Saturday, December 17, 2011

Life Under the Son

In today's pop culture world a wonderfully theological sound book written from a Lutheran perspective has emerged just in time for Christmas.If you order it quickly it might arrive in time to be a stocking stuffer.

The author, Pastor John Parcher passed away this past year. However, before his passing he allowed a son-in-law and a daughter access to his files. They chose notes from his sermons and Bible studies on the timeless book of Ecclesiastes in which Pastor Parcher explores two key themes "Meaningless" (NIV) or "Vanity" (KJV) and life "Under the Sun."  The Preacher is pointing to the folly of the creature when fixes his eyes upon the creation "under the sun" while leaving the Creator out of his life.

This book is edifying, engaging and easy to read. Pastor Parcher ends the book by stating that, "Jesus calls you to come along, as you are and where you are. Knowing everything there is to know about you, even the worst, and He still says, 'Follow me.' Even if the Bible did not teach of heaven, and even if the Bible did not teach there is a hell, I would still follow Jesus, for the sheer adventure of it."






http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/life-under-the-son-john-parcher/1107168797

If there is a tidy way of summarizing the varied topics of Ecclesiastes, I do not know of it. The subject matter is too rich for small minded encapsulation. There have been countless books written on the purpose and meaning of life. This author takes us on a grand tour of all this life has to offer, and leaves it up to you to decide. What is a worthy pursuit for the Christian? John Parcher was a parish pastor for forty-two years. He began his ministry at a country church in Minnesota with his wife, Ann, at his side. They received a call to La Crosse, WI in 1968 to pastor the congregation at the corner of St. Paul St. and Avon St. He preached nearly every Sunday for the next thirty-four years. John and Ann are enjoying retirement in La Crosse with their family of eighteen children near by.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Excommunication - An Open Letter to the Members of Holy Word Lutheran Church

http://hereistand2011.blogspot.com/

Dear Members of Holy Word,


As Lutherans, we believe that the Holy Spirit is never separated from the Word or the Means of Grace. It is mentioned throughout Scripture and in the Lutheran Confessions in the explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles Creed. Note that the forgiveness of sins is here and not in the Second Article; it is a work of the Holy Spirit:

"I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true."



As Lutherans we also believe this statement to be true and the hallmark of our faith:



"The sinner is justified by grace for Christ’s sake through faith."



You can not separate that sentence in any way shape or form or you end up teaching falsely.


And this from The Apology IV, 57; it talks of the object of our justification and the remission of sins through faith alone:



"57] And throughout the prophets and the psalms this worship, this latreiva, is highly praised, although the Law does not teach the gratuitous remission of sins. But the Fathers knew the promise concerning Christ, that God for Christ's sake wished to remit sins. Therefore, since they understood that Christ would be the price for our sins, they knew that our works are not a price for so great a matter [could not pay so great a debt]. Accordingly, they received gratuitous mercy and remission of sins by faith, just as the saints in the New Testament.



More on justification hence forgiveness through faith alone. Apology XII, 53 &54:



53] For the two chief works of God in men are these, to terrify, and to justify and quicken those who have been terrified. Into these two works all Scripture has been distributed. The one part is the Law, which shows, reproves, and condemns sins. The other part is the Gospel, i.e., the promise of grace bestowed in Christ, and this promise is constantly repeated in the whole of Scripture, first having been delivered to Adam [I will put enmity, etc., Gen. 3:15, afterwards to the patriarchs; then, still more clearly proclaimed by the prophets; lastly, preached and set forth among the Jews by Christ, and disseminated over the entire world by the apostles. 54] For all the saints were justified by faith in this promise, and not by their own attrition or contrition.



Nowhere in Scripture or the Confessions does it say that the forgiveness of sins/justification is imputed to anyone before they were born as Pastor Patterson preaches and teaches. The work of the Holy Spirit is working faith and the forgiveness of sins. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17) If we are not yet born, how do we hear it?



