30 August 2008

"Blog of the Week" Honor & What's in This Name

"Blog of the Week" Honor

I was just informed that this blog was selected as one of the Issues, Etc. picks for "Blog of the Week" on 29 August 2008 (See it listed here on this date). Thanks for the honor, Todd! (Even if it was merely for posting words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a quote that I have appreciated and used for guidance and teaching for many years now. :-)

What's in This Name?

In his comments, Todd said that he would not even try to explain what the name of my blog - "RAsburry's Res" - means. Well, let me help him out by going back to my very first blog post from one year ago. Yes, we're coming up on my first anniversary - 1 September 2007 - of taking the plunge into the blogosphere. Who'd have thunk it! :-) You can find my "historic" (yeah, right!) first post here. Here's the explanation for my blog's title:
A word about the title of this blog is surely in order. "RAsburry" - my first initial and last name - has become my trademark of sorts, especially via email. And since many blogs choose to use Latin to show their purpose and direction, I couldn't resist throwing in just a little Latin. In Latin "res" means "things, matters, affairs." So, putting the two terms together, this blog is about matters that strike my fancy, matters theological and churchly, matters weighty and important, even matters humorous and light-hearted - matters that will hopefully interest others and bear witness to the God of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

The matters that interest me most concern the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for the life of the world - the life that I have received as a pure gift by God's boundless mercy in the forgiveness of sins, the life that I have vowed to deliver to the people whom God has given me to shepherd. This blessed life from the Holy Triune God comes in the Body of Christ, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. His life in His Body gives new meaning and purpose for all other matters ("res") in all of life.

27 August 2008

Christ Builds His Church

A little something that will appear in my congregation's September newsletter and just happens to speak quite well to the current and quite predominant (sadly so) views of "growing churches" and "mission work" in the LCMS:

Christ Builds

After Peter confessed Christ to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), our Lord Jesus gave this great promise: “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Of course, Jesus was referring to “the rock” (petros) of Peter’s confession.

Note what Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said about Christ building His Church:

“It is not we who build. [Christ] builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess—He builds. We must proclaim—He builds. We must pray to Him—that He may build.

“We do not know His plan. We cannot see whether His is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for Him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down.

“It is a great comfort which Christ gives to His Church: you confess, preach, bear witness to Me and I alone will build where it pleases Me. Do not meddle in what is My province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don’t ask for judgments. Don’t always be calculating what will happen. Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from His grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds” (Life Together).

26 August 2008

Welcome to the blogosphere...

...Rev. Matt Harrison. Check it out.

From "Missiolatry" to "Missionalism" & That Pesky Exclamation Mark(!)

A few years ago Pr. Weedon gave us a poignant essay on "missiolatry," that is, worshiping the mission (as opposed to worshiping, and focusing on, the Savior). Now Pr. Wilken gives us an incisive essay on "missionalism," that is, the ideological movement of being "missional" (whatever that is, especially under the odd grammar of "Ablaze!").

Both pastors warn us about focusing on "the mission" rather than on the Savior and His Good News of sins forgiven and life restored. If you haven't yet seen either of these essays, I highly recommend them for your reading, your pondering ... and your saving for posterity. I'll simply "second" everything they say...

...and then add these random thoughts:

The best way to carry out the mission that Christ gave to His Church is not to focus on the mission, but to focus on Him. When we focus on our heavenly Bridegroom and the life and salvation He brings, we will quite naturally and gladly speak with others about our "eternal engagement" to Him (just as any delighted bride-to-be will show off her engagement ring without needing to be goaded on by anyone else).

When it comes to the official "Ablaze!" theme verse, I puzzle over the choice and use of Luke 24:32, especially the key sentence: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"

When we read the context of these Emmaus disciples, they just *did not* get it; they were slow to catch on that Jesus was with them on the road. In fact, Jesus had said, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" (Lk. 24:25) even as He stood with them. Then He had to give them a crash course in Biblical theology as they walked. Then, even after that crash course, the Emmaus disciples still did not realize that it was the risen Lord walking with them. They only realized it in - yep, you guessed it - the breaking of the bread. Then comes their "aha! experience."

But the burning hearts? Is that not their own self-admission that they were slow to catch on? Surely that's not the message that the hawkers - er, I mean, "promoters" - of "Ablaze!" want to send, is it?

