Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LSC Wednesday #6: "The Sacrament of the Altar"

This is a short series of Wednesday postings taking us through Luther's Small Catechism.


As the Head of a Family Should Teach It in a Simple Way to His Household

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written?
Answer: The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also, He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?
Answer: That is shown us in these words, “Given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” This means that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Answer: It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words, which are given here, “Given … and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” These words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, the chief thing in the Sacrament. The person who believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?Answer: Fasting and bodily preparation are, indeed, fine outward training. But a person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, “Given … and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

But anyone who does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit. For the words “for you” require hearts that truly believe.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 343
Jesus Juva,
Sole Deo Gloria

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I can't fix the problems in the trumpet section if I can't hear them (confession/absolution)

In my days of being a K-12 Instrumental Music Major at Dickinson State University in Dickinson, ND, under the direction of Dr. Steven Sudduth, I learned a lesson that would carry over into my own teaching, as well as into the spiritual.

One particular day we were rehearsing the Finale of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony. The trumpet section was being a bit quieter than usual. As it turns out, as a whole they weren't feeling too comfortable with their parts. As a result they were playing quieter to avoid their missed notes being noticed. They were trying to cover up their mistakes, their inadequacies. Once Dr. Sudduth figured out what was going on he stopped us and addressed the entire band. "People, I can't fix your mistakes if I can't hear them. Don't hide from them. Even if you're not comfortable with your part still play it as confidently as you can. I'll fix the mistakes as I hear them, but I can't fix any if I can't hear them."

Dr. Sudduth told us this because he cared about us. He wanted to fix things. He wanted to fix our mistakes, fix us, to make things right. He had the knack of teaching spiritual truths from time to time through his music instruction.

In a similar way, God the Father wants to make right His children. When we sin, we have this tendency to try to hide and cover up our sin. Or we try on our own, apart from Christ, to "make things right" by "doing good stuff" to balance out the equation. As this continues we can actually come to despair as the sin just builds up and up and up. Or we start to compare ourselves to others as we delve into "works righteousness" to make ourselves feel better about our sinful selves.

God doesn't want us to hide our sin. He wants us to confess it to Him that he might absolve us. (1 John 1:9) It's a promise that He will always forgive the contrite sinner. So stop trying to hide what the Father knows already. Stop trying to "earn" the Father's forgiveness. To try to earn the Father's forgiveness is to deny the person and work of Christ. Speak to the Father and confess. Speak to your pastor and confess. Hear the words of the Gospel. "Your sins are forgiven."

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hymn Monday - "The Law Commands and Makes Us Know"

Today's Hymn, "The Law Commands and Makes Us Know" (#289)  (To the tune of "Old Hundreth") is from "The Lutheran Hymnal", (c) 1941 by Concordia Publishing House.

The Law commands and makes us know What duties to our God we owe;
But 'tis the Gospel must reveal Where lies our strength to do His will.

The Law discovers guilt and sin And shows how vile our hearts have been;
The Gospel only can express Forgiving love and cleansing grace.

What curses doth the Law denounce Against the man that fails but once!
But in the Gospel Christ appears, Pard'ning the guilt of num'rous years.

My soul, no more attempt to draw Thy life and comfort from the Law
Fly to the hope the Gospel gives; The man that trusts the promise lives.


Jesus Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Historical Church Writings #3: Gregory of Nazianzus

Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Gregory of Nazianzus:    
[C]onsider by [St. Paul's] example how important a matter is the care of souls... The manifold character of his ministry? Consider his loving-kindness and, on the other hand, his strictness and the combination and blending of the two in such way that his gentleness should not weaken nor his severity exasperate.... On behalf of some he gives thanks; others he upbraids. Some he names his joy and crown; others he charges with folly. Some who hold a straight course he accompanies, sharing in their zeal; others who are going wrong he checks. At one time he excommunicates; at another he confirms his love. At one time he grieves; at another rejoices. At one time he feeds with milk; at another he handles mysteries. At one time he condescends; at another he raises to his own level. At one time he threatens a rod; at another he offers the spirit of meekness. At one time he is haughty toward the lofty; at another lowly toward lowly. Now he is least of the apostles, now he offers a proof of Christ speaking in him; now he longs for departure and is being poured forth as a libation, now he thinks it more necessary for their sakes to abide in the flesh. For he seeks not his own interests, but those of his children whom he has begotten in Christ by the Gospel. This is the aim of all his spiritual authority, in everything to neglect his own in comparison with the advantage of others.
     -- Gregory of Nazianzus
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

LSC WEDNESDAY #5: How the Unlearned Should Be Taught To Confess

This is a short series of Wednesday postings taking us through Luther's Small Catechism.


