31 August 2011

What Would Luther Say?

Be sure to tune in to KFUO - AM 850 (St. Louis area) or kfuo.org (worldwide) - tomorrow, September 1, during the 4-5 p.m. hour (Central Time). Host Roland Lettner and I will begin a series on  Luther's Large Catechism.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at the Ten Commandments.

Boy, does Luther have some great quips and pearls of wisdom!

Homily for Trinity 10

Preaching on Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem - Luke 19:41-48 - is always a challenge (especially on one's first Sunday back after vacation). Just how does one proclaim that stern Law of God judging His own people and bring in the needed comfort of the Gospel - and for 21st century Christians who may or may not know, or care, about the ancient events Jesus predicted?

That's what led me to the theme "Every Christian Needs to be Saved" for this year's Trinity 10. Yes, God does proclaim His judgment to His own redeemed people when they sin and fall away from Him. After all, He wants us, His redeemed people, to relent of our evil and return to Him (cf. Jeremiah 8:4-12). Hence, we keep being saved by the sweet message of Jesus' cross-won forgiveness and resurrection life.

To listen to "Every Christian Needs to be Saved," click on this link and download the audio file.

26 August 2011

Refute Evolution - Rather Quickly

Short, sweet, and right to the point ... as well as right on target:

From Check This Out! (a DVD or download featuring six warp-speed videos sure to spice up your teaching). From Answers in Genesis to share everywhere.

On the Book of Concord

Here's the audio of yesterday's "Studio A" program in which host Roland Lettner and I offered an overview of the Book of Concord. (The first half of the hour features Concordia Seminary professor Tony Cook on a different topic; our Book of Concord segment begins at the half-way point.)

Be sure to tune in to KFUO Radio (AM 850 or kfuo.org) in the coming Thursdays for our series on Luther's Large Catechism! (Exact time yet to be determined, but definitely one of the hours between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. CT)

Top Ten Reasons Why We Use the Liturgy

Thanks to Steadfast Lutherans for pointing this out, and even greater thanks to Pr. Cwirla, over at Higher Things, for composing it in the first place. This little gem deserves as much exposure and attention as it can get!

Why the Liturgy?  First a definition and a disclaimer.  By “liturgy” I mean the western catholic mass form as it has been handed down by way of the Lutheran Reformation consisting of the five fixed canticles - Kyrie, Gloria in Excelsis, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.  Pardon the Greek and Latin, but it sounds cool and we still use ‘em.  “Liturgy” also includes the assigned Scripture texts for the Sundays, feast days, and seasons.  Most of what I will say about the liturgy of the Divine Service will pertain to “liturgical worship” in general.
Now, why do we worship according to the western, catholic liturgy?

1.  It shows our historic roots.  Some parts of the liturgy go back to the apostolic period. Even the apostolic church did not start with a blank liturgical slate but adapted and reformed the liturgies of the synagogue and the Sabbath.  The western mass shows our western catholic roots, of which we as Lutherans are not ashamed.  (I’d rather be confused with a Roman Catholic than anything else.)  We’re not the first Christians to walk the face of the planet, nor, should Jesus tarry, will we be the last.  The race of faith is a relay race, one generation handing on (“traditioning”) to the next the faith once delivered to the saints.  The historic liturgy underscores and highlights this fact.  It is also “traditionable,” that is, it can be handed on.

2.  It serves as a distinguishing mark.  The liturgy distinguishes us from those who do not believe, teach, and confess the same as we do.  What we believe determines how we worship, and how we worship confesses what we believe.

3.  It is both Theocentric and Christocentric.  From the invocation of the Triune Name in remembrance of Baptism to the three-fold benediction at the end, the liturgy is focused on the activity of the Triune God centered in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.  Worship is not primarily about “me” or “we” but about God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and my baptismal inclusion in His saving work.

4.  It teaches.  The liturgy teaches the whole counsel of God - creation, redemption, sanctification, Christ’s incarnation, passion, resurrection, and reign, the Spirit’s outpouring and the new life of faith.  Every liturgical year cycles through these themes so that the hearer receives the “whole counsel of God” on a regular basis.

5.  It is transcultural.  One of the greatest experiences of my worship life was to be in the Divine Service in Siberia with the Siberian Lutheran Church.  Though I spoke only a smattering of Russian, I knew enough to recognize the liturgy, know what was being said (except for the sermon, which was translated for us), and be able to participate knowledgeably across language and cultural barriers.  I have the same experience with our Chinese mission congregation.

6.  It is repetitive in a good way.  Repetition is, after all, the mother of learning.  Fixed texts and annual cycles of readings lend to deep learning.  Obviously, mindless repetition does not accomplish anything; nor does endless variety.

7.  It is corporate.  Worship is a corporate activity.  “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”  The liturgy draws us out of ourselves into Christ by faith and the neighbor by love.  We are all in this together.  Worship is not simply about what “I get out of it,” but I am there also for my fellow worshippers to receive the gifts of Christ that bind us together and to encourage each other to love and good works (Heb 10:25).  We are drawn into the dialogue of confession and absolution, hearing and confessing, corporate song and prayer.  To borrow a phrase from a favored teacher of mine, in church we are “worded, bodied, and bloodied” all together as one.

8.  It rescues us from the tyranny of the “here and now.”  When the Roman world was going to hell in a hand basket, the church was debating the two natures of Christ.  In the liturgy, the Word sets the agenda, defining our needs and shaping our questions.  The temptation is for us to turn stones into bread to satisfy an immediate hunger and scratch a nagging spiritual itch, but the liturgy teaches us to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

9.  It is external and objective.  The liturgical goal is not that everyone feel as certain way or have an identical “spiritual” experience.  Feelings vary even as they come and go.  The liturgy supplies a concrete, external, objective anchor in the death and resurrection of Jesus through Word, bread, and wine.   Faith comes by hearing the objective, external Word of Christ.

10.  It is the Word of God.  This is often overlooked by critics of liturgical worship.  Most of the sentences and songs of the liturgy are direct quotations or allusions from Scripture or summaries, such as the Creed.  In other words, the liturgy is itself the Word of God, not simply a packaging for the Word. Many times the liturgy will rescue a bad sermon and deliver what the preacher has failed to deliver.  I know; I’ve been there.

Ten is one of those good numbers in the Bible signifying completeness, so I'll stop at ten.  I'm sure there are more.

25 August 2011

Overview of the Book of Concord on "Studio A"

Be sure to listen to KFUO's "Studio A" program today, 5:30-6:00 p.m. (CT). Host Roland Lettner and I will present an "Overview of the Book of Concord." You can hear the show at AM 850 on the radio dial (St. Louis area) or at kfuo.org on the internet.

This is also a prelude to a series Roland and I are cooking up on Dr. Martin Luther's Large Catechism.

23 August 2011

Co-Host on KFUO again ... tomorrow

I'm honored to be on KFUO's "Morning Essentials" again tomorrow morning as Co-Host with Paul Clayton (7:30-9:00 a.m.). Special guest for the 8:05-8:20 time slot will be Rev. Brent Kuhlman talking about Higher Things. Check it out tomorrow morning at AM 850 (St. Louis area) or kfuo.org (worldwide).

17 August 2011

Noah's Ark in the 21st Century?

It looks like "Answers in Genesis" founder Ken Ham is up to his good ol' tricks again--defending the Biblical view of creation in six days and irritating the evolutionists among us. First came the Creation Museum; now comes "The Ark Encounter":

For more on this story (and even some video of an obviously biased and incredulous "news" broadcaster), check out "The Blaze" (HT to "The Blaze" for this story.)