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Archive for November, 2017

Due Process.


Accused and automatically presumed guilty.  Accused and automatically presumed innocent.  There is a lot of talk about due process today and the right we have as citizens to considered innocent until proven guilty.  Here is an interesting perspective.

“The first sinners in the Bible – Adam, Eve and Cain – were given divine due process: they were confronted with the evidence, asked to defend themselves, given a chance to repent, spared the ultimate sanction of death and then assured of a second trial on the Day of Judgment, with appointed divine counsel. The only time that God deliberately withheld divine due process, Luther reminds us, was in the capital trial of His Son – and that was the only time it was and has been necessary. The political implications of this are very simple: if God gives due process in judging us, we should give due process in judging others. If God’s tribunals feature at least basic rules of procedure, evidence, representation and advocacy, human tribunals should feature at least the same.”

God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition By John Witte







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Will Disney Finally Do the Right Thing?

We have learned from the media and from Senator Elizabeth Warren that the use of the name Pocahontas is a “racial slur”.  She said so in an interview and the dutiful press repeated it verbatim about 100 times and evidently some Native American “leaders” said the same  So will Disney finally do the right things and take the movie “Pocahontas” off the shelves and try to buy back all the copies that have been released and sold?  We are told not to read “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Gone With the Wind” and other classics because of racial sensitivity, why would we allow a movie whose very title is a racial slur to see the light of day?  Will Disney finally do the right thing and remove this travesty?  We are all learning so much about race and sexual harassment in the last few week.  As Senator Al Franken, has said the charges of sexual harassment are “teachable moments” and he wants to learn as much as he can.  We can only hope that Disney learns the lesson and does the right thing.  We can hope but I wouldn’t hold my breath.


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Right after Thanksgiving I watch as the Christmas decorations and the ladders come out and the outside lighting laboriously created usually in the snow and ice.  The church decorations come out and the work of decorating for Advent and Christmas goes on.

There is a small town not far away from me where a gentlemen turned an old building into a Christmas store. It was a fascinating concept. Year-round he would sell Christmas decorations and other things, but it appeared to me that he made his living by making Christmas trees on demand. He would make them at your request and with some of your ideas in mind, or he would make Christmas trees and people would come in and buy them. He would come to your house and set them up and some of them were on revolving stands so that you stand and look at the Christmas tree and every few seconds you had a different view of the different decorations and ornamentation put on them. Some were multicolored; some one color with varied decorations. Some were  more traditional and some were quite outlandish. He advertised them as being richly ornamented and ornately decorated, and they were.

There is a word that occurs only once in the New Testament. It occurs in Ephesians were Paul was talking about the plan of God and he calls it manifold, the manifold plan of God.  In our English translations one word is trying to describe an entire concept of what Paul was trying to express the plan of God being. This is Ephesians 3:10 – 10His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.…

The adjective form of this word that Paul uses is in the Greek translation of the Old Testament which describes the coat that Joseph’s father gave him that made his brothers so angry. We have a lot of descriptions of it. The coat of many colors, Josephs amazing Technicolor dream coat as some have called it. Some commentators describe it is simply an ornately woven long coat that made Joseph look like a king compared to the laboring outfits that his brothers wore. Whatever it looked like another translation of the coat of many colors would be richly ornamented and ornately decorated.

The Gospel, justification, the plan of God is richly ornamented and ornately decorated.  This is hard to say without being judged wrongly but it seems to me that we have reduced it to the forgiveness of sins.  It is the central doctrine of the Christian faith that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and it is immensely, eternally important and yet what difference does it make in a world that has done away with sin?  How can we get back to asking questions that have Christ as the answer?  We need to reengage the richly ornamented and ornately decorated plan of God, in a world that wants quick fixes and everything done lightening fast.  Paul says the plan was hidden for ages.  Now it revealed in the church and through the church and the plan basically is the church.

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Background For Sheep and Goats

“If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish some-thing good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work. For each one ought to live, speak, act, hear, suffer, and die in love and service for another, even for one’s enemies, a husband for his wife and children, a wife for her husband, children for their parents, servants for their masters, masters for their servants, rulers for their subjects and subjects for their rulers, so that one’s hand, mouth, eye, foot, heart and desire is for others; these are Christian works, good in nature.” (Advent postille, – Martin Luther

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Last Sunday of the Church Year

We live in the anticipation of the life to come in Christ.  We say it Sunday after Sunday that Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty and that someday He will come again to judge the living and the dead.  The last Sunday of the church year, the Sunday before we begin the Advent season we think about this return as judge.  It can be an uncomfortable subject and Sunday for some.

I always remember Paul’s letter to the Colossian’s the 3rd chapter.

“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things, for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Listen to what Martin Luther said about Colossians . “According to Paul in the text, this nobly-wrought and precious resurrection of Christ essentially must be, not an idle tale of fancy, futile as a dead hewn-stone or painted-paper image, but a powerful energy working in us a resurrection through faith–an experience he calls being risen with Christ; in other words, it is dying unto sin, being snatched from the power of death and hell and having life and happiness in Christ. In the second chapter (verse 12), the apostle puts it plainly, “buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

If, Paul says, ye have apprehended by faith the resurrection of Christ and have received its power and consolation, and so are risen with him, that resurrection will surely be manifest in you; you will feel its power, will be conscious of its working within. The doctrine will be something more than words; it will be truth and life. For them who do not thus apprehend the resurrection, Christ is not yet risen, although his rising is none the less a fact; for there is not within them the power represented by the words “being risen with Christ,” the power which renders them truly dead and truly risen men.”

We live in the power of the resurrection so that when the last day comes we will be welcomed into the eternal mansions.




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Thanksgiving Part 3

They say that this is one of Luther’s Table Prayers.  If it wasn’t I bet he wished it was.

God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, you looked upon all that you created and declared it good. Grant that I, this day, might regard your creation with the same esteem and appreciation, seeing you at your work in every daily operation. Help me to give thanks as I recognize your loving work in all abundant blessings. Most of all, let me see not only your creation, but also its redemption, through Jesus Christ. Amen.



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Thanksgiving Part 2

From Luther’s Large Catechism –

Now, since all that we possess, and, moreover, whatever, in addition, is in heaven and upon the earth, is daily given, preserved, and kept for us by God, it is readily inferred and concluded that it is our duty to love, praise, and thank Him for it without ceasing, and, in short, to serve Him with all these things, as He demands and has enjoined in the Ten Commandments.

Here we could say much if we were to expatiate, how few there are that believe this article. For we all pass over it, hear it and say it, but neither see nor consider what the words teach us. For if we believed it with the heart, we would also act accordingly, and not stalk about proudly, act defiantly, and boast as though we had life, riches, power, and honor, etc., of ourselves, so that others must fear and serve us, as is the practice of the wretched, perverse world, which is drowned in blindness, and abuses all the good things and gifts of God only for its own pride, avarice, lust, and luxury, and never once regards God, so as to thank Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator.

Therefore, this article ought to humble and terrify us all, if we believed it. For we sin daily with eyes, ears, hands, body and soul, money and possessions, and with everything we have, especially those who even fight against the Word of God. Yet Christians have this advantage, that they acknowledge themselves in duty bound to serve God for all these things, and to be obedient to Him [which the world knows not how to do].

We ought, therefore, daily to practice this article, impress it upon our mind, and to remember it in all that meets our eyes, and in all good that falls to our lot, and wherever we escape from calamity or danger, that it is God who gives and does all these things, that therein we sense and see His Paternal heart and his transcendent love toward us. Thereby the heart would be warmed and kindled to be thankful, and to employ all such good things to the honor and praise of God.

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Thank You

Luther on Thanks as found in First Article.

This is what I mean and believe, that I am a creature of God; that is, that He has given and constantly preserves to me my body, soul, and life, members great and small, all my senses, reason, and understanding, and so on, food and drink, clothing and support, wife and children, domestics, house and home, etc.  Besides, He causes all creatures to serve for the uses and necessities of life sun, moon, and stars in the firmament, day and night, air, fire, water, earth, and whatever it bears and produces, birds and fishes beasts, grain, and all kinds of produce, and whatever else there is of bodily and temporal goods, good government, peace, security. Thus we learn from this article that none of us has of himself, nor can preserve, his life nor anything that is here enumerated or can be enumerated, however small and unimportant a thing it might be, for all is comprehended in the word Creator.

Moreover, we also confess that God the Father has not only given us all that we have and see before our eyes, but daily preserves and defends us against all evil and misfortune, averts all sorts of danger and calamity; and that He does all this out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a benevolent Father, who cares for us that no evil befall us. But to speak more of this belongs in the other two parts of this article, where we say: Father Almighty.

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Well Done Good and Faithful Servant.

I have to be reminded once in a while that the marvelous words that I hope to hear some day, “well done good and faithful servant,” are spoken in the midst of the story about the final judgment. It is in the parable about receiving something and doing something with it to please the master. It is also well to remind  ourselves that the master gave the talent, before he gave her responsibility. We know that we are not justified, or forgiven, or destined for life everlasting because of what we do, but because of what Jesus has done for us and there are certain things we are expected to do. Just as the master came back looking for a return on his investment God wants a return on his investment to. In the merciful washing of baptism he says now you go and live a merciful life to your neighbors. When we are spoken free in absolution, God says now go and speak your neighbors free. In the Lord’s Supper we get Christ whole and entire to your neighbor. We get the gift before we get the responsibility, but God does expect a return. Purely out of Grace he claims us. Purely out of mercy he allows us to live as his children. Purely out of divine goodness and mercy he gives us all things so we can share with our neighbor. “Well done good and faithful servant, I’ve given you gifts and you’ve used them responsibly for my Kingdom” is what we can expect to hear on the last day because of Jesus gifts to us and His death to free us.

The LCEF Fall Leadership Conference was held last week and I remember that I used to attend these events with Bill Sharpe.   We had many adventures and a lot of fun.  We learned a lot and Bill took his work with LCEF very seriously indeed.  He was remembered at the LCEF Conference for being a good and faithful servant.   Bill received his reward after being faithful in much.  We are starting to all realize how much Bill did and how much he accomplished.  We pray for Tammi Ulland and President Bertch and all the District folks as they work hard for our District.


Well done good and faithful servants.

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Adolescence is Wasted on the Young


I read that folks can now buy “likes” on Facebook.  I can imagine being a company and wanting to increase your “likability” by purchasing some fake goodwill, but I understand that individuals can do the same.  They seem to be a lot of young folks.

Psychiatrists have pontificated lately on the sexual-harassment quandaries we find ourselves in today. The big takeaway is if someone thinks they were sexually harassed, it’s true to them.  It may not be factually true but it is true to them.  Same story with hate speech and bigotry, sexism and ethnocentrism.  This especially applies to young people.

77% of college educated young people believe that gender is not determined at birth but is chosen.  The little factoid called college educated youth “adolescent”.  I thought adolescence stopped when the “teens” stopped.  Now I am told that adulthood starts at 30.

Eugene Peterson wrote in a book called “The Contemplative Pastor”, that our generation shows it’s sinfulness by being adolescent and a-historical.  Adolescence means being  unrealistic and having misdirected expectations, impatience, a high degree of self centeredness, and a fragile ego.  To be a-historical means that anything from the past could not have any meaningful impact on today.  This ain’t your grandpas reality tunnel.

The rise of social media and internet obsession has created a crisis that some are calling the “social validation feedback loop”, which is, near as I can tell the idea that we only receive our validity as human beings by how many times we are friended on Facebook or retweeted on twitter.  I have images in my brain of a  pajama boy in his basement looking at his Twitter follow list and acting like Sally Field at the Oscars holding her trophy and crying and wailing, “you like me, you really like me”.

I am not sure what any of this means.  The deficiency of meaning seems to apply to anything anymore.  I marked in one of my notes a statement that I will have to find the author of someday.  In a rant about “kids these days”, he came to the conclusion that they are meaning deficient too, and that they will inherit from their parents a spiritual void and the bill from the card it was charged to.


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