Thursday, September 27, 2007

High Tech Worship and the Traditionalist

I am back, and no, my reason for not posting is not because my secretary decided to join the GM workers on their strike. Rather, I was at a Pastor's convention learning about politics in the pulpit; before you ask no, it was not about Jesus First vs. (insert your favorite confessional group). Instead, it was about engaging the topics of governmental politics, such as universal health care; you know, the things our members are wasting their time with instead of pondering the wonders of the genus maiestaticum. The conference was short on answers, but it was thought provoking, and made me realize just how much people have forgotten about the theology of the Two Kingdoms. Seems like we need more preaching and teaching on the Two Kingdoms in order to counteract the reformed who mistakenly believe that a government can be Christian. Anyhow, enough about the past three days and on into more important things, such as worship wars!

Technology and traditional worship do not seem to go hand in hand in the mind of traditionalists. I have heard many complain that it is a distraction, un-needed, unChristian (or more specifically unLutheran), and a crutch for poor preaching. Sadly, I am not sure this is an unbiased view of technology. I think this view largely stems from technologies' link with vacuous contemporary worship practices. At the same time, there is truth to the traditionalist's complaints concerning technology. This is rather sad, because technology has the potential to be a great tool for the proclamation of the Gospel.

The first thing we need to get into our head is that ours is a visual society. Increasingly, our information is coming to us in the visual formats. If you disagree, why are you reading my blog? It is purely visual. We would be wise to figure out ways to fit the visual technology into the the traditional services. A simple start is by putting up the pericope - the Bible reading - on the screen; it saves paper, and lets everybody follow along with the lector. We put a fair number of our announcements up on the screen and run them between services; this cuts down on paper and the annoying break in the liturgy to announce next week's potluck. And, before anybody comments that I could save paper by not printing out the week's service, we're way ahead of you; we haven't done that for the traditional service since the arrival of our LSB's. The visual cues can also help people during the sermon.

My pastor friend had to take speech communications as an undergrad; for some reason, they expected doctors, veterinarians, and scientists to actually be able to communicate (I am not sure it really worked by the way: half the time I can't understand a word he says), but he tells me they taught him how to use visual aids to help aid understanding and to drive home his points. Many of our people will remember our key points better if they can see it as well as hear it. We do ourselves a disservice to not utilize the visual medium just because a couple of hacks ruined it. We didn't throw out private confession just because a few papists abused it, did we? Take advantage of the technology to help your people understand some of the more esoteric nuances of our theology.

Now, some have said technology is a distraction, and I have to agree it can be. The best solution is: don't be an idiot. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Our worship services shouldn't look like a middle-schooler's My Space page. Simple and clean with appropriate imagery does the trick every time. There is a time and place for using flashy moving backgrounds but in the middle of a rousing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" is not one of them.

Long story short, technology can be our friend in the traditional setting. We don't have to leave it all in the hands of the vacuous mega-church types and their wanna-bes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Sad Day for Fantasy Fans - Robert Jordan died Sept 16th

Robert Jordan, author of the epic Wheel of Time series has succumbed to the disease which has ailed him for some time. I know I am behind the times, but I only check a couple times a month to see if there is any news about book 12.

Rumor has it Robert Jordan did make arrangements to make sure the final book will be published.

carai an caldazar

Reposted from the Tor Publishers News Room

New York, NY: September 17, 2007

Tor novelist Robert Jordan (whose given name was James Oliver Rigney Jr.), the beloved author of the bestselling Wheel of Time® fantasy series, died yesterday after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.

In an entry posted yesterday on Jordan's blog at, Jordan's cousin Wilson Grooms wrote that he passed away Sunday, September 16th at 2:45 pm and noted that: "He fought a valiant fight against this most horrid disease. In the end, he left peacefully and in no pain," and that "his beloved wife, Harriet, was at this side through the entire fight and to the end."

Tor publisher Tom Doherty said of Jordan: "He was one of the great storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries; Jim's Wheel of Time is a towering epic of power and scope, he was a man of courage and heart and vision but for me, first of all, he was my friend of 30 years."

