Sunday, December 28, 2008

Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents: A Devotional Commentary

Matthew 2:13-18 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more."

Today the church commemorates the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents--the baby boys who were killed in Bethlehem. Our minds immediately focus on the horrors that we see in our own day--the millions of babies aborted, children being treated as property, and all the miscarriages and stillbirths that we see around us. We cry out, "How could a good God allow such things?"

All death is a result of sin. But God's grace and love are far greater than all the evil of mankind. Jeremiah prophesied about these baby boys and tells us what will become of them.

Jeremiah 31:15-17 Thus says the LORD: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more." Thus says the LORD: "Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.

These baby boys are given God's salvation. These baby boys were killed in an attempt to kill Jesus. They died for Jesus. Jesus came to die for them. If the Lamb had not come they may have led a longer earthly existence but would suffer eternal damnation. Because the Lamb came they have been given eternal life. They died for the Lamb, the Lamb died for them.


Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Lord Jesus, our Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Article XII

And the Life Everlasting.


This is the last article of the creed. Biblically, life is more than existence. The anti-Lambians will continue in everlasting existence, but it will be an everlasting death. True life is only to be found in communion with God and the Lamb.

Followers of the Lamb cross themselves during this article as a reminder that it is only through the suffering of the Lamb on the cross that they receive the life everlasting. You cannot obtain the life everlasting any other way. If you follow any other path you will receive the neverlasting life.

Everyone seems to be striving for immortality. Through whatever the diet or drug of the day is, people are always trying to cheat death. Some may extend their earthly existence, but others do not. Jim Fixx helped to start America's fitness revolution and he died from a heart attack after jogging at the age of 52. "Health experts" make claims about foods and then say the exact opposite about them just a few years later. Something which was once thought to kill you is the new miracle food and vice versa. Far more disturbing are the movements that seek out immortality at the expense of the lives of others. Stem cell research kills countless people in order to continue the illusive quest for immortality.

Matthew 10:39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

This is the paradox of the Christian life. If you deny the Lamb in order to save your life you will lose your life and become just another heir of neverlasting life. If the enemies of the Lamb kill you because of your trust in the Lamb, you will receive everlasting life. You will receive everlasting life because you are in union with the everlasting Lamb.

The creed ends with Amen. Amen has been part of the liturgy since the time of the Old Testament and has not been translated. It means, "Yes! Yes! It shall be so!" It is not an expression of wish. It is an expression of confidence. You can have confidence when you say Amen because of the Lamb on the Altar.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Article XI

The Resurrection of the Dead

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.

Ezekiel 37:12 "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

Your life is not such that you live and die and then go on to live in heaven in some eternal spiritual way without a body. Your body is part of who you are and the Lamb has redeemed your body. Your body is important to the Lamb. All men will be resurrected. If you have received he mark of the Lamb, you will be resurrected and live in eternal bliss and communion with the Lamb. If you are an anti-Lamb and bear the mark of the Beast, you will be resurrected in a body that will experience eternal death and suffering.

You receive your body because the Lamb has accomplished your redemption, the Lamb has shed His blood for you. The Lamb has been resurrected for you. Because of your union with the Lamb, you too will be resurrected. If you are still living when the Lord returns He will transform your body, but it will still be your body. If you're reading this and you are already dead and the maggots have eaten your flesh and you have decomposed into the ground, do not fear. The Lamb created you out of the dust of the ground to begin with and He can certainly put you back together.

Perhaps the best place to be when Christ returns would be at a burial in a graveyard. The caskets would burst open and the dead would pop out of the ground. What a sight it will be to see! Praise to the Lamb for being the first-fruits, for conquering death and the devil, and for redeeming our bodies!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Article X

The Forgiveness of Sins

The Nicene Creed says One baptism for the remission of sins.

All forgiveness is through faith. Through Word and Sacrament you receive the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Luke 3:3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,

Luke 24:46-47 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:43 "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."

John 20:21-23 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Matthew 26:27-28 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Remission of sins is given to you through the preaching of the Gospel, baptism, the Lord's Supper, and absolution.

Baptism is not some bare symbol. Baptism really does what God tells you it does because of what the Lamb did.

1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Acts 22:16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

The Lamb is not trying to trick you. The Lamb is not telling you that water baptism is all fine and dandy but doesn't really do anything. The Lamb is not separating water baptism from some sort of mystical spirit baptism. The Lamb is Faithful and True. Baptism is not something you do. Baptism is something God does to you. The Bible does not speak of anyone baptizing himself. You are baptized. You are forgiven. You are adopted. Your sins are forgiven. Faith is not something you do. Faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). God can give faith to an embryo. It is His gift. God promises to give faith in baptism. Faith is not based on your cognitive ability. Faith is based on the work of the Lamb.

Treasury of Daily Prayer

I received the Treasury of Daily Prayer as a birthday present. Yes, it is as awesome as everyone says it is. Yes, you must buy it or find someone to buy it for you.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Article IX

The Holy Catholic Church

The Communion of the Saints/In Holy Things

Articles 9-12 are distinguished from the preceding articles in that we do not believe in them. We believe in God the Father and we believe in Jesus Christ and we believe in the Holy Spirit. We believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We believe the Communion of the Saints. Do not separate these articles either, as if they are just some sort of ad-on. There would be no Holy Catholic Church and no Communion of the Saints without the Holy Spirit.

This One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is not to be identified with a single institution or denomination. All who believe in the Trinitarian God that the Apostle's Creed speaks of are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. That doesn't mean that outward unity is irrelevant. Disunity hinders evangelism. Pray fervently for the unity of the Church and desire maximum outward unity that the world may believe (John 17). Do not seek unity at all costs. Unity must be found in genuine agreement in the truth.

