Sunday, July 25, 2010

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

Yesterday Stan and I were laughing about a time I recalled when he wasn't sure he looked good in black. I reassured him that he did, and that black was very "in". Little did we know back then that he would be wearing black a lot in the future. He says that it simplifies his life: "Should I wear black, black, or black this Sunday?"Yet whether he thinks he looks good in black or not is not important; he is not up there to preach about himself, but Jesus Christ.

I had the privilege of hearing him preach his first sermon today. I look forward to many years of hearing him proclaim Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, in the rich variety of ways that the Biblical text allows.

For where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Spirit who creates, calls, and gathers the Christian Church, without which no one can come to Christ the Lord.
(Large Catechism, Part II The Apostles Creed, section 45)

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified....and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2, 4-5

Here is a link to a well-written article on what makes a good sermon, entitled "A Listeners Guide to the Pulpit", by Pastor Todd Wilken.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Who Does the Seeking?

You hear a lot about the grammar foibles of our culture, especially with the technology that is available that makes it soooo easy to be lazy about proper grammar. Here is a grammar foible at large in American Christendom, that makes the church just as lazy about true doctrine:

"Seeker-sensitive church."

Although this label is probably outdated already, the thinking underneath it remains in many American churches today. The idea is that we must make the "seeker" comfortable, and get them interested in coming to church. Don't tell them that they are sinners in need of a Savior, that might drive them away. Don't talk about doctrine. Just get them to believe in Jesus. This is a bait and switch tactic, that smacks more of American consumerism than the one true faith.

Here is the bad news from Romans 3:11- no one understands; no one seeks for God. (So if no one seeks after God, there are no "seekers"!)

Here is the good news from Luke 19:10-"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

Instead of trying to make the church "seeker-sensitive", or whatever label you want to slap on it, we should view the church as the Bride of Christ. He is the seeker, not us sinners, who are dead in our trespasses and sins! For despite all of the church's antics to make herself attractive, He seeks us, and only He can wash us clean and make us radiant through His Word and Sacraments.

Higher Things GIVEN 2010 Closing Hymn

This is the closing hymn that we sang at the conference! Unfortunately, some people clapped at the end of the song, much to my chagrin.

Higher Things-Given 2010

Almost two weeks ago, I attended the Higher Things conference in Nashville, TN. It lasted from July 6-9. I went with some friends and had a blast! The theme for the conference was about how much God has given us. He has given us His Son to die for us and much, much more. Jesus took upon the sins of the world and has granted us salvation and forgiveness of all our sins. Through His Word and Sacraments, we can receive that salvation and forgiveness.

Each day, my group attended two or three chapel services. Various settings from the LSB were used, and I really enjoyed that. After the main chapel service, a plenary session was held. Over 1100 people were at the conference and attended the plenary session. These sessions were focused mainly on vocation and the liturgy, both of which God has given to us.

One of the other sessions I attended was on the Lord's Supper. While at it, I received a sheet of paper with lots of quotes that Martin Luther made on this Sacrament. One of them was as follows: "We must never regard the sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine that aids you and gives life in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body is helped as well." God has given us so much, even though we are poor, miserable sinners!

The closing chapel service was amazing! An orchestra accompanied much of the music in the service, so it was beautiful to listen to. Below, I have posted a verse from the hymn we sang once every day:

O God, O Lord of heav'n and earth,
Your living finger never wrote
That life should be an aimless mote,
A deathward drift from futile birth.
Your Word meant life triumphant hurled
In splendor through your broken world;
Since light awoke and life began,
You made for us a holy plan.

Monday, July 5, 2010

That He may be Feared

But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. Psalm 130:4

What a precious verse! It doesn't say that we should fear God because He wants to squash us for our sinfulness. It says that we fear Him because of His forgiveness. We respect and stand in awe of a God who would stand in our place, and take the punishment we deserve. Luther's small catechism, which is a part of the confessions of our church, explains the 1st Commandment, "You shall have no other gods", like this:
"We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." Although the Law of God always accuses us, the good news of forgiveness is what imparts faith and love to our dead, sinful hearts.