Robert Jordan was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina; he taught himself to read by the time he was four, and was tackling Mark Twain and Jules Verne by the age of five. He began writing in 1977 and went on to write one of the most important and best-selling series in the history of fantasy publishing with over 14 million copies of The Wheel of Time series sold in North America (and over 30 million copies sold worldwide). The last three books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers.

Jordan has often been referred to as Tolkien's heir and in an article about The Wheel of Time series, The New York Times lauded Jordan for his extraordinary story-telling ability: "the books' battle scenes have the breathless urgency of firsthand experience, and the ambiguities in these novels--the evil laced into the forces of good, the dangers latent in any promised salvation, the sense of the unavoidable onslaught of unpredictable events--bear the marks of American national experience during the last three decades, just as the experience of the First World War and its aftermath gave its imprint to Tolkien's work."

Jordan was a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, with a degree in physics. He served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Army; among his decorations were the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with "V" and bronze oak leaf cluster, and two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses with palm. A history buff, he also wrote dance and theater criticism and enjoyed the outdoor sports of hunting, fishing, and sailing, and the indoor sports of poker, chess, pool, and pipe collecting. Jordan also authored the Michael Fallon historical romance trilogy under the nom de plume Reagan O'Neal and seven Conan novels, from Conan the Invincible (1982) through Conan the Victorious (1984).

Jordan had a close relationship with his numerous fan websites, including, on which he hosted his blog, and other sites including:,,,, and

The sites participated in a massive internet hunt in 2005 to promote the publication of Jordan's last hardcover novel, Knife of Dreams, and again recently in a calendar art competition, for which Jordan had just chosen the winners last week. There were also numerous fan stories about relationships that had bloomed because of a common love of The Wheel of Time series. Tor's website has a snapshot of these from a few years ago at

News of Jordan's death quickly spread across the fan sites yesterday and today with fans writing in from around the world to express their grief and best wishes for his family. Jordan had an incredibly close knit group of fans; an article published on summed it up best in describing fans' support of Jordan during his illness: "There are readers, and then there are fans. Readers offer condolences when a favorite author falls ill. Fans offer bone marrow."

With the popular refrain from the Wheel of Time series, where Jordan himself was often affectionately known as the Dragon, Tor says goodbye to a giant in the field of writing: "The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time?"

Robert Jordan is survived by his wife, Harriet Popham Rigney; one son: William Popham McDougal of Houstonic, Massachusetts; one brother: Reynolds W. Rigney of New Orleans, LA; his first cousin: Wilson Watson Grooms, Jr. of Charlotte, NC and numerous nieces and nephews, including James Oliver Rigney III of New Orleans, LA. He is predeceased by his brother Theodore Smith Rigney.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his funeral services at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 11:00 am. Interment is private but friends may call at the Church Social Hall following the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of James Rigney to:

Mayo Clinic Department of Hematology -- Amyloidosis research
200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905.

For more information about Robert Jordan or to contact the webmaster of Dragonmount, Jordan's leading fan site, please contact Tor Publicity Director Elena Stokes at:

Council Meetings, A Inconvienent Necessity

And that goes double for this evening's meeting. I am thinking of opening the meeting with a motion to close the meeting. It isn't like we are actually going to discuss anything of importance. More importantly, my Aggies are taking on Miami 30 minutes after our meeting starts. I am thinking I am going to sneak in my walk-man so I can listen to the game. I wonder if anybody will notice the wig I am wearing to hide the ear buds?

Gig'em Aggies!

My prediction, the receivers have finally realized they can catch the ball, so Miami's D won't stop the Aggie offensive juggernaut. Yet, at the same time the Aggie D will be hard pressed to stop the Miami Offense. My fearless prediction -
Texas A&M - 30
Miami - 21

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anglican Head Will Hold a Secret Meeting With Homosexual Clergy

Christian reports that the head of the Anglican church is going to have a "secret" meeting and service with homosexual clergy. I don't have much to add, but I will say this, God did say we like to hide our sins in the dark. Maybe the fact they want to "hide" this meeting demonstrates that in their heart of hearts they know they are doing wrong.

Children Are A Blessing?