What is Confession?
Answer: Confession has two parts: the one is that we confess our sins; the other is that we receive Absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no way doubt, but firmly believe that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven by this.

What sins should we confess?
Answer: Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those that we do not know, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. But before the confessor we should confess only those sins that we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?
Answer:  Here consider your calling according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a manservant or maidservant. Consider whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, or slothful. Consider whether you have grieved anyone by words or deeds, whether you have stolen, neglected, wasted, or done other harm.

Answer: You should speak to the confessor like this, “Reverend and dear sir, I ask you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God’s sake.”


I, a poor sinner, confess myself guilty of all sins before God. I especially confess before you that I am a manservant (a maidservant, etc.). But, unfortunately, I serve my master unfaithfully. For in this and in that I have not done what has been commanded me. I have provoked him and caused him to curse. I have been negligent ‹in many things› and permitted damage to be done. I have also been immodest in words and deeds. I have argued with my equals, grumbled, and sworn at my mistress, and so forth. For all this I am sorry, and I pray for grace. I want to do better.

A master or mistress may say this:

In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestic servants, and wife ‹family› for God’s glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds. I have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him. I have overcharged, sold inferior products, and have given people less than they paid for.

And whatever else he has done against God’s command and his calling, and such.

But if anyone does not find himself burdened with these sins or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture. He should mention one or two sins that he knows. Say, “In particular I confess that I once cursed. Further, I once used improper words. I have once neglected this or that, and so on.” Let this be enough.

But if you don’t know of any sins at all (which, however, is hardly possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession that you make before God to the confessor.

Then the confessor shall say:
God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith! Amen.

Do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness?
Answer: Yes, dear sir.

Then let him say:
As you believe, so let it be done for you. And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Depart in peace.

But for those who have great burdens on their consciences, or are distressed and tempted, the confessor will know how to comfort and to encourage them to believe with more passages of Scripture. This is supposed to serve as a general form of confession for the unlearned.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 341

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Issues With "Moralism" As A Path to God

     "Moralism, however, involves a host of impossibilities and contradictions. People just do not -- and, it seams, cannot -- live up to their own high standards. We keep failing. Sometimes, our very attempts at moral perfection lead us to immoral actions, as when our strict rules cause us to hate, coerce, and feel superior to others. Other times, our own interior attitudes undermine our virtuous actions. I have done "good works" for which I receive praise and acclamation, while inside feeling an unwilling resentment that I knew even at the time took away any pretension that I was "meriting" anything.
     The passions, the perversities of the will, the innermost secret desires of the heart, keep thwarting the best moral intentions. Moralists are often tempted to mask their failures with dishonesty or rationalization. This is why moralism is often accompanied by hypocrisy, a show of external righteousness that masks the true story of what is happening inside.
     Another way of coping when our moral reach exceeds our grasp is to push virtue out to the periphery of our experience -- becoming a matter of voting right or holding the correct social positions or supporting virtuous causes -- even while our personal or family lives become a wreck. We define down moral perfection, making it something easier and within our control. In doing so, of course, we generally end up violating the moral obligations that really count, those that have to do with our own behavior and our relationships to those around us.
     Another problem inherent to moralism is that righteousness has a way of twisting itself into self-righteousness, a feeling of pride and superiority that undoes the virtue that is achieved. The problem is not only that people of the highest morals slip up. It seems that the very effort to be moralistic tends to breed harshness, pride, and even cruelty, hardly signs of being "a good person."
     Certainly, "being good" is a laudable goal. The problem, if we are honest, is that no one seems able fully to achieve that goal. We don't really have the willpower or the inner motivation or the inner purity to achieve moral perfection."

     -- Gene Edward Vieth, Jr., "The Spirituality of the Cross" , Revised Edition
         (c) 2010 Concordia Publishing House

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Hymn Monday - "Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds"

Today's Hymn, "Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds" (#629) is from "The Lutheran Hymnal", (c) 1941 by Concordia Publishing House.

"Let children hear the mighty deeds Which God performed of old,
Which in our younger years we saw, And which our fathers told.

Make unto them His glories known, His works of pow'r and grace;
And we'll convey His wonders down Thro' ev'ry rising race.

