26 July 2011

Feel Better with "Spenditol"?

You just have to love (or at least admire) some good satire to make a much needed point:

25 July 2011

Homily for Trinity 5

Yes, Jesus told Peter and the others to let down their nets for a great catch of fish, but it was the Lord who effected that great catch. Thus Peter humbly fell at Jesus' feet, confessing his sin and unworthiness.

When our Lord calls us, His Church, to "let down the nets" of the Gospel and thus "catch people alive" by bringing them into the boat of the Church, He is the one who effects such a catch. Yesterday's homily traced this theme - "Let Down Your Nets" - through all three Scripture readings, 1 Kings 19:11-19; 1 Peter 3:9-15; and Luke 5:1-11.

Click here to download the audio file and listen to "Let Down Your Nets."

20 July 2011

Luther's Illustration for the Wheat and the Tares

In preparing for this evening's Divine Service and preaching on the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Tares) in Matthew 13:24-30, I came across this gem of an illustration from Martin Luther. He uses the illustration of the human body to explain the meaning of Jesus' parable.
Whoever wants to be a Christian will have to put up with his worst enemies calling themselves Christians and with finding false teachers and false Christians in the midst of orthodox teachers and Christians.
The same is true of the human body; it is never totally pure and without blemish. It is not in the nature of our body to be flesh, blood, and bone in all purity. The body harbors certain impurities which it does not retain but expels. The mouth contains saliva; the stomach is full of waste matter; eyes, ears, nose have their discharges, and so on. But it is not at all proper to look at a little child and say, This is not a human being, but a snot-nose. Were a child's mother to hear this, she would retaliate, You scoundrel, what kind of a fool are you? Can't you see beyond the snotty mess? Can't you see the child has a sound body, a fine neck, beautiful eyes, and all the members of a natural sound human being?
So, just as it is true that the human body cannot be totally free of impurities, so also with Christendom, which is a spiritual body, it can never be without corruption and impurity on earth. Were we to eliminate matter, sweat, saliva, and impurities from our natural body, it would become weak. Better for the body to get rid of such impurities itself in normal cleansing manner than for its flesh and blood to become totally corrupt by retaining it. If the Christian church here on earth, therefore, were to be completely pure and without tares, without fanatics, sectarians, and non-Christians, that would not be a good omen. In fact it would be a sure indication that it is not a true spiritual body, that is, not the true church, just as the body cannot be a true natural body if it is without corruption; that the church is mere filth, just as the body putrefies when it no longer expels waste.
Martin Luther, House Postils, (Baker, 1996) 1:268, emphasis added; re: Parable of Wheat & Weeds, Matt. 13:24-30

CO2 is NOT a Pollutant

Here's a follow up on a previous post on the truth about greenhouse gases. If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, then I wonder what this video is worth? Perhaps seeing is worth believing.

Check out "Seeing is Believing":

HT: TrevorLoudon.com

Homily for Trinity 4

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity draws our attention to mercy, specifically Jesus exhorting His followers to "Be merciful" even as their heavenly Father is merciful. Since we have been shown great mercy, we get to live in and show mercy to those around us. How did St. John say it? "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Click here to download and listen to Sunday's homily, simply titled, "Be Merciful."

14 July 2011

Great Pro-Life News in Missouri!

Here's some great news from Joe Ortwerth at the Missouri Family Policy Council. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is "allowing" - that is, letting it become law without his signature - a new law that bans late-term abortions in the State of Missouri. While that course of action does indeed say something about Gov. Nixon's leanings and/or political alliances and allegiances, let's thank him for *not* standing in the way of or thwarting the good, common sense, pro-life leanings and will of the people of Missouri! (Would that more government officials, at all levels and on a variety of issues, would do nothing and hold their activist tendencies in check! After all, that's what our nation's founders had in mind.) Here's the great pro-life news:

Late-Term Abortion Ban to Become Law !

Dear Friend of the Family:

We are pleased to share the good news that Governor Nixon has decided to allow our legislation restricting late-term abortions to become law.  The Governor has announced this afternoon his decision to allow Senate Bill 65 and House Bill 213 to become law without his signature.  This is a stupendous victory for the cause of life.

Healthy viable preborn children in Missouri will no longer be vulnerable to the beastly practice of late-term abortion.  This new law serves notice to doctors who specialize in this barbaric business:  Destroy the lives of innocent viable unborn children, and your days in the operating room are over.

We commend Governor Nixon for respecting the pro-life sentiments of the citizens of Missouri and permitting these life-saving bills to become law.  We salute the members of the Missouri Legislature for their courageous action to protect children from the brutal behavior of sleazy late-term abortionists.  Thanks to their efforts, Missouri now has a constitutionally defensible law that puts an end to this repugnant practice.

Please take time to be in prayer and thank God for this important victory in our state for the sanctity of human life.
Joe Ortwerth

What Causes Economic Depressions?