Actually, I have no doubt that children are a blessing. "Blessed is the man who's quiver is full..." (Ps 127:5) No the actual question is a case study item brought up else where in Lutheran corners of the great big WWW. The question is how do you respond to the single mother of X number of kids who has never married and says "Children are a blessing."

This is a good question, not because the truth is hard to discern, rather how do you respond. How do you communicate the truth that, yes children are a blessing but the ends do not justify the means. I suspect, but I don't know, that part of the unspoken message is at least I didn't murder my kids. But how do you answer in a way to take away the unsaid implication and still phrase things in away that she will listen and receive the truth without rejecting it just because of how you said it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

God Named as Defendant in Lawsuit

Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers (D) has filled suit against God calling on the Almighty to "cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats." The honorable Chambers states that because God is almighty and omnipresent he can sue God in the Nebraska court system. When contacted about the legal action taken against him the LORD responded.
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements- surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed'? "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? ... Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? "Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? "... "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth1 in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together? "Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food? "Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth, when they crouch, bring forth their offspring, and are delivered of their young? ..."Who has let the wild donkey go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, to whom I have given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place? ..."Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger? Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes, or will he harrow the valleys after you? ... "Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? ... "Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high? ... "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." Job 38:2 -40:2
When asked for his response to God's counter challenge, the state senator meekly responded, "I am merely trying to protect the rights of lawyers to make lots of money off of frivolous lawsuits." It is unknown at this time if the case will be allowed to proceed as the court fears it may face difficulties in the future if it recognizes God in a government court.

The above is a satire of a real case, not all events or quotes are actual. Sadly, the case is real check it out here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Rod is a Means of Grace

Bet that got your attention.

But as crazy as it sounds, that is exactly what Gary Ezzo, Michael Pearl, and Tedd Tripp - along with all too many other "Christian" parenting gurus - seem to say. And there are plenty of sincere Christians who are gamely following their advice to beat their children in order to save them.

The LCMS describes the means of grace as follows:
...We hold with Scripture that God offers and communicates to men the spiritual blessings purchased by Christ, namely, the forgiveness of sins and the treasures and gifts connected therewith, only through the external means of grace ordained by Him. These means of grace are the Word of the Gospel, in every form in which it is brought to man, and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and of the Lord's Supper....

Let's see what our parenting gurus have to say....

First, let's address Gary Ezzo. He is the controversial author of a Christian parenting series, "Growing Kids God's Way", as well as a secular version, "On Becoming Babywise/Toddlerwise/Childwise". For starters, Ezzo has an odd view of grace:
Of the various means by which God communicates His grace, three deserve our attention here. First, there is a common grace given to all mankind....Second, there is sanctifying grace. God's grace flows to families through the sanctifying grace of believing spouses and parents. That is, when mom and dad have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, children receive the overflow of God's grace as it is poured out on their parents....Grace is communicated to each household when parents stay vertically aligned with the Lord. As we are blessed, so will our children be blessed....Yet we know our children cannot live off of our blessings but must obtain their own. This is done through the third means by which God communicates His grace—regenerational grace.

A few sentences later in his discussion of grace, Ezzo also seems to say that parents can help save their children:
Apart from receiving a new heart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, no child has direct and personal access to God's grace. Does this negate the divine call for parents to "Train up a child in the way of the Lord"? Most certainly not. It only serves to emphasize even more the parents' need to cooperate with the grace of God....Remember, let God through His grace do His work, while you through obedience do yours.
(emphasis mine)

And how, exactly, are parents to "cooperate with the grace of God"? Why, through spanking, of course! As Ezzo writes in "Growing Kids God's Way":
A child knows when he has broken the rules, and his guilt continually reminds him of his violation. Guilt is the reminder of sin. Chastisement (Ezzo's term for spanking) is the price paid to remove the guilt thus [sic] free the child from his burden. If the parents do not remove the guilt, the child lives under the weight of sin. When an offense calls for chastisement, parents should chastise. If they substitute a lesser punishment, the guilt remains, and the child will suppress it. That, in turn, leads to more antisocial behavior (212).
(emphasis mine)

