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Strengthening an Inherited Idolatry part 2

This is referring back to the blog on April 20.

In a world in which college students need crying time and safe spaces, adult coloring books and stress relieving  animals when Republicans win elections, what we are talking about here may seem strange.  We have been talking about the pure Gospel or the Gospel rightly taught.   We need to understand that the Gospel is about Christ and His death being our death to self and His rising is creating us to be new people.  The new people created are not about self assurance or self justification, but about Christ.  The Gospel is meant to make us unaware of self and aware of Christ and neighbor.  The college students seem to be non self assertive if they need to be locked into a room where they can cry and color and hug animals, but it is the opposite.  The need for those things, and the demands for those things is all about self- actualization and assertion.  The world is about them.  Here is an interesting statement by F.A. Hertwig Jr way back in 1957.

“Have faith! Have faith!” is the advice offered to people who are weary of life. Another way of saying: “Get a hold of yourself, pull yourself together.” Like shaking hands with yourself, talk to yourself, have faith in yourself. Believe what you tell yourself with complete faith, and you have the answer to what you need. This is a popular religion, the doctrine of self-assertion, heathenism in modern form, idolatry. Idolatry advises faith but offers nothing to have faith in. If I’m floundering in the sea, you yell, “Hang on, hang on!” I expect you will throw out something to hang on to, reach for, have faith in. Do not mock me with self-assertion, to pull up my feet with my two hands. This is religion, but not the Christian religion”.

This is not the rightly taught Gospel.  It is again the strengthening of an inherited idolatry.  When ever someone advises you to have faith they are sending you to sinking sand.  “Have Christ” is even a problem.  “Christ has you” is best.  Katy Luther’s famous statement that she “held onto Christ like a burr on a dress” is spoken only from someone who trusts that Christ held onto them first and will never let them go.

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April 25, 2017

The folks around the country watch Fargo – we live it.

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What is Wrong With Being Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is a word that comes from the idea of being possessed by a God.  Luther used the word to describe people who want Christ without the Word.  He says they seek God where He does not want to be found, and refuse to find Him where He wants to found.

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God {of Christ]”.   Romans 10

Here is an example of how the old preachers identified and outlined a text so it could be preached – that’s the hearing part.

I. Where it comes from. Ministry of Christ was not yelling, “Have faith, have faith,” from place to place (Mark2:2). “He preached the Word unto them” (Luke9:6), and Acts 8:4: “They departed, preaching the Gospel.” They brought something, not vague mouthings and empty phrases. With no Word of Christ, there is no Word of God, and vice versa. You cannot offer the two separately. No Word, no faith.

II. What comes first-faith or the Word? First comes what Paul invites the mind to think through in v. 14: How can anybody believe something he hasn’t even heard about? The Word comes first. Again, first the Word. This needs emphasis. The Word does not drop out of the sky (v. 14). It is not self-manufactured inner inspiration. Enthusiasm. It comes from outside yourself to your Inside. -“The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart; that is, the Word of faith, which we preach” (v. 8). The Word produces faith. Not as though the Word were only a stimulator, a hypo that sends you into faith. Nor is the Word an aircraft carrier’s catapult that whips you off into the wide blue sky. Rather the catapulting power is built right in. The Word that transforms stays on for further forming, it never leaves. You do not switch depots. Faith comes from, and runs on, the same rail, which is the Word. Faith is a smooth express, with never so much as a click; an imperceivable weld in the silence of the heavenly foundry. Faith does not believe one thing and talk another. From the inside it moves to the Outside. -“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (v. 9). The Easter Christ is handled with the mouth in words. That is in summary the crucial fact, doctrine. The Word that converts is the same that talks. Faith has not brought God down to earth and up again (context); faith has but to accept the redemption as an accomplished fact.

F.A. Hertwig Jr.

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Project 24 Line Up

165 students line up to process in for the opening of the Catechism Competition at the newest Project 24 center at Lenkishon.  Each student received a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism and their own copy of Ibada Takitifu (the Swahili hymnal).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Project 24 Tree Planting

Luther was once asked if he knew the world would end tomorrow what he would do.  He said he would plant a tree today.  Here is a tree planting at the Othoro Project 24 Boarding Facility

 

 

 

 

 

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Baptisms at Udom

Before their journey to Lenkishon, 11 children were baptized from our Project 24 Udom site.  For those who claim that mercy projects like Project 24 are not important and should not be considered with Missions, the great commission order to Baptize was on display at the Udom Boarding Facilty last month.  11 children were baptized by the local Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya pastor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Catechism Competition Project 24

The girls from Tumaini perform
their Bible drama.