The idea of a single institution containing all members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church seems very attractive, especially when you see the countless denominations. After all, there are no denominations in the Bible. We don't find Paul setting up his Lutheran church across the street from St. James Catholic Church. But within the institutions which do claim to be the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church there is a great deal of disunity. Nobody knows what kind of nutty thing the American Catholic Bishops might come up with next. Eastern Orthodoxy does a better job at creating the illusion of unity than most but they have their fair share of problems as well. Orthodox monks from various branches of the Orthodox church get in fist-fights in the Holy Land. People from different communions have trouble having their ordination recognized. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox also use a number or loopholes in their own language and acknowledge that there are Christians outside of their own communions.

So we are left with the paradox of the One church that looks like anything but one. The Church is holy because she is washed in the blood of Christ. The Church is Catholic because she contains all believers from all over the world. The Church is Apostolic, not because of some questionable succession (although this is desirable) but because she maintains the Apostolic teachings.

The Creed goes on to say, "I believe the Communion of the Saints" or it could be translated "I believe the Communion in Holy Things." Perhaps more likely, it means both. All who are part of the One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church are part of the Communion of the Saints. You are part of a family and communion that is composed not only of believers who are now in your own church or now alive on the planet earth. You are part of a communion that includes more dead than living. You are part of a communion that includes every believer that ever lived.

You are part of the communion in holy things--the communion in the holy sacraments--especially the Sacrament of the Altar (Eucharist, Mass, Lord's Supper). You are part of the communion that partakes of the Lamb's body and blood. You are connected in communion to all believers because you are connected to the Lamb who shed His blood for you.

None of this should make you think that the visible church on earth is unimportant. The visible church on earth is where God brings us the Gospel and gives us the holy things. When we worship the Lamb in the local visible church, we join in worship with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Book Review: Boomtown

This is the second book I'm reviewing as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program. Boomtown is by Nowen N. Particular and is intended to be the first book in a series. Boomtown is told in first person from the perspective of a nondenominational pastor who moves into Boomtown with his family to pastor a small church. The people of the town enjoy nothing more than blowing things up. The story takes place between 1949 and 1950 and appears to be the author's vision of some kind of utopia where people of various races and backgrounds live in harmony with one another.

The book appears to be marketed to young boys and I am not part of that target audience but I thought the book was horrible. The main character is almost killed several times and I simply didn't care if he lived or died. The characters lacked the slightest amount of depth. There are photographs scattered throughout the book of the town and its characters and the pictures were the only enjoyable part of the book. Some of the pictures didn't seem to fit but they were still enjoyable.

Theologically the book is horrible. Sin, even in truly ghastly forms such as when people are putting the lives of others in danger, is laughed at. In fact, the book gives the impression that the main character's biggest flaw is his concern for his life and the lives of others. The message of the book is similar to that of many Disney films: parents simply aren't daring enough and set up too many rules.

There was a scene in the book where a man named Xian was put on trial. I thought surely Xian must be code for Christian but it really didn't seem to turn out that way. Xian was declared innocent because the town delighted in exciting sins (and the book seemed to think that this was a good idea). Books like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter show the true evil of sin and teach that some sort of substitutional sacrifice is the only way to defeat evil. Boomtown teaches that if you do something bad it's not a big deal and you should just try do counteract it with some good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Slappy Holiday!

Slappy holiday
Why not take the Santa Claus tradition a little further? by Gene Edward Veith

Santa Claus had his origins in St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family's daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity of Christ. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ.
During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

The point is, the original Santa Claus was someone who flew off the handle when he heard someone minimizing Christ. Perhaps we can battle our culture's increasingly Christ-less Christmas by enlisting Santa in his original cause. The poor girls' stockings have become part of our Christmas imagery. So should the St. Nicholas slap.

Not a violent hit of the kind that got the good bishop in trouble, just a gentle, admonitory tap on the cheek. This should be reserved not for out-and-out nonbelievers, but for heretics (that is, people in the church who deny its teachings), Christians who forget about Jesus, and people who try to take Christ out of Christmas.

This will take a little tweaking of the mythology. Santa and his elves live at the North Pole where they compile a list of who is naughty, who is nice, and who is Nicean. On Christmas Eve, flying reindeer pull his sleigh full of gifts. And after he comes down the chimney, he will steal into the rooms of people dreaming of sugarplums who think they can do without Christ and slap them awake.

And we'll need new songs and TV specials ("Santa Claus Is Coming to Slap," "Deck the Apollinarian with Bats of Holly," "Frosty the Gnostic," "How the Arian Stole Christmas," "Rudolph the Red Knows Jesus").

Department store Santas should ask the children on their laps if they have been good, what they want for Christmas, and whether they understand the Two Natures of Christ. The Santas should also roam the shopping aisles, and if they hear any clerks wish their customers a mere "Happy Holiday," give them a slap.

This addition to his job description will keep Santa busy. Teachers who forbid the singing of religious Christmas carols—SLAP! Office managers who erect Holiday Trees—SLAP! Judges who outlaw manger displays—SLAP! People who give The Da Vinci Code as a Christmas present—SLAP! Ministers who cancel Sunday church services that fall on Christmas day—SLAP! SLAP!
Perhaps Santa Claus in his original role as a theological enforcer may not go over very well in our contemporary culture. People may then try to take both Christ and Santa Claus out of Christmas. And with that economic heresy, the retailers would start to do the slapping.
Copyright © 2008 WORLD MagazineDecember 24, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 50

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hail Mary, Blessed is the fruit of her womb

Rev. Weedon had quite the homily, I just had to share it.