Since you are entrusting your spiritual welfare to the leadership at Holy Word, you are culpable to their actions on your behalf. I have stood on Biblical truth and the Book of Concord, your profession of faith.



This from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website concerning excommunication:



"Congregations must excommunicate members who have sinned and refuse to repent even though their fellow Christians have warned them according to the steps described in Matthew 18:15-18. An excommunicated person cannot attend the Lord's Supper or exercise any rights of membership in the congregation.



A member can be excommunicated only if his (or her) action is clearly against God's law, if it is proven that he is guilty of sin, and if he has refused warnings to repent. Scripture says an impenitent person has no forgiveness of sins. Excommunication, therefore, does not simply exclude an individual from membership in the congregation, but declares that the offender has excluded himself from eternal life since no impenitent person has forgiveness of sins and no unforgiven person can enter heaven.



The congregation excommunicates a person in the hope that this drastic step will lead the sinner to come to his senses and repent. The excommunicated person will then be welcomed back to the congregation.



Excommunication, therefore, is an act of love for sinners, aimed at saving them from the eternal consequences of impenitence.



When the case has not yet proceeded to the point of excommunication, a pastor who knows that a person is impenitent should warn him or her not to come to communion, since it offers forgiveness only to the repentant. Those who come without repentance bring harm upon themselves by misuse of the sacrament. Exclusion from the Lord's Supper has the same evangelical purpose as excommunication: to bring the sinner to repentance. The pastor can take such action only if the guilt and impenitence of the person are clearly established but the congregation has not yet had an opportunity to act on the case."

Where have we broken God's Law?




We pray you realize the graveness in all of this.



In His Grace,

Joe and Lisa

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Pastor with a backbone vs Pastor for sale

http://hereistand2011.blogspot.com/

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


Hi Joe,

(Say, the next time you write an open letter to Intrepid Lutherans, be sure to actually send a copy to Intrepid Lutherans. Someone directed me to your letter, or else I would never have seen it.)


First, I sympathize with you and your family over the turmoil you're going through. I don't know your whole situation, but I wish the dialogue on justification between you and your pastor hadn't been so quickly taken "off the table," as it were. It sounds like there's lots to talk about and study yet.



To your letter: I disagree that my comment above was convoluted and "esoteric," and I also disagree with your answer of "No" to the question, "Was forgiveness acquired before repentance?", so I'm not sure if we're on the same page here or not. As I explained in the first part of my comment above, forgiveness was most certainly acquired by Christ for all people of all times (therefore, without respect to anyone's repentance). Forgiveness is not distributed to anyone apart from the Means of Grace. The forgiveness that Christ acquired for all is acquired by an individual through faith alone, worked by the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace.



I think you're actually confusing the issue when you bring repentance into it. It just adds another dimension that is not necessary if your point is to keep it simple. "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Whether quoting from Genesis 15 or from Romans 3 or 4, repentance isn't brought into the picture. But faith is. Stick with talking about faith, in my opinion. This would also be in keeping with the historical Lutheran understanding of the "ingredients" of justification: 1) The grace of God, 2) The merit of Christ, 3) The promise (Means of Grace), and 4) Faith in the promise.



I think I would agree with you (not having read everything you've written on the matter) that it is not right to say that you, Joe Krohn, were forgiven before you were born. Scripture does not talk that way, nor do our Confessions, nor does Chemnitz in his Examination. Is there forgiveness in Christ for all? Yes. Did God love you before you were born and see to it that his Gospel was preached to you that you might believe and be saved? Yes. But before you were in Christ, you, like the rest of us, were still counted among "the wicked."



Again, I don't know enough of your particular situation, but speaking in general, I can't imagine why anyone would be excommunicated (from a Lutheran church) for holding to justification by faith alone in Christ, as long as "faith" is not ascribed to man as man's good work, and as long as "faith" is defined as nothing more than to believe in God's promise of mercy for Christ's sake.