Our lips shall tell them to our sons And they again to theirs
That generations yet unborn May teach them to their heirs.

Oh, teach them with all diligence The truths of God's own Word,
To place in Hiim their confidence, to fear and trust their Lord

To learn that in our God alone Their hope securely stands,
That they may ne'er forget His works, But walk in His commands."

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Historical Church Writings #2: Martin Luther

This is the the start of Historical Church Writing Thursdays. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Martin Luther:

     "It follows from this argument that there is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests, princes and bishops, between religious and secular, except for the sake of office and work, but not for the sake of status. They are all of the spiritual estate, all are truly priests, bishops, and popes. But they do not all have the same work to do. Just as all priests and monks do not have the same work. This is the teaching of St. Paul in Romans 12[:4-5] and I Corinthians 12[:12] and in I Peter 2[:9], as I have said above, namely, that we are all one body of Christ the Head, and all members one of another. Christ does not have two different bodies, one temporal, the other spiritual. There is but on Head and one body.
     Therefore, just as those who are now called "spiritual," that is, priests, bishops, or popes, are neither different from other Christians nor superior to them, except that they are charged with the administration of the word of God and the sacraments, which is their work and office, so it is with the temporal authorities. They bear the sword and rod in their hand to punish the wicked and protect the good. A cobbler, a smith, a peasant -- each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops. Further, everyone must benefit and serve every other by means of his own work or office so that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, just as all the embers of the body serve one another [I Corinthians 12:14-26]."
     -- Martin Luther
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Look At What I Can Do!! Who Get's The Credit?

I'm a Ham Radio operator. My callsign is KDØETE.  I hold a General Class license, issued to me by the FCC. I've slowly been studying to be able to take the test for the top level license, Extra Class. I enjoy building ham radios from kits, building my own antennas and having a "go kit" ready for emergency situations where my services would be needed for emergency communications. I can have a ham station set up in 15 to 30 minutes and ready to provide communication options as needed. I take pride exercising and practicing my skills, kit building abilities and furthering my training. I feel good about what I've accomplished when I make a distant contact with someone in England, Italy or Guatemala with equipment I've made.

I'm also a hobbyist woodworker. I have a small shop set up in my garage. My wife's father and I put in the floor in the kitchen in our old house. I built my own air system for my air nailers and for filling up flat tires in my garage. I've build numerous items for around the house. I'm currently working on a new folding worktable on locking caster wheels so that I can build a cradle for our coming third child (my wife is due on January 8th, 2012) who will be staying in our room until Baby H gets a little older. I take pride in my abilities. I like to make my projects look nice. I enjoy pushing my skills and learning new techniques to better round out my handyman/woodworking skills. I feel good about what I've accomplished when I look at my finished pieces.

But what about vertically? What about my spiritual life? Like with Ham Radio and my woodworking, I study. I learn. I try to put new concepts and lessons learned into practice. Some things that used to be a temptation for me no longer are. Some days I do a really great job of being a husband, father, neighbor, parishioner. But do I deserve the credit for that? Was it that I tried really really hard and accomplished my goal spiritually? Was I able to finally conquer that sin that has caused me so much grief and strife by believing in myself and my abilities and just really applying myself? Am I finally making headway when I succeed? Do I deserve the credit for that as well? By no means!

All credit goes to Christ. He redeems me. He justifies me. He sanctifies me. He atones for me. He intercedes for me. He strengthens me. He comforts me. He leads me. There is no good in me that is not of Christ. Apart from Him, what am I? Lost and condemned. Apart from Him, what am I capable of? Only sin. If I am a good husband, it is only because of Christ. If I am a loving father, it is only because of Christ. If I am a courteous neighbor it is only because of Christ. Any spiritual accomplishment is because of Christ. If I have any value, it is only because of Christ. To Christ belongs the credit. And when it boils right down to, my abilities in Ham Radio and woodworking are because of Christ as well.  To Christ belongs the credit.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

LSC Wednesday #4: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

This is a short series of Wednesday postings taking us through Luther's Small Catechism.


As the Head of the Family Should Teach It in a Simple Way to His Household

What is Baptism? Answer: Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water included in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.

Which is that Word of God? Answer: Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 28:19].

What does Baptism give or profit? Answer: It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are these words and promises of God? Answer: Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” [Mark 16:16].