And speaking of theme verses, I still think that the "Ablaze!" theme verse ought to be Malachi 4:1 (in the ESV, of course ;-): "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." As we learn early on in life, we must use extreme caution when handling fire. After all, matches are no toys.

And as for those pesky little exclamations marks, well, thanks, Pr. Wilken for reminding us of our proper grammar and use of the English language!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

25 August 2008

Praising Pericopes

Here's a great little piece by Mollie over at GetReligion.org on why pastors should stick with and preach from the lectionary no matter who's in the pews, be it a politician (her focus), a visitor, a babe in Christ, or a long-time member. Thanks, Mollie!

24 August 2008

St. Bartholomew, Apostle

Today the Church remembers and thanks God for St. Bartholomew - a. k. a. Nathanael - Apostle. Here's a little write up from Philip Pfatteicher, Festivals and Commemorations: Handbook to the Calendar in Lutheran Book of Worship followed by the Collect of the Day, readings, and hymn verse from Lutheran Service Book.

St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Bartholomew is listed as one of the twelve apostles in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and again in Acts. In these synoptic lists his name immediately follows that of Philip. The list of the Twelve in the Fourth Gospel has the name Nathaniel rather than Bartholomew, and it is sometimes assumed that the apostle’s given name was Nathaniel and that Bartholomew was a patronymic, representing the Aramaic for “son of Tolmai” (ef. “Simon Bar-Jonah” in Matthew 16:17). Nathaniel was from the town of Cana in Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle. He was invited to discipleship by Philip, who told him that he and Andrew and Peter had found the Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. At first Nathaniel was doubtful, but after a word from Jesus, he followed.

The story of his call (John 1:45-51) is all that is recorded in the New Testament of the life of St. Bartholomew, but there are several traditions about his later labors. He is variously reported to have preached in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, and India; in connection with India Eusebius says that Bartholomew left a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew which Pantaenus, a missionary of the third century, found there in the hands of the local people. Most of these stories agree that St. Bartholomew spent his last years preaching in Armenia and was flayed and beheaded in Albanus (modern Derbend) on the Caspian coast. (The flayed Bartholomew is portrayed in a prominent place in the Sistine Chapel in Michaelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment.) The Armenian Church believes that the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus were the first to bring the gospel to the Armenians, and that Bartholomew spent a number of years there before his death. The Armenian Church commemorates him on two days in the year: once together with St. Thaddeus and again together with an Armenian martyr.

A very different story of St. Bartholomew’s mission appears in the traditions of the Coptic and Ethiopian churches, which also revere him highly, observing his day on August 29. Their accounts tell of his preaching at an oasis in Upper Egypt (there is a special commemoration of this even on November 15), then going among the Berbers where he was rescued from wild beasts by a cannibal, and finally preaching along the coast of North Africa where a local king, Agrippa, had him sewn into a leather bag and dropped into the sea.

August 24 has been St. Bartholomew’s day on calendars of the Western church since the eighth century, but no reason for the date is known. The Eastern Orthodox churches commemorate him with St. Barnabas on June 11. In European history St. Bartholomew’s Day is remembered for the massacre of Protestants which took place on that day in Paris in 1572.

Collect of the Day
Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, chose Bartholomew to be an apostle to preach the blessed Gospel. Grant that Your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-8
Psalm 121
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Luke 22:24-30 or John 1:43-51

Hymn Verse
All praise for him whose candor
Through all his doubt You saw
When Philip at the fig tree
Disclosed You in the law.
Discern, beneath our surface,
O Lord, what we can be,
That by Your truth made guileless,
Your glory we may see. (LSB 518:23)

23 August 2008

Fatherly Wisdom-Proclaiming the Lord's Cry

From Gregory the Great, in his "Moral Reflections on Job," speaking of Job's words in Job 13:21-23 as a type of Christ:

Earth has not hidden away [Christ's] blood, for holy Church has preached in every corner of the world the mystery of its redemption.

Notice what follows: "Do not let my cry find a hiding place in you." The blood that is drunk, the blood of redemption, is itself the cry of our Redeemer. Paul speaks of "the sprinkled blood that calls out more eloquently than Abel's." Of Abel's blood Scripture had written: "The voice of your brother's blood cries our to me from the earth." The blood of Jesus calls out more eloquently than Abel's, for the blood of Abel asked for the death of Cain the fratricide, while the blood of the Lord has asked for, and obtained, life for his persecutors.