Sounds like he's promoting spanking as a means of grace to me! Of course, given that this is a rather unBiblical teaching - to say the least! - Ezzo tried to equivocate when asked directly in a BBC interview:
Paxman: Could you explain why it is that smacking is the only way to get a child aware of guilt?
Gary Ezzo: Get, get rid of his guilt?
Paxman: Get rid of a child’s guilt, yes.
Gary Ezzo: No, I can’t, because we don’t necessarily believe that in the context in which you’re presenting it. What we’re talking about is there’s got to be removal of guilt somehow. Smacking, as we’re talking about in young children, is one of the ways. To say it’s the only way is probably—well, that’s 1993, and this is 1999. There’s been like six editions since, so….

Yeah, that's exactly that sort of thing that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling toward a person; yet despite the high level of controversy he has generated over the years - see for details - his books still sell, and Christian churches still teach GKGW classes (including an LCMS one, even).

Onwards to Michael Pearl. Now, unlike Ezzo, Pearl comes across as much more sincere and honest - a true believer in what he preaches. So it's quite a shame that what he promotes is so completely whacked. Aside from his child-rearing views, an analysis of his sermons online shows that "[a]t the base, or root, of the Pearl's teachings are Pelagianism and a doctrine of sinless perfectionism through instant complete sanctification." But just limiting my analysis to his book "To Train Up a Child" yields plenty of material; all of the following quotes are taken from TTUAC, which can be found online in its entirety.
The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning (42).

The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid (43).

A child properly and timely spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of spirit. A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper spankings....Father, as high priest of the family you can reconcile your child to newness of life (44).
(emphasis mine)
Honestly, what more is there to say? It's pretty clear that Pearl is advocating the use of the rod as a means of grace. Yet despite that, his many other heretical beliefs, and his insanely harsh spanking techniques - amongst other things, he advocates using plumbing supply line as a switch - he has a strong Christian following.

Last, but certainly not least, is Tedd Tripp, author of "Shepherding a Child's Heart". He is both the best and worst of the bunch. Best, as he actually has a lot of good things to offer; worst, as he takes all that good stuff - which lulls people into an uncritical agreement - and takes a hard left into insanity, taking his readers down the merry path with him.

The basic premise of Tripp's book is as follows:
  • Children have a sin nature.
  • Thus, when they misbehave, the real issue is their sinful heart that prompted the wrongdoing, rather than just their outward behavior.
  • As a result, parents need to focus not on the outward behavior - the symptom - but rather on the heart - the core problem.
  • However, the only true solution for a sinful heart is Christ.
  • Therefore, parents need to point their children to Christ when they misbehave.

  • So far, so good (aside from whole implicit, decision theology-related "Little kids can't possibly be Christians already" thing). But here is where things go way off the tracks(emphasis is mine):

  • The only God-ordained way to do this is by spanking them.
    What is the rod? The rod is a parent, in faith toward God and faithfulness toward his or her children, undertaking the responsibility of careful, timely, measured and controlled use of physical punishment to underscore the importance of obeying God, thus rescuing the child from continuing in his foolishness unto death (108).

    The use of the rod is an act of faith. God has mandated its use (109).

    If you fail to spank, you fail to take God's Word seriously. You are saying you do not believe what the Bible teaches about the import of these issues. You are saying that you do not love your child enough to do the painful things that God has called you to (149).

  • This is because spanking changes the heart.
    The "why" is that God commands it. Additionally, spanking enables you to deal with issues of the heart....The heart is the battleground. The spanking comes only because it is God's method of driving foolishness far from your child's heart (153).

  • As well, spanking is the only way to change the heart; it cannot guarantee they will choose Christ - no human action can do that - but he strongly implies that a failure to spank pretty much guarantees the child will never be saved.
    The spanking is designed to rescue the child from continuing in his foolishness. If he continues, his doom is certain (110).
Say what?! Talk about a left turn into crazy-town! In addition, despite his many strong statements that only Christ can save us from our sins, Tripp still ascribes quite a bit of spiritual power to spanking, nearing means of grace level. (This sentence previously read: "In addition, despite his many strong statements that only Christ can save us from our sins, he ascribes yet more power to spanking, nearing means of grace level." However, a commentator pointed out that this read like "Tripp believes spanking has more power than Jesus", which was NOT my intention at all. Sorry for the confusion.):
[T]he function of the spanking restore him to a place in which God has promised blessing (151).

