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Game of Thrones: “The Righteous Perisheth”

Sandor-Clegane-il-Mastino“Why Cheaters Never Lose In The Game of Thrones.”

An interesting reflection on the failure of theologies of glory reflected in Game of Thrones.  “No, Lord, this will never happen to you!”  Peter said it to Jesus.  How could the Righteous One be killed as a curse?  And we keep thinking the same way.  If we’re good, things will go well for us in the end.

And in Game of Thrones, like the real world, that doesn’t happen.  Everyone’s rooting for Ned Stark, and then suddenly he gets his head cut off.

http://www.mbird.com/2013/06/the-rains-of-castamere-why-were-we-surprised/

Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord has commanded it?

Is it not from the mouth of the most High that good and bad come? 

Why should a living man complain,

a man, about the punishment of his sins?

Let us test and examine our ways,

and return to the Lord!

Lamentations 3:37-40

The Father is Well Pleased with the Cross of Jesus. Transfiguration/ Life Sunday Sermon

January 20, 2013 1 comment

P1000266Transfiguration Sunday [Life Sunday]

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 17:1-9

January 20, 2013

“The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross”

 

Jesus

 

[The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross.

  1. 1.        We are pleased with our work and think it brings life.
  2. 2.       The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it does bring life to you.]

 

“I was single, living with some friends, had a good job, and was having a good time. Having a baby just wasn’t in the cards. I told the father, and he said he had no intention of marrying me. He made his intentions quite clear right from the get-go. I had no desire to marry him either. I didn’t think a child was the right reason to get married. He said he’d pay for an abortion. Adoption was, quite truthfully, not an option I ever considered…At the time I thought that I could never give a child up, but now I look back and wonder how I could have done what I did. Giving it up would have been so much better. I didn’t really think of this as being a little person. It was a purely selfish decision. All I thought was, “What am I going to do now? This is a problem, and I have to take care of it.” I went to the doctor, and he suggested a clinic. It all happened so quickly. Looking back, I didn’t agonize. I had to make a decision; something had to be done.”

 

Those words come from a collection of stories told by women who have had an abortion, and you can find them at the top of the bulletin.  Further on the same woman explains how she has tried to deal with the regret and guilt that came to her later as she looked at the children God gave her in her marriage, wondering whether the child she aborted would have been a boy or a girl, whether the child is in heaven.  “I just don’t think about things that trouble me.  I push them down.” 

 

She goes on to describe what she thinks about God’s forgiveness: “I hear the pastor saying that it doesn’t matter how great our sins are, that God forgives us.  But I think, ‘But mine are really bad.’  I guess I believe that my sins are forgiven, but a lot of times I have a lot of trouble feeling that they are forgiven.”

 

There will be people hearing this sermon who have had an abortion or paid for a woman to have one.  Others have been involved in other sins against God’s gift of life.  They should hear at the outset of the sermon, now: God put away your sin on the cross of Jesus.  Don’t despair.  Listen to God’s beloved Son who says “Do not be afraid.”

 

Others know someone who has had an abortion.  And there are those who do not.  Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of legal abortion in the United States, but it has been done in this country for much longer than that. 

 

Regardless, the confession of this woman is not only her confession, and not only the confession of people who have had an abortion.  St. Peter could relate with it.  Like her, he also followed the wisdom of his flesh, called God’s work “bad” and tried to replace it with his own work.  Like her he also tried to gain life for himself in his own way, apart from God’s word.  He also fell into grave sin and would have despaired if Jesus had not restored him with His absolution.

 

 

What was true of Peter is true of all of us.  Apart from the Holy Spirit

  1. 1.        We are pleased with our work and think it brings life, but
  2. 2.       the Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it truly brings life to you.

Read more…

In Memoriam + Mildred F. “The Desires of Thine Heart”

December 11, 2012 2 comments

Der-Auferstandene_1558In Memoriam + Mildred  (Sept. 3, 1912-December 7, 2012)

C H S Funeral Home

Psalm 37:4, Isaiah 57 (1-2, 14-15), Philippians 1: (20-23), St. Luke 2 (25-32)

December 11, 2012

 

Alberta, Diane, and all of Mildred’s flesh and blood, who allow us to add our tears and our joy to yours,

 

You members of St. Peter Church, who have been Mildred’s co-workers in Christ during these years of her pilgrimage, with whom I have been allowed to walk for a short time,

 

And everyone here today who gives thanks to God for the life of Mildred, in whom He showed us His grace and kindness, and His eagerness to bless us richly without asking about our worthiness or our faults;

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

God’s word for our comfort this morning is drawn from all three of the readings, but in particular this verse which was given to Mildred at her confirmation in 1926:

 

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

 

1.        The desires of the heart of unbelievers and the sinful flesh

A.  Unbelievers want

            i.  Happiness, comfort, success, family

            ii.  They want to live in order to pursue these pleasures.  When they can no longer get them

                 they no longer want to live.

 

B.  Christians may desire all these things also.

           i.   But they don’t always get them.

           

                        a. Most women want children—Mildred had none.

                        b. She was poor and a widow for many years.