If the sacrament of the Lord's passion is to work its effect in us, we must imitate what we receive and proclaim to humanity what we revere. The cry of our Lord finds a hiding place in us if our lips fail to speak of this, though our hearts believe in it. So that his cry may not lie concealed in us it remains for us all, each in our own measure, to make known to those around us the mystery of our new life in Christ.

22 August 2008

Homily - St. Bartholomew, Apostle

The No-Deceit Disciple
John 1:43-51

When we see the symbol for St. Bartholomew, we might scratch our heads in puzzlement. Bartholomew’s symbol is an open Bible with a flaying knife on it. Fishermen keep such knives in their tackle box for flaying the fish they catch. The symbol for St. Bartholomew, though, reminds of his faith, his work, and his martyrdom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up to our Gospel reading for today. Again we might scratch our heads. After all, we did not hear the name “Bartholomew” in our reading from John 1. Instead, we heard the name “Nathanael.” When the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke list Jesus’ disciples, they pair up “Philip and Bartholomew” (Mt. 10:3). John’s Gospel, though, gives us Philip and this guy named Nathanael. Most likely, “Nathanael” was his first name and “Bartholomew” his last name. So, today we remember and thank God for Nathanael Bartholomew, or, in good Hebrew fashion, Nathanael, son of Tholmai.

We hear how Philip, who was already called to be a disciple by Jesus, invited Nathanael to “Come and see” this Jesus of Nazareth. After all, Philip said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.” But Nathanael wasn’t quite sure. He had his doubts, to be sure. But he did not have deceit. Nathanael asked if anything good could come from Nazareth. That’s like asking if anything good can come from East St. Louis or from Festus, Missouri. In Nathanael’s mind Nazareth was “Hicksville.”

And yet our Lord Jesus says these startling words when He sees Nathanael walking toward Him: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit.” Even though Nathanael Bartholomew had his doubts about Jesus being the Messiah, at least he spoke plainly and called ‘em as he saw ‘em. He would become the Lord’s “no-deceit disciple.” Then, when Jesus told Bartholomew that He saw him sitting under the fig tree before Philip had even invited him to meet Jesus, Bartholomew realized that this Jesus was the “real deal,” truly the Messiah. So Nathanael made a confession of faith: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Is that all it took? Why anyone from a nearby hill could have seen Nathanael snoozing under his fig tree! So Jesus invited Nathanael to see still greater things. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” I doubt Nathanael would of have missed that one. His last name of “Bar-Tolmai,” son of Tolmai, indicates he was a good Hebrew. And all good Hebrews knew the Old Testament story of the patriarch Jacob sleeping one night with a rock for a pillow and having a dream of a stairway that connected heaven and earth (Gen. 28:10-22). Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on that stairway and the Lord God—the Son of God—standing at the top. Now Jesus would apply that ancient dream to Himself. Nathanael Bartholomew would see heaven and earth joined in Him, in the Son of Man, the Son of God, who had come to earth and taken on human flesh.

So Jesus calls Bartholomew to Himself, overcomes his initial doubts, sparks faith in him, and essentially says, “Just you wait, Mr. Nathanael, you’ll see Me reunite heaven and earth, that is, God and sinners.” That’s the real confession of Jesus the Son of God, the King of Israel!

That’s about all the Bible tells us about St. Bartholomew, except for also mentioning him after Jesus’ Resurrection. Perhaps a couple of weeks after Jesus rose from the dead, Nathanael is listed with Peter and the others who were sitting around. Peter decided to go fishing, and we can only assume that Nathanael and the others joined him. That’s when this little band of disciples saw Jesus appear on the shore and then fix a nice little “Easter breakfast” of fish for them. So Nathanael Bartholomew witnessed the risen Christ. He did get to see the Son of Man reunite heaven and earth in His crucifixion and resurrection.