How can water do such great things? Answer: It is not the water indeed that does them, but the Word of God, which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts this Word of God in the water. For without the Word of God the water is simple water and no Baptism. But with the Word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul says in Titus chapter three, “He saved us … by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy” [vv. 5–8].

What does such baptizing with water signify? Answer: It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts. And also it shows that a new man should daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? Answer: St. Paul says in Romans chapter 6, “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” [v. 4].

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 339

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hymn Monday - "Look Toward the Mountains"

Today's hymn, "Look Toward the Mountains" (#310) is from "Lutheran Worship", (c) 1982 by Concordia Publishing House.

" Look toward the mountains of the Lord,
Rampart against the devil's horde;
Ascend the heights where God's adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

But our best banners tattered lie --
Dare we approach God's Sinai?
There thund'rous, love's ten standards fly.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Holy the lightnings round them flare.
But higher, look, what glory there;
What Gospel trumpets fill the air!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Oh, soaring mount of saving grace,
Where sin can never hide God's face,
Where all who come have his embrace!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Christ is the way to that blest height!
Our wayward steps he sets aright,
He takes us up into the light.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Follow the cross where God the Lord,
His Son, who life and joy restored,
And their blest Spirit are adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!"
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WWJD? He Would Die!

Here is the teaser for Episode #2 from The Great Exchange. Episode #2 is on "The Doctrine of Man." Editing is currently going on as we speak and the final cut should be uploaded by August 22nd. Enjoy. If you haven't checked out The Great Exchange yet, I encourage you to do so. We have a pretty sweet T-shirt selection and are slowly releasing some 'quality' podcasts on Lutheran doctrine for the average layperson. By the way... if you are wondering about the title of this blog posting, you will have to listen to the short segment below!

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Historical Church Writing Thursdays #1: Martin Chemnitz

This is the the start of Historical Church Writing Thursdays. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Martin Chemnitz:

"The Gospel is properly the doctrine of the person and office or benefits of Christ. But this doctrine consists most of all in these chief parts:
      I. That the Son of God, before the world of time, was, by a wonderful decree made in the hidden counsel of the Trinity, appointed to be our Mediator, Redeemer, Reconciler, and Savior.
     II. That this decree was revealed by the word of promise immediately after the Fall, and the promise of the coming Messiah gradually renewed and repeated to the fathers during the whole time of the Old Testament.
     III. Likewise that the Son of God, according to the promise, was made man in the fullness of time and most perfectly completed the work of redemption and reconciliation by His obedience, passion, and death, and thus gained righteousness and life eternal, by His resurrection and ascension, for those who believe in Him.
     IV. The Gospel does not only set forth the account of Christ in the story form, but the proper doctrine of Him is the promise of grace, by which God, in the Word and the Sacraments, sets before and offers to miserable sinners -- thoroughly terrified by the knowledge of sins and of divine wrath and damnation -- grace, remission of sins, adoption, and the inheritance of life eternal freely and out of pure mercy or grace, without our merit, only for the sake of the obedience, passion, death, and merit of Christ.
     V. The Gospel teaches that these benefits of Christ the Mediator are to be apprehended and applied by faith.
     VI. The Gospel declares those who believe righteous and saved."

     -- Martin Chemnitz

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Blog From Area Pastor: "Beyond the Sanctuary"

Today I found out that an area pastor has started a new blog titled "Beyond the Sanctuary". It's by LCMS pastor David Warner. Pastor Warner started and leads our monthly Confession Lutheran Reading Group. We're currently going through the Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (a.k.a. Book of Concord) I personally appreciate Pastor Warner's insight and explanations and willingness to answer questions as we go. If you follow my blog I would encourage you to check out Pastor Warner's new blog: "Beyond the Sanctuary."

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

LSC Wednesday #3: The Lord's Prayer

This is a short series of Wednesday postings taking us through Luther's Small Catechism.


As the Head of the Family Should Teach It in the Simplest Way to His Household

Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean? Answer: By these words God would tenderly encourage us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.

Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean? Answer: God’s name is indeed holy in itself. But we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also.

How is this done? Answer: When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity and we as the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven. But anyone who teaches and lives other than by what God’s Word teaches profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, heavenly Father.

Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean? Answer: The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself. But we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

How is this done? Answer: When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and there in eternity.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean? Answer: The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer. But we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is this done? Answer: When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will that would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh. Instead, He strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith until we die. This is His gracious and good will.

Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean? Answer: God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked people; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread? Answer: Everything that belongs to the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean? Answer: We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins nor deny such petitions on account of them. We are not worthy of any of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them. But we pray that He would grant them all to us by grace. For we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. So will we truly, on our part, also heartily forgive and readily do good to those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation.

What does this mean? Answer: God indeed tempts no one. But we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor seduce us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Though we are attacked by these things, we pray that still we may finally overcome them and gain the victory.

But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean? Answer: We pray in this petition, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all kinds of evil, of body and soul, property and honor. And finally, when our last hour shall come, we pray that He would grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven.


What does this mean? Answer: I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and are heard by Him. For He Himself has commanded us to pray this way and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, “Yes, yes, it shall be so.”

[Note: “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever” did not appear in Luther’s Small Catechism.]

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 330
Issues Etc. Episodes on The Lord's Prayer
1. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father Who Art in Heaven
2. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Hallowed Be Thy Name
3. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Thy Will be Done
4. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
5. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
6. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
7. Issues Etc: The Lord’s Prayer: Conclusion

Be sure to check out these great episodes from Issues Etc. Good Stuff.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Importance of Counseling: Evangelism, Part The Third

In part one of the Evangelism series we shed some light on the concept of "decision." In part two we talked about that when engaging in what we call Evangelism we are not salesmen, but rather news announcers or proclaimers of the Gospel. In part three we are going to discuss what I consider a very important part of Evangelism. Counseling.

You've seen it on TV, at your county fair, the local park and even a friend's (though hopefully not your own) church. The "revival" service. But to clarify, only God can bring revival, so this is actually an evangelistic meeting where, hopefully, the attenders are presented with the sternness of the Law that they might receive the sweetness of the Gospel.

Towards the end of this "service" the "altar call" is given. In many cases the "evangelist" has people show him by raising their hands that they know that they need to "get right with God/make a decision for God/get their life back on track/etc." (Now, the hand raising isn't necessarily a bad thing, if used properly.) Those people who raised their hands are then instructed to come forward or go to some predesignated spot where many times they pray a sinners prayer. (Once again, this separation and time of prayer isn't necessarily a bad thing, if used properly.) They are then told that they are all saved and now their lives should be different and that people should see a change. (We'll expand on the "people should see a change" concept in a later posting.) But what happened here? What do these people who came forward believe? Did coming forward save them? Did saying this prayer save them? What do they believe about sin? What do they believe about the person and work of Christ? Do they have any questions, anything they need explained? This is why within this type of setting, as well as others, we need to have counseling. Here's a way, not necessarily THE way, but a way that this can be done.

If you are one of the counselors you can start off asking a question like "Why did you come to talk to me?" or "Why do you need the Lord Jesus Christ?" The question you ask will depend on the setting. (Outreach event, personal evangelism, etc.) This first question sets the pace of things and lets you know what's going on with this person. In many cases with children their response to "Why did you come to talk to me?" is "Because you told me to."

The second set of questions is going to be about sin, and provided the "evangelist" has done his job, the person being counselled should have a good idea of what the answers are. Here are four questions about sin that the person should really have the answers to:

1. What is sin? (anything we think, say or do that breaks God's Laws and makes Him angry with us.)
2. Who has sinned? (Everyone. Romans 3:23. We were sinful at conception.)
3. What is God's punishment for sin? (Hell. Eternal separation from God's Love where we will only receive God's wrath, His anger times a million infinity squared)
4. Have you sinned? (Yes. Romans 3:23)
5. Is there anything that you can do to get rid of your sin? (No.)

If a person can't explain the gist of these questions, then they don't really understand the fallenness of man. And if they don't get question 4 right, we've got a major problem. A person without sin doesn't need a saviour, but we are all sinners and all need a saviour.

The third set of questions is about the person and work of Christ. Here are three questions about the person and work of Christ that the person should really have the answers to:

1. What did Christ do for you? (He willingly took my punishment for sin, shedding his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of my sin.)
2. Why is Christ the only one who could die for your sins? (Christ is the perfect, one and only son of God. He knew no sin. Everyone else is sinful. If someone else would have tried saving us by dieing on the cross, they would have only been getting what they deserved. Christ was blameless and didn't deserve this death. That's why it had to by Christ.)
3. What happened after Christ died? (He didn't stay dead. He rose again 3 days later. I Corinthians 15:3-4)

If a person can't explain the gist of these questions, then they don't really understand the work of Christ. If they don't get question 2, we've got a problem, because that would mean there are other ways that we can have our sins forgiven, and that's a serious biblical issue Skippy....)

