Monday, June 30, 2008

"Lutheran" Pirates? Aaaaarg!

The birth of a new Lutheran media... Pirate Christian Radio is a new Internet Radio Station... born of the death and resurrection of Issues, Etc. 

Pirate Christian Radio Flag

Pirate Christian Radio is an online radio station that is free from the scurvy plagues of pop-psychology, goofy fads, self-help, pietism, purpose-drivenism, the prosperity heresy, contempletive mysticism, seeker-sensitivism, liberalism, relavantism, Emergent nonesense, and the sissy girly religiousity that is being passed off as "Biblical Christianity".

This station proclaims "Christ crucified for our sins" and exhalts and defends THE historic Christian faith.

Click here to see the schedule.

Issues, Etc. is now back on the air both over the net on Pirate Christian Radio but also over the air in the St. Louis area.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

WuFoo - Just Good Software / WebWare

I just created three useful forms for the church web page... for free.  WuFoo made is easy, slick and very useful.  The forms were a piece of cake to build all the info I needed for all the forms was just as I would have done it.  These guys have got a great thing going.

The Three Forms

Update Membership Information

Prayer / Visit Request form

Info Request

I embeded the form code in a blog post and am able to access the forms by recalling the post from tags or by direct URL.  It all works nifty.  You can also get the "full page code" and "XHTML and CSS Code only" for those who know what that's all about. 

WuFoo has several levels of participation.  Free is good for me. It allows 3 forms with 10 fields each.  (a very liberal interpretation of fields).  I was able to create all I needed with room to spare.  All the notification stuff I needed is also available at this level.  You can get up to 100 entries a month.  I think that will be sufficient for the churches needs right now.  (I could blow quiet a few just testing it all out...).

WuFoo also has a reports feature that I haven't yet tapped.  I'm looking forward to playing with that.

WuFoo's paid levels seem to be pretty reasonable as well. Each level raising the number of forms, users and entries available, they range from $9.95 a month to 199.95 a month. 

All in all, when you find something that is this easy, this good, and basically free, you've got to tell people about it.  Try out

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No Sermon this Week

Pastor Watt is recovering from knee surgery, so there will be no sermon this week.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Luther's Small Catechism - Ten Commandments - "Word Cloud"

A word cloud is a text picture.  Word clouds equate the size of the "word" or "topic" with the number of times a given word is used and therefor its importance in the given text.

It is an interesting way to look at a text.  So I ran the six chief parts of the catechism through a word cloud generator.

The catechism texts I used are found at

The Ten Commandments

This is the Ten Commandments Cloud a couple of nice things I noticed.  "God" is largest of all.  "Commandment" is an important word, not a suggestion! ;-).  "Love" is bigger than "fear"  and yet we do "fear" God's wrath over our sin. Matthew 10:28.  "Love" toward "God" and love toward our "neighbor"

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  (Luke 10:27, ESV)

My wife thinks it looks like a foot print.  Ok... "go" serve your neighbor...


Friday, June 27, 2008

lf you aren't doctrinal, you aren't missional and if you aren't missional, you aren't doctrinal.


You can't beat Walther for laying it on the line.

"It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is common for people to say, “Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.” Many say, “Instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned with souls and with leading them to Christ.” But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls."

(C. F. W. Walther, “Our Common Task: The Saving of Souls” [1872], Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. I)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Good" Lies... Teach... Hard... Lessons...

"Life is cruel... lie hard..." that's the first thing a "Sales Support Engineer" has to learn.  It's why I left the business.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Isa.43.1-7, Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, June 22, 2008

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7 ESV)

Grace and peace to you, Precious… Honored and Loved Children of God, from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

She knew it was there… somewhere… it had to be. How could she be such a fool as to lay it down? How could she forget where she laid it? The room, now in shambles, had been scoured from top to bottom in search of her precious treasure, but the wedding ring was no where to be found. And now, she peered over the edge of the sink and gazed in to the blackness of the drain in the middle of the bowl. It was the only place left… it had to be there. Determined she walked to the closet and dragged out a plastic bucket. Tool handles poked up from its rim. Wire and nails rattled as she dropped it next to the sink. She plopped down beside it, and looked over the collection. It was clear nothing would fit over the drain pipe to disconnect it. There was only one solution left in her mind… she had to get the ring. Slowly she began to drag the saw back and forth just above the drain trap. Tiny metal filings began to litter the space below. It would take time, it would be expensive to replace the pipes, but no cost was too high. It was her wedding ring, she had to get it back.