What else did St. Bartholomew do, and what happened to him after Jesus ascended? Church traditions say that he traveled east to proclaim this crucified and risen Jesus. Savior Jesus turned this plainspoken, no-deceit disciple into a brave preacher of His forgiveness, life, and salvation for the world. The story goes that Bartholomew went as far as India preaching Jesus who is the true Israelite in whom there is no deceit. In fact, the Church historian Eusebius says that Bartholomew left a Hebrew copy of the Gospel of Matthew in India, where it was rediscovered only a couple of centuries later by another missionary there. Finally, Bartholomew suffered his martyrdom, his execution for confessing Jesus Christ, in the region of Armenia—north of Iran and Iraq, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Tradition tells us that Bartholomew was probably flayed (skin cut and pealed off) and beheaded. And all that for preaching Jesus Christ crucified and risen and thus converting the king’s brother and his family.

What does this story of St. Bartholomew have to do with us? How does it strengthen our faith in Christ crucified and risen to forgive our sins and restore us to life with God? As we Lutherans confess, “[T]he history of the saints may be set before us so that we may follow the example of their faith and good works, according to our calling” (AC XXI:1). This “no-deceit disciple” named Nathanael Bartholomew may have had his doubts about Jesus at first, but he did end up believing in Him and confessing Him with great boldness. That’s why Bartholomew’s symbol has not only the flaying knife in it, but also the open Scriptures. By God’s grace, he spent all of his days after meeting Jesus confessing the real Israelite in whom there’s no deceit, Jesus the Messiah. When the prophet Isaiah foretold the Savior and his suffering, he said, “they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Is. 53:9). No-deceit Jesus “was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5). No, we are not healed by Bartholomew’s execution. Instead, we, along with Bartholomew, are healed by Jesus’ execution. Our Lord Jesus unites heaven and earth, restores us sinners to life with God and forgives all our doubts and deceits, with His shed blood and His glorious resurrection.

And here’s how St. Bartholomew serves as our example in faith and life. In today’s Collect we asked God: “Grant that Your Church may love what [Bartholomew] believed and preach what he taught.” When we are healed by Jesus’ execution, when we also see the angels of God ascending and descending on the crucified and risen Son of Man, our hearts are free to trust Him. You see, in Him we sinners on earth are reunited with our heavenly Father, with His Son, and with the Holy Spirit. And that makes us “no-deceit disciples” too. With the confession of Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Israel in our mouths, and with His Body and Blood put in our mouths, He removes our deceit and leads us to speak the truth, just as He did for Nathanael Bartholomew.

In our day too many pastors and churches would rather moisten their fingers, stick them in the air, and try to sense which way the breezes of religion are blowing. So we need the example of St. Bartholomew. Jesus’ “no-deceit disciple” teaches us to proclaim our “no-deceit Savior” with great boldness and confidence, even in the face of death. We are free simply to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen. So, come to His Table, and receive His Body and Blood to strengthen you in believing and proclaiming what Bartholomew also believed and taught. Amen.

Even the Dogs

It seems that I'm not the only one who sees lessons to be learned, or at least observed, in our canine companions. The other day on this blog I just wanted to draw attention to the humorous and fascinating antics of my canine companions, Porthos & Gimli, and now Dr. Gene Veith is beginning a discussion of "Dog Morality" over on his blog.

I do find it amazing how dogs can and do teach us about ourselves, beyond simply being "man's best friend" (after wife and children, of course - let's keep all of the alphas and betas in the proper order now! :-).

After all, Jesus' comment to the canine-like - er, Canaanite - woman in Matthew 15:21-28 led her to admit that she would gladly identify herself with a crumb-crunching little pooch as long as she and her demon-possessed daughter could receive the Lord's gifts of healing, mercy, and life.

And wasn't it C. S. Lewis who compared our relationship with God to that of our dogs to us? If I remember the analogy correctly (I'm forgetting the source off hand, and I'm always glad to be corrected if I'm getting this wrong), we somehow relate to God as our dogs relate to us--certainly of a different essence/being than our Master, but nonetheless glad to be part of His family by His choosing, all the while eager to jump up on the couch to curl up next to Him. (Okay, so I'm paraphrasing, and from memory to boot, and illustrations and analogies certainly have their limits! :-)

What does strike me about our canine companions is how they can and do model faith and faithfulness for us. As I've often seen in my pooch-pals (Porthos & Gimli now and their "big brother" Shadow before them), they can get into trouble and experience my disapproval, scorn and wrath (yes, sometimes more severely than others), but they just keep coming back to greet me, wag their tails, and give their happy, bright-eyed, ears slightly back looks as if to say, "Master, we are always and ever so glad to see you!"

Just as the Canaanite (canine-ite?) woman showed in Matthew 15, faith in and faithfulness toward Jesus Christ means clinging to Him no matter how we are treated, seemingly by Him or certainly by others around us, or what we experience in terms of rudeness, rejection, and so on, and no matter what our sins truly deserve. "Yes, Lord, yet even the [little] dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table" (Matthew 15:27)! Yes, Lord, I will gladly identify myself as your "little pup" and I will gladly receive the crumbs of Your mercy - crumbs of Gospel words and little kibbles of Sacramental "forgiveness, life, and salvation" that come from your Table!

And just think of this: those little crumbs just keep coming, week in and week out, from the Lord's words and His holy Meal. But one day, on the Last Day, instead of those little crumbs that sustain us now we will receive the delightfully full plate of goodies that our Master drops before us for all eternity!

"The Wilken Plan"

With all of the hub-bub and folderol of the recent and upcoming (yes, much more atheological "bureaucratese" to come, I'm sure!), Pr. Wilken seems to have a pretty awesome plan for restructuring the LCMS.

If you have the stomach and patience for it (and we probably should muster the stomach and patience, even against our better wishes, in order to know what nonsense is being foisted upon us), you can check it out here. But beware, the "White Paper," released on August 20, is full of some pretty strange stuff. (I'll only be able to view the video when I recover sufficiently from my already taxed stomach and patience! ;-)

Here's "The Wilken Plan" (courtesy of Pr. Weedon):

The Wilken Plan
by Pr. Todd Wilken
  • I offer the following, not as proposals or possibilities for consideration and discussion. The following proposals/possibilities are final. Take them or leave them.
  • They’re also not in any particular order (I didn’t have a fancy Task Force to help me).
  • I call it The Wilken Plan: 100 districts (4 non-geographical).
  • All district presidents part-time, elected by their districts to a single 2 year term.
  • District conventions every year, staggered with synodical convention, half a day, business only. Every congregation sends a pastor and a layman, each have one vote.
  • Synodical Convention every year, 2 days, business only. Every congregation sends a pastor and a layman, each have one vote.
  • 1 year terms limits for the entire synodical Presidium, all of them, including the synodical president, part-time.
  • All boards and commissions elected by synodical convention to 2 year terms. Directors of all boards and commissions part-time, elected by synodical convention to a single 2 year term, staggered with the election of their board or commission.
  • CCM, and every other commission, advisory. Members elected by synodical convention and serve a single 2 year term.
  • Eliminate the CTCR, and start using the Seminary faculties in its place, stop wasting time answering settled questions.
  • Synodical bureaucracy reduced to only the odd numbered objectives in Article III.
  • Synodical budget to be determined by congregational support alone.
  • All elected offices, executive directors, etc. paid district scale (prorated of course, since they’re all part time).
  • Sell the International Center and other headquarter properties.
  • Move synodical headquarters to the basement of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Woonsocket, South Dakota.
  • Since we’re now living in the 21st century, all boards and commissions meet face-to-face only once a year in Woonsocket. All other meetings conducted by teleconference or video conference (of course this will put the Crowne Plaza in St. Louis and perhaps a few resorts in Palm Beach and Arizona out of business, but think of what it will do for the Woonsocket economy!)
  • Oh yes, and rename the synod. Choose from: “The Part-Time Synod” or “Your Grandfather’s Church.”
Hey, sign that guy up for Synodical President! NO! Just kidding! I would never want to vex my long-time friend with such inanities. :-)

20 August 2008

A Tale of Two Bones (and "sinner dogs")

So on vacation I had to buy some more dog food for the beloved Porthos and Gimli. While carrying the small bag of Purina One lamb and rice formula for adult dogs to the check out line, I decided to get a couple of rawhide bones to keep the dogs busy at some point.

Since I view vacation as time to put my brain in neutral as much as possible, I thus neglected to pull the rawhide bones out of the "dog box" (the box in which we kept the dog food, leashes, toys, etc. during travel) while still enjoying "vacationland." But I did remember to give them the bones over the weekend, after we had returned home. I guess my brain is coming out of neutral and, at least, getting into first gear!

Somehow Porthos and Gimli know that the sound of unwrapping the bones is for them, or perhaps they even smell the rawhide through the shrink wrap. As I revealed the delectable treats for them, they did their usual dancing, jumping, and salivating, eagerly trying to get to the bones. As usual, I had them sit on their carpet just outside the kitchen. I placed the bones in the normal spots where each of them receives their food - Porthos on the left and Gimli on the right (no, there's no indication of political leanings there, I assure you :-). After the "come and get it" signal - my hand whisking toward the food spots - they each ran to claim their prize.

What ensued next shows just how far original sin has tainted God's good creation, even for beloved Beagle pets. Each dog had his rawhide bone in his mouth. Each one raced around looking for a secure place to savor and chew, and certainly not too close to the other for fear that the other might come and, well, you know, take what belongs to him (potential 7th Commandment infraction here, folks).

We chuckled at the racing and the jockeying for turf. Then we noticed something else. Very soon the two dogs were down to *one* bone! And there hadn't been enough time for either one to have rapaciously chewed his bone to the last nub. We in the RAsburry clan commented on how Porthos, as his habit, must have quickly and surreptitiously hidden his rawhide only to return and pester Gimli for his (certainly a 9th Commandment infraction now).

Then the real battle ensued. Porthos would try to go for Gimli's bone. Gimli would growl and turn away, often taunting Porthos as if to say, "Just try to snatch it from my steel trap like jaws, bro!" Then the racing turned to chasing, the chewing turned to ducking, running, and evading - all with wagging tails indicating that they both loved this form of canine tug of war.

I went searching for Porthos' bone, but, alas, I couldn't find it in his usual hiding spots. Later that evening, as I went to get ready for bed, I discovered where Porthos had hidden his rawhide reward for being, well, just a beloved pet (despite also being a rascal). It was under my pillow! And no, it hadn't left a slobbery mess. In fact, it had hardly been touched - it was (pun intended) dry as a bone.

The next morning I again gave both bones to the dogs. The competing and jostling resumed and continued for another day or two. Finally, Porthos settled down and simply chewed up his own rawhide. Gimli, however, has yet to dig into his. That rawhide has now become (pardon another intended pun) *the* bone of contention. Porthos wants it too! But so much for sharing among dogs. :-) The jostling and growling, chasing and hiding, the taunting and the sitting watch over the single bone continue, even this evening (see picture).

Not only do my beloved Beagles provide some humorous entertainment in their growling and taunting each other, but they also remind me of the extent of sin's stain and infection on God's good creation, the stain and infection that we humans, the crown of God's creation, have wrought on the world. Even Beagles love to be selfish! Yikes! I see so much of myself in my dogs (okay, no slams about appearances or halitosis, now! ;-). And while I'm sure I won't see any hint of Porthos and Gimli in commentaries on Romans 8:20-24, this tale of two bones and my "sinner dogs" certainly reminds me of creation's subjection to futility and longing for eternity's freedom from sin.

"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:20-24)

Speaking of Divorce

Today I had the privilege of joining in the "Pastors' Roundtable" on Issues, Etc. during the first hour (3:05-4:00 p.m., CDT). We were given the topic of divorce and discussed questions such as:

  • Does God hate divorce?
  • Why do Christians divorce at the same rate as the rest of society? and
  • How does a pastor deal with various aspects of divorce, such as a husband deserting his wife, remarriage, remarriage, and what to do with the anger and blame that come with divorce?

If you missed it, I'm sure you'll be able to listen to the round table discussion here as soon as the web savvy folks at Issues, Etc. post the audio file (Of course, if you've subscribed to the iTunes podcast of the show, it will download as normal.)

And, just for fun, guess which comment generated the most email to Issues, Etc.:

1. Pr. Curtis' comments about contraception,


2. Pr. Fisk's comments about the husband (head of the family) bearing the ultimate responsibility for the marriage.

Listen, then let me know in your comments here. After due course I'll let you know what producer Jeff Schwarz told us after the show.

Ah, Sweet Vacation!

Yes, the RAsburry clan is back from a four-week jaunt around the country!

One week was spent in "scenic" Seward, NE, at the Commission on Worship's "Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music." (More comments on the conference's mixed message later.)