Peace be with you.

Pr. Rydecki

Monday, May 30, 2011

Holy Word - 30 + year old congregation receives extensive mission dollars



http://www.holyword.net/
  http://scdwels.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/2011-05-dmb.pdf
  • http://www.holyword.net/
  • Vicar in Mission Setting - Sent to Holy Word-
  • Mission Encouragment resources sent to Holy Word North
  • The Antioch Foundtion looking to support Church Growth methods:
 http://www.theantiochfoundation.org/index.cfm

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Pastor for Sale - WELS Pastor- for profit


I may not have time to Admister the Means of Grace but for $1200 I can be your life coach..

http://www.nextdisciple.com/giaprojects/crosstraincoaching.html

Coaching fees are based on the services provided. We will meet and have follow-up sessions until you feel that you have accomplished your personal and professional goals. The fee schedule is $1200.00 for one year (a monthly webinar and personal meeting). Emails are always available between visits.

Additional meetings can be negotiated on an individual basis. 24-hour notice is requested for cancellation of a coaching session. “No-shows” will be counted as completed services. We will talk as often as needed in accomplishing your goals, typically on the telephone or via web based methodology. If possible and necessary to enhance your performance, we will schedule to meet in person. Helping you achieve greater success is always our primary objective.

-------------------------------

Here we thought - Saving souls was his business.....

Will WELS Pastor be Disciplined?

Pastor Don Patterson has been making use of Church Growth methods as documented on this blog and others. Currently a WELS member is documenting his journey here: http://hereistand2011.blogspot.com/

One has to wonder if any discpline will come down on Patterson. Patterson is noterious throughout the South Central district for disciplining pastors who don't follow his lead.

Holy Word Pastor Saves Souls ?

From Luther Rocks Blog...

On May 18th we submitted the following via email to the leadership at Holy Word Lutheran Church which precipitated what has been chronicled earlier on this blog.

"Pastor Patterson et al,


I have to disagree when you say (I believe you are saying this) that 1 Cor. 5:19 says that all men are reconciled to God; as in forgiven therefore justified and righteous before faith. This is certainly not the case with say for instance Cain or Edom of the OT. The two verses preceding contradict this as the context refers to those ‘in Christ’ as in ‘have faith in Christ’. I believe the Bible does speak about believers the same way whether it is before or after Christ’s passion. The trouble is that many in WELS are teaching that UOJ is in the wrong place. It is displaced from Christ and on the whole unbelieving world. Therefore in order to make the teaching work you have to change the meanings and context of words. It is confusing.


Our focus is on Christ as it has been for all believers of all time; beginning with the promise in the Garden of Eden. God was (and is) reconciling (ongoing) the world (since it is God’s will for all to be saved) for the sake of Christ so that by faith believers (who are sinners) would be saved. As Job said in the OT…I know that my Redeemer liveth! Christ possesses the forgiveness, righteousness and justification that He won (or would win) – objectively - for all and it is imputed to those who believe in Him as their Savior for all times. By Grace through FAITH ALONE. Christ stands in no one’s place aside from faith. He that believes…will be saved…He who doesn’t is damned…no belief in Christ…means you remain in your sins.


It is troublesome how you handled a meeting with my wife Lisa. You acknowledged that you did not want to hop over my headship in your email of 4-20-11 and yet you communicated with her via email on 4-18-11 unbeknownst to me. Here is the brief email in its entirety; “I have no desire to get between you and Joe on the things that he has recently taken a stand on. Just want you to know if you and Joe desire to talk to me or confront me together I am willing. Otherwise, I will leave you to follow your husband and seek God's will in the Scriptures. I trust that you are thoughtful Christians.” You did not hear from her. I told you in my email two days later that she was right with me. Instead of leaving her to me, on the 28th of April, approximately 15 minutes before arriving at her place of employment to have your vehicle serviced, you texted Lisa if you could speak to her for a minute and ended up leaving almost 90 minutes later. Needless to say it was in my opinion as well as that of Lisa and her employer (also a member of your congregation) that you took advantage of the situation. You have said more than once that these kinds of discussions are a waste of time for you; that they entangle and keep you from doing your job. It was disturbingly evident when you emphatically declared to Lisa more than once that “your job is to save souls”. She called you on it and I am thankful for that. She IS my better half. Lisa was right by correcting you that it is the work of the Holy Ghost to save souls and that your job is to merely proclaim the Word. When she pressed you as to why you would say such a thing, you changed the subject.


