Category Archives: Discernment

I May be a Metal Head, but I’m Still Rock ‘N’ Roll

Who would win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?

Trick question. Lemmy is God.

The above statement you have just read is a question occasionally used to determine if someone is legitimately rock ‘n’ roll. Lemmy Kilmister, for those of you who don’t know, was the front man for the heavy metal rock band known as Motörhead. A true legend if there ever was one, Lemmy created some of the greatest rock music ever recorded. He also lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle harder than anyone. From a diet almost exclusively of meat and potatoes (he claimed he tried vegetables once and didn’t like them), to a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of cigarettes nearly every single day of his life, and to having sex with over three thousand woman (claimed), he was the sin of rock music that our parents warned us about. In the eyes of a rebellious youth, it’s not hard to see how Lemmy is God.

Lemmy was something of a medical anomaly as well. Up until the last few years, he seemed to be in perfect health. Doctors and scientists couldn’t explain it. His lifestyle was the exact opposite of healthy and yet his body was running great. One’s actions have a way of catching up them, however. A few years ago, all sorts of health problems began to manifest themselves and they came quickly. So much so that he had to change his unhealthy lifestyle. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, for the sake of his health, he gave up his Jack Daniels and switched to a bottle of vodka a day.

One thing that was quite interesting about Motörhead is that though they fit very well into the heavy metal category, Lemmy hated that label. The whole concept of subgenres was foolishness to him. As far as he was concerned, Motörhead played rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, they would start their concerts with, “We are Motörhead and we play rock ‘n’ roll.” And this is where I get to the meat of my post.

I’m a metal head. I love metal. But it’s still rock music. I think it’s the best rock music and the label of metal helps to define that. My faith is very much the same way. I am a Lutheran. The Lutheran faith defines what I believe. Lutheranism, however, falls underneath the label of Christian. Other denominations such as Baptist or Calvinist for example can be considered Christian brothers and sisters because we hold to the same basic belief that Christ died for us sinners and it is through him in which we are saved. Yet our beliefs differ enough that we need labels like Lutheran and Calvinist because there are issues of faith which we do disagree on, in many cases, vehemently disagree. Despite such disagreements, those of different denominations can still be our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if I believe that Lutheranism is the correct one.

That’s not to say that all who claim to be Christian are our brothers and sisters. Metaphorically speaking, the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and various other “Christian” groups are the Nickelback and Avril Lavigne of Christianity. You’ll never find Nickelback in any rock playlist of mine (or really any playlist of mine for that matter) and you’ll never here me refer to a Mormon as my Christian brother.

Lemmy died two days ago. Supposedly from a super aggressive cancer. In reality, he died of his sins and most likely in his sins. Jesus on the other hand died because of our sins and for our sins. That is something all Christians can agree on, even if they don’t agree on everything.

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It’s Not a Soup

I love canned soup. While a lot of people have a disdain for it, I personally think it’s wonderful. It’s convenient, simple, fits nicely in my lunch bag, and is easily disposable. So when Campbell’s started introducing flavors of other foods I love, I got excited. Cheesy quesadilla. Hearty pizza. And others. It sounded too awesome to be true. I love pizza and quesadillas, but they’re not exactly easy to fit into a lunch bag. It turns out that it was too good to be true. They tasted awful, nothing really like the actual foods. It turns out that repackaging one food as another good is generally a pretty bad idea. In theory it sounds good, but in practice it’s kind of gross.

And yet so often we repackage Jesus as a life coach, a buddy, a financial adviser, a dietitian, and even a creepy bearded girlfriend. Why? It’s never as good as the original. Sure, he might be more convenient that way, but you’ll probably end up disappointed before long.

I’ll take pizza as it is. I don’t need to sacrifice quality in the name of convenience.

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Stop talking about God!

I had been considering doing my own post on this topic for sometime now. Perhaps this great video from the Eiler’s Pizza blog will give me the kick in the butt I need. Until then, this is a great watch with some very valid points.

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The cure is worse than the disease

A few days ago, I sliced my foot open pretty bad at the beach. I slipped on a rock and left a gash that was probably slightly over two inches long. I bled for about two hours, got light-headed, shaky, and uncontrollable giggles. As I understand, those are side effects of blood loss, so it makes sense. Anyhow, the whole experience didn’t really hurt, but it was severe enough that I needed to go to the emergency room to get stitches. That was fine, they gave me some kind of numbing agent so I wouldn’t feel them go in. Then I went home, watched a show and went to bed. Everything was great. Or so I thought.

I woke up in the middle of the night with an unbearable pain in my foot. It was the stitches. The numbing agent had finally worn off and I felt the full pain of the threads that were holding my flesh together. Receiving the gash was nothing, but these little stitches were awful. I pretty much didn’t walk the next day. And for a few days after that, if I needed to move far, I needed crutches. I still have a few more days before I can have the stitches removed and they’re still painful, but I’m walking unassisted with only a slight gimp. Stitches are awful, but necessary if I didn’t want to be walking around with duct tape on my foot. When it’s done healing, everything will great and certainly much better off than if I had chose to not go to the emergency room.

So, the cure is worse than the disease, or in my case, the bandage is worse than the wound. And as I think about it, that in a sense describes the Christian life. Through receiving saving faith in Jesus Christ, we open ourselves to ridicule, hate, persecution, violence, suffering, and even death. It can be quite a miserable life if you are a Christian. These are all possible side effects of salvation. Both mentally and physically, the cure (faith in Jesus Christ) is often worse than the disease (sin). And yet any doctor will tell you that you need to be cured because the consequences of the disease, as painless as living with it may be, are far worse that the pain the of being cured.

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Don’t Blame the Fire Truck

I’m not of the band wagon to claim that everything that can have bad side effects are sinful. In fact, I consider many of the so-called sinful things to be a gift from God to be used in enjoyment. Take alcohol and tobacco, two absolutely wonderful gifts that are not sinful in and of themselves but can be used in such a way to bring upon great sin. Let’s look at tobacco. A well crafted cigar or pipe full of fine tobacco in celebration or grand occasion is an absolutely wonderful thing. The flavors and the smells are something of great delight and enjoyment and should be fully appreciated when one partakes in such a moment. If one, however, smokes half a pack of cigarettes daily, then it should be reasonable to believe that the individual is merely smoking to appease his addiction and in the process is actively destroying his body. Since the smoker more than likely know that his smoking is causing detriment to himself and quite possibly others, then one could argue that he is sinning due to the harm that he knowingly inflicts.

Alcohol, is a little more straight forward. While some churches insist that any alcohol is a sin going so far as to serve grape juice at communion and completely ignore the fact that grape juice is a very recent invention, alcohol in and of itself is not sinful. Nay, it is in fact one of the greatest earthly gifts to enjoy. There is nothing quite like having a relaxing evening with a glass of whiskey on the rocks or enjoying some quality beers with friends of dinner and/or discussion. I myself love the taste of a good whiskey or gin and find full flavored beers to be one of the finest pleasures around. It is one of the great socializers that has helped may fine things to happen throughout history. The protestant reformation. The Lord’s Supper. The United States Constitution. Community fellowship. But what about all those bad things that happened with alcohol? Promiscuity. Death. Violence. That one time the United States invaded Britain (it happened, and failed hilariously). Well, you see, that’s where the sin lies. The Bible is very clear that drunkenness is a sin and if you’ve ever seen a drunk, it’s pretty easy to tell why. If you’ve never seen someone drunk, just imagine a person getting overly emotional about the importance of voting and you’ll get the idea. Suddenly, this great and wonderful gift has become sinful because of our abuse. And it doesn’t always happen intentionally. Sometimes, one drinks too much without realizing it. I know I’ve had my share of moments. It’s nothing to be proud of, even if you do have a good laugh about it afterwards.

Like tobacco, like alcohol, like a host of other things, there’s a line where you go from enjoying the wonderful qualities of a gift to abusing that gift to your detriment. And when your usage becomes a detriment, then perhaps it’s no longer a gift because you’re putting it to sin. To use one last illustration, imagine your son has been begging your for a toy fire truck for his birthday for the longest time. So you buy him the fire truck and his eyes just light up. He’s thrilled that he got just what he’d been wanting. He plays with it all the time and creating such joy all around him with it. Then, one day, he picks up his toy fire truck and hits his sister in the side of the head with it and gives her a concussion. You reel back in shock and horror as you realize this wonderful gift has now been misused to the detriment of another. It’s not that the toy was sinful but that person in whose care it was abused the use of the toy. What once brought great enjoyment has now brought great harm.

Don’t blame the fire truck because someone abuses it. The fire truck was meant to be enjoyed.

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God is like Elmo or Jesus is a Salad

My daughter got to talk on the phone to Elmo today (it was me). I wish I could’ve seen her face. She sounded thrilled. When Elmo put me on the phone (again, me), she told me that, “I talked to Elmo!” Over and over again. Perhaps sometime down the road I shall buy a big terrifying adult sized Elmo costume have a Skype conversation with her. Perhaps I can make Elmo a little more dignified by giving him a fancy pipe and a nice hat as he sips on a glass of whiskey on the rocks. Something tells me that while Elmo would be much more redeemable in my eyes, my daughter would suspect something is up.

I’ve been to a few churches, listened to a lot of different preachers, and seen a fair amount of views on Christianity. Most of them, while they may have the basics down, always had something off about them with me. For Westboro Baptists, God carries a stick and a gun just in case the stick isn’t long enough. In some of the exceedingly liberal churches, Jesus just can’t stop giving hugs to the point of it being uncomfortable and creepy. In some churches, Jesus is a life skills coach. And yet in other still, he only shows up long enough to say because he’s got another church to go to.

Much in the same way a child will know something’s not right if Elmo is participating in stuffy old people stuff, the Christian who studies the scriptures will know something’s not right when Jesus is put into strange clothes.

Perhaps this is why I like the LCMS so much. Sure, it can appear stuffy and boring to some, but it’s not wearing a funny hat either. The gospel is simply presented as it is without any fluff or personal opinion. To put it another way, think of Jesus as a salad and the church/preacher as a chef. Some chefs will mask the flavor with a salad dressing, but a great chef can make an amazing salad without any dressing at all.

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The question of sin (3 of 4)

Eilers Pizza

God’s Word, which is my preferred term for the Holy Bible, makes clear what is and is not the Lord’s will for our lives. As my very first seminary professor continually reminded us, when we are not clear on something it is due to our weakness and not from God’s being indistinct.

Smoking can get people, um, smoking. Since God’s Word does not speak to it, most of Christianity leaves it in the arena of personal decision. When I would teach religion to middle-schoolers, I would make two columns on the whiteboard and have the kids list the positives and negatives of smoking. The negatives side contained the typical things like cancer, emphysema, addiction, and expense. The positives side? It was blank. When they wanted me to write, “It tastes good,” I would, but then I would make arrows to all of the negatives. Of course, I did not want…

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‘I never knew you — depart from me’

Such a powerful and important blog post. Let it serve to us as a great reminder. May this be of benefit to those of us who stumble and forget.

Churchmouse Campanologist

Matthew HenryAlong with the instruction to build our spiritual houses upon rock, another passage in Matthew 7 from the Sermon on the Mount which bears close scrutiny is our Lord’s teaching on who will be turned away from the kingdom of heaven.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

It is in the three-year Lectionary. One can only wonder about the sermons preached on it. Any number of clergy — as well as congregants —…

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Law of the Land

Today is a day that no doubt frustrates many Christians. On this day, homosexual marriage became law of the land. I have my own personal views on what constitutes as an actual marriage and the government is not part of it. My opinion, however, is neither hear nor there. What’s is here and there are the new battles we face as Christians. Hopefully, everyone is prepared. I cannot imagine that people didn’t see this coming. As Christians, we shall face persecution of which most of us have never seen in America and we must be able to stand strong in the faith as we will be increasingly labeled as hateful and bigots for having a differing view.

Sin has flaunted herself in public for as long as time can remember and it has always been the parents job to do what is right so that their children may not fall into sin. But sin is a foul temptress who lures us all with precious little sweets and blinds us to the consequences. So we give sin a pass. And then we give her another pass. And suddenly, sin doesn’t seem so bad. In fact,  she’s quite nice to you. She invites you over to dinner, helps you out when you’re in trouble, and brings you up when you feel down. But that’s the thing with sin. She may be very giving, but she’s also very needy. As soon as you do not give her what she wants, she lashes out against you, calls you vile, reminds you of all the “nice things” she did for you. And this is how you repay her?

Sounds an awful lot like an abuse relationship, doesn’t it? Well, like so many people in an abusive relationship, we stay with them for their sake. Because we care for them. Because we love them. Because Christ loved them. We’ll get kicked, stepped on, slapped around, insulted, etc., and we won’t file for divorce. Instead, we’ll stand up and tell them the truth. We won’t lie to placate them. We won’t bury our heads in the sand. We’ll tell them the truth with love and compassion because we care for them. Just like Jesus Christ who is in the most abusive relationship of all: with us.

Sin doesn’t always wear nice leggings and a corset. Sometime she bakes cookies. When she invites you over for cookies and games, go and have fun. But if she asks you to support her ideals, call her out for what she is. For yourself. For your children. For your neighbor. She may hate you for it. But then again, she may thank you.

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The problem of God: part one

For the foreseeable future, I will also be reblogging some posts Greg Eilers. Greg Eilers is a retired LCMS Pastor who suffers from gender dysphoria, a condition that makes him feel as though he should be a woman. Greg has done incredible work in keeping with sound doctrine and has even been helpful to me in my theology. In light of his condition and the fact that this is one of the big issues in society today AND his excellent sound doctrine, I would like to present you with posts of his as they pertain to both. My hope is that through scripture, we as a church appropriately deal with such issues and not be bumbling idiots about it all. Thank you.

Eilers Pizza

More than anything in the world, I want all people to understand God as I do. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, and an excellent seminary education, I have been blessed with excellent theology.

Just as a poor foundation dooms a building, poor theology dooms a person. Faulty premises result in faulty answers, result in false faith, and loss of faith, and no faith.

Since I believe the Holy Bible is the true Word of God, and since I am confident in my understanding of it, I do not speak in waffling language. A math teacher does not apologize for the difficult equations he writes on the board; he knows they are correct. Substitute religion for math and my point is made.

All that said, I long for everyone to keep reading. There is equal value for those who share my Lutheran faith, for those with different beliefs, and for those…

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