The fourth set of questions is about salvation. We're going to use a verse that some call a "condition/promise" verse to explain about salvation. Some verses you could use would be John 1:12 (be sure to check out verse 13 ahead of time as well though) John 3:16 or Acts 16:31. I personally like using John 1:12 when working with Children. For this example I'll use Acts 16:31 due to how concise it is. Using a "condition/promise" verse that we will explain to the person, we will ask the following questions:

1. What does God promise He will do? (If I believe, He will save me. Acts 16:31)
2. When does that happen? (The moment I believe He saves me)
3. Do you believe that Jesus died, taking the punishment for your sins so that you don't have to be separated from God? (If the answer is "yes" because they were given faith by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) then Christ has saved them.)
4. Would you like to pray to thank Christ for what he's done for you? (Now it's very important that they understand that this prayer does not save them. This is a prayer of thanksgiving BECAUSE OF WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE. Remind them that Christ saved them the very second that they believe, which was a gift from God.)

If the person has no idea how to pray, here's a prayer of thankgiving that can be used to thank Christ for what He has done for this person:

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for saving me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me, taking the punishment for my sin, for forgiving me of sins, so that I wouldn't have to be separated from you. Please lead me in all things. Amen.

Note: is is VERY important that they understand that praying did not save them. Only Christ can do that.

There are three final things that we want to share with this person.

1. Christ will never leave them (Hebrews 13:5b)
2. Christ will help them do what's right. (Hebrews 13:6b) We can not live a pleasing life to God by pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and trying really really hard on our own. If we rely on ourselves, we will fail. The ability to live a pleasing life to God comes not from ourselves, but only from Christ. When we try on our own, we will always fail. A "victorious life" is only from Christ.
3. Christ continues to forgive us when we confess our sin to Him. (1 John 1:9) But what if I'm a really bad person? God's promise is that when we confess our sins, He forgives it. Does this mean we can do whatever we want? By no means.

Final thoughts on Evangelism...
In "evangelism" counseling is vital. If we have a Finney approach to it where we are concerned only about "doing great things for God" where the measure of "our success" of "winning souls" is based upon numbers, then by all means, please contribute to the ever increasing numbers of false converts. Statistics show that many people who have experienced Finney's Evangelism, prayed a mass prayer, never really were saved. But man those numbers of people that "we saved" sure looks good. We can really pat ourselves on the back for the great things "we're doing for God."

Or maybe, we should look at the "great commission", if that's what we want to call it, and actually read what it says. Matthew 28:19-20. Teach. Yes, it says go, but it says to go and teach and baptize. Notice that "teach" is stated twice. So you see, this isn't a numbers game. It isn't about us devising plans to "win" as many souls as we can for Christ. We can't save people. Only Christ can. It's about properly using Law and Gospel, teaching them what the Word says that they might have faith and believe. (Romans 10:17) Look at the questions listed above. These aren't the only questions and I know that there are other valid ones as well. Can those people we are sharing the Word of God with answer those questions? Do they understand? Did we teach them what the Word says? Counseling helps show us if they know what they need to know and lets us know what else they need to know. Can we get them to believe and have faith? No. Only the Word can do that. (Romans 10:17)

Remember, "evangelism" isn't about numbers. It's about teaching what the Word of God says that they might believe. (Romans 10:17) I know, I've used that verse a lot now, but I want you to understand that the pressure is not on us, it's on the Word. And the Word of God is powerful. It gives us faith. Thanks be to God!

Jesus Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Quick Thought on "Living for Christ"

In reponse to things heard and read as of late:

The ability to "live for Christ" isn't from pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps, really really meaning it this time or even by "getting right with God" or "re-committing" yourself to Him. That ability isn't in us, never was and never will be. The ability to "live for Christ" comes from Christ Alone, the one who's death even offers forgiveness for when we don't "live for Christ."

So take heart, knowing that when we try on our own, relying on our own fortitude, we will fail, for Christ has always know that this would be our outcome. That's why He succeeds for us when He works in us for His purpose. Apart from Christ we can do nothing. To live for Christ is to live because of Christ in thankfullness of the work of Christ.  There is no good in us that is not of Him.