Project 24 students gathered at Lenkishon last month.  For a day and a half each site had their groups present a variety of things such as: the Lord’s Supper, the Creed, their own song compositions, poems/ memory verses and lastly Bible dramas. All of them did an excellent job. Witnessing this competition, verified to every attendee that the children not only receive physical care but spiritual care. Their faith continues to grow as they are being educated and nurtured by the management staff. We praise and thank God for the partnership between the management, ELCK and the LCMS. Their efforts of reaching out to these children is evident.

From the Project 24 Newsletter

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Strengthening an Inherited Idolatry.

I lived through a point in my life where I was sick of the phrase “the pure Gospel”.  It was used so flippantly and seemed that it had to be a part of every sermon, every paper, every conference discussion, that wanted to scream, “would someone please explain what an impure Gospel might be?”  Then I remembered that the definition of a church in the Lutheran Confessions is a place where the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments properly administered.  The pure Gospel is the one that is rightly taught and preached and it is a radical thing that the old human nature cannot accept.  It is the death of the old man and the resurrection of a new one without our reason or strength.  It is the stark statement that Jesus Christ has done it all.  It is all about the Law’s killing power being destroyed by Christ and our new life authored and perfected by Him.  The pure Gospel is as Gerhard Forde writes, Radical.  It is a bald statement that Christ is the way and the truth and the life and what is not Christ therefore, cannot be the way, cannot be true and cannot be life.

We desperately need to be reminded of the gospel.  We so quickly forget that life is not all about us.  We forget the grace of Christ, and instead mull over to our thoughts , our feelings, and our efforts as our justification and life.   We water down the killing power of the Law and want to make the Gospel affirming and uplifting.  We want therapeutic niceties and steps for holy living.  We want to believe that God saw something in us that was worth saving and so we need preachers.  A frightening thing happens when preachers forget the distinction between Law and Gospel. When the Gospel is proclamation of affirmation rather than a pronouncement of a death and resurrection because of Christ, hearers and proclaimers become either anti Law or anti Christ.  When we appeal to some kind of casuistry in the killing power of the Law (how can God condemn someone when they were born this way?) we make the Law a waxen nose.  When we preach the power of the individual to do better, or at least do something, we appeal to the idea that there is something apart from Christ that saves and we become antichrist.  This kind of preaching reinforces an inherited idolatry.

This is the conundrum that the preacher faces and it can be deadly.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes from the word about Christ.   How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  Romans 10

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Stupendumduellum

So here is your word for the day.  You can use it three times and it will be yours for life.  It is a great word.  Running stupendous and duel together to form a word that tries to express something that causes an inward duel in a person.  It was used by Luther to try and explain what should happen when a person is finally gripped by the Gospel and freed from the grip of the Law.  The Law, the demands of a Holy God to human beings, always accuses us and always, if not dulled by a wishy, washy view of what it is and what it means death for us.  To find out that we have been freed from the Law by Christ and His death and resurrection should cause joy, and it does, but first it causes this duel inside a person.

It is knee bucking and stupefying that God claims sinners as His and declares them Holy and righteous because of Christ.  We cannot hear that when it is preached or believe it when it is taught because it is, as some call it, the “magnificent terror of divine election”.  The Holy Spirit  convicts us and calls us other wise there would be no faith.  Everything about us used to say “how do I get right with God?”  That was a problem and caused anxious seekers worry.  The Gospel, rightly preached says, Christ “made you right with God” causes another reaction.  This stupendous message gets attacked by human nature.

Luther said that God’s love does not find anything lovable in me, but that His love makes me lovable.  When that is grasped by faith it is a joyous thing but it will always cause the duel in me.  That duel goes on and that is why preaching is indispensable, but that is another topic.  For now the main point is that, as Oswald Bayer has written, “the justification of the ungodly  (Rom 4:5) is nothing less than the resurrection of the dead and the creation out of nothing (4:17).”

 

 

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Do You Know What This Is?

I have never seen this picture before and I found it intriguing.  My Father and his family were raised on the Western edge of the Turtle Mountains in North Dakota not far from the International Peace Gardens.  This is a picture of my Uncle Gordon.  I have no idea when it was taken.  I remember my Dad telling me stories about cutting posts for the pastures and how they would haul the posts from the hills with horses.

So here is a test for millennials.  What is in Gordons right hand?

Now for the rest of you what is hanging over his left shoulder?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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