Pastor Patterson’s background from the Holy Word website:” In addition to serving the congregation of Holy Word, he has also served the church at large. In 1996, he was appointed second Vice President of the South Central District of the WELS, and in 2000 he was appointed first Vice President. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Wisconsin Lutheran Child and Famliy(sic) Services, and he has spoken at numerous conferences, marriage retreats, and seminars. He has also written several articles for various synod publications such as Forward in Christ, Meditations, Lutheran Parenting, Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, and Lutheran Leadership.” And when in the short time I was an Elder and saw what Pastor had on his plate…my first thought (sic) was, ‘Hey! He works for Holy Word!

Austin WELS Pastor becomes vindictive

Holy Word Lutheran Church and WELS has broken Fellowship With Us


http://hereistand2011.blogspot.com/2011/05/holy-word-lutheran-church-and-wels-has.html

Friday, May 27, 2011Holy Word Lutheran Church and WELS has broken Fellowship With Us
Last fall Pastor Patterson again approached me about becoming an Elder for Holy Word. I had mixed emotions about accepting a nomination. So much study about worship and practice had been done and it became clear to me that Christ the Rock and Holy Word to a lesser extent did not have "quia" subscriptions to the Lutheran Confessions and the Book of Concord. From my perspective through these two churches, I wondered if WELS still had one.(Pastors and Teachers swear an oath to uphold them both in light of the Scriptures.) After prayerful considerations and discussions with my wife I accepted.

In mid-November I had an orientation lunch with Pastor. I remember him stressing that if I had any hidden agendas that I should reconsider my nomination. Since I thought what I would be bringing to the table would be scriptural...how would one construe this as 'hidden'? I also initiated a conversation about justification and brought up Becker's paper regarding Kokomo and my desire to have a meaningful discussion about it. He stressed that he came from the Wauwatosa Theology camp and that we would reciprocate papers; me sending the Becker Paper and him sending me a recent paper by Pastor Rautenberg reviewing an essay by JP Koehler regarding legalism and bravado of orthodoxy. A discussion about justification did not take place prior to election of church officers in December; though I did send a reminder.

After I became an Elder I again tried to initiate a discussion regarding justification. I had a need to know where he stood on Objective Justification. I got my answer the last Sunday of January. You can hear it at approximately 22:22 of this sermon audio (click on the second sermon for January 30th, 2011 & play it from 21:00 - 24:00+ for context):

http://www.holyword.net/site/audiodownloads.asp?sec_id=140005270

There are many flavors of this doctrine of Objective Justification being preached. It is confusing. I took exception that Pastor Patterson was preaching that my sins were forgiven before I was born. What good was my baptism? What good are the Means of Grace? What good is the Ministry of the Keys? How does this work with Old Testament believers...where they forgiven too before they were born?

Discussions ensued until last Saturday (May 21st) when we received this email from the leadership at Holy Word:

Dear Joe and Lisa,

We received your latest email and read through all of your concerns. We honestly disagree on all of your points and conclusions. All of your concerns are about practical matters over which God's people have freedom to disagree without the charge of sin - except for one. Your unbelief in objective justification is doctrinal and is not acceptable. In short, it is the deal breaker. I have talked to you about this in person on two occasions. On one of those Pastor Gurgel and Brad Johnston were also present. Pastor Gurgel has talked to both of you in person on two different occasions and elders have engaged you in emails about the very same subject. We are all convinced that your doctrine is unscriptural or unconfessional. Therefore we cannot be in fellowship with you until you repent of this. Your fellowship at the Lord's Table is therefore suspended until you recant your teachings and your writings regarding objective justification.