The desert sand blew up from the hot ground and bit Greg’s face. He didn’t want to be there. “Guard that oil well with your life!” Sarge had said. “… with your life!” echoed the final three words in Greg’s mind. How was it possible that that oil was so precious? How could that black slimy gunk be worth more than his own life? Oh, he knew that oil was critical to the war. He knew that factories lived because they had it… he knew that tanks drank it… but what was one single well, more or less, to the effort… what made that one particular well so precious that he was to give his life guarding it? He peered out over the sand, wondering if anyone were out there. Would anyone really kill him for that seemingly insignificant spot in the whole desert? “Would I really kill them,” he wondered, “prevent them from taking it?”

Amy sat, perched on the edge of her couch, with her eyes flickering back and forth from the glowing gray of the television to the brightly colored precious square of cardboard she pinched in her fingers. “… if only this time the numbers match… if only this time, some of the numbers match… then things in my life will be different.” She thought. She had waited almost a week for this one night. This had to be the night that her life would change.

Bob tried to rub the pain from his mind with his fingers, as he sat in the darkness of his kitchen. He couldn’t believe the last 8 hours, they were something from a dream… a bad dream.. No, it was more like a nightmare. Only a few hours ago his little girl was sleeping on the couch, but now… he would give anything to see her lying there peacefully breathing… but now, that just wasn’t possible, his precious little girl was gone. He remembered the horrible sound of the screeching tires and then the dead silence that followed. “Oh my God!” came the voice of the driver as he leaped from his seat to the front of the car. “Somebody please help!” he screamed… Bob dragged himself from the images in his mind back to the darkened kitchen. His eyes passed through the shadowy space, as usual there was a pile of plates waiting to be washed and an opened fruit can on the counter. The milk was on the table… it hadn’t been put away again. All of it blended into the grayness of the room and Bob’s mind. But there was one thing that drew his eye. A beam of light from the street peered in the window and half lit a white crumpled piece of paper on the refrigerator. On that one spot in all the room there was color. Several purple and red lines ran out of the light to form some picture in the darkness. Bob walked to the white box and moved the picture so the light could brighten it all. “Dad” it said with a shaky green line over a stick figure with bulbous hands and a scribble beard. Just as Bob felt he would fold up on the floor in sheer pain, his daughter’s picture spoke again. There were more letters near the top of the page. “Jesus died for me,” they said in red, and below that was a quickly drawn green cross. A child’s faith, marked out in red and green wax. Nothing had ever been more precious. “Thank you, Jesus.” Bob said from his knees.

It was the most precious thing he had ever seen. A small squirming pink mass in the blanket wrapped up in his wife’s arms. Jeremy looked at his wife… she had never looked more beautiful. After all the work… all the time.. all the money… finally they had a child. For them adoption was the only way, something about mumps when he was a boy. But, all of the struggle, money, and worry, now to fell deep into his memory, this moment was worth it all. Here, right here, was a child to raise, a child to teach, and a child to love. He brushed a finger across her soft cheek, she was so tiny, and she would need him very much.

We know what it means for something to be precious. We have precious things all around us. We may even know what it means for us to be precious in someone’s eyes. I think though that often we have a hard time seeing that we are precious to God. After all, fears are right here… our troubles are right here… our sins are right here… our lives are right here and God often feels so far away.

It isn’t a new feeling. Isaiah the prophet was dealing with the same feelings when he wrote the words of our text today. The Children of Israel had put some distance between themselves and God. They quit listening to what God had to say. God even called them deaf and blind. And now, says Isaiah, they were in for trouble. There land, the land that God had given them, would be taken away. And they would be dragged off into exile. Separated from the land they loved, and separated from their own people. There would be a lot for them to be afraid of… when they literally looking down the barrel of the Babylonian army. But in all that, with all that to look forward to, God tells the people to remember who they are… and remember who he is. He gives them a very personal word, to remember that they, in spite of all that was coming, where his precious people.

Isaiah begins by reminding them who is speaking to them. God the one who created them. He the one who formed them with the same care that a potter uses to mold and form a clay pot. They went into Egypt, 12 brothers, and came out a great multitude. He molded them through trials in the desert, water from rocks and manna from heaven. He formed them into a great army that was feared by all the kings they stood against. He redeemed them from slavery in Egypt, and he would again free them from exile in Babylon. Just as they passed through the red sea unharmed again they would pass through troubled waters that would not destroy them completely. And just as a fire led them in the desert, so they would walk through fire, protected by God. Why does God go to such lengths to tell them this… because they were his precious people… I am YHWH, he says using the name he gave Moses at the burning bush. “I am your God, and your only Savior. You are precious to me because I have put my name on you. Don’t be afraid, I am with you.

But the real beauty of this text isn’t that it tells the story of God’s love for a group of people who lived so long ago. People long dead, individuals long forgotten, and relegated to words written on dry dusty paper. The real beauty of this text is this… In these same words God is telling us that we too are his precious people.

We are reminded that this God, the one who is speaking here to us, is the one who created us. He carefully knit us together in our mother’s womb, a precious treasure. But, he did even more than that, His act of creation continued because of Jesus Christ, and all that he has done for us, his life, death and resurrection. We, just like his precious Israel, have been called by name. We have been Baptized and given his name. He said, “Welcome to My Family, my precious child. I give you my name” I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Fear not, for I am with you, he says. When our fears flood over us threatening to drown us, when our troubles threaten to burn us up, when we face the fact that we are sinful, and God feels far away. He says, Remember who you are and how precious you are to me my child.

We are more precious to God than a lost diamond in a dark drain, barrels and barrels of black gold, or even a multimillion dollar lottery ticket. And the proof is as simple as a few words scribbled in red crayon, “Jesus died for me.” We are so precious in God’s eyes, that he sent Jesus Christ, to be a king’s ransom. His life in exchange for ours. He said fear not, I am with you. He sent Jesus to be with us, literally, to walk the earth, to smile and laugh, to eat and sleep, and to suffer and die, for us God’s precious children. He came to be with us right here, right were we are with our fear, right here with our troubles, and right here with our sins. And Jesus promise that he is always with us. “I am with you always to the very end of the age. Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am with you.” You see, it’s the same promise given to us that was given to the children of Israel.

We are God’s precious children gathered together, in his name, in his presence, to be reminded that we are precious to him. We all need to be reminded often that we are precious to God. Take advantage of what God offers you here. You are precious to God and he wants to remind you of that again and again.

The Lord says to all his people, “You are precious and honored in my sight, and … I love you.” Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Issues Etc Returning.


Issues, Etc. will return June 30, 2008 at 3:05pm.

Issues will air on Pirate Christian Radio from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.  The last hour will be broadcast on St. Louis station KSIV, 1320am.  Podcasting will be available through the website. or

I can't wait!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Knee Replacement Surgery

This week I'm finally having it done. Knee arthroplasty. Total knee replacement. Last June I had my knee scoped here's the pictures of that.

Since then I have been under the care of Dr. Kalo at Orthopedic Consultants in Sioux Falls. We've tried many things as a treatment for the pain.  But to no avail.  Finally we decided to go ahead with this procedure this summer.  I am sure the winter would have been unbearable the way things have been for the last several months.

Here's a YouTube animation of knee replacement. It makes me rather squeamish even though it's not a real surgery.


Romans 6: 12-23 - Guest Blog Preacher, Rev. David Schultz

Pastor Schultz is pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church, Fenton, IA and my good friend.  I have posted this sermon (with permission) because pr. Schultz  does a great job of making Paul's words understandable. 

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the Name of the Only True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Slavery. The word dredges up images of chains and punishment, whips and work. To be a slave is to be out of control, to have our lives in the hands of someone else. Someone else tells us when to get up, and when to lie down. Someone else tells us what to eat or what to wear. Someone else tells us how to live, and perhaps chooses when we die.