 

C.  Christians desire above these things to serve Jesus and do His will; that “Christ be glorified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

             i. And the flesh of Christians constantly battles against this desire of the Holy Spirit.

ii.  Through affliction we learn to love Christ and the forgiveness of sins through HIs blood more than the

desires and will of our flesh.

Read more…

Great in the World and Great in the Kingdom of God

August 30, 2012 9 comments

Martyrdom of John the Baptist (observed)/ Altar Guild Opening Service

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Mark 6:14-29

August 30, 2012

 

Dear sisters in Christ, fellow servants of our Lord who was crucified for us:

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

 

Yesterday, August 29th, was the festival day of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.  As I’ve said before, originally Lutherans kept the saints’ days for the purpose of teaching how people in the past lived the life of faith in Christ.  What they got rid of was the invocation of the saints, the prayer to the saints.  In those days the idea was that the saints were spiritual giants that we could never hope to be.  So you went to them so that they would pray for you and ask God to give you grace. 

 

But as Lutherans, we don’t get off that easy.  We don’t get to have other people be saints for us.  We must become saints ourselves.  That’s why John’s martyrdom is such a useful story and example for us.  It shows us exactly what we are signing up for when we are baptized and confess faith in Jesus.  It shows what it means for us to receive Jesus’ body and blood.  To be a Christian is to receive salvation as a free gift through the death of Jesus, apart from our works.

 

And to be a Christian is also to die with Jesus Christ, to share in his rejection, as John did.

 

We have a clear picture of this in the gospel.  Consider the contrast between

 

            The great men and women of the world and

            Those who are great in the kingdom of God, men and women.

 

And also

            The feast of the world contrasted with

            The feast of Jesus. 

 

Who does Herod spend his life with?  Not with John the Baptist, a man of God who comes out of the wilderness and says, “Repent.”  He comes into contact with John, and for awhile he listens to John.  But that is not who his life is spent with. 

 

Herod’s life is among the powerful, among the beautiful, and among the wealthy.  The rich, leading men of Galilee—the foremost citizens.  Men who have operahouses named after them.  Among generals and officers.  Men who carry swords.  Killers.  Among lesser lords whom Herod has to control but also keep happy.

 

Herod lives among celebrities, but the world is also treacherous.  Powerful people, wealthy people, violent people—they have to be tough, clever, or smooth, or some combination of all of them.  It is a tough world in which to be honest.  It’s hard to be rich, powerful, or a successful warrior without knowing how to get what you want and forcefully pursuing it.  People trying to get power or wealth, men aiming at being successful fighters or soldiers—they don’t usually understand or respect the meek.  Meekness makes you a victim.

 

But in secret, Herod’s life in this world is thrown into an uproar by John the Baptist, who fearlessly says, “You are damned because you have married the woman who was one flesh with your brother.  Repent.”

 

He speaks with that kind of boldness to Herod, and calls Herod to kneel.  But not before him—before God.  Who speaks this way to a king?  Only someone crazy; or someone who really seeks nothing else than to speak the truth in the sight of God.

 

What about the great women of the world?  Like Herodias, they know how to get what they want.  This man, that man; but it’s not necessarily the man she wants but the man’s status and power.  And when a crazy, fundamentalist, bumpkin man of God comes and tells her husband, “You should not have married your wife.  You have incurred God’s wrath.  Repent”—Herodias’ eyes narrow.  This man must die because he interfered with her pursuit of happiness. 

 

And her daughter is growing up to be just like mom.  She’s learned to use her sexuality to control men and get what she wants.

 

And isn’t this how our daughters are being taught that they should live today?  And aren’t are sons taught to be Herods?  And if you’re not powerful, rich, violent, sexy, what good is your life?  If you don’t know how to get what you want, you’re a chump.  A lamb to the slaughter.

Small Passion: 16. Christ before Herod

Small Passion: 16. Christ before Herod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

But those who are great in the Kingdom of God are different.  In opposition to Herod, and his generals, and the rich men and nobles of Galilee, you have John the Baptist, John’s disciples, and the disciples of Jesus.

 

John does not seek glory in this world.  And he doesn’t get it.  He gets crowds of miserable, poor, wretched sinners who come to be baptized.  He gets the hatred of Herod’s wife. He gets prison, and in the end he gets neither love nor honor.  His wild man, hairy head is cut off and put on a plate and given to a teenage harlot.  He is hated and written off as demon-possessed by respectable, orthodox religious leaders as well as powerful, wealthy, ungodly rulers. 

 

And what about John’s disciples?  All these poor ragtag nobodies can do is take the headless body of John and bury it.  And mourn that once again the sheep are torn apart and the wolves are fat and sleek. 

 

Jesus’ disciples have it no better.  John’s story is recounted because Herod, addled and tormented with a guilty conscience that is unwilling to part with sin, hears about the miracles that Jesus’ disciples are doing and begins to think that God has raised John the Baptist from the dead.  You can see the terror with which John’s preaching burned Herod’s conscience. 

 

The disciples would like to think that their miracles, done by Jesus through them, mean that they will have a different outcome to their discipleship than John the Baptist did.  They do not want to listen to Jesus that He will be killed in shame, brutally humiliated and broken; they do not want to hear that the same fate awaits Jesus’ disciples. 

 

We don’t want to hear it either.  We are not able to accept it.