Funny how modern-day Lutherans start to squirm a bit with too much Mary going on. St. Elizabeth must not have been a modern day Lutheran, for she is overjoyed when the Mother of God enters her house. At the very sound of the Blessed Virgin’s voice, the child in old Elizabeth’s womb, St. John the Baptist, does a somersault of joy. Thus, even before he is born, he is announcing the arrival of the King and testifying to the little heart that was already beating beneath Mary’s own. The heart of a Child who is truly God.

Elizabeth teaches us to understand the blessedness of Mary. St. Luke is clear that St. Elizabeth spoke by the Holy Spirit. So these are not just words of some long ago saint, but they are words prompted by the Holy Spirit himself and so words given us to treasure, to which we do well to give great heed.

First, she announces: “Blessed are you among women.” Blessed indeed, for never again and never before would there be a woman who became a mother and remained a virgin. The type that Isaiah had foretold had a bigger fulfillment than anyone could ever imagine. A virgin conceives and bears a Son. The hymns of Advent and of Christmas never cease to invite us to marvel over God’s chosen way of coming to rescue us. “Here a maid was found with child, Yet remained a virgin mild. In her womb this truth was shown: God was there upon His throne.” (LSB 332:3) “Thou cam’st the Bridegroom of the bride, As drew the world to eventide, The spotless Victim all divine, Proceeding from a virgin shrine. “ (LSB 351:3) “Of her Emmanuel the Christ was born, in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn. And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say: Most highly favored lady, Gloria!” (LSB 356) Only in Mary do virgin and mother unite. Blessed among women.

But there’s more, and so St. Elizabeth cries out: “Blessed is the fruit of Your womb.” Do you get that one? The One promised so long ago to Abraham to bring blessing to all the peoples of the earth. The Blessed One is in Mary’s womb. The One who comes in the name of the Lord. The Blessed One is in Mary’s womb. She is the living Ark of God! For it is the Eternal Word of the Father who is growing day by day in her swelling womb. The heavens and the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, and yet in love for us, He deigns to take up residence in Mary’s body so that she could give Him the flesh and blood by which He would bring blessing to all – by suffering and dying in that flesh to destroy death, to wipe out sin, to raise it from death incorruptible and to seat that flesh and blood that came from Mary at the right hand of the throne of God as the firstfruits - for we shall surely follow. This is the blessing – to raise humanity to what God intended for us from the beginning – that we might be His children, His heirs, sharing a life that never ends. Blessed indeed is the fruit of Mary’s womb, our Lord Jesus.

But St. Elizabeth is not done. There’s more. John the Baptist in her womb confessing the advent of his Lord no doubt put her in mind of it. I always picture St. Elizabeth cutting her eyes at old Zechariah sitting silent in the corner, but with eyes sparkling, as she pronounces the last blessing upon Mary: “Blessed is she who believed.” Unspoken, then, the words: “Unlike you, you old goat! See how silly you were? This maiden’s faith has shamed you.” And I don’t doubt for a second that old Zechariah was laughing silently right along with the two ladies. When Dr. Luther reflected on St. Elizabeth’s words, he opined that perhaps it was the last blessing that is the most amazing. That Mary should believe it. That she should receive such a shocking and incredible promise from God and say to it her great fiat: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me according to Your Word.” A miracle that a virgin should conceive. A miracle that the Child she bears is the Eternal Son destined for an Eternal Kingdom. But Luther thought perhaps the greatest miracle of the incarnation is that Mary believed it, said yes to it, gave space and time in her life to the God who begged entrance so that He might bring blessing to a world gone wrong.

People loved by God, do you see? The Holy Spirit doesn’t set Mary before you tonight for you to worship, for you to pray to and seek favor from. That would horrify her in the extreme. She is set before you for you to love. For as you love her Son, her flesh and blood, you cannot but help joining with St. Elizabeth in calling Mary blessed. Indeed, inspired by the same Spirit, the Mother of God would cry out: “From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Don’t worship her or pray to her, but do learn to love her. There is no need to fear her. She’s not in competition with her Son. But she is His mother.

Look at all the artwork of the Church from early years and you’ll see that they got it right. Invariably she holds forth her hand to her Son and directs all your attention from her to Him who made her blessed. Of all the gifts our Jesus gives us, we must not forget to bless and thank Him for His mother, and to ask that our faith might come to be like hers – a blessed faith that says “Yes, enter in” when God knocks.

Let us stand now and join the Mother of God in her hymn of praise, the Magnificat – for surely as He has done great things for her, so He has also done great things for us. And holy is His name. Amen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Irrational animals...born to be caught and destroyed, speaking evil about matters of which they do not understand

2 Peter 2:12-17 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, speaking evil about matters of which they do not understand, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unstable souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

I read this passage as part of my daily devotions today and was caught off guard. The passage speaks of men who behave like animals. How do they behave like animals? If you read further you will find some of the results of their animal-like behavior such as adultery but that is merely a result. They behave like animals which ought to be destroyed by acting out of instinct. They speak of things that they don't understand. They think that further investigation and use of reason is completely unnecessary. After a short observation they have trusted their instincts to form a judgment.

How prevalent is this today? How many times have you reacted negatively to something that you really didn't know anything about? How many times have you heard people in your church forming judgments about people or events that they didn't really know anything about? Have you spread these instinctual judgments to others and presented them as fact? How many times have you heard pastors speak condemningly from the pulpit about the practices of other churches that they really didn't know anything about? How many times have you heard the members of these congregations spreading these instinctual, beastly judgments?

If a person grows up in a church (regardless of what church that is), they regard the practices of that church as normal. Any deviation from their past experience is often determined to be wrong based upon instinctual reaction. But is this the way the Lamb calls us to behave? Do you think that the Lamb who gave His life for you wants you to behave as an animal that ought to be destroyed?

