What denomination do you think this congregation is?

  Posted:Apr 23, 2014 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)

By all accounts this congregation does what they do very well.  It is the highest quality music and media.  My question is what does the appearance of Sunday morning tell you about this congregation?  Would you identify it as one of the larger and more influential congregations of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (in and around St. Louis)?  This happens to be St. John's in Ellisville (I do not use the name Lutheran in their title because they have decided that the name Lutheran is either not essential to or beneficial for their work).  My point in this post is not to denigrate the content but simply to ask the question:  Would you have identified this as a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod?  If not, and I presume most all of us would not, then something is wrong.  Sunday morning is the place where we show our colors to the world.  Regardless of whether you like or dislike what you watched, are these the colors of a confessional Lutheran congregation?

This is not about music or architecture (though certainly they flow from the identity expressed) but about who we intend to be.  We cannot have many faces before the world.  Missouri has had a split personality (maybe multiple personality) disorder for some time.  This cannot be sustained over time.  The day is rapidly coming when we will have to choose who we intend to be before the world and on Sunday morning.

In our Confessions we expect that people, if they confuse us at all, would mistake us for Roman Catholic.  There is no chance of that here.  But it would not be a stretch to identity what you watched with Saddleback, Willow Creek or Lakewood or anyone of a thousand other evangelical (or evangelical style) congregations.  The issue cannot simply be whether what they are doing is credible but whether or not what they are doing is authentic to Lutheran heritage and confessional identity.  The disconnect between this parish and, say, mine, is too great to ignore.  One or the other will have to give way over time and the face of Missouri will not be split any longer.  We have one face to show to the world.  The question for today is which one will it be?

Choose a position most comfortable to you for prayer. . .

  Posted:Apr 23, 2014 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)
Stand as you are able. . . offered the voice from the chancel. . .

Choose a position most comfortable to you for prayer. . . said another before the biddings began. . .

Kneel if you find it meaningful. . . said another before the confession.

I will never forget the woman at Redeemer, Ft. Wayne, who would walk so slowly into the front pew on the left.  Her canes barely helped to make her mobility easier.  When it came time to kneel, she would kneel but not without great difficulty.  Sometimes it seemed she barely got down before it was time to get up.  When I approached her and asked if she would like to receive the sacrament in the pew or if it would be easier for her not to kneel, she returned my words with a look of stunned silence.  She would continue to kneel and make her way to the altar until it became impossible.  Her difficulty was not the issue.  I never raised it with her again.

I continue to have folks who might better be communed in the pew but who refuse to give up making their way to the altar rail to commune with the others there -- not all those with difficult walking choose this but many remain fighting their disability to the end.  We also have folks who kneel even though it is obvious their kneeling is not without some discomfort.

Yet more and more the pastors are cutting a break by offering folks the option of doing what is most comfortable to them.  I suppose it is okay.  Prayers are heard whether the one praying kneels, stands, or sits.  That is not the issue.  What is the issue is how easily it is to make all of these preferences a matter of personal choice and comfort.  God forbid that we should be uncomfortable!  Yet I cannot help but wonder if there will be anything we do together in worship if the road to personal preference continues to lead us to individual choice.  Again, my point here is not lock step uniformity but the way personal comfort and preference have become the defining factors of what we do together in worship.

People do not sing hymns they do not like.  Some do not open the book because they do not want to.  Others leave whenever they choose.  The individualism of personal preference or individual comfort has become the primary factor in what we do on Sunday morning.  If we don't like singing, we do not sing.  If we don't like kneeling, we don't kneel.  If we don't like signing the cross, we don't sign the cross.  This is not a matter of disability or rather inability but of choice.  If I don't like gluten, I want gluten free hosts.  If I don't like wine, I want grape juice.  If I don't like saying "catholic" in the creed, I say Christian.  If I don't like chanting, I want a spoken service option.  And the list goes on... and on...  I gotta be me.  Do it or die, I just gotta try and be me -- everywhere I am and in everything I do.  At least that is how it is beginning to look and sound on a typical Sunday morning in a typical Christian church.  We already have Majestic Praise traditional option at 7 am, Glorious Blend at 9 am, and Unleashed Contemporary at 11 am, how many more options will we provide in a vain attempt to cater to the whims of the people?  Is there nothing worth submitting our preference and comfort level?

Comfort, convenience, and preference have trumped all other factors about the practice of the faith.  We are individuals first and foremost and we have individual choices which no one dare abridge.  I understand it but I don't think it is right.  Worship is one setting where personal preference and comfort should not drive what we do. 

Do You Even Know What Repentance Is? (1 Peter 1:3-9)

  Posted:Apr 23, 2014 By Worldview Everlasting (Worldview Everlasting)

Click here to view the video on YouTube .

Greek Tuesday is back after Holy Week with 1 Peter 1:3-9. And we’ll be in 1 Peter for the next six weeks as well, so be prepared for a great in-depth study of this book!