When we fail time and time again with great consistency, remember that Christ forgave even that. Rest in His arms knowing that you are His child. Stop trying in and of yourself to do good, for you will fail, and simply let Him give you His strength that He would accomplish good through you.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Hymn Monday - "Lord, When We Bend Before Thy Throne"

Today's hymn, "Lord, When We Bend Before Thy Throne" (#22)  is from "The Lutheran Hymnal", (c) 1941 by Concordia Publishing House.

"Lord, when we bend before Thy throne And our confessions pour,
Teach us to feel the sins we own And hate what we deplore.

Our broken spirit pitying see, True penitence impart;
Then let a kindling glance from Thee Beam hope upon the heart.

When we disclose our wants in prayer, May we our wills resign
And not a thought our bosom share That is not wholly Thine

May faith each meek petition fill And waft it to the skies;
And teach our hearts 'tis goodness still That grants it or denies."

Jesus Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

LSC Wednesday #2: The Apostles' Creed

This is a short series of Wednesday postings taking us through Luther's Small Catechism.


As the Head of the Family Should Teach It in the Simplest Way to His Household


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?Answer: I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them. In addition, He has given me clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods. He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life. He protects me from all danger and guards me and preserves me from all evil. He does all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this I ought to thank Him, praise Him, serve Him, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.


And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean? Answer: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. He did this not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, so that I may be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.


I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean? Answer: I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise up me and all the dead and will give eternal life to me and to all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 328
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Don't Sell The Gospel, We Proclaim It: Evangelism, Part the Second

Tommorrow we start Fair Ministry. We'll face paint children using the colors of the Wordless Book (gold, black, red, white, green) to bring them Law and Gospel. The problem of many types of what many call evangelism is the focus of "how it's done." There are really two ways that this is done.

The first is the salesman approach (in which we are basically "pedlars" of Christ and Fine Spirituality) where the pressure is all on us to make the sale. "This was my life before Christ. This was my life after Christ. You really need Christ as you'll get left behind otherwise and go to Hell. I'd really like to get you behind the seat of this Christianity thing, you can see it comes fully loaded. What would keep you from signing the dotted line today?" At first glance it might not seem as though this is what we are trying to do, until you get to the end and say something like "Are you ready to make a decision for Christ today?" Did you catch it that time?

The second is a news announcer approach. A news announcer doesn't sell anything. He reports (or proclaims) the news, in this case, the Good News by using both Law and Gospel. "We're born sinful, are dead to sin and the punishement for that sin is eternal separation from God's love, which is Hell. There is absolutely nothing we can in any way do anything to get rid of that sin or to eleviate the punishment for it. (Law) But God is gracious and provided a way that our sins could be forgiven through his Son, Christ, who willing took our place, shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins, died and rose again, that we might believe and be saved through Him alone that we might be His own and be with Him. (Gospel)" Who's the pressure on in this approach? The Word. (Romans 10:17) It gives us faith. With the news announcer approach, the question we ask then is not "Are you ready to make a decision for Christ today?" (John 1:12-13, see post: "The Candle Sheds Light on Decision") but instead "Do you believe?" (Acts 16:31)

In what is being called evangelism, you're job isn't to make a sale, it's to tell them the Good News of what Christ did for them. There is no pressure on you, for you can't give people faith. People can't give faith to themselves. But the Word through Christ can. Our question at the end should be "Do you believe?" After having heard the Gospel, the Word of God, they'll either believe or they won't. And when they say "yes", they can only say it because they had faith from having heard the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) So remember, we're news announcers, proclaimers of the Gospel, not salesman. Man cannot save man. Only the Good News of Christ for us, the power of God, can do that. (Romans 1:16)

Jesu Juva,
Sole Deo Gloria

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hymn Monday

Here's the start of Hymn Monday! Today's is taken from Laache's "Book of Family Prayer", which was used by my family before they immigrated from Norway to the United States. My copy, with the current translation by Rev. Mark DeGarmeaux, was given to me by my father.

"O Lord, our God, You give to us
Your gifts and favor brightly;
Your Holy Ghost enlighten us
That we may use them rightly;
As stewards true may we be known
With truth's sweet friendship as our own,
And never in corruption.

Arouse in us true diligence,
Refresh our zeal so that we
May use our time with faithfulness
Whate'er our calling may be;
O make us worthy to be know
Children of light and heaven's own,
And to Your heart embrace us."

Landstad: Hvor ilde dog af Synds Begjaer L 499:5-6 tr. DeGarmeaus; tune: Ach Gott vom Himmel
Translation: Copyright (c) 2000 Mark DeGarmeaux. Used with permission.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria