Category Archives: Opinion

Delicate ears

The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretense, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries.

It seems to me that not much has changed since the 16th century when Martin Luther wrote these words. The only difference between then and now is we have new words with which to ascribe. Today that which makes our ears delicate we give such happy words like self-esteem and tolerance. And that which hurts our delicate sensibilities we give names such as bigotry and hate-speech. We like to think that such things are new and perhaps to many of us, they are. I for one can recall growing up in the ’80s and early ’90s that when your feelings were hurt or your sensibilities where offended, you accepted it like an adult and moved on. Then came the wave of political correctness that has gotten so large, that upsetting someone in some cases is considered a punishable crime.

In the opinion of those delicate-eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul’s language.

Martin Luther nailed it on the head with this. And so did scripture. Those with delicate ears would make the Christian out to be the devil himself. A deceiver full of hate and loathing. But it is not just the rest of the world with delicate ears; it is Christians too! For some Christians when you speak of doctrine or Gospel, their ears curl and their hearts lurch because what you say is antithetical to how they view a particular part of Christianity. They deem you full of hate and not of Jesus’ love. Yet to those whose ears are not fragile, they would see, even if they disagree with you, that you come not in hatred but in love! In charity! And they would accept your words as good and kind, even if they themselves disagree with what you have to say.

If there is a light in all of this it is that delicate ears can be broken. When a glass is broken, it must be replaced with a stronger one so that it is not broken again. So when a delicate ear is broken, say by the law, then it must be replaced with an ear that is strengthened by the Gospel. And that is because faith comes through hearing, whether we want to hear it or not.

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Common Bread, Common Cup

There are some things I liked better about my old church over my current one. Not much, the preaching was an abomination, but some things. One thing in particular that sticks out to me, however, was the Lord’s supper, also known as communion. I never participated in my old church because I wasn’t baptized and I technically wasn’t a member, but the way they did always seemed a little more proper. Before I continue, I want to state that I can find nothing theologically wrong with the way my church does the Lord’s supper, I just like the way my old ELCA church did it a little better.

The church I attend is probably quite like yours when it comes to communion. When you receive the body of Christ, you are fed a tiny round piece of flat bread. When you receive his blood, you probably have the choice of taking from the cup or “doing a shot” as I jokingly refer to it. It’s truly an incredible experience and blessing to be a part of this each Sunday, but a part of me (probably from personal opinions mostly) prefers a slightly different method.

Common bread: Over at the ELCA church I attended, something that stood out as powerful was when it came time to show the bread. My pastor then did not have a wafer but instead a small loaf of bread. I always suspected they made it at the church because it was a tiny thing and didn’t look terribly professional. And when he announced the breaking of the bread, he would break the loaf in two. Up until this point, it’s all just visual effects that play on emotions really, but it was when he fed the body of Christ that I always found so incredible. He would hold half the loaf in one hand and break off a tiny piece and feed it to the communicant with the other. That part always struck me as deeply symbolic. Everybody is eating a piece of the same loaf, IE, everyone is partaking in the same body. I’m not saying that by eating the wafer we are all eating from a different body. Not at all. But physically seeing it all come from the same bread, piece by piece, wow, that’s powerful. I’ve always wondered how the ELCA could show so much reverence in their liturgy and Holy communion, but totally collapse in the sermon and basic theology.

Common Cup: I can understand that there are a plethora of reasons for not drinking from the same cup as everyone else, so I’m not going to get into that. I’ll just get into the reason why I feel we should. “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”” Jesus gave the cup to his disciples to drink. Not cups, but cup. This is how it was instituted by God. Do I feel the little “shot glasses” are not valid? By no means. The Lord’s Word is present in the wine given at the altar, regardless of the vessel we put it in. But do I feel it diminishes, even if only symbolically, the importance of the Lord’s supper? I must say that I do. Here’s a great resource that delves into it much better than I ever could.

Again, what I have to say may just be my own opinion, but I feel they’re something important to think about.

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Where are the anathemas when you need them?