In addition, your ways of attacking me and the many recent decisions of our congregation are not appropriate. So, even if you repent of your false doctrine regarding objective justification, we have so much more to talk about regarding your critical spirit.

If you wish to pursue this any further, we will meet with you both. In that meeting, we will have two elders and me present. We will not discuss objective justification as if it is a debatable doctrine. We will not entertain changing our decision regarding the use of Cornerstone, we will not change Jocelyn's title from deaconess to anything else, and we will not change our plans to help lay people teach God's Word to God's people. We are convinced that all of these things are good and right in our fellowship and since you have been heard and we have decided not to follow you - you have to accept them. In short, the debate is over. No more discussion! The mission of making disciples must go on!

Our stance is firm but so is our love for you in Christ. Our highest goal is to see you in heaven some day.

To God be the Glory,

Pastor Patterson and the Board of Elders
Holy Word Lutheran Church


We responded May 22nd:


Dear Leadership of Holy Word,

Thank you for your email.

For those who may be scratching their heads as to why we are discussing all of this, it originated from a message preached by Pastor Patterson the last Sunday in January. I have attached a clip of the comment in context. It occurs at approximately 1:14.

Firstly, you falsely accuse us of unbelief in Objective Justification. (OJ) Nowhere have we denied OJ! We have rejected how Pastor Patterson teaches it along with many in the WELS. It is wrong to preach that one's sins are forgiven before they were born. It is not true for me as a New Testament believer in Christ anymore than it was for Old Testament believers or anyone for that matter. When Pr. Patterson in his email of 4-20-2011 says, “Truly, so much that we proclaim about the work of Christ cannot be said in the exact same words about the OT saints and their faith.” He is teaching a kind of dispensationalism. We sing on Easter ‘I know that my Redeemer Lives just as Job proclaimed in Job 19:25. St. Paul goes to great lengths in the 4th chapter of Romans to show us that the NT believers are the offspring of Abraham just as the OT believers are. The end of the chapter dovetails perfectly into chapter 5 to drive the point home the sinner is justified by grace for Christ’s sake through faith.

NIV Romans 4:22 – 5:2 “22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

And this from The Apology IV, 57

“57] And throughout the prophets and the psalms this worship, this latreiva, is highly praised, although the Law does not teach the gratuitous remission of sins. But the Fathers knew the promise concerning Christ, that God for Christ's sake wished to remit sins. Therefore, since they understood that Christ would be the price for our sins, they knew that our works are not a price for so great a matter [could not pay so great a debt]. Accordingly, they received gratuitous mercy and remission of sins by faith, just as the saints in the New Testament.”

When Pr. Patterson teaches that a person’s sins were forgiven (and therefore absolved and saved as Pr. Buchholz proclaims) without faith is a type of universalism. The passages used to support these teachings are always in the context of faith. Even Pastor Gurgel in his last visit left assured that our confession was Biblical. He acknowledged the way words are used regarding OJ creates confusion; in fact he opined that 'the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction with regard to Kokomo'. I would add too that the teaching of forgiveness is flawed in the clip as well after 1:14. As the Apology quote shows, God has it in His heart to forgive those who are truly repentant. And He gladly does forgive those in faith for the sake of Christ. But there can be no forgiveness if there is no contrition. So to teach forgiveness without repentance does the offender no good any more than teaching absolution without the Law. Ironically, you are asking me for contrition and yet Patterson preaches I am already forgiven.