Tripp is promoted by many moderate Christians as a Biblical, grace-filled parenting method, and as a saner, less controversial alternative to Pearl and Ezzo. They read him with a strong theological filter, take what is good and leave the rest. However, not everyone has a good filter, and the very fact that he is not as obviously nuts as the other two makes him, in some ways, more dangerous.

These so-called Biblical parenting experts were entirely unknown to me until I started researching Christian parenting philosophies online, and in my experience few Lutherans are aware of their existence. However, they have a strong impact on many conservative Christians in America - especially Bapticostals - and this trickles down to the average Lutheran layman, who often knows more about the latest vapid Christian fiction - which is often filled with all sorts of theological errors - than Lutheran theology. This junk is out there, and I believe it behooves us to be aware it, and prepared to combat it.

We Men Don't Wash Our Hands

A study by some peeping toms reports that women are "better" at washing their hands after using the bathroom than men.

This reminds me of the old adage, "They taught me not to pee on my hands in the Boy Scouts."

They claim that this makes women cleaner than men. I am not sure this is an accurate statement. Primarily because of anatomical differences between men and women. Lets face it of the two types of urinary appendages the male is "cleaner" because it is an exterior appendage and is not apart of the mucosal membrane and negates the need to come into contact with the area of evacuation of bodily fluids. I think it would be interesting to see a study that examines the bacterial concentration on men's and women's hands pre- and post- urination visit. That would be a better measure than watching people wash their hands in the bathroom.

My Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

House, Monk, and Kyra Sedgwick were robbed. "You really love me. You really do love me" was all I could think when Frog got up to give her speech.

They only gave the one award because they all worship Al Gore. I hadn't even heard of it before last night, so obviously it can't be all that big of a deal.

The banter as usual was forced and unnecessary. Does anybody honestly believe the presenters are buddies?

Where was Psych? That show is just plain fun tv. Oh wait, it hits too close to home for all of the actors, "I know, you know, I am not telling the truth..."

Kyra, Glenn, and Mariska we don't care if your shows have strong or weak female main characters, we watch them because they are entertaining shows. BTW Glenn Close you show your ignorance of TV History when you forget about every geek's dream girl, Agent Scully from the X-Files. She was smart, pretty, and would shoot you if you looked at her funny.

And was it me or did half the episodes nominated have something to do with homosexuals?

Anyways, it was all a waste of time and bunch of how great we are backslapping. All of which begs the question, just why did I watch them anyways? Oh yeah, 74 channels and nothing of quality to watch.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Rick Warren Wisdom

Rick has posted another tantalizing tidbit for us poor preachers who don't know our own jobs. Now I am going to offer up my witty remarks about his points.

Right from the bat it becomes clear he thinks we are boring. Obviously, he has not heard me recently as I do wild and crazy things such as introduce the sermon to the theme song from "Mission Impossible." So he gives us the insightful tidbits such as add illustrations to your sermon, Humor, and special features.

1. Illustrations - O.K. does anybody not use illustrations to make a point? If you don't, the line for brains starts on the right. Even the dimmest bulb can see that a good illustration makes it easier to relate a point to people and aid them in understanding. He goes on to tell us to throw out our illustrations books they are written by guys a 100 years ago and are irrelevant to today. Ok. I will go throw out my Bible because it is 3000? yrs old and therefore it must be irrelevant. Warren, of course, tells us to use t.v., magazine, newspapers, movies, and everyday experiences for our illustrations. He even includes using actual clips, not a bad idea, I know some of my old school preaching brethren will scream and yell about using clips and such in a sermon, but sometimes telling about the scene isn't nearly as effective as watching the scene. Just make sure it fits and is the best way to illustrate your point. Too many people who use multimedia use it just because they feel they have to use it.