It came out during the North Dakota District Convention that the case against Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker, an LCMS clergyman who teaches at Valparaiso University has ended with the result that he was exonerated of any charge of false teaching.

When I read this article, I was sorely disappointed. How has it come to this that a “pastor” who blatantly teaches false doctrine in the LCMS is allowed to remain in the pulpit? It’s tragic that Matthew Becker is protected and allowed to continue to deceive God’s people. The LCMS I fear needs to sorely cut the bureaucracy so that it may effectively and efficiently pronounce excommunication and anathema as needed for the good of all congregations.

Conversely, why does Matthew Becker choose to remain in the LCMS since his beliefs of doctrine so radically differ from what the church teaches? Why does he not instead jump ship to the ELCA? I’ve no doubt they’d welcome him with open arms since they actively practice and teach the very same heresies that he is trying to instill in the Missouri Synod.

If I gave you a glass of water that had just a little bit of poison, it would poison your whole body, even though 99.8% of it was good clean water. By allowing Matthew Becker and those like him to remain, the whole body is being poisoned.

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Resolutions

The old year has passed and the new begun. As is tradition, many people make resolutions only to break them within weeks. I want to get in shape. I want to spend less money. I’ll spend more time reading the Bible. And the list goes on and on. I’ve never really been a fan of resolutions, mostly because I know deep down that I won’t carry them out. I can say I plan to spend more time in scripture and in prayer, but honestly, That will last what? A few days? Weeks maybe? And then I’ll go back to my routine. I have a friend who said to honestly ask God to change me and he would. I tried that for a while some years ago. It didn’t work out so hot. In fact, it left be bitter and resentful. Thankfully I eventually realized I can’t make God do my bidding and learned that that was absolutely for the best.

So, New Year’s resolutions are bunk and I can’t force God fix my flaws. Where does that leave me? It leaves me with faith. And faith is a wonderful thing to be left with. With faith, I no longer have to worry about relying on myself and the struggles of everyday life. I can rely on Christ. When I rely on Christ and not on myself, that is such a huge weight off my mind. With weight off my mind, I can let go of distractions that hinder me. Without distractions, I can do all those so called resolutions like they’re a normal everyday thing. Eating better, exercising, prayer, Bible study, etc, is no longer a chore but a blessing. To hell with resolutions, I have faith in Christ and I don’t need anything more than that.

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Putting holidays in their place

What would you say if I told you that there was a Christian holiday in December that is celebrated by the giving of gifts? And what if I told you that it’s not Christmas? You’d probably give me a mildly confused look, but I’d be telling you the truth. Christmas, contrary to the culture, is not a holiday celebrated with the act of gift giving.  In fact, it’s not even a single day.  It’s twelve days.  And despite what The Twelve Days of Christmas may say, it’s more like twelve days of feasting rather than twelve days of gifts. So if that is the case, than what is the Christian holiday in December that is celebrated with the giving of gifts?

Why, that’d be St. Nicholas Day on December 6th named after none other than St. Nicholas.  He was a third century Christian who has become synonymous with generosity.  In fact, is what our tales of Santa Clause come from.  He’s also where we get the Christmas tradition of hanging stockings to be filled with presents from as well.  I’m not going to go into his story, many other sites have done that far better than I ever could.  While I doubt this will sway many Christians, I want to say that I really enjoy the thought of having St. Nicholas Day as the day of gift giving.  You can still have all of the fun family events that you would do on Christmas every year and a few weeks sooner to boot.  But then, something more magical happens because of this.  On the twelve days of Christmas, you’re not distracted by all the gifts and what have you because that happened a few weeks ago.  So Christmas becomes a more special time.  A time for Jesus Christ.  I appreciate Christmas a lot more than I used to and it’s wonderful.

So this Saturday, I want you all to have a very happy St. Nicholas Day.  My wife and I celebrate with our daughter by exchanging our gifts and watching a Nicholas Cage movie with homemade eggnog.  I’m thinking this year she may need to finally see Con-Air.  😉

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