 

And what about the great women in the kingdom of God?  They were not loud and brash.  They did not use sex to manipulate men.  They served—Jesus and the disciples while they taught God’s Word.  They submitted.  They did not presume to teach and dominate men, as Eve had done.  They did not perfume themselves and make themselves up to own male attention and get their way.  They poured perfume on Jesus; they used their hair and their beauty in service to Jesus.  Even when Jesus was crucified, they tried to honor Jesus and in some way to show the great honor that was due to Him.  They loaded his body with expensive spices and ointments.  They were back early to do more to care for His body.  They were lowly; they served Christ and his disciples.  They put themselves in subjection.  Just as the world despises men who don’t know how to take what they want, and how to manipulate power, the world despises women who submit themselves to their husbands and who do not usurp authority over men.

 

Yet these women were great in the kingdom of God. 

 

What they did is also what you do.

 

Just as they cared for Jesus’ body even though no efforts of theirs could properly reveal His glory, so you prepare this earthly building so that it will in some way proclaim in our poor, weak way, something of the glory of Jesus.

 

Jesus was dead and laid in the tomb, yet they still lavished rich, expensive spices and perfumes on him to try to say, “Even as a dead man, this is the King and the Son of God.” 

 

Even though Jesus’ body and blood come to us in such a scorned and despised way, nevertheless your work proclaims—Jesus the Son of God is here in our midst in this church giving us salvation!

 

Let us compare briefly the feasts of the great people of this world, and the feast of Jesus Christ, the world’s true king.

 

People want church to be more like Herod’s party, with more people willing to come, especially more of the lords and great men of Galilee.  So even if we don’t put out caviar and fine wine and have the daughters of successful harlots shake it at the church’s feast, we do come up with things along the same lines.  Music that people like.  Sermons that are appealing to our world, which tend to be Americanized versions of the old rationalistic preaching in the Lutheran church in Germany that caused the true Lutherans to move to the US.  Then the pastors would come out and preach that God was the Father of us all and was willing to forgive everyone who tried to do what he knew was right; God didn’t really  need the bloody death of His Son to forgive us.  And they preached “useful” sermons, like modern farming techniques, or 5 steps to controlling your temper, or 3 to drinking less beer. 

 

That’s what church is, far too often, and it’s what we’ve come to expect out of church—it will be, like everything else, from the mall to fast food restaurants—a sensory experience designed in every way to appeal to your desires.  Like Herod’s feast, except with a religious spin, and the sex, drunkenness, and gluttony toned down. 

 

Herod’s feast is a display of earthly delights.  But you know that those delights often turn bitter in our mouths.  Neither wine, nor rich food, nor a much-sought after wife, nor the beauty of a young woman, can take away the horror and pain of a conscience that feels the weight of sin.  Herod is sorrowful about killing John because he knows he is committing grave sin—murdering the man who comes with God’s Word.

 

Earthly pleasures have their time and place.  But the feast of earthly pleasures that the great ones of this world struggle for—their pleasures last only for a time.

 

Christ’s feast is different.  Jesus is also a king, but His feast is not simply rich food and well refined wine.  He feeds us a different meal that also gives us joy.  But not the joy of wine, women, and song.  His joy is spiritual joy.  It is a sober joy, a joy that remembers that all of the pleasures of this world perish; Food for the stomach and the stomach for food; but God will destroy them both (1 Corinthians). 

 

At the feast of Herod the powerful come because they want something from Herod.  Herod needs to share the spoils of power and wealth with them.  But Herod needs their cooperation.  Everybody is at the earthly feast to get something.

At the feast of Jesus, we receive, but Jesus only gives.  In order to spread this feast for us He got only suffering from us; He took our sins and the fury of God’s wrath against them. 

 

Our participation in Jesus’ supper is a participation in His death, a communion in His death, in His pierced, crucified body, and His blood streaming down the tree to the earth. 

 

He participated in the righteous wrath of God against us—He bore it in our place.  He became a communicant in our sin, even though he did no sin and no deceit was found in His mouth.

 

We are communicants in His death—in His martyrdom.  That means we are responsible for it.  We are also redeemed by it. 

 

Now if on this earth we have constant sorrow and cross—and we are despised, and people walk away from the church, and they cast out my name or your name as evil, if even sometimes members of the church despise me or you—we are only receiving a little bit of what Jesus received, and His disciples received.  It is not success, beauty, power that makes you great in the kingdom of God—that is what makes you great at Herod’s feast. 

 

In Jesus’ kingdom, you are great when you believe in Jesus and you share in His suffering–in being despised, laughed at, or cast out as evil. 

 

But none of this comes from us.  John didn’t do it on his own.  It comes from eating the food at Jesus’ table—the Word of God.

 

Jesus alone by His suffering and death has saved you and brought you through the red sea of sin and death.  In Your Baptism all of that was poured out on You.  And as you eat and drink His body and blood the life that He gave for You strengthens the life of Christ within you, so that you do not faint and falter and lose the victory given to you in Baptism. 

 

Yes, when you, me, and this whole congregation come and receive Christ’s body and blood—we are participating in the eternal feast of Jesus’ wedding, that will go on forever—the feast of salvation.  The glory of that feast will completely put to shame the Herod-feasts that the world throws for itself. 