HT: Kairos Journal for this article on the cause of economic depressions:

What Causes Economic Depressions?
In his testimony before a congressional committee in 1930, American Communist Party leader, William Z. Foster, declared: “What is the cause of this starvation, misery and hardship of the millions of workers in the United States? Is it because some great national calamity has destroyed the food, clothing and shelter available for the people? No, on the contrary. Millions of workers must go hungry because there is too much wheat. Millions of workers must go without clothes because the warehouses are full to overflowing with everything that is needed. Millions of workers must freeze because there is too much coal. This is the logic of the capitalist system . . .”1
This statement, made at the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s, typifies the widespread view that, in the absence of government intervention and regulation, free-market economies are inherently unstable, lurching from boom to bust, from inflation to unemployment. But is this really true? Not according to the great 20th century “classical liberal” economist Ludwig von Mises,2 who was one of the few economists to predict, in the 1920s, the coming of the Great Depression, and who had been similarly prescient regarding the great German hyperinflation and collapse of 1919-1923. In fact, von Mises, and, fellow “Austrian school” economist and Nobel prize-winner, Friedrich A. Hayek3 argue that it is precisely government mismanagement of the monetary system and government controls on production and trade, which are responsible for boom-and-bust cycles and prolonged depressions.4
Like so much of economics, the “Austrian school” views are complex, but in a nutshell they maintain that in a free-enterprise economy—with free competition, open markets, and freely moving prices and wages—prices send crucial signals, telling businessmen what to produce, counseling workers where to offer their labor, and influencing what people consume. In this way the supply and demand for goods and services in all different markets (including the market for labor) tend to balance each other continually. In addition, the search for profit and the pressure of competition encourage entrepreneurs to forecast the future conditions in their respective markets correctly. For these reasons, there cannot, in normal circumstances, be a general overproduction of goods and services and hence a general slump in business activity.
What then causes boom-bust cycles like the Great Depression? The “Austrians” blame the government, charging that state-induced inflation, brought about by an excessive increase in the quantity of money and credit by state-controlled central banks, skews important market price signals. As a result, rising prices and asset values fool businessmen into making investment decisions not sustainable in real terms. Eventually and inevitably, confidence collapses, businessmen stop investing, and there is a major slump in business activity. The result is widespread unemployment of labor and resources.
Furthermore, they argue, once the “drug” of inflation has been removed, a slump will be corrected most quickly if prices and wages are allowed to freely adjust downwards, back to what true market conditions demand. Governments and unions may attempt to alleviate the pain of the depression through official controls over prices, dividends, wage rates, and through guiding production and investment decisions, but this, say the Austrian economists, will only artificially and unnecessarily prolong it—as happened in the 1930s.
It is odd that many who would not trust the national government to “fine tune” families, schools, and churches would applaud state attempts to tinker with the market. And this despite clear evidence that such tinkering undermines market stability and robs businessmen of the necessary confidence to commit capital for long-term investments.

1 Clarence B. Carson, The Welfare State 1929-1985, in A Basic History of the United States, vol. 5 (Phenix City, AL: American Textbook Committee, 1986), 10.
2 See Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit (New York: The Foundation of Economic Education, 1971). This was first published in German in 1912 and in English in 1934. See also (for a more popular audience) von Mises, Planning For Freedom, 3rd edition (South Holland, IL: Libertarian Press, 1974).
3 Friedrich A. Hayek, Prices and Production (London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1931), and Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1933). See also Murray Rothbard, America’s Great Depression, 3rd edition (Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1975) and (for a more popular audience) For A New Liberty: A Libertarian Manifesto, revised edition (New York: Collier Macmillan, 1978), chapter 9.
4 See also von Mises, Haberler, Rothbard, Hayek, The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays, in Occasional Papers Series 8 (New York: Center for Libertarian Studies, 1978). A similar view is held, for slightly different reasons, by the monetarist economist Milton Friedman. See Milton Friedman, and Anna J. Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1963); and Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), chapter 3.

13 July 2011

Pastors and Depression

Once again I had the privilege of serving as "Guest Host" with Paul Clayon on KFUO's "Morning Essentials" program. This time we were honored to have Dr. Beverly Yahnke, licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Concordia University--Wisconsin, join us as we discussed "Pastors and Depression." (click to listen)

The topic came from a couple of articles that I found yesterday:

and, the fuller article,

Click this link and listen to the audio file of our interview with Dr. Yahnke (about 15 minutes).

12 July 2011

Lively "Ask the Pastor" Show

Today gave me the first opportunity to appear on KFUO's "Ask the Pastor" radio program, and what a lively one it was. Paul Clayton and I began by talking about the recent Illinois law legalizing same-sex unions, how Roman Catholic Charities has responded, and how the whole matter affects the children. And then the phone calls! You can listen to the archived audio file here.

11 July 2011

Homily for Trinity 3

The father reaches for (his) robe to put on his son.
After a couple of years of preaching on Luke 15:1-10 for the Third Sunday after Trinity, I thought it was about time to use the alternate Gospel, Luke 15:11-32, "The Parable of the Prodigal Father." Yes, you read that correctly! Thanks to Kenneth Bailey's writings on this parable and the cultural context in which it was given, the father in Jesus' parable sure seems to be quite "prodigal"--no, not "wandering," but rather "wasteful" or "recklessly extravagant"--quite a bit more prodigal than the younger son. What a perfect way for our Lord Jesus to teach and proclaim that our Father in heaven is quite prodigal in His mercy and forgiveness for us, and all because of the Son's dying and rising for us.

To listen to "The Prodigal Father," just click on this link and download the audio file.

"Economic Freedom and Quality of Life"

A most interesting video from the Mercatus Institute at George Mason University:

HT: Trevor Loudon's New Zeal Blog

08 July 2011

Two Natures for the Christian?

On yesterday's edition of "Studio A" on KFUO (AM 850/kfuo.org) I was asked to address the question: "Does a Christian have two natures?" Here's how that discussion went.

Homily for Trinity 2

Better late than never, here's the link to last Sunday's homily for Trinity 2, focusing on Luke 14:15-24. When the one man says, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God," Jesus no doubt takes the opportunity to teach us and lead into that very kingdom feast--the feast in which He is the main course! Thus I titled this homily, "Feasting on Jesus."

To listen to "Feasting on Jesus," just click this link and download the audio file.