphic was “Wow. That pic brought back some memories.” That’s what I’d like to do this week, bring back some memories. March 18th is the one year anniversary of the cancellation of Issues, Etc. and the firing of Host Pastor Todd Wilken and Producer Jeff Schwarz – what I’m calling the CAnniversaryTM, since they both got canned. As the week unfolds we’ll share sights and sounds that will indeed “bring back some memories.” And better yet, I’m going to drift into the shadows and let my guest bloggers have a shot at it.