Friday, December 19, 2008

The Stigma of a Lifelong Christian

You ever feel like your Christian faith is lacking something because you were baptized as an infant? I'm not addressing "the love going cold" that can happen to a person even if they haven't been Christian all their life.

Last night in Bible Class we took time to read through the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke. Both the births of John the Baptist and Jesus were miraculous. John's mother was barren and old. Jesus' mother was a virgin. John the Baptist also had the distinguishing mark of being filled with the Holy Spirit even from the womb. John did not have the opportunity to live a time in rebellion before God saved him. This, the Bible says, is something special.

We have not had the Holy Spirit from the time we were in our mother's womb (Psalm 51:5). We did receive the Holy Spirit through water and word (John 3:5). Dead is dead, whether we were dead for 9 months and 8 days, or dead for years. Our Christian faith is not composed of various ingredients one of which is how far we had fallen, but it is completely an act of God through His Word.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Church is Broken

Come, Lord Jesus, and fix it.

You're scattering the precious Gospel all over the place. Sloppily you give the Gospel to people who may grow cold to it. Carelessly you give it to us so we can twist it and use it to create factions and confusion. You run the risk that we won't trample all over it with our dirty stinky feet thinking it is ours to do with as we please and not the precious pearl from heaven.

You designed it this way. You preserve your church, fractured and broken as it seems to us. You see cohesion where we see chaos. You see strength where we see weakness. Your Word will endure, and through it, your church.

You'll fix it on the last day. Then we'll see that you really knew what you were doing. We'll marvel at how you preserved those bruised reeds so that they weren't pulled up with the other rebellious weeds. May today be your fix-it day.

Amen, Come Lord Jesus.

And I'm back

After a few (ha!) months of thinking, this blog is my professional devotion blog. No one's reading it anyway, and this way it will force me to actually follow through on my random devotional thoughts.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Strange Love

God has a strange way of showing love to his people. I preached on Luke 15:19-31 yesterday. God loved Lazarus by giving him the one thing needed, yet gave him nothing else. No family, no shelter, sparse daily bread, and ill health are all strange ways God showed His love. Lazarus's life was one of misery, but in the end, he enjoyed an eternity of peace at Abraham's side.

Perhaps people view Lutherans who practice "communion for those in actual communion with one another" as unloving. It's precisely because we love our guests that we encourage them to wait until we can share EVERYTHING we believe, teach, and confess. We don't want them to lie nor do we want them to condemn themselves. It's a strange and uncomfortable way of showing love, but it is love.

Just because it's a strange way of showing love does not make it unloving.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Gross or net

When you encourage joyful proportionate giving based on what God has done for you, do you encourage that percentage taken from your gross income or net income?

Pastors, do you give to your congregation a percentage of ALL your congregation provides for you, including health insurance, pension, mileage, and other expenses?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bandaid on the back.

There are things I am afraid to do, dread doing, but when it's done, I feel much better. Kind of like ripping a bandaid off your back.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Liturgy is Not a Competition

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch (LC-MS) wrote an excellent post concerning the tension Christians face over their worship practices.

It's worth a read. Some of the quotes I liked where:
In fact, I would go so far as to say that, as soon our liturgical practice has become a kind of competition, it has to that same extent become idolatrous.
How easy it is to forget that our erring brothers are not simply erring but brothers, and that, however wrongheaded and bungling they may be, they are loved and longed for by the Good Shepherd, who seeks out the lost to save them. If a brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him, even if it happens seven times a day. Forgiveness is the goal.
In the end, I would rather be known for an evangelical preaching and faithful catechesis of the Word, than measured by the "height" or "depth" of my liturgical practice.
I don't know if my Baptism was "high church" or "low church," but it was Christ who cleansed me by that washing of water with His Word, who thereby clothed me in Himself and His righteousness forever. There is no greater benefit to be given or received than that.