There is nothing neutral about worship. All practices must be evaluated in the light of Scripture. But you have to be careful. It's easy to confuse what you are used to with Scripture. When practices of a church appear to deviate from Scripture you should ask the pastor or another knowledgeable person from the church why such things are done. If you refuse to discuss the issues and condemn out of pure instinct you are a true heretic. Biblically a heretic is someone who divides the church. Your condemnation of a church body based on instinct is a heresy.

Condemnation based on instinct is the result of pride. Your pride convinces you that you must be doing everything right and that you as an individual are the true standard of all orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Instinctual judgment creates an idol of self and diminishes the personhood of the persons being judged. The error of the instinctual judger is the error of the Pharisee. Deep down the instinctual judger thinks that those he is condemning are disgusting and too big of sinners to be saved by Christ. But the Lamb did not come into the world to save instinctual judgmental people. The Lamb came to save sinners!

You are not the center of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The Lamb is at the center of everything! The Lamb gave Himself for you. The Lamb is so patient with you. Why won't you be patient with others? If your true desire is to live a life in which you receive the good gifts given to you by the Lamb, then why wouldn't you want to learn and discuss with others? Don't you want others to receive these gifts? Don't you want to receive them yourself? How do you receive good gifts and share them with others through instinctual judging? All you will receive is the praise of men. You have your reward. You cut yourself off from the good gifts of God.
If truth is the goal then there is nothing to be lost from discussion and nothing to be feared. Perhaps you will even find that YOU are the one acting unbiblically in YOUR worship.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The First Day of Advent-Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Today is the first day of advent.

Rev. Weedon has an excellent homily for the first Sunday in Advent. The first Sunday of Advent also coincides with the commemoration of St. Andrew the Apostle.

Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It is a penitential season like Lent. It is a time for recognition of your sins. If it were not for your sins there would be no need for Christmas. During Advent we prepare for the second coming of the Lamb while we prepare for the celebration of the first coming of the Lamb.

Our culture and even many churches are not very interested in Advent. Advent ends up getting swallowed up into the Christmas season. The Christmas season begins December 25th and ends January 6th when Epiphany is celebrated.

Of course the marketability of Advent is pretty low. You can sell people a few Advent wreaths, an Advent calendar, and maybe a book. But the big money is in Christmas. Lots and lots of toys and decorations can be sold. If people are fasting its hard to sell them food. Gorging during Advent is probably more common than fasting. Christmas is more marketable in the church too.. Christmas is much more upbeat and you can do topical sermons on how to cope during Christmas or use it as a time to get people to donate to your favorite charity. You can make references to movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" and talk about how good or bad your wife's cooking is.

A Christmas without Advent has the same problems as an Easter without Lent. It might get the family together eating and gorging themselves but the Lamb serves no purpose--he's merely an excuse to get together and feel happy (or get in fights). The Lamb did not come so that you could gather around a fire and sing "Let it Snow." Have you ever thought about how self-centered that song is? Since WE'VE got no place to go, let it snow, to hell with everyone else. Our culture begins the Christmas season on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas is celebrated by killing and injuring others to get the best deal. Christmas is celebrated as a season of self-interest and looking out for number one. The Lamb did not come to this world in self-interest. The Lamb came in your interest. The Lamb came to sacrifice Himself for you.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Article VIII

I believe in the Holy Ghost

The Nicene Creed reads:

I believe in the Holy Ghost,
the Lord and giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets

Okay, I lied. For those paying close attention, the above is actually from the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

Okay, you caught me again. "And the Son" was added later by the Western church but rejected in the East.

So, who is the Holy Spirit? The word Spirit also means Breath. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Breath breathed back and forth in the bond of love between the Father and the Son. All life has its existance because the Breath has been breathed forth.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Working through the sacrament of baptism, the Holy Breath also gives life to the spiritually dead.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

I don't think that the West should have added to the Creed but the statement that the Holy Breath proceeds from the Father and the Son is Biblically true.

Acts 2:33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a clean river of living water, bright as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,

The living water or water of life is the Holy Spirit. It took much longer for the East to accept the book of Revelation and that may have contributed to their refusal to accept "and the Son." The Eastern and Western churches have also approached the Trinity in very different ways. The West generally starts with the oneness of God and works its way out to the way in which God is three which is why modalism plagues the Western church. The Eastern church starts with the Threeness of God and works its way back to explain how God is one. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. The addition of "and the Son" was an attempt to combat a heresy that was troubling the West. Because of the approach in the East, the addition itself appeared to be heresy. For a more complete and better explanation of this controversy I recommend The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham.

The Holy Breath is not inferior to the Father or the Son. The Holy Breath should be worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son.

The Holy Breath spoke by the prophets.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is breathed into by God. The Holy Breath is breathed into man.

What are the Scriptures all about? They are about the Lamb. The Holy Breath always testifies about the Lamb.

John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

This is the problem with the so-called "Holy Spirit-filled" churches. If they were really filled with the Holy Spirit they would be testifying about the Lamb. They would not think tongues or healings or miracles are the central point of all Christianity. The Holy Spirit can't stop talking about the Lamb.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One of the best sermons I've heard

This is one of the best sermons I've ever heard. For those who would rather read.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Article VII

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

Article VII is the last article in the Apostle's Creed dealing with the Son. We learned what the Lamb did. Now we learn what the Lamb will do. November 29th marks the end of the church year and it is appropriate that we spend some time thinking about the final judgment. The outcome of the final judgment is far more important than whatever our best life now might look like.