2. Humor - Humor is an effective way of communicating something that would otherwise turn people off. How often have you caught yourself laughing at a situation to then realize you are guilty of the same thing. I know I have. What this doesn't mean is that you need to be a Jeff Foxworthy wanna be or worse Larry the Cable Guy. Just don't be afraid to smile and use a bit of humor to get your point across. What ever you do don't smile like Joel Osteen. I just might have to come and wipe it off then.

3. Special Features - Here is where it gets fun.
Testimonies - Yeah, this will make any confessional Lutheran squirm because it just smacks of Bapticostalism. However, there is nothing wrong with people telling about how God's grace in word and sacrament affects their lives. Word to the wise, videotape my friend, its an easy way to control length and edit out those non-kosher statements.

Skits - Just make sure they are relevant to the message and your actors practice. Nothing worse than a group of people getting up there and reading pieces of paper, believe me.

Interviews - Unless you are interviewing Jesus, what is the point? I mean really? What is the point. The sermon is the time to call people to repentance and proclaim the Gospel, so why waste your time on a pointless interview.

Film Clips - see my comments under illustrations.

Interspersing Songs - This is a fun way to make your point and with the rich hymns of the church, well I think you get my point. Our senior pastor did this for a funeral for one of our members, it was very cool and a great proclamation of the Gospel.

Tag Team Preaching - Umm. No. Need I say more, last thing we need to do is give Gerry more bad ideas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Well At Least He Can Sympathize With Bevo

A t.u. fan nearly gave up his manhood for the team.

Don't Censor Kathy Griffin reports that E! is planning on censoring Kathy Griffin's acceptance speech for her Emmy. Apparently, in her speech she demonstrated just how shallow and unfunny she really is, could it be that is why she is on the D-list? She reportedly stated,
"a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"
The Catholic Defense League is all up in arms. I can't say as I am, at least, not in the sense that I want somebody censored for it. I take exception to her remarks concerning Jesus, but I don't need somebody to protect me from the idiots of the world. I can do just fine on my own. Besides, let everybody see just how small and unimaginative the modern liberal mind truly is. Let everybody see that the greatest proponents of tolerance are just as intolerant as the people the despise.

I will just continue on my merry way, proclaiming the goodnews that Christ died for all including loud mouth idiots, of whom I am chief loud mouth.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Time To Move On

I do not want to be insensitive, but it is time to move on. Six years is far too long for having memorials. I realize that 9/11 was a tragic day, even I who have no real connection can remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news. However, that doesn't mean that we need to make a big to do out of 9/11 every year. I guess I shouldn't be surprised when I consider the fact we still have at least a blurb in the news every time Dec 7th roles around. Well, I have said my bit and I will be quiet now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Demon Hunter - Real Despair, Real Hope

For those of you who belong to the uncultured masses, Demon Hunter is a Christian Hardcore Metal Band and probably one of the best of their genre I have ever heard. From me that is saying something because as far as I am concerned most "Christian" music is empty, vapid, self centered pop trash. I will have to say if you are going to find more explicit Christianity you tend to have to look in the ranks of the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal groups such as Kutless, who is probably the best because not only do they rock their songs are openly and unabashedly Christian, generally you won't find their music to be a generic love song written and performed by a supposedly Christian person. Now Demon Hunter, is not quite as explicit in their Christianity in that one will not find them mentioning Christ in their lyrics, but that is not to say Christianity is missing in their lyrics. They are like the Chronicles of Narnia baptizing the imagination in musical form.

Take for instance, As We Wept, in this one song we see the anguish Paul wrote about in always doing that which he didn't want to do, but still retained hope in the one who died for him.
I will stand and fight to justify you.
You have bled and died to justify me.
Force me down into hate.
Your freedom will stop when I can't breath.
I'm taking the path that i don't need.
I'm taking the place so it won't bleed.
Broken out and turned away.
Burned to the ground and change the face.
Bled to death and turned to gray.
Resurrect again to say.
I made my promise, and now i've fallen.
Through broken pieces i set you.
I will stand and fight to justify you.
You have bled and died to justify me.
Let me see it all die in front of myself so i can't lie.
A hollow design for the new side.
Exterior death for the old side.
This is the end of the last time.
Bury the old and say the name.
break the mold and new remain.
Resurrect again to say.
I made my promise, and now i've fallen.
through broken pieces i see you.
I will stand and fight to justify you.
You have bled and died to justify me.
A lifeless body, a broken soul.
I fall to zero, I've lost control.
I've lost control, I will stand and fight to justify you.
You have bled and died to justify me.

Video Undying

While falling just shy of being explicit, meaning they actually say the name Jesus in relation to justification, they are a great topic starter if you are going to talk with a person who is into Metal. The other part that I like is they are not afraid to express anguish and despair, unlike other song writers who write about it but never make it to actually expressing it and thereby seem incredibly shallow. Maybe we could use their music in our liturgy? Just kidding!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Sweet New Website

I just found a cool new Lutheran website by the clever name Lutheran Online which ironically is about Lutheran stuff, go figure. All kidding aside, it is a sweet website, it is still in its infancy but if David keeps up the good work, it is going to be the coolest clearing house of Lutheranism.

Truth Transcends Culture

According to postmodern philosophy truth is determined by ones cultural make-up. Your ancestry and modern society blend together to determine truth. Post modernism on the surface seems to be a decent examination of the question, "what is the truth?" However, post modernism is going about things backward. It is taking our perceptions and equating them with truth. Just because we perceive something in a certain fashion does not make it true. A mirage is a perfect example of perception being false. It make look like there is water in the distance but there truly is no water. Our perceptions should not be taken into account when answering the question, "what is truth?" This question must be answered objectively, not by how I feel about it or how I perceive it, but simply by what it is.

For truth transcends culture. For example, let us use something that is simple and undeniable. Water when it reaches 0 degrees Celsius begins to freeze. It does not matter if you African, 1 st Century Jewish, a 21st Century American education major, or even Martian, water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius. The truth of the matter transcends these cultural differences. The only way to change the freezing point of water is to add different substance to either raise or lower the freezing point, however, when this happens it is no longer water but a water based solution. The water has been changed through outside pollutants. This is how culture affects the truth, it at best, distorts the truth. In this case the freezing point of water has been changed by outside influences distorting our view of when it freezes, yet, the central truth has not changed. Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.

Therefore, since culture at its best is a distortion of truth, it should never be the lens of determining truth. It should step aside and let truth speak for itself. Contrary to the po-mo followers, truth should determine culture, because truth is transcendent.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rock 'n' Roll Kills

Or so the 'brain' trust of Dial the Truth Ministries would have us to believe. DtTM is one of the sites I frequent on an infrequent basis, largely because it is entertaining to watch somebody proof text their way to proving that Rock music and modern translations of the Bible are evil. They are kind of like old Papa Pope with my German Hymns and my modern German translation of the Bible. There creative misuse of the Bible aside, they are on a crusade to prove that Rock Music is a fruit of the devil. Granted the music industry has given them much to fuel their fire, particularly of the rampant debauchery of the musicians. The latest log is an article from the UK on about the short lifespans of rock musicians.

DtTM, of course, jumps to the conclusion that the music itself kills largely because they believe the lifestyle is intrinsic to the nature of the music, but just as they are incapable of interpreting the Bible, they are also incapable of interpreting articles on scientific studies. The article is quite clear that it is the associated stress of the entertainment industry compounded by the easy access to various substances and activities that are contributing to the shortened lifespan not the music. However, DtTM does not understand that such excessive lifestyles are not intrinsic to the music itself. I can use myself as an example, I am doubly evil in their eyes because I don't listen to just Rock music, I partake in that full out audio assault of Heavy Metal some of my favorite groups include Metallica, Demon Hunter, AC/DC, Stryper, One Bad Pig and Twisted Sister to name a few. And yet, even though I listen to some of the music by these groups I have never, engaged in the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Now I am not saying I am perfect, I am far from it, I just have not engaged my self in the extreme debauchery they claim is intrinsic to the nature of Rock music.

You see, contrary to DtTM the excessive lifestyle, lived out by many of the musicians and often tauted by the musicians, is not intrinsic to the music. Sure, some of the musicians of the musicians have claimed it is intrinsic but that doesn't mean they were right. No, the rock 'n' roll lifestyle is related to Rock music in the same fashion as the sin nature is to being human. It is not intrinsic to the nature. It can be Rock music without the rebellion and excessive lifestyle much in the same way we can be fully human without the sin nature.

One must remember, that Satan cannot create anything himself. He can only distort and warp things that already exist. So it is with Rock music. He distorted it much in the same way he deceived Adam and Eve into sinning that fateful day so long ago.

What does this all mean? It means that just as we daily need to have our sin nature drowned in the everlasting promises given in baptism we should also strive against the sin nature of Rock casting it aside so that all that is left is the good Rock music.

James Kennedy called to Glory

James Kennedy, one of the very few TV ministers I could stomach, died last night.

Fare thee well, soldier of the cross, until we meet again.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Gay" Travel

I am in the process of organizing our domestic missions trip to Houston, Tx for our congregation and I am researching travel costs so that we can plan our budget requirements. Out of due diligence I went to the Southwest Airlines website to get a general idea of ticket prices into Hobby. It is while looking at the group rate information page I noticed something.

Southwest Airlines is now in the business of catering to the homosexual community. Now if that just doesn't take the cake. They have put together a website to help homosexuals find "friendly" travel spots and to help them get to their events on the cheap. I don't know which is worse the implicit support of their lifestyle or the over the top capitalism. It really is a blatant attempt to market to their perceived core identity almost like Christian vendors and businesses. If you slap the word Christian (Gay) in the name than it is obviously good for the Christian (homosexual) community regardless of its content and intent. While this probably won't stop me from using Southwest, it is the height of stupidity and a great indicator of where our culture is heading. Anything and everything is fair game for marketing.

A Memory

Lutheran Lucciola, posted a comment about when she first joined the LCMS about how she was approached by four women wanting her support for women's ordination and it reminded me of a similar incident. About a year before I was to enter the seminary, my grandmother passed away, so we headed up to D.C. for the memorial service. At the service, only a few of our relatives were there including some from the ELCA. Anyhow, I guess my uncle had told them I was going into the seminary because these my aunt's mother came over to talk with me. They asked the standard question of which seminary was I going to be attending and I, of course, told them proudly Concordia, St Louis. Their faces turned a bit dark as they responded "Oh... the LCMS, well we don't really like the LCMS." Being curious, I couldn't help but respond "Why is that?" To which, they said "They don't allow women to be pastors and until they do we won't ever go to one." Me being a smart mouth replied " Guess I won't ever be seeing you in church then."

At first, I thought it rather crass for them to even bring it up at my grandma's memorial service, but then I realized these people are on a mission. Not that being on a mission is an excuse for rudeness, but that having women pastors means so much to them that it overrides their common sense. This got me to thinking, just what is it that is making them seek this abomination so stridently. Now, after some study and thought it occurs to me that it is about power. They want access to the power of the Office of Holy Ministry.

Their lust for women's rights fueled by past and present abuses have led them to believe that the office of pastor is an office of power. They speak in terms of hierarchy, patriarchy, etc; terms which denote power over somebody. Boy they couldn't be more wrong. Pastoring is not wielding power.

Long have people had the misconception that the Pastoral Office is about power. It has existed since the days of the Levitical Priesthood right up to today's Pastor as CEO types. Yes, a pastor is a leader, it is part and parcel of being a shepherd, but above all things a pastor is a servant. We are to serve the people not lord it over them. In my previous post, I spoke about the congregation and the pastoral office being the image of God, well the Pastor is to be Christ to the congregation. Therefore, our model of the office comes from Christ himself. Guess what, he did not come to lord over but to serve. He died on the cross like a common criminal, he washed people's feet, these are not the actions of one seeking power. They are the actions of one seeking to serve the ultimate need of the people. This is our role model for the pastor, to be the lowest of the low to serve the ultimate need of the people. We are not to be lording it over the people. We are to be Christ to the people.

I have said my bit, if you want to read a better post on the topic check out Balaam's Ass, he has an excellent article on the topic of women's ordination.