We really don’t know slavery like Paul and the Romans did. We have likely never met a slave or former slave. The concept of being owned, like property, is repugnant to us. That repugnance is in large part due to other words of Paul: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

In Paul’s day, everyone had slaves, if they could afford them. Slavery was punishment for particular crimes, the cost of loosing a war, what happened when crops or business failed. A slave really had no rights, no recourse from his master. He could be treated like livestock or a beloved pet, depending on the will of someone else. He could be a field hand, sunburned and dirty. She could be a house-servant, clean and mild-mannered. But, no matter what, they were under their master.

Paul uses the image of the slave many times in his writings. It was as much a part of ancient life as shifts and paychecks are a part of ours. Paul uses the image of the slave, he says, because he was speaking in human terms, because of our natural limitations.

Slaves to sin

Perhaps we can’t identify with the term, slave, outside of history books or movies. Certainly, the image does not come to mind when we drive past a road crew or get food from a waitress. But we can understand the loss of personal control that a slave would feel.

Think of the drug addict or alcoholic. Is someone addicted to meth in control anymore, or is the need for the drug the master? A meth addict will do anything for that drug, even abandon their children, let them starve. A sex addict will spiral out of his or her own control, for pornography, or a further experience. A food addiction is where a person cannot stop eating, or else cannot get themselves to eat, either struggling with obesity or anorexia. We could talk about thrill seekers and adrenaline addicts.

We could talk about pride. We don’t think about being enslaved to pride, but this is true as well. “This can’t be happening to me,” we might think, about a thousand things. But there is nothing in the universe that can guarantee, that what happens to one human being, cannot happen to another. Pride is incredibly controlling of us, making us do things that otherwise we could never imagine doing, and in a right mind, would never want to do.

I came across an extreme example in the news, just the other day. An Afghan farmer is in massive debt, dating back decades. Crops don’t look good this year, so he is selling his six year old daughter into an arranged marriage, an extreme act, no matter what the culture.

Did he not feel any shame, (the reporter) asked, about marrying off his six-year-old? No, he said, the real shame would have been to have his creditors knocking at his door, embarrassing him in front of the village. Your daughter, (the reporter) persisted, how does she feel? "Oh, she's happy to be solving her father's problems," he said. (

Now, we might look at this farmer, as much a human being as anyone here and feel proud of our culture or society, that we do not allow such things. But, if we are honest about our pride, we have our own problems. How many divorces come from pride, where one partner simply will not live up to the marriage vow? How many of our children suffer emotionally, physically, spiritually from those divorces? If our civilization collapsed as much as it has for this Afghan farmer, to what extremes would our pride drive us?

Sin always has a cost, for us, for our families and neighbors, for our planet as a whole. Many Burmese have died because of the hubris of their ruling generals, but even here in the United States, we have our deadly pride, even it is not as high a price. Ask those of New Orleans, just as a recent instance.

We have been slaves to all kinds of sin. What has the cost been? For all of us, the wage of sin is death, the death of family bonds, the death of false expectations, the physical death that we all face, whether we want to or not.

Slaves to God

Paul takes a strange turn for us here. We might expect a turn to freedom for the captive, liberty for the slave. We expect, that somehow, some way, we are put back in charge, masters of our own fate, captains of our own souls. We are freed! Now, go away and mind your own business!

When we come to religion, we like the idea of a smorgasbord. “I, the consumer and connoisseur of faith, come and take a little bit of Protestantism, a little bit of Roman piety, a touch of this, a lot of that.” We come and take bits of this and that from the table of spirituality, because then we master what we take, what we like. Sin of pride, again, right? Because if we pick and choose what we like, then we don’t loose control, not even to God. That is a message that we like, that we expect. A religion that changes for me, so I need never change.

But that is not Paul’s message. It no where even enters the picture. We are never autonomous agents, we are never masters, in this text. Here, either sin is master, or God through Christ is master. Either we belong to death, or we belong to life. Here is resistance against the cruel master, sin of every shade, that gives us such pain. But here we flee from the whips of one master, into the arms of Another.