Then we traveled to glorious "vacationland." We spent a few days traveling - through long Nebraska, wonderful Wyoming, and into Utah, where we stayed with friends we've known since college and seminary days. Then we cruised across the salt flats of Utah, through the ups and downs of barren Nevada hills, and into central California to spend a couple of days with college and seminary classmate Pr. Alan Sommer and his family. How great is was to see our god-daughter Abigail growing up to into a little lady. And to meet David - what a little pistol! :-)

After a relaxing time in California (well, okay, with the stiffness that followed trying play basketball as if I were still in college!) we headed to the great Northwest to see family. Time for relaxing, canoing on Hagg Lake, visiting Powell's Books in Portland (yes, a veritable city of books!), taking in the beautiful sights of the Rose Garden, and visiting the Oregon coast (yes, Oregon provides its own sunscreen called clouds and fog! :-). After that we journeyed to Corvallis for more relaxing, some visiting with relatives, and then finally went up to La Center, WA, for the long-awaited wedding of my brother and his beloved.

Then came the journey back. More visits with family along the way, but especially the glorious day of seeing (and shopping in) Jackson, WY, and beholding the majestic Grand Tetons. I could spend several days there just looking at all those mighty testimonies to God's creative handiwork! And finally we had to retrace our route back through Nebraska, Iowa (just 10 miles), and Missouri to return home.

Ah, sweet vacation! (Why does it always seem to go so fast?) Stay tuned for some pictures and more details - including exploits of Porthos & Gimli on the beach and chasing me as I raced around on my brother's ATV.


...to Fr. Hollywood for his incisive analysis of "Clergy Junk Mail." The junk mail, religious and otherwise, is bad enough, but I heartily echo his tongue-in-cheek gratitude to those in our midst who choose to thrive on its deliverance of faddish ecclesiology and pastoral theology!

05 August 2008

Woman "Pastor" at LCMS District Youth Gathering???

Okay, so I've been ignoring pretty much everything in the "real world" while I enjoy some much needed R & R in the gorgeous "vacationland" called the Pacific Northwest (I'm sure I'll post some pictures sooner or later, especially of Porthos' and Gimli's antics at the beach). However, I simply couldn't ignore this!

HT to Father Hollywood for alerting us to a woman "pastor" (not LCMS) speaking at an upcoming Texas District (certainly LCMS!) youth gathering. Check it out and pray that the Lord will have mercy and bring all the planners, supporters, and participants (and LCMS bureaucrats, both district-level and synodical, who are bound to defend, support, or otherwise explain this away) to repentance!

Not only does *Ms.* Kari Jobe receive the title "Lead Worshiper" (whatever that means), but she also receives lead billing on the Texas District youth gathering website. Nothing subtle here, but rather "in-your-face," methinks!

What really sounds the blaring theological warning sirens, though, is *Ms.* Jobe's apparent views on Baptism and the Lord's Supper - namely, *not* holding to Baptismal regeneration nor to the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in His Holy Supper - as evidenced in Article 7 of Gateway Church's "Statement of Faith."

With things like this occurring - and seemingly more and more unabashedly - it would appear that the LCMS is well on its way to giving up its reputation as, let alone its claim to being, a solidly confessional Lutheran church body. After all, the bar was set pretty high by one Franz Pieper (and I wonder what he would think and say right now?).
If anyone should prove against us that even one pastor preached false doctrine, or even one periodical stood in the service of false doctrine, and we did not eliminate this false doctrine, we would thereby have ceased to be an orthodox synod and would have become a unionistic fellowship. In short, the mark of an orthodox church body is that throughout that church the true doctrine alone prevails, not only officially and formally but also in actual reality. (Pieper, Franz, “Die Missouri-Synode und das General Council,” Lehre und Wehre, vol. 36, no. 8. (August, 1890), emphasis added)
As Pr. Weedon properly reminds us, here's another "opportunity" (my word) to contact district and synodical leaders to register our grave concerns with this un-Biblical practice ("actual reality," as seen on the gathering's website!) in our midst. Yet I also notice that he refers to us "fellow frogs" for whom the water keeps getting warmer and warmer, lulling us into a most relaxed state at critical times such as this.

Well, okay, for the next couple of weeks, I'll go back to relaxing in "vacationland," and I will trust the Lord of the Church to bring all of us to repentance for our many sins, and to fervent faith in Him who is our true Head, even our true "worship leader" both now and into eternity!