My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Friday, September 28, 2007

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Today's Text from MLC Chapel-- what should be required reading for WELS Pastors and Pastors in training.

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Prayer Request and Personal Message

Prayers are requested today for the work of the WELS Committee for Interchurch Relations as they meet with the ELS Doctrinal Committee. Much is to be discussed, a few items in particular that a previous post dealt with. Pray that our leaders follow the advice of St. Paul when he writes.

"Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, and being born in human likeness took on the very nature of a servant."

Let God be glorified in all our work.

A Personal request of mine: I got my first comment today! Thank you Rachel, my sister, a member of Crossroads (Lutheran) Christian Church in Chicago, IL. I've been there. As much maligning as it recieves because of its decision to not put Lutheran in its name, I have always been duly impressed as scripture was taught in its truth and purity even though Luther's name was not on the doorpost.

If we could, so I can get a better handle of who's reading the site, please comment on this message with just a "hey Mike" or something of the same. And please in the future leave little comments so I know that I'm not talking to myself over here.

Devotional Thoughts on Exodus 33:19-20

Exodus 33:19 "And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

All Moses wanted to do is see God. What is wrong with that? Cannot all of us say the same thing? Church father St Augustine wrote, "We were created that we may see God." I've used that quotation a number of times when I was asked, 'Why are we here?' Certainly it is not wrong for us to seek to be closer to God, and also to know him. But how and where do we know him?

A fine catechetical answer would be "In what he has created." And yes this is true. Through God's creation we can search God out, know his power, know his Glory. But in creation is also where everyone else looks to find out about their gods, the pagan gods or the god of science. Through God's creation we can know only a fraction of who God is. So where can we know him better?

Walk up the steps of a mountain. As with Peter, James, and John, we will see God on a mountain. As with Moses we will see him on a mountain. As with Elijah, God speaks to us on a mountain. Walk up the steps of Mount Calvary.

See Christ crucified. There in Christ you see all the fullness of God wrapped in all the fullness of man. You see his glory yes, but all the more important you see his grace, his love, poured out for you, poured out for me, poured out for the whole world. Psalm 98:2 says 'The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.' We have a God who has revealed himself by hiding himself, and yes revealed himself all the more by dying and rising from the dead. In the personage of Christ we see God not as a fraction, as a part, but as a whole.

We will see the Glory of God in the world to come, but for now it is sufficient for us to see his cross. How glorious it is!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rev. Daniel Deutschlander on Faith

Luther's thoughts on John 1:17

John wanted to make a point about God's laws when he said, "The teachings came through Moses, but kindness and truth came into existence through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) Its as if he wanted to say: "The laws given through Moses are laws that lead to life, God's approval, and everything else that is good. But much more was attained through Christ. He came and filled our empty hands. He fulfilled the demands of God's laws. He brought God's kindness and truth.

Christ enabled us to keep the First, Second, and Third commandments. In this way, we came to trust and have faith in God as our Father. We began to praise him with a cheerful heart and regard his name as holy.

Where did all this kindness come from? We certainly didn't do anything to deserve it. None of our good works performed in obedience to God's laws earned it. Instead, it came from being enlightened by the Holy Spirit, being renewed by the Word of God, and having faith in Christ. Through these, we have received a new spirit that makes God's Word and God's laws a pleasure to obey. Now, we find joy in trusting God about everything else. We feel that we can do it. We have made a new beginning and have already learned the basics. The undeserved kindness that Christ has given us through faith makes the First Commandment a pleasure to obey.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Devotional thought on 1 Corinthians 1:23

'but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,'

The Gospel turns everything the way human reason says it shouldn't be. Christians today are so hard on the apostles, pharisees, and other people of Jesus' day. We are no better. We have God's law, and his Gospel, we have the benefit of having the words "It is finished". We have Paul and the other Evangelists, and Epistle writers who explained things in ways that almost no one knew for thousands of years previously. Those people had shadows. We have completed fact.

Yet we do not trust. We do not want a God who has done it all for us. We want to do things for him. We want to convince ourselves that we can make ourselves better Christians; that we are better Christians than the person in the pew next door. We want to make our own faith stronger. We want to help the Holy Spirit, we want to do the work for him.

Praise be to God that in spite of all we want to do, he does it for us. For us he removes the stumbling block. Through faith, the confusion of the Gospel is made crystal clear. Christ died for you, he died for me. We have that completed fact. We have our justification completed on the cross and declared from an empty tomb. We have a savior who sits on high, mediates for us at the right hand of the Father. We have an almighty Lord who has us in his heart and is preparing a place for us.

Yes, we don't really get it. We will never get it all while we are still here in these shadows of a paradise to come. But we have a Shepherd who is calling us to himself. We have his voice.

Theologische Quartalschrift- Concerning Election
Translator: Michael Koepke

Mission Statement (only not so CG)

This is a sample from a brochure of a church pamphlet. It was originally composed at Mequon during a evangelism conference. It comes from Rev. Gregory Jackson of Bethany Lutheran Church an independent Lutheran congregation. I have not always agreed with everything he has said, but this is the most confessional statement I have found to be used in such a way.' His Website is I would caution you of going there if you believe "The Holy Christian Church" refers only to the WELS. The Rev. Jackson searches for the truth at all costs, his tone is polemical but I've found his material refreshing and enlightening. (If not always agreeable)

In an age of anxiety, we still believe that peace comes from Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

In an age of confusion, we still believe that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant and infallible.