Here is the green pastures, not of self-centered freedom, but of being sheep led by the Good Shepherd. Here is the return home, after a long and pride-defeating journey, to the loving arms of the Masterful Father. We aren’t given our own mansion, but only a room. We are sent out, like the seventy disciples, like Jeremiah, with words we do not always want to say, words that can bring death to the body, but life to the soul, words that kill our prides, but bring righteousness to the needy.

We have no liberty here, to go our own way, but obedience to a new Master, slaves of God. We are purchased men, women and children, purchased by the blood, sweat and tears of the Master of the House, Jesus Christ. Our life comes at the cost of His death. And that death and resurrection changes us, daily kills our sins, our prides, our addictions.

Does it matter as much, whether we are field hands or house-slaves? Does it matter, that the labors we are called to work in are different? Whether king or president, we bow to the true Ruler, Who was crowned with thorns for us. Whether housewife or business executive, we labor for more than our families or paychecks. Whether police officer or civilian, we answer to a Higher Authority. We are not in control, we are not the Master, God is.

And Who is this Master? Our Master lived in obedience for us, when we were in rebellion. Our Master creates and heals us, despite our wars and destructions. Where we knock down, or are knocked down, He lifts us up. Where we go astray, He returns us, carries us home. Where we die, He brings to life.

And that is a Master, that is well worth having in charge.

In the Name of Jesus, our Master, Amen.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Protesting, Boycott, etc.

This is a great post from Steven J. Camp. at his blog CamponThis.

I encourage you to read the entire post.  Steve deftly discusses the issue of Christians participating in social issues.  I love this paragraph, especially the first paragraph.

I ask you... why do we in the church constantly become outraged when we see non-Christians living like non-Christians? Why do we "require" that unbelievers live in some sort of comfortable legalistic "righteous" bubble before they come to salvation through Christ? Have we forgotten what we were like before we tasted the kindness of God in Christ for our salvation? Have we forgotten how we were slaves to various lusts and passions of our hearts? Have we forgotten how sinful we were apart from God's grace? Have we forgotten how depraved we were and to what depth of disobedience we plummeted? How dare we hold any non-believer in derision and set ourselves above them thinking we now as Christians could not ever succomb to the depth of sin they might be in. What arrogance; what self-righteousness; what non-Christlikeness. Oh may we remember beloved: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

He has much to say but he ends with this important insight.  The church has lost its identity.  We have forgotten who is head of the church and why he created the church... for the sake of the Gospel.  To bring forgiveness to a broken, sick and sinful world.  It is God's job to change the world.  It is our job to tell the world what he did in Jesus.

The strength to fight spiritual battles is not found in us, but only in Christ the Lord. In other words folks, brace yourselves, we are inconsequential and impotent when it comes to using human means to execute spiritual warfare! 2 Cor. 3:5 removes all doubt when Paul says, "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God."


The Church in America has lost its impact, insight, and identity because it has lost its identification with the head of the Church, Jesus Christ. We are more associated with the political process - Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Christians than with the work of Jesus Christ. We have sought and become a political-economic force rather than a spiritual one. Why is it that we can assemble five thousand Christians to champion a cause or boycott an artists public display of sensuality, but at that same time its virtually impossible to gather five hundred Christians for prayer meeting? The problem with the world is not the world, ladies and gentlemen. The problem with the world are Christians trying to sneak into heaven incognito.

What he is talking about here is Christian vocation in the world of politics.  He's got it right!

Thanks for the great post Steve!

Is This Like the Frog in Boiling Water?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cyd Charisse, Dies this Week.

We watch tons of old movies (thanks to  When we sit down to watch one as a family my daughter Hannah's (10) first question is: "Is there dancing?"  If not, it doesn't hold her attention.  One of our favorites was Cyd Charisse.  We were saddened at the news of her death.

My wife and I actually saw her on Broadway many years ago (1992).  We saw her on the onstage production of Grand Hotel.  She received a standing o just by walking on stage.  If it wasn't her last appearance it was nearly so.

Here's a few of our favorite selections.  They don't make them like this anymore.


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Would Would Jesus Want Me To Do? Vocation! Vocation!

I enjoyed this blog post from "the evangelical outpost" entitled "Six Thoughts About Jesus."  There's nice thoughts about the Kingdom of God, the Incarnation, and Jesus the intellectual.  But especially nice was the section on Vocation.  Joe Carter makes a nice point about the old WWJD stuff commenting as I often have it's not WWJD but WD(id)JD.  He carries it a bit further to WWJWMTD.  It is a great question.  The answer, serve where God has place me to serve.  Vocation!  Here's what Joe wrote.

In 1896 a Christian socialist named Charles Sheldon wrote a book called In His Steps which popularized the slogan "What Would Jesus Do" and inspired two of the most well-intentioned but misguided fads of the 20th century: the Social Gospel movement and the marketing of WWJD paraphernalia. The problem with both is that they are based on WWJD and that is the wrong question.

The Gospels provide us with a rather clear record of what Jesus did -- healed the sick, preached, traveled, made disciples, etc. While we may also be expected to do these types of things, they were essential to Christ's earthly mission. If he were walking the streets of America he would likely still be doing the same thing. But is this what we should be doing? Not necessarily. We are not Jesus; we are his disciples. Our mission is not his mission but the mission he assigns us. The question we should keep constantly before us is "What Would Jesus Want Me To Do." But then WWJWMTD isn't as easy to embroider on a bracelet or fit on a bumper sticker.

Luther is always good to quote.  On the same subject Luther talks about doing what God calls each of us to do; serve in the vocation we've been given.

Thus every person surely has a calling. While attending to it he serves God. A king serves God when he is at pains to look after and govern his people. So do the mother of a household when she tends her baby, the father of a household when he gains a livelihood by working, and a pupil when he applies himself diligently to his studies.

This sure life of godliness the monks and nuns have abandoned, for they considered these works to be too insignificant and looked for others seemingly more burdensome. At the same time they departed from the faith and became disobedient to God.

Therefore it is great wisdom when a human being does what God commands and earnestly devotes himself to his vocation without taking into consideration what others are doing. But surely there are few who do this. The majority do what the poet censures: “A lazy ox wants a saddle, a lazy nag wants to plow.”

There are very few who live satisfied with their lot. The layman longs for the life of a cleric, the pupil wishes to be a teacher, the citizen wants to be a councilor, and each one of us loathes his own calling, although there is no other way of serving God than to walk in simple faith and then to stick diligently to one’s calling and to keep a good conscience.

Luther, M. (1999, c1961). Vol. 3: Luther's works, vol. 3 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 15-20 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (3:128). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Thanks to my friend pr. David Schultz, Fenton, IA for keeping vocation always before me!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Napping! A Good Idea Whose Time Has Come (Returned)

Check out this graphic at the Boston Globe.  It's a good article on the benefits of napping.  I have long promoted the benefits of a short 20 min nap after lunch.  Here's some backup to my personal research!

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Issues Etc to Return on June 30!

imageIssues Etc will return to the air June 30th

You can listen live on the Internet by tuning in at

3-5pm (central standard time). June 30.

The second hour will be broadcast in the St. Louis area on KSIV-AM 1320. 

Welcome back Todd and Jeff!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Snap Shots for this Web Site.

Introducing Snap Shots from

I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Exodus 19:2-8, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, June 15, 2008

They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. (Exodus 19:2-8 ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today I thought of trying to find a way if printing some identity cards for you all. It just wasn’t practical. Each of you would get one with your name on it, a picture, and little bio information. You know what an ID card is, it tells people who you are. It tells people your identity. That’s what all our readings are about today. Your identity. Who you are. Your identity is important. You understand that.

Well, identity is what this text from Exodus is all about. God is telling his people, though Moses exactly who they are. It’s right there about a third of the way down the text…

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

God bases their identity on what He has done for them and what He is going to do for them. When God defeated Pharaoh and his armies, and freed his people from slavery, “On Eagle’s Wings” He is giving His people an identity. They are more than just any old people who worshipped any old God. He is the God who rescued them. He is the God who redeemed them. and His the God that relieved them from the burden of slavery. He is the God they can depend on. By the Spirit, they are called to remember His outstretched mighty arms and outstretched hands. This way they reflect and remember what He has already done, and they know who they are in His eyes.

This is how God acts for you also. He wants you to know your identify in Him. You can see that in the Font right here. It’s why we keep it out in front, where it can always be seen. I want you to be reminded of your identity. You are a baptized child of God. Your identity begins with what God does for you. The Baptismal service in our hymnal is packed full of these identity images. But my favorite is the new/old prayer there. It’s called the Flood Prayer. It ties so closely to what we are talking about. (p. 268). Just look at p. 268 (LSB). It’s all about God’s actions to save people. It’s all about God’s actions to save you. God calling you and me by name and placing His name on us.

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3a ESV)

What did it mean for God’s people in Exodus? Well, that’s what the passage goes on to say:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Now we’ve got to make a correction to the translation here. This version of the bible says “if you will indeed obey my voice.” This word would much better be translated listen. If you will listen to me. If you will remember what I’ve told you about what I’ve done for you. It’s kind of like that old commercial “When E. F. Hutton speaks... people listen.” When God speaks his people listen. And what does God say? He tells us again what He’s done for us. He gives us an identity, we are His people because of what He’s done.

If you have any doubts about your identity being all God’s action St. Paul makes it very clear.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10 ESV)

We were enemies, not friends of God. Enemies don’t obey their enemy. But God changes all that. Through the death of Jesus, God’s enemies become reconciled to God. God’s enemies become God’s children. God’s enemies become God’s treasured possession.

Back to the identity card… remember I said I’d put a little bio on it. The funny thing is the bio for all of us would be the same. It’s the same bio God gave to the children of Israel in the desert.

…and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

St. Peter talked about the same thing, it’s a verse that we remember because it’s part of our Baptism service:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)

You and me, all those people gathered around Moses at Mt. Sinai. A kingdom of priests… a holy nation… God’s people… Our identity with God is because of Jesus. His perfect life and death on the cross is what allows us to receive mercy from God. The punishment for our sin is canceled. Jesus takes it on himself. So instead of being God’s enemies and not receiving mercy, we receive mercy, forgiveness and life forever. That’s our new identity in Jesus Christ. You know what, our identity, in Christ, isn’t a status thing. “I’m better than you are because I’m a child of God!” We give this impression to people all the time. We can’t help but think that God chose us because we are somehow better than people He didn’t choose. We can’t help but think that we are better than other folks because we haven’t missed a Sunday of church in 20 years. We can’t help but think that we are better than people, who spend their time sitting in jail cells, drinking away their welfare, abusing their children, and living off of tax payer money. We want the reason we are God’s children to have something, anything to do with us. God did not save you because you are a holy nation, you are a holy nation because God saved you. We don’t do good stuff so God will love us, God loves us so we do good stuff. That’s our identity. It isn’t status, it is service. Do you know what God does right after this passage in Exodus? He gives the people the Ten Commandments! The heart of the commandments isn’t pleasing God, you can’t do that anyway. The heart of the commandments is serving your neighbors. That’s where your identity takes you. When you hear what God has done for you, when you remember who you are, you will love and serve your neighbor.

Look again at that insert from the Large Catechism, the very last sentence:

By the Word He works and promotes sanctification, causing this congregation daily to grow and to become strong in the faith and its fruit, which He produces.

It says this very same thing. We listen to God’s Word and He causes our faith to grow and He produces good fruit in us. That’s your identity. You are a member of the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, by virtue of your Baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Vocation, Doing what God has given you to do!

Here's a great YouTube video on Vocation.

I love how they've characterized this guy. He's us all over. We live and work and play every day thinking about ourselves and forgetting that God has placed us where he has to serve our neighbors. I especially like how the video doesn't call it "ministry." It's just regular, daily, serving of those that need service; regular, daily serving those who God places right in front of us to serve. It very much helps us to see clearly Christian Vocation in every day life. I also like how it doesn’t say that these people need to have Christ (even though they certainly do) but it emphasizes that our motive for helping them is simply that they need help.

What it lacks is the Gospel as motivation for the Christian to do this service. We serve our neighbors because God first serves us.  This is assumed by the intended viewer, I suppose. I wonder how this idea could be incorporated into the video and not take away its impact? a way that wouldn’t use the Gospel as the Law?

Thanks to Gene Veith for pointing out this video.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008