Gospel lesson videos:
Genus Majestaticum!!!! (John 20:19-39) – http://youtu.be/chCPw2IqqWM
Believing Office (John 20:19-31) – http://youtu.be/0oDT1Q-1UTc
Loosing Alleluias in the Upper Room (John 20:19-30) – http://youtu.be/AP3P9ZF3WaQ

Videos used:
Colbert King of Glory – http://youtu.be/oASYa-Wkroc
Pharrell Williams Happy – http://youtu.be/Q-GLuydiMe4
Elf Jack in the Box – http://youtu.be/IEUkxtdVVPA
Monty Python Fish Slapping Dance – http://youtu.be/xCwLirQS2-o
Thumbelina Follow Your Heart – http://youtu.be/l8t7oK92_Cc

Questions about the Lutheran Ninja Clan and WEtv’s goals? Watch this video: http://youtu.be/k6FtVusAcc0 or contact Peter Slayton at peterslayton[at]gmail.com.

Join the Lutheran Ninja Clan


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1. The Deity of Jesus – Dr. Bart Ehrman, 4/22/14

  Posted:Apr 22, 2014 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)

ehrman 2 Dr. Bart Ehrman, author, “How Jesus Became God”

Tags:   mp3   

Humanity's Biggest Problem, and God's Solution - LCMS Brief Statement

  Posted:Apr 22, 2014 By Matt Harrison (Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison)
  1. We teach that the first man was not brutelike nor merely capable of intellectual development, but that God created man in His own image, Gen. 1:26, 27; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10, that is, in true knowledge of God and in true righteousness and holiness and endowed with a truly scientific knowledge of nature, Gen. 2:19-23.
  2. We furthermore teach that sin came into the world by the fall of the first man, as described [sic] Gen. 3. By this Fall not only he himself, but also his natural offspring have lost the original knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and thus all men are sinners already by birth, dead in sins, inclined to all evil, and subject to the wrath of God, Rom. 5:12, 18; Eph. 2:1-3. We teach also that men are unable, through any efforts of their own or by the aid of "culture and science," to reconcile themselves to God and thus conquer death and damnation.
  1. We teach that in the fullness of time the eternal Son of God was made man by assuming, from the Virgin Mary through the operation of the Holy Ghost, a human nature like unto ours, yet without sin, and receiving it unto His divine person. Jesus Christ is therefore "true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary," true God and true man in one undivided and indivisible person. The purpose of this miraculous incarnation of the Son of God was that He might become the Mediator between God and men, both fulfilling the divine Law and suffering and dying in the place of mankind. In this manner God reconciled the whole sinful world unto Himself, Gal. 4:4, 5; 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19.

Show #289: Why Jesus’ Last Words aren’t Status Updates

  Posted:Apr 22, 2014 By Table Talk Radio (Table Talk Radio)

In today’s edition of Table Talk Radio, we play Facebook Theology with the seven last words of Jesus, then play which ladder.

Tags:   mp3   

"Prebyterian, Romane, Catholique"....how about Lutherane?

  Posted:Apr 22, 2014 (Gottesdienst Online)
Here is another fine example of why I have been on an Anglican kick in my theology readings. This short piece was penned by Rev. Dr. Thomas Swadlin in 1657. He puts Presbyterians to one side, Romanists to the other, and asserts that he stands in the middle as a "Catholique."

This is fascinating for a Lutheran to read. We disagree with Swadlin and agree with the Presbyterians when it comes to the question of the New Testament Office of the Ministry. For the rest, we are very much on Swadlin's side - and his rhetoric in this short work is very beautiful and very persuasive. So even on the point in which we disagree with Swadlin, we have here a fine summary of the best case against our position, and thus a fine tool against which to test our own arguments.

Enjoy Whether it is better to turn Presbyterian, Romane, or to continue what I am, Catholique, in the matter of Religion?


Thoughts on Lutheranism on the occasion of a Lutheran leaving. . .

  Posted:Apr 22, 2014 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)
Another Lutheran has swum the Bosporus and, like most, he is a good guy, serious minded, frustrated by the great divide between theory and practice among Lutherans, and scandalized by what passes as Lutheran on Sunday morning.  Though some are quick to condemn those who leave, I am more circumspect.  They will be accountable for their own choices and that is enough for me.  That said, however, I find myself greatly sympathetic with many of their complaints while remaining unconvinced by some of justification for their decision to leave us.