In an age of doubt, we still believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

In an age of guilt, we still believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to remove the power of sin, death, and Satan from our lives.

In an age of fear, we still believe that Christ rose bodily from the dead to win for us eternal life.

In an age of self-centeredness, we still believe that God acts through the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

In an age of constant change, we still believe in the unchanging Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

"If you hold to my teaching, then you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:31-32

Rev Gregory Jackson, used with permission

Wilber Gawrisch on Heresy

Devotional thought on Matthew 7:15

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Rather than stick with the same text, I thought I'd find similar alternate texts to deal with the next two parts. This devotion deals with the point Christ makes that the sheep of the Good Shepherd can distinguish his voice from other voices.

It is rather easy for Christians to point out glaring, blatant, non-Christian heresy but what about the finer points of Christian Doctrine? How are we to know what is wrong or what is right? Here Christ gives us comfort amongst the world's confusion. In John 10:5 Jesus says, "But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

This is not to reinforce the notion of 'once saved always saved' However it is the comfort that sheep who know the voice of the Good Shepherd will be able to distinguish other voices from his. This is not of our doing, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit who gives and strengthens our faith. As our faith is strengthened it has the ability to cut away the weeds that spring up around us. So that the seed sown on fertile ground will not be choked away by thorns.

Devotional thought on John 10:27

Many may wonder about the name of this blog, so I decided my first self-written devotional post would be on that verse. John 10:27- "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

This passage follows very shortly after our savior speaks about himself as the Good Shepherd. Christ here makes a few main points.

1) The sheep of the Good Shepherd know his voice, they follow him.
2) His sheep will not follow a stranger's voice because they do not know him.
3) Other sheep will not understand the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Our Shepherd certainly speaks to us (Hebrew 1:1-2). We have been given his holy Word. His voice can be stern. As a pet cowers at the convicting tone of voice of his owner, so too we, as the sheep of our shepherd know that we have sinned and are crushed as he scolds us with what we have done wrong.

But our shepherd lifts us up again. No matter how far we stray from him, we will always be in our savior's heart. Repentance is described as a complete change of attitude. As we wander aimlessly down life's path, seeking our own way. Our Shepherd comes and turns us back toward him, focused on his ways and his goals. How comforting it is to know that although we constantly try to turn away, our Shepherd puts us on his shoulders and carries us back to the fold.

I will post on the second point later.

Synod Matters

~It has come to my attention that the WELS Q&A is now defunct in terms of answering questions of a synodical nature. If a person asks a question that has more to do with the WELS than Christianity as a whole, the question is answered personally (and privately) by Pres. Mark Schroeder. From all I have seen and heard from this man, both personally and 2nd hand (I have a lot of LPS alum friends) He has a servant's heart.

~Upcoming later this week (Thursday and Friday) is the meeting of the Committee for Interchurch Relations (CICR) and the ELS Doctrinal Committee. These meetings happen every other year, and usually its not a big deal. This year however there is at least one serious matter to attend to.

A while back, two churches in the WELS were allowing women trained to visit shut ins to give communion to other women. This made just about everyone involved or that knew about it uncomfortable. The WELS put a permanent moratorium on this sort of thing and told all the churches that they shouldn't continue.

The ELS would like something stronger, a doctrinal statement saying why it is wrong. The WELS (and this author agrees) that it would be irresponsible to make a law out of something which is clearly not forbidden in the Bible. And you know what? From the expatriate ELS correspondence I still maintain, there are quite a few in the ELS who hold that position too.

Many prayers are needed as these men sort out these matters. The ELS is the only American church with which we are in fellowship. We are the only two confessional Lutheran churches left (in theory if not always in reality)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thoughts from Luther concerning Psalm 119:105

'Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.' (Psalm 119:105)

God considers human reason, morality, and even sunlight for that matter, to be dark and hazy compared to his Word. God's Word is flame that shines in the darkness. Through teaching, preaching, and the sacraments, its glow spreads. If we use this light, then God will no longer remain hidden from us.

When we're faced with disasters, when we're overwhelmed by darkness, when things seem so dark that we doubt that we are part of the church or pleasing to God, then we should learn to reach for the Bible. We shouldn't let people who fall away from the faith distract us. Instead, we should recognize that we live in a dark world. The only reason we can see at all is that the light of God's Word shines brightly (2 Peter 1:19)

Jesus said, 'whoever believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). The light of these words is shining in our hearts. Even if the sun were shining brightly, it couldn't reveal this truth. Human reason by itself can't grasp it. Wherever the Bible sheds its light, no real danger exists. Without the Bible, we wouldn't know or understand anything.

Martin Luther-reprinted "Through Faith Alone" Concordia Publishing, St. Louis

Ernst Wendland on Objective Justification

Mission Statement

I am starting this blog because I would like an outlet for dogmatic and meditational thought. I do not mean for this to be in any way polemical. I will occasionally post matters of a 'political' nature. I plan to do my best to show matters truthfully yet in the kindest light possible.

I will 'filter' comments on the blogs simply for language, spamming, and content I deem private which I will answer in a private matter. I will not however filter comments because they disagree with my own.

I plan wholeheartedly to do this blog as I attempt all things, all to the glory of God. Let his name be praised forever and ever.