The anti-Lamb within you wants to bring your own works to the table. The anti-Lamb says that the Lamb did a good job getting the ball rolling but now its time to get our good works on to seal the deal. If you are able to stay a good Pharisee and stick to your little check list ( tithe, shave, don't eat meat on Friday, vote Republican, go on mission trips, speak in tongues, don't speak in tongues, only listen to the Christian radio stations, don't drink, don't chew, don't go with girls that do, etc.) then you can convince yourself that all is well. What you don't realize is that you are not the Lamb--you do not make the rules. You have put yourself in the place of the Lamb. What does the Lamb say about this?

Matthew 7:21-23 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

Faith in the Lamb does result in good works but they're not something you bring to the Lamb to show him why he should let you into heaven. Your attempt to bring good works to the table is a demonstration of lack of faith in the Lamb. When you try to bring your good works to the table you are saying that the Lamb didn't do enough.

Matthew 25:32-40 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

Look at your life and compare it with God's law--you haven't come anywhere close to keeping God's law. You wouldn't ever want to try to be the Lamb and save yourself. Put your trust completely in the Lamb. You know that all attempts to do it yourself only lead to despair. When the Lamb returns He will praise you for your good works that you didn't even realize that you did. Faith in the Lamb will automatically cause you to do good works that benefit your neighbor without even thinking about them. They good works prepared for you by the Lamb. The good works are God working in you.

Do not try to come to the feast of the Lamb in your own filthy menstrual rags of works righteousness. You will be thrown out for the disgusting piece of crap that you are. Put on the robe washed in the blood of the Lamb!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Article VI

He ascended into Heaven
And sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

The glorification of the Lamb for us continues. The Lamb appeared to many after His resurrection but the creed moves right on to the Lamb's ascension. It is not as if the Word had never been in heaven prior to the ascension of the Lamb. The Word of God was always in heaven. But now the Word made flesh ascends to heaven. The Word made flesh now reigns in heaven. It is the mystery of the incarnation that makes all this possible.

The creed does not say that Lamb goes to heaven until it is time for him to establish his earthly millennial reign. The creed says that the Lamb reigns today. He is at the right of God ruling all things.

Acts 2:32-36 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." ' "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Issues, Etc.

Issues Etc. is a truly wonderful Christian program. I download the podcasts and listen to the previous day's show while I'm at work. Here are some recent segments that are well-worth listening to:

Dr. Alveda King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She discusses the issue of abortion in light of her uncle's legacy.

Rev. Jim Roemke is my pastor. He discusses what the Divine Service is and is not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: The Moon Shines Down

This is my first book review as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blog program. It's an illustrated children's book called The Moon Shines Down. The book is an expansion of an unfinished manuscript by Margaret Wise Brown, author of the classic Goodnight Moon. I'm unqualified to perform textual criticism to determine which parts Brown wrote and which parts Minchew the expander wrote since I am unfamiliar with most of Brown's many books (except for Goodnight Moon.)

The book is based on the New England sampler prayer, "God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me." The book is one long prayer asking for God's blessing upon all the children of the world. I read the book to my two boys twice. One is four and the other is two. We all enjoyed the book.

The illustrations are nice. They look more modern than the old Goodnight Moon illustrations but they don't have that goofy cartoonish look that so many children's books have. There's plenty of detail and objects from the prayer to pick out. There was one strange looking lion with a white beard that I didn't quite understand.

I enjoyed most of the poetry but some parts were better than others. I've gotten used to reading Dr. Seuss books and I suppose it's easier for Dr. Seuss to rhyme when he makes up a lot of his words.

For example, the following works very well:

The Moon shines down and sheds its beams
On a house with a stork where a Dutch boy dreams
Of tulip fields by quiet streams
In his flat Dutch land of cheese and creams

The following doesn't work so well:

I see the Moon
And the Moon sees me,
And the Moon sees the kids in Mexico.
God bless the Moon
And God bless me,
And God bless the Toucan with her funny nose.

I was concerned that there might not be anything particularly Christian about the prayer, but the Christ child does make an appearance as well as Christmas. It wasn't my favorite children's book of all time but I did enjoy it and I think I like it better than Goodnight Moon.

I sold out

I recently joined the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program. From time to time I will be doing book reviews in exchange for free books. Unfortunately I missed out on the NKJV Chronological Bible and the Orthodox Study Bible. The list of available books is actually pretty short and I will probably be doing a number children's book reviews. The reviews can be positive or negative. I'm not afraid to bite the hand that feeds me and I often vote against myself. I don't anticipate being so overtaken by the freeness of the books that I will lose all judgment and start recommending the Voice Bible to everyone but I just wanted to make you all aware that I being given free books. If anybody from Concordia Publishing wants to send me free books, please do so.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Article V

He descended into Hell;
The third Day He rose again from the dead;

I'm not sure why, but somehow I managed to include the descent into hell under the fourth article. It belongs to the fifth article. So this post will only (not that the word only is really appropriate) cover the resurrection of the Lamb from the dead.

Some may ask why the resurrection is important or even necessary. Didn't the Lamb complete all His work when He said, "It is finished"? In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul says that the entire Christian faith is useless and ridiculous if Christ did not rise from the dead. Paul is not defending the idea of Jesus living on in our hearts. Paul is speaking of a real resurrection. Paul is speaking of something worth dying for.

Revelation 1:4-5 John, to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to y o u and peace from God, who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Christ is the firstborn of the resurrection of the dead. When Christ returns you too will receive your resurrected body. If the Lamb were not resurrected there would be no resurrection for you.

Romans 4:24-25 It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

The resurrection is also proof that your justification took place. Christ was raised because He accomplished your justification. If you justification were not accomplished He would still be lying in the tomb.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Article IV

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified dead, and buried
He descended into Hell;

The Creed is concrete. The Creed does not speak of feelings but of objective realities. It doesn't talk about how the Lamb makes you feel but what the Lamb did. In the third article the Creed told us of the Lamb's conception and entrance into the state of humiliation. We continue to learn from the Creed about the humiliation that the Lamb suffered for us.

Injustice is everywhere, but no injustice is so great as what the Lamb suffered for us. When you stand before the court for murder, you may be innocent of physical murder but you are a murderer. The Lamb was spotless and without blemish. The Lamb was not guilty in any sense of the word but He was guiltier than anyone. The Lamb bore no sins of His own but He bore the sins of the world. He was judged guilty by the civil authorities in the person of Pontius Pilate and by the judgment of the civil authorities they themselves were judged and found guilty. The civil authorities murdered God. The politician Pilate did not uphold justice but acted in cowardice. He was willing to kill in order to keep his job. The same happens today when politicians support wars and abortions to get elected. The people are not much different either. The population is willing to sacrifice any number of people if it saves their god--the economy. But this was something far worse than any of that. This was the killing of God Himself.

The Lamb was not killed by lethal injection. The Lamb was crucified for us. The Lamb became a curse by suffering on a tree for us. The Lamb was spat upon, suffered a long and painful death, and eventually suffocated for us. But that wasn't even the worst of it. The Lamb suffered God's wrath and abandonment for us! And the Lamb was buried for us. The Lamb did all of this to conquer death for us. The Lamb conquered death through His own death.

The Creed then begins to tell us of the Lamb's exaltation. The Lamb "descended into hell." What does this mean?

Ephesians 4:8-9 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this, "He ascended" -- what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

"Whether we comprehend it with or without pictures, is an indifferent matter, as long as we don't become heretics and this article remains intact, that our Lord Jesus Christ did descend into hell, battered hell open, overcame the devil, and delivered those who were held captive by the devil." The House Postils,Vol. 1, p. 480 And again: "Christ has crushed hell, opened up heaven,bound and taken captive the devil, and delivered the prisoners." (Martin Luther, The HousePostils, Vol. 1, p. 482.)

The soul, having obtained union with the Word; descended into hell; but using its divine power and efficacy, it said to the ones in bondage, "Go forth!" (St. Cyril of Alexandria, as cited in Catalog of Testimonies VI)

Recognize this, brothers: be glad, brothers, that after the triumph of Christ the prison of the saints has been broken open, and the netherworld no longer exercises any jurisdiction over the saints, since Christ penetrated all the way to the netherworld in order to free the just, not the unjust. Let us realize, brothers, how great a benefit Christ has provided, or rather, how without Christ no one possessed salvation, since, besides the wretched dissolution of their bodies, the souls, too, of the saints were being held in confinement in the underworld. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 123, par. 7)

UNFPA Exposed

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Article III

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary

In the third article the conception of the Lamb is considered.

Luke 1:26-35 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 "And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." 34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" 35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

The anti-lambs tend to go into two different errors when dealing with the conception of the Lamb and the creed deals with both errors. One doctrine of the anti-lamb is that this was an ordinary birth and that the Holy Spirit played no part in it. The other claims that the Lamb did not receive his humanity or blood from Mary. This is no ordinary conception. This is conception by the Holy Spirit. The Lamb was no mere man. No mere man could accomplish your salvation. The Lamb is fully God. Only God can save you. But this is not some god untouched by humanity either. The Lamb must be fully man in order to save us. Cast all rationality aside and accept the God-man Lamb, not some Lamb of your own devising.

Mary plays an important role that no man could ever play. Chalcedon refers to Mary as the theotokos--the God-bearer or Mother of God. The title Mother of God is appropriate and necessary. It guards against all who would try to get around the idea that the embryo that was within Mary was God and continued and continues to be God. The Biblical text says that all generations will call Mary blessed because she is the Mother of God. Unfortunately, in reaction the errors of Rome, many Protestants no longer call Mary blessed. We should not pray to her or view her as co-redemptrix but we should recognize the position to which God called her and recognize the high-calling of motherhood. No man could be the Mother of God. There are also profound ethical questions that we must consider when we consider the embryo that was in Mary's womb. The embryo was a person and we must not consider any embryo to be anything less than a person. Jesus did not become Jesus after several weeks or after birth. The person of Jesus existed from the time of conception. Many today would be urging this poor unwed pregnant woman to have an abortion but God exalts her motherhood. Many would consider her pregnancy to be a hindrance to her career but God calls it a blessing--and who could imagine a greater blessing?

From the very beginning of the church there was a general consensus in regards to a belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary and a belief that Jesus was able to pass through without destroying her virginity. For an excellent Biblical and theological defense of this position I direct the reader to Rev. Weedon's Study On the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. The doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity was upheld by most of the Reformers including Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Turretin where we often read of the "ever-virgin Mary." The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is not as important for what it tells us about Mary as it is for what it tells us about the Lamb and the communication of the attributes. The Lamb was able to pass through and be born without violating the virginity of His mother because the Lamb was fully God.

Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Genocide, Eugenics, and Abortion

We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the mained, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. (138-9)

At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla. (1874, p. 178)

The quotations above are from Darwin's The Descent of Man. Darwin believed that man was foolish to help the weak in society and believed that certain people groups such as black Africans and their descendants were lower on the evolutionary scale than the white man. Up until very recently, his views were accepted by most evolutionists. Darwin's scientific theory was used to explain the social and technological advancements of various peoples and cultures.

Darwin's theories were influential upon (and he was also influenced by) eugenics. Eugenics is defined by modern proponents as the "self-direction of human evolution." It has been embraced in various forms throughout history but I will focus on the modern era and in America. Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt both supported eugenics in the form of forced sterilization of people who were deemed unfit to reproduce. Eugenics has been promoted in greater and lesser degrees by most of our recent presidents from both parties. In recent years, the debate between Republican and Democrat has centered around the controversy of whether or not abortion should be part of the eugenics program--neither of the major parties opposes eugenics entirely (Bush Jr. might).

Nazi Germany gave the world a horrific picture of what full-scale open eugenics looks like. The horror did not stop the eugenics movement as a whole it just changed the language of the conversation. Open and obvious pro-eugenics speech was not accepted in mainstream media but it continued to exist in subtler forms.

Perhaps the single most influential person on the modern eugenics movement in the United States is Margaret Higgins Sanger--the founder of Planned Parenthood. Sanger opened the very first American birth control clinic in 1916. Birth control was illegal based upon the Comstock Act of 1873. Sanger faced numerous legal battles but Planned Parenthood prevailed due to donations by the Rockefeller family. Sanger shared in the Darwinian racism. On page 47 of What Every Girl Should Know Sanger writes:

It is said that a fish as large as a man has a brain no larger than the kernel of an almond. In all fish and reptiles where there is no great brain development, there is also no conscious sexual control. The lower down in the scale of human development we go the less sexual control we find. It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets.

On page 106 of A Plan for Peace Sanger writes:

A stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

In 1939, Sanger created the "Negro Project." On December 10th of that year she wrote a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble (of Proctor and Gamble) and said:

[We propose to] hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. And we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.

Sanger's ideas were dangerous because she worked closely with the African-American community. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even praised her work with the black community. There is no way of proving whether or not Dr. King was familiar with Sanger's racist writings but he probably wasn't. Dr. King was certainly shortsighted. He was being exploited by Sanger to accomplish Sanger's own goals. Dr. King saw birth-control as a means for black families to become wealthier--Sanger knew that birth-control would diminish the black population. She specifically targeted African-American communities to set up shop.

The genocidal drive of Planned Parenthood has not gone unnoticed by all in the black community.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, August 24, 2007 ( – Dr. Alveda King, the niece of legendary human rights campaigner, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., told a meeting of Priests for Life, that the killing of a quarter of the black population of the US has not been from the lynch mobs of her childhood days, but from abortionists, “who plant their killing centers in minority neighborhoods and prey upon women who think they have no hope. “The great irony,” she said, “is that abortion has done what the Klan only dreamed of.”

The sad fact is that, Alveda King's figures are substantially lower than figures I've seen which state that between 50 to 60% of African-American babies are killed by abortion. When you add to that number all the births that were prevented by Planned Parenthood pushing birth-control on African-Americans, its pretty clear that Planned Parenthood has led to a gigantic decrease in what the African American population would look like if Planned Parenthood did not exist. Sanger's vision continues to be carried out.

Planned Parenthood also finds a friend in those groups that are gravely concerned about overpopulation. I can walk into any grocery store and there doesn't appear to be a shortage of food. We're actually paying farmers to destroy crops to keep food prices from being too low. Most of the world is uninhabited. People simply choose to live close to one another for economic reasons. You could fit everyone in the world side by side in Jacksonville, FL. You could take everyone in the world, divide them up into families of four, and give them a three bedroom house with a 50 x 100 ft lot and fit them all in the state of Texas with room to spare.

The greatest supporter of Sanger's eugenics program ever to run for president has just been elected. My guess is that Obama has been duped just as MLK Jr. was. It's hard for to believe that he is fully aware of the agenda and goals of the Planned Parenthood agency. We need to pray for our President-elect. I don't expect any President that we elect to completely end the government funding of eugenics programs but there is a great danger that the accelerator will be pushed to the floor. Obama does not believe that a baby even outside of the womb has human rights. Obama has promised that the first thing he will do as President is sign the "Freedom of Choice Act" which would remove all state restrictions on abortion and accelerate the genocide of the African-American people. Obama has said "the first thing he will do" about other things too, so we can hope that he won't really do it but he has a pretty consistent record on supporting Planned Parenthood. The advantage of pushing the accelerator down all the way is that people will see the real problems with Planned Parenthood the same way many saw the problems with eugenics after Nazi Germany.

Polls showed that most African-Americans did not agree with Obama's policies--but they voted for him anyway. The same African-Americans who voted for Obama also voted for proposals in their states that promoted so-called conservative ideals. The election of Obama is not the story of racial equality. The election of Obama is the story of a man who is being duped by white men into destroying his own race. It is the story of other African-Americans who were duped into voting for him and so duped into destroying their own race. If Planned Parenthood didn't exist, there would be enough African-Americans to elect an African-American president that actually represented them. Or if the real goal is racial equality then it shouldn't matter what the color of the candidate's skin is at all.

Where does the Lamb on the Altar fit into all this?

The Lamb shed his blood for people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. The Lamb says "Be fruitful and multiply!" The Lamb on the Altar calls children a blessing and a gift from God. The Lamb does not pander to racial groups. The Lamb gives Himself for you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Prayer for our President-Elect, Obama

The following is from Rev. McCain's blog:

Gracious Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless Barack Obama. According to your good and gracious will, help him be a good president for our nation. Guide President-elect Obama into all truth. Give him wisdom to choose the right, and reject the wrong. Help him bear the sword of justice fairly, defending the innocent and punishing the guilty. Give him strength and courage to defend our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We pray that you will lead President-elect Obama to do all he can to protect human life, from natural conception to natural death. Protect him as he serves our nation and give all who serve with him wisdom and insight. Use this man to provide for the external safety and security of your Holy Christian Church in this land, so that we may preach the Gospel unfettered, for the salvation of many souls. We ask these things in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 3, 2008

That's My King!

Article II

And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.

We now confess our belief in the Lamb on the Altar. It's no coincidence that the section dealing with the Lamb is longer than any of the other sections. All of Scripture testifies of Him. The name Jesus means "Yahweh saves"! A confession of the name of Jesus is a confession that you need the Lamb on the Altar--there's something terribly wrong with you--you need a savior. When you confess that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah, you are confessing that He is the annointed one. He was annointed at His baptism as our great High Priest. He took our sins upon Himself. The Lamb is the only Son of the Father by nature. We are adopted through baptism and become Sons. We become sons on the basis of the work of the only true Son. He is our Lord. He is not just my Lord or your Lord or some generic lord. He is our Lord. He is our Master. He is our King. "Lord" is used in the New Testament as the equivalent of "Yahweh." The Lamb is Yahweh.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Article I part II

Before I move on from the first article there were a few things that I foolishly did not say. One of the most important confessions is the confession that God is Father. God would be Father within His own Triune nature even if no other creatures existed. God is not two gods but one God. Yet God is three persons. God has eternally existed as three persons and the Father-Son relationship has eternally existed.

All earthly Fatherhood is a dim reflection of the Fatherhood that God exhibits in His own nature. Earthly Fatherhood could not exist apart from the Fatherhood of God. We are by nature children of the Devil. We become sons of the Triune God through adoption. We are adopted in baptism. A child does not choose who will adopt him and we do not choose to be adopted by God. God adopts us.

The format of the creed has also caused some people to walk away with the wrong idea. It's not as if God the Father creates, the Son saves, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies and they're all accomplishing separate tasks. They are always working together. The creed simply focuses in on what Scripture emphasizes about each. All things were certainly created through the Son.


Matthew 6:7 "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

In evangelical churches I often heard this verse used as an argument against using form prayers. They taught that the prohibition against "vain repetitions" prohibited the use of any previously written prayer. I always thought this was a little odd since the fact that someone had previously written the prayer would not necessarily mean that the next person praying it was doing so in a meaningless way. I could utter new prayers in a meaningless way or old prayers in a non-meaningless way. Taken to its logical conclusion it would seem that Scripture should be done away with to avoid vain reading and vain hearing. I'm not saying that extemporaneous prayer is bad but neither are form prayers.

What's interesting too is that Jesus doesn't say, "When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the Pharisees do." He says, "do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do." Judaism had a number of form prayers and Jesus never really spoke against them. Jesus seems to be speaking against pagan babbling. The Greek word being used is battalogew and there are some disagreements as to what it exactly means. The ESV translates the verse as:

Matthew 6:7 "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

I think this gets a little closer to the actual meaning but it may even be denoting the heathen practice of using nonsensical words during worship or ecstatic speech. It seems like Jesus is either condemning the use of gibberish in prayer (which I think is the most likely) or perhaps he is condemning very long prayers where people try to appear more pious by their length of prayer. The condemnation of form prayers is absurd given the context.

Matthew 6:7-13 "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

So Jesus after supposedly telling us not to pray form prayers then gives us a form prayer.

Another thing I've often heard is that this is not speaking of corporate but of private prayer and that this is something like what a prayer should look like and not something that should actually be prayed in its exact form.

All the yous in verses 5 and 6 are singular.

Matthew 6:5-6 " And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

But when we get to verse 7 and 8 they are plural and so there appears to be a shift from private to corporate prayer.

Matthew 6:7-8 And when y o u pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 "Therefore do not be like them. For y o ur Father knows the things y o u have need of before y o u ask Him.

Then in verse 9 the command to pray is in the plural as well and God is not spoken of as my Father but as our Father.

Matthew 6:9 "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven,

The "Y o u" is even supplied in the Greek for emphasis even though it doesn't make its way into many modern English translations. The KJV does have it:

Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye:

The contrast is also between a general similarity that the Gentiles do and a specific thing that Christians are called to do. Verse 7 has the word osper which marks some general similarity. We find this word used in the parables.

Matthew 6:7 "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

In verse 9 we have outos which is often used in a more direct and exact way. We find the word used in passages like the ones below:

Matthew 2:5-6 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.' "

John 21:1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:

I don't mean to discourage extemporaneous prayer in any way but one of the cool things about saying the "Our Father" is that you are probably never saying it alone. Even if there is nobody in the same room with you there are others praying the same prayer somewhere on the planet.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Worship as Soup Kitchen

Worship is not primarily about giving but receiving. Worship is receiving God's good gifts by faith. We hear the Gospel spoken and sung to us and God doesn't receive any benefit at all.

Worship is like a soup kitchen. We are the homeless people. Christ is the soup and the minister is the guy handing out the soup. The guy handing out the soup did not make the soup. He received it from someone else. It is possible that the soup-haning-out-guy could poison the soup or water it down but he's not really responsible for the goodness of the soup. We stand in line and wait for the soup to be given to us. We may have broken legs. We may need to use crutches to get to the soup line. But would we really want to brag about all that we went through to get to the soup line? Our attitude should be one of thankfulness, not of boasting. We should be thanking the guy handing us the soup and especially the One who made the soup.

There are those who refuse to come to the soup kitchen. They have convinced themselves that they have no need for silly things like food. Food is for the weak! Exactly. It would be silly to try to teach them that they need to be more like us. We're sick and crippled just like they are. They don't need to hear about how great we are. We must point them to the soup! Tell them how great the soup is and how you can't wait to get the next bowl. Tell them how satisfying the soup is but how you just can't stop eating it.