It is a scandal of epidemic proportions that Lutherans, especially Confessional Lutherans, have no consistent face to their faith on Sunday morning.  The fact that in the LCMS we run the gamut from low church Protestantism to high church charistmatic to generic evangelicalism to broad church formalism to catholic liturgy on Sunday morning is nothing less than sinful.  Quite apart from the theology of it all (which I have reiterated over and over again on this blog), how can a "brand" have an inconsistent and contradictory identity -- even within the same community!  This is a dastardly diversity in which some of us are not man enough to admit we do not walk together and it is not the kind of diversity envisioned by our confessions and expected by our covenant of life together as parishes and pastors of the LCMS.  Think what it could do to McDonalds if they were like a Long John Silvers on one block, a Taco Bell on another, and a Hong Kong Wok on another?  It is ridiculous to assume that the vast spectrum of Sunday morning faces given to Lutheran doctrine is healthy for any of us (much less for a congregation which institutionalizes these preferences with an ordinary scheduled diversity for Sunday morning!).

I refuse to defend or tolerate such schizophrenia of Lutheran worship.  If it does not have the Ordo (the liturgical pattern inherent to and expected by our Confessions), it is not Lutheran.  I am not, like some, insisting upon a page number but, like pornography, you know it when you see it.  Saddleback style or Willow Creek wannabes or Joel Osteen lookalikes are not the same as any version of the Divine Service.  We all know that.  Hardly any of those using contemporary worship forms and music even pretend to have much in common with the liturgical Lutherans.  They know it.  We know it.  He is not one of us and I am not one of them.  Credible liturgical diversity of ceremony is acceptable without dividing the confession but a weekly Eucharist, the pattern of the historic mass, and music that confesses are all givens for Lutherans.

Liturgy may compensate for poor preaching and teaching but it should never be allowed to hold up the household of God without faithful confession.  In other words, the Divine Service is expected of ALL Lutherans who use the name, get money from jurisdictions, or come out of our seminaries... BUT the doctrine needs to match the practice and it is not a godly position to choose liturgy over doctrine or doctrine over liturgy.  Either they go together or the church is wounded, disabled, and hobbling along where she should be walking and running.

I love the ambiance of Orthodoxy (real smells and bells) and I love the authoritative structure of Rome (especially when faced with Lutheran supervisors who chose to hide, ignore, or condone liturgical and theological abuses).  But the liturgy (what some call the choice of a way of life over a doctrinal certainty) should not have to carry all the weight; doctrine and confession are also required.  In the same way, it is not fair to have to choose between doctrine and bishops -- the early church expected that both went together and would be shocked by those churches that today boast episcopal orders but cannot confess the creed without crossing their fingers.

Am I a dreamer?  I guess I am.  I dream of Lutherans who mean what they confess, who practice what they confess, and who refuse to allow the compromises of the past substitute for the pursuit of the fullness of all that can be.  I dream of Lutherans who walk into a Lutheran Church on Sunday morning and recognize the form, most of the words, and sing their faith in the solid text of music that confesses.  I dream of Lutheran Pastors who look like clergy all the time.  I dream of catechesis which is lifelong and flows from and back to our Confessions.  I dream of the best and brightest  being moved toward church work vocations.  I dream of people who refuse to settle for what is cheap and easy (from architecture to organs to ministry to missions) and who are relentless in their pursuit of excellence AND faithfulness.  I dream of a day when other Christian are envious of the doctrinal consistency and vibrant apologetic of Lutheran parishes, pastors, and people.  I dream of sermons that engage as well as faithfully speak Law and Gospel, rightly distinguishing them, of course.  I dream of Pastors who work so hard no one jokes about working only on Sundays and congregations who make it possible for their Pastors not to worry about having enough money to pay the bills.  I dream of a day when Lutherans tempted to leave are drawn back by the vigorous confession, the faithful doctrine, and the rich liturgical piety of parish and people.  Yeah, I am a dreamer and sometimes I live too much in my dreams but... wouldn't it be grand if that were the way all Lutherans dreamed????


Crucified 2014 - Important Reminder

  Posted:Apr 21, 2014 (Higher Things)
All unpaid balances for the Higher Things “Crucified" conferences in FL, WI, and UT need to be paid by midnight on April 30 or they will be charged a $25/person late fee (making the rate $400/person total). No refunds will be issued for cancellations on or after May 1 (including no-shows at the conference), and there will be a $20 change fee assessed for substitutions from that date forward. Also, April 30 is the last day to register for the CAMPference at Camp LuWiSoMo in Wild Rose, WI (July 15-18) at the $275 rate. On May 1, that increases to $300/person.
Tags:   Youth 

2. What Is Your Favorite Easter Hymn, and Why? 4/21/14

  Posted:Apr 21, 2014 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)

hymn 2 Audio Open Lines

Tags:   mp3   

1. The Empty Tomb: John 20:1-18 – Pr. Tom Baker, 4/21/14

  Posted:Apr 21, 2014 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)
Tags:   mp3   

Creation - LCMS Brief Statement

  Posted:Apr 21, 2014 By Matt Harrison (Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison)
  1. We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself. Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God's own record, found in God's own book, the Bible. We accept God's own record with full confidence and confess with Luther's Catechism: "I believe that God has made me and all creatures."
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