 

But when we come to this altar, we sit at this feast already, because Jesus gives all of himself to us now.  That is why it is a beautiful thing that like the women who anointed Jesus for burial, you show love and honor to His body and blood by caring for the altar. 

 

But the body of Jesus, for the women who buried Him, as also for us, does not really need us to care for it.  Jesus allows us to do so.  He accepts our service.  But it is really Him who has saved us by His death in the body.  It is really Him who works in us through His body and blood so that, with John the Baptist, we cling steadfastly to Jesus with a good conscience, and do not let the hatred of the world or its contempt make us lose heart, or forget that the feast of everlasting life is made open to us now.

 

May the Lord bless you as you work to keep the house in which that feast is celebrated among us beautiful.  But even more, may the Lord work in us through His body and blood, so that we are and remain His house, His temple, now by faith and forever in eternity.

 

Amen.

 

The peace of God, that surpasses understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

 

But it begins.

from “A Walk into the Valley”, the last sermon of Rev. Erdmann Frenk, pastor of St. Peter Luth. Church, Joliet, IL from 1932 (?) to 1970.

“Now David, who presumably is the author of Psalm 23 says that God, as our Good Shepherd, is with us at all times and is concerned about the welfare of our total being.  And because this is so, we have nothing to fear.  Even when we must enter that phase of life, that terminal of life, which traditionally is unnerving and terrifying, even there we have nothing to fear if the Lord is our Shepherd, indeed.

He uses the imagery of sheep entering a dark valley, halting, hesitating, doubly cautious.  He applies this to man and man’s descent into the valley of death.

This descent begins at the top.  It may be your kitchen, your bedroom, your workshop, your club, your automobile.  It begins in places where you have been hundreds of times before.  But it begins.

And it usually begins suddenly, unexpectedly.  I know from personal experience.  You just don’t know when the summons comes.  There are often no advance physical symptoms for the advancing storm.

When I use the word, “suddenly”, I do not want to imply that there was insufficient time for preparation for this descent.   But often they were neglected opportunities.  And never do we recognize and regret this neglect more than when we are called upon to being this descent.

Now this descent is disturbing and bewildering to say the least.  No one really faces death calmly.  Do not mistake the bold front.  Behind the mask of calmness there is remorse, regret, suppressed fear.  Jude in his book depicts the death of Moses in terms of conflict and struggle and I believe that this applies to every one of us.

Certainly this applies to me.  I was scared when I found it increasingly difficult to breathe and feared that the last choking breath might come at any time.  I feared the physical pains.  I agonized at the thought of leaving my family behind.  The burden of work in this congregation at the busiest time of the church year, and who would and could do it, lay heavily on mhy heart.  I thought of the hospital bill.  I thought of being confined for many months.  I was suspicious of every pain and shot.  I thought of facing God and judgment.  And oh, the joy of waking up from every nap or sleep knowing that I was still alive.  Beginning the descent into the valley was not an easy one.  It was not easy for me. I am sure it is not easy for others.”

Mother Kills Her Baby, Considers Prayers For Her “Threatening”

The world can’t be upside down forever? Where will people go when they get sick of having their hand held while they kill themselves? Probably not to the people who were holding their hands or doing something other than vigorously warning them.

Mundabor's Blog

You couldn’t make this up. 

A young Feminazi mother has the satanic idea of posting on the Internet material (allegedly) concerning the murder of her own baby.

The horror finds an echo on pro-life sites, and as a result the young she-Himmler starts to receive emails of various kind; many of them, no doubt, explaining to her in detail what kind of  person she is, and whereto she is headed. These she calls “hate mails” and up to here, we can call this ordinary liberal madness.

Where the liberal madness becomes extraordinary is in the following affirmation of the young Nazi murderer, here given in the context of the interview. Emphases mine:

She noted the content of numerous “hate” e-mails was some variant of the message: “Maybe you do not know God or that abortion is a sin? Praying for you!”

Even hearing that someone is ‘praying for me,’…

View original post 141 more words

Prayer for the First Sunday after Trinity

May 30, 2012 2 comments

Gospel for the First Sunday after Trinity:  St. Luke 16: 19-31 http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Lk16.19-31

A prayer on the First Sunday after Trinity:

Lord God, heavenly Father!  We pray You to lead and rule our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, so that we would not hear Your blessed Word like the rich man, and bear no fruit, nor handle earthly goods so as to forget those that are eternal.  Instead, grant that we help the poor gladly and with mildness, according to our means, and not sin through haughtiness and extravagant living.  And where we ourselves are afflicted with the cross and misfortune, grant us not to despair, but to set all our hope on Your constant assistance and grace, and by patient endurance to overcome it all.  Amen. 

Johann Eichhorn (c. 1518-1564)
from Ev. Luth. Gebets-Schatz

Martin Luther’s Ambassador: An Unclean Frog Spirit

April 27, 2012 3 comments

Martin Luther's face and hands cast at his death.

Martin Luther's face and hands cast at his death. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 

Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.  Revelation 16:13-15

So….the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) has created a new office of “ambassador”…and it appears that one of the chief tasks of the ambassador will be to practice diplomacy on behalf of Martin Luther to the postmodern west.  God knows, Luther would really need it, were he living.  He would have many things to say, but I can only imagine what he would say at the thought of a lady in preaching tabs trying to salvage his legacy by saying, “In spite of his hatred of Jews, his support of the slaughter of the proletariat during the Peasant’s Revolt, and his backward attitude towards women, he’s still a role model.”  (Yes, that’s what she said.  Use google translate and you’ll get the gist of it.  http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/luther-botschafterin-margot-kaessmanns-thesenanschlag-11731642.html )

Oh, and did I mention this was the lady who resigned as chairperson of the EKD a couple of years ago after she was arrested for driving while falling-down drunk?

Yep.  Margot Kaessmann.  The writer of the article, it appears (with my limited German), is decrying the hypocrisy of the EKD in creating the new office for the woman who recently resigned.  He notes the irony of a priestess who serves at the altar of the gods of modern, tolerant, multicultural europe–and, considering her disgrace, the service of those idols has not been unprofitable for her–now serving as ambassador for the man who said, “Here I stand.  I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen.”–and went on to live the rest of his life under a death sentence.  And what was his crime?  Fidelity to Christ crucified, to the Triune God.  Standing by faith on the Scripture as God’s Word, not taking refuge in the authority of the Pope or the Magisterium or the councils or the Fathers, but clinging to Scripture against his conscience and the devil, against the terror of hell, and against all the power of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.  Luther risked his life and his soul to believe and confess and teach that a man is justified by faith alone without works of law (Rom. 3:28). 

The first and chief article is this, That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4,25.  And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6.  Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom. 3, 23 f.

Now since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us…

Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink into ruin.  For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12…And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practise in opposition to the Pope. the devil, and the whole world.  Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and the devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.

Yes.  And what has Margot Kaessmann risked for her gospel?  That is to say, her priestly service at the altars of feminism, tolerance, political correctness, and the other regnant gods in the west?

Well, she got hammered and resigned, and has kept busy with gigs teaching theology.  And now she’s Luther’s ambassador at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Now,  God bless Ms. Kaessmann and be merciful to her.  I have no pleasure in her being disgraced in public and struggling with alcohol and the attendant personal pain she’s no doubt has.  If I was anybody famous, it could be me whose name was on the front pages in 2010.  I sin, and even if I’m not getting drunk and driving today, it would not be surprising if I fell into sin.

However, making her the ambassador for the Reformation is ludicrous.

First of all, even people who don’t care about Christianity at all can see the lack of dignity in this.  Apparently this is a trait of German pseudo Lutherans as well as American ones.  The lady suffered public disgrace, and now you make her the spokesman for the Reformation on its 500th anniversary?  Are you kidding?  Christians are supposed to endure disgrace–that’s the theology of the cross.  But the theology of the cross does not invite you to disgrace yourself by sin and then parade it in front of the world and say you’re glorying in the cross.  “If you sin and suffer for it, what credit is that to you?  But if you do good and suffer patiently, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you were called, because Christ also left you an example, that you might follow in His steps.  He committed no sin, neither was any deceit found in His mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.”  (1 Peter 2)

That’s number 1.  Number 2: Luther’s “Ambassador” is actually obscuring what Luther preached and what the Reformation was about.  The thesenanschlag (I learned a new word today)–what we Americans refer to as the “nailing of the 95 theses”–turned the world upside down.  What was such a big deal about it?  Was it that, since we’re justified by faith alone apart from works, we no longer have to worry about sin?  That was what the papists smeared the Lutherans with at the time of the reformation–that the doctrine of justification taught by Luther would lead to moral laxity and would undermine social order.  There would no longer be clergy and laity, public worship would become anarchic and undignified, etc.

Well, what the Papists smeared Lutherans with, claiming it was their teaching,now actually is the teaching of mainline Lutherans–or rather, those churches that still call themselves Lutheran even though they have given up the Lutheran confession and united with the reformed. Actually now the Lutherans think that the doctrine of justification means, as Bonhoeffer said, “the justification of sin instead of the justification of the sinner.”

Unfortunately, what this means for Luther’s memory, those who want to still believe and confess his doctrine, and the witness of the Reformation is that on the 500th anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the Wittenberg door, the world will be receiving a false witness concerning Luther, the Gospel, and the Reformation.

Why did the Reformation happen?  It happened because the Holy Spirit saw fit to restore the Church at that time and place, ultimately; but it didn’t happen to make it safe to sin, nor to undermine the Pope’s political authority.  Those were, perhaps, effects of the Reformation, but not its reason.

The Reformation occurred because the Word of God was proclaimed, which declares not that sin is no big deal, but instead that it is an incredibly big deal, so big that God will not allow the smallest sinful impulse to go unpunished, but in His justice He will reward with His undiluted wrath all ungodliness, and that no amount of human striving can free us from this wrath.  This was the first part of Reformation preaching, which made clear what the Law of God actually says–that no amount of human activity can deliver us from God’s wrath, because God is just.

But the second part changed Luther, and Germany, and Scandinavia, and broke the Pope’s chokehold on France and the low countries and Britain; it made it so that the Americas and Africa were also not locked up in the darkness of a false gospel with no light permitted to enter (at least, not by the church’s hierarchy), as Europe had been.

That was the Gospel–that on account of Christ’s agony and death, God counts as righteous all who believe that they are received into favor for Jesus’ sake.  God has laid the sins of the world and His inescapable wrath on His Son, and through Him declares the full forgiveness of sins–and we receive this grace of Christ not by working and striving, but as a gift, when we believe what the Gospel declares–that He suffered for us and our sins are forgiven on account of His blood.

This good news doesn’t free us to live immoral lives, because no one who believes that their sins have been forgiven at the cost of the suffering of God’s own son, and who believes in the great, passionate love that Christ has for him–no one who believes that wants to go out and purposely trample on Jesus’ blood and crucify Him again.

That’s why Luther, later on in the reformation, fought vigorously against Lutheran preachers who eradicated the law from their preaching, saying that the law should no longer be preached, but only the love of Christ, and that people should be moved to repentance not by God’s threats but by the love of Christ revealed on the cross.

What Luther fought against–antinomianism–is now going to be paraded about in 2017 as Luther’s gospel.  That’s what makes this whole thing a frightening blasphemy, bordering on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Let me close by painting a picture in broad strokes:

What is left of Christianity in the West in 2012?  Rome.

The heirs of revivalists and pietists–but they are floundering, trying to find something more substantial to stand on than emotion and evangelistic zeal and appropriation of American consumer culture.  Sadly, when they start floundering, they usually find Calvin–and through him some connection with the church fathers and with sola gratia and sola fide.  But Calvin is not the pure gospel.  Perhaps he’s an improvement on Arminianism–but it was the flaws of Calvinism that led to the spread of Arminian theology in America anyway.  If your assurance of salvation is located in your sanctification, or your experience of the new birth–no wonder if tormented sinners who have no assurance that they are elect look for comfort in the idea that they can choose to be saved.

The vast majority of the rest of protestantism is looking increasingly like Unitarian Universalism.  There are some confessional Calvinist enclaves.  There are also some confessional Lutheran enclaves, but either we don’t get out much, or we still don’t speak English well.  One way or the other the Lutheran Confession–the pure Gospel, the authentic evangelicalism–is mostly unknown as a living faith and a living church.  To many people it’s just one more religious movement whose dogmas are locked away in old books in libraries that only experts and scholars visits.  To most people it’s simply unknown.

So what happens when, in 1 or 2 or 3, or 5 generations the West’s moral rot finally leads to cultural exhaustion?

We can’t be that far from that now.  Human beings can’t fornicate and sodomize and look for heaven in food and consumer products thforever.  Eventually cultures like ours that believe in nothing don’t have the energy or the heart to fight the barbarians.  They end up convincing themselves that even though the barbarians rape, murder their children, enslave, and plunder, it’s probably bigoted of us to think our values are better than theirs.

But the kids who grow up seeing society fall apart and who lose their birthright have a different outlook.  They have forced upon their consciousness things that their parents really knew but convinced themselves that they didn’t–things like–you can’t just sleep with whoever you want, because without stable families and without ordered relationships between the sexes, society crumbles.  Things like: there is a moral law, and it’s not forever unclear and uncertain.  And the reason there’s a moral law is that there is a God who created the earth and who cares whether or not we live according to the law.

Kids who watch society collapse suddenly have to get honest about these things that we already knew.  And when they do, religion won’t seem foolish to them–unless it’s the kind of religion that lied to them and their parents and never bothered to tell them that God hates sin and punishes it in this world and the next, and that He brings judgment on nations that become sclerotic in their rebellion against Him and His law.

Nope, they won’t listen to lying “Lutheran” preachers, and they probably won’t listen to any Christians who even seem similar.  They’ll probably be so disgusted with the lying preachers who did not sound the alarm and tell the truth that they won’t want anything to do with the real Luther either.

And that will leave…Rome.  Or Islam.

So anyone who wants Jesus but knows that antinomianism is a lie will be all set up for Rome.  And people will have forgotten why the Reformation happened.

That’s why it’s not just ironic or sad that this is what the EKD is doing to celebrate the Reformation.  But it is in reality a fulfillment of the words of St. John’s Revelation quoted above.

The dragon (the devil), the beast (the Roman empire, or its descendants), and the false prophet (the Antichrist) have unclean spirits come out of their mouths, and they go out to deceive the nations and the kings of the earth, and gather everyone together for the battle against Christ.  That is what is happening when the world is deceived into rejecting the Gospel.

Right now we think the worst thing that’s happening is the dechristianization of the west.  It’s true that when the communists in Russia and China killed and imprisoned Christians and made the church go underground, that was the work of antichrist.  And in those countries where Islam beat the church into submission, not allowing them to proclaim the Gospel to their neighbors–that was also the work of the spirit of antichrist.  And now, to have the state churches of Christendom apostasize, and formerly Christian nations willingly living like atheists–that is also a very bad thing.

But there is something worse.  Much worse.  That is what the Reformation was about.

Worst is when you have a whole continent where the Church is everywhere, where images of Christ crucified are everywhere, where the Holy Trinity is confessed and people are baptized and the Scriptures are read and Christ’s body and blood is even eaten and drunk–but the Gospel is hidden; the saving knowledge of Christ is not preached, and if anyone tries to preach it they are killed and branded an enemy of Jesus.

In that case, the devil’s false prophet has taken his seat in the temple of God, in the Holy Place, and has proclaimed himself God, arrogating to himself the right to contradict God’s Word and displace Christ as the head of the Church.

That is what the antichrist does–and Luther knew who the antichrist was.  If the antichrist went into a Jewish temple or simply attacked the church from outside it would be easy to recognize him.  What is so awful about the real antichrist is that he looks like a Christian.

Rome is shaping up to look like the only ones who have managed to hold the fort on the only things unbelievers are able to grasp–that is, morality.  Note how when the ELCA permitted union with the reformed, or tolerated those who denied the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus or the atonement, there was no huge vote and the church didn’t split.  What made the church split?  Homosexuality.  Unbelievers can tolerate idolatry and waffling on Christian doctrine (I’m not saying that all ELCA folk are unbelievers…what I am saying is that the majority of people in most denominations are weak in faith and usually still think according to the wisdom of the flesh, which does not understand why faith in Christ is important but does understand works.)  But even unbelievers know that if there’s one place a line should be drawn in the church, even if we give up all the others, it’s probably homosexuality.  Didn’t God send fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah?

So the Lutherans are the ones who are okay with homosexuality.  But the Catholics?  They publicly have held the line there–and about abortion, contraception.  They end up looking far more Christian than mainline protestants.

But the problem is that the catholic church, which emphasizes holiness and proclaims the mystery of the incarnation and death of the Son of God with more awareness of its depths than the Lutherans–denies Christ by making Him a lawgiver but not our only righteousness, our only mediator.

Detail of: Portrait of Pope Leo X and his cous...

Detail of: Portrait of Pope Leo X and his cousins, cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luigi de' Rossi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is why Luther knew the Pope was the antichrist.  Because from the very heart of the church of God and looking like a lamb, the papacy enslaves and murders souls.

In Luther’s day the Pope ruled the whole of western Christendom.  But for the last five hundred years his total control has been broken.  Even though in reformed nations a perverted form of the Gospel was preached, the deception that the pope was the head of the Church by divine right was broken over about half of Europe–and then in the US, and through protestant missionaries a Christian church independent of the antichrist spread throughout the world.

And as a result, many of the things that the antichrist “prophesied” came true.  Popes prophesied that the doctrine of justification and the loss of the papacy would lead to lawlessness.  They were right.  If the pope still dominated the consciences of the west, Hitler would never have happened.  Communism wouldn’t have happened.  The kings might have grappled with the Pope, as they did throughout medieval history…but they couldn’t get free of him, even if they wanted to, because if the pope put the country under the interdict the king could be certain that he would lose his throne.  That’s what happened when people feared the pope’s authority and believed that he had absolute authority over the church (and the authority to command kings and to release their subjects from obedience to them).

If the papacy had remained unchallenged, we wouldn’t have seen the “secularization” of the west either.  Because the pope enforced outward submission to the Church by force.  When that compulsion was broken–just as he predicted–many people now used the freedom as an opportunity to be the godless people they already were in their hearts.

The problem is that the pope’s compulsion was not the Kingdom of Christ.  Because Christ does not make people behave by force.  In His Kingdom people become obedient and live holy lives because they are willing, because they are new creatures, and the Holy Spirit compels them to do good works and to resist sin.

So yes, when the Gospel was preached and it broke the Pope’s chokehold on Christendom, it also freed people to be godless and to reject Christ.  But it was worse under the papacy.  Because then, in the name of Christ, people were forced to give a certain outward allegiance to Christ.  But at the same time they were kept from Christ and Christ was kept from them.  Because the pope condemned to earthly death anyone who preached the good news of Jesus as written in Scripture, and he threatened anyone who departed from his authority with damnation.

Have you ever noticed how so many people who are lifelong catholics–who may barely practice it at all, or who may be disgusted with it, or who may have embraced some form of protestant theology–how hard it is for them to leave Rome?  It’s because just about anything can be permitted in the realm of antichrist–except rejecting the authority of the antichrist and what he calls the “church”.

The lying spirits in protestantism don’t look like fools because they’re all stupid.  The devil makes sport of them.  He enjoys this because he is still angry that the Gospel arose and dealt a mortal wound to the antichrist’s kingdom, so it’s fun for him to make a joke out of those who bear the name of Luther.  But more importantly this mockery and apostasy within protestantism prepares people to be deceived by the antichrist.

May God have mercy on all pastors who have departed from the Gospel; on the EKD and Ms. Kaessmann, and on all those who are presently deceived by lying pastors or a false gospel, or who are imprisoned by the antichrist.  And to spite the devil and for the sake of His mercy, may Christ grant again that His pure Gospel be heard loudly and clearly and unmistakeably throughout the world once more before He comes to judge the living and the dead.

Luther at 34--my age. If only he was alive to tell us what he thinks about a lady in a preaching gown as his ambassador.

“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor. For when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”

–Martin Luther, Off the Record With Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks, trans. and ed. Charles Daudert (Kalamazoo, MI: Hansa-Hewlett, 2009), entry no. 2410b, p. 110.

ht: http://tollelege.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/i-must-be-angry-by-martin-luther/

Father, Forgive them, For They Know Not

April 7, 2012 1 comment

Good Friday—Tenebrae vespers

St. Peter Lutheran Church

The seven last words of Jesus

April 6, 2012

 

The first.  “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”

 

To bear witness to the truth is to suffer.  To serve as a priest is to make the sins of others your own and to go on their behalf before God who is displeased.

 

Jesus, our God, holy and mighty, is being killed by us.  And as He allows us our rage, our “righteous wrath”, as He allows us to inflict injury on Him, our God, He prays for us.  He pleads.  “They don’t know what they’re doing.  Forgive them.  They don’t know.”

 

If you could get a mother who harmed her child to speak honestly with you and bare her pain, she would say, “Oh God, I didn’t know what I was doing.”  I didn’t see how my behavior changed because of my addiction and how I hurt them.  I didn’t realize what I was doing to my baby; all I knew was that I was scared.

 

If we become aware that we have sinned against God’s church, it is the same.  “I didn’t know!” 

 

On judgment day many we will realize how all of our actions were actions toward Jesus.  When our brothers in the Church are in need and we say, “I don’t have time, I don’t have energy, I don’t want to take the risk,” it is Jesus we are saying that about…Jesus who is being crucified.  We didn’t know, the Roman soldiers will say, that we were nailing God to the cross.

 

I didn’t know that all my harsh words, all the cruel things I said and thought that I felt justified about because of the injuries against me—I didn’t know that I was doing violence to Jesus.

 

But we are.  If Jesus had not put Himself in the position for us to harm Him God would have crushed us for all our “justified” sins.

 

So let us no longer say, “I didn’t know,” but look at what you have been doing.  And then you will see that Jesus is not angry with you for what you have done.  He has been praying for your forgiveness.

 

See Jesus, Your God, suffering Your wrath and praying for you.  Seeing this makes you a priest who understands what it is to be a sinner, and a witness to such sinners of God’s salvation.  Seeing His priesthood—His praying for you while you attack Him?  It changes everything. 

It makes you no longer God, no longer Caesar, no longer Pilate, condemned to flog and crucify Jesus to save his own marginal life.  No longer a soldier killing and robbing under the cloak of the law.  No longer Peter, who says he wants to die with Jesus, but is ashamed of him and deserts him to die alone.  To hear Jesus pray for you while you hammer the nails into his hands, to realize that all along you have been after His life–and He is not demanding vengeance but pleading that you would live–

It makes you a priest like Him, who offers Himself up and saves those who hate Him. It makes you a king as He is a King, whose majesty is not outward trappings and an army, but that He wins the hearts of His enemies.

Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Colossians 3: 12-15

The Monstrous Regiment of Women in Denmark and the Necrosis of European Self-Loathing in the UK

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2012/03/fireman-sam-and-the-day-freedom-went-up-in-smoke.html

03 March 2012 6:31 PM

Fireman Sam and the day freedom went up in smoke

This is Peter Hitchen’s Mail on Sunday comment

Children must come first – no matter how clever you are
AY80915530MANCHESTER ENGLANNo British politician would have dared to say this revolting thing – though it’s what they think – but the Danish premier, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, can.
She thinks it a waste of well-educated women to bring up their own children.
Ms Thorning-Schmidt, daughter-in-law of Neil and Glenys Kinnock, believes paid strangers do a much better job of bringing up children than high-powered persons such as her. And so that is what must happen.
What a fool. When she is a forgotten footnote in a book of Danish history, her children will live on, never having experienced the special and undivided selfless attention that only a parent can give to a child.
Raising the next generation is a far more responsible and important task than being the chief executive of a minor Euro-province which is mainly governed from Brussels anyway. The more educated the parent is, the better she (or he if you like) will do that job.
And then perhaps she might wonder, as she looks back on her life, if all the Cabinet meetings and pictures of herself standing next to Angela Merkel are any compensation for the fact that her children grew up without her.

…Here are the most sinister and hopeless words I have ever read: ‘I was told that we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said.’ They should be carved on the tombstone of the Country Formerly Known as Great Britain. They are as near as we will get to an exact moment at which it became clear our free, happy past is gone for ever. We grew up in another country, and because we did not guard it, or even see the danger, we have lost it, and our children will live in a censored twilight. They were spoken – apparently by a police officer – to David Jones, author of the Fireman Sam books. Mr Jones had been detained for speaking words that only a stone-faced totalitarian, wholly devoid of a sense of humour or proportion, could have objected to. Here are the words: ‘If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.’ Here is the context. Mr Jones was passing through the officious farce known as airport security, in which surly persons pretend to watch out for terrorists, and we pretend to take them seriously. A Muslim woman wearing a face veil had gone through the screen ahead of Mr Jones, had not set off the alarm, and had not been stopped. … (at one Texas airport, there is a recorded announcement warning that it is an offence to make jokes about security). I also know, because I read and hear so many stories, just how the Equality and Diversity Inquisition is rapidly turning into a full-on Thought Police in workplaces, schools and public buildings. Sooner or later, they are going to get me too. At this rate, I think it will be sooner. What Mr Jones was actually doing was to behave like a free man, instead of the cowed subject of a monitored surveillance state in which most of what we think can no longer be said, and every miserable snitch, snoop and sneak has the power to ruin his neighbour’s life. I’ll carry on defying it for as long as I can, but how long will that be?

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