Secondly, to break fellowship with us would require you to forbid us at the Lord’s Table. But you say you are suspending our participation in Communion pending a recanting of alleged false doctrine. This is a mixing of processes. Please clarify for us if you are releasing/ex-communicating us pending a repentance of sin or are you retaining our membership and suspending Communion pending contrition?

Finally, there are at least two of you that are not convinced that we are unscriptural and/or unconfessional on all counts. Pastor Gurgel visited and genuinely discussed with us regarding our confession and was assured we were not in error. Brad Johnston who admitted in our meeting that ‘it was all over his head’ regarding OJ should have been disqualified.

Regarding your comment about my critical spirit I will take it as a compliment as Martin Luther would have. However I will let the Lord judge whether your inference of the assuredness of our salvation is a sin.

We will await your reply regarding our membership.

In His Grace and Mercy,

Joe


Holy Word replied back to us on May 26th:


Joe and Lisa,

If I understand all of your recent emails correctly, you wish to remain members of Holy Word only if you can convince us of the errors of our ways in regard to my preaching that "we were forgiven by God in Christ before we believed that we are forgiven" and the 8 practical matters you have listed.

Since we do not believe we have erred on any of these issues that you have sited, we cannot acknowledge that we are still in doctrinal agreement with you. Therefore, we should not commune together. In keeping with a consistent practice of the doctrine of fellowship you should mark and avoid us as persistent errorists and we are marking and avoiding you as persistent errorists as well. (Romans 16:17-18). This posture is never pleasant but necessary to protect God's people from divisive teachings.

Jack Parrish and Matt Wordell have agreed to join me in meeting with both of you to offer any clarifications you need regarding our doctrine of fellowship and the issue of your membership at Holy Word and the WELS. We will not meet with you to discuss objective justification or the 8 points you outlined as your plan to change the direction of Holy Word. You have been heard on those issues and we honestly disagree with you.

We are all free next Wednesday night, June 1 at 6:30PM or 7:00 PM, whichever time suits you. We would like to meet at church in the conference room. Are you willing to meet us?

In Him,

Pastor Don Patterson


We responded later in the day:


All,

Since the agenda would already be set; since there would be no discussion allowed and since we do not care to be subjected in such manner as previous meetings, we respectfully decline. There are many people who do not believe as you do about justification. There are many pastors who do not believe nor preach it as you do. Since you refuse discussion and have made your position clear to us, there is nothing more to say.

I pray that this explanation is satisfactory.

By Grace through faith in Christ,
Joe


I will be talking more about the other 7 issues in coming blogs.

Robert Preus in his book "Justification and Rome" talks about the vast arrays of variation on the doctrine of Justification among Lutherans. How have we become so disjointed on this pillar by which the Church stands or falls? The doctrine that our church fathers from the 16th century so eloquently exposed from the heretics of the day? I can only think of one passage that answers this question...Genesis 3:4-5, " 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." - KJV

To preach a forgiveness of sins apart from faith is a type of universalism that some Reformed preachers are already preaching. WELS has been wistfully gazing towards the Reformed for some time now on 'how to do church'.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The demise of Church and Change -

Did the blog-o-sphere help end Church and Change? For several years Bailing Water helped spur on the conversation on the net and now the Eulogy ----
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Celebrate with Church and Change!

We invite you to celebrate with us! It was more than fifteen years ago that the first seeds were sown for Church and Change. God put it into the hearts of the Church and Change pioneers to find new approaches for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with our communities and world. Church and Change brought together many WELS members; people passionate about understanding and reaching the lost and to better serving God’s people living in this changing world. Church and Change also helped the WELS stay biblically-focused as Christian leaders made the compelling case for true Christian freedom. It is our prayer that Christian freedom continue to be part of our Lutheran fabric as we “practice” our beliefs.

Many were strengthened and encouraged over the years through Church and Change. Ministry leaders improved and expanded their ministries and networked with other WELS leaders across the country. Those leaders who became part of Church and Change learned new approaches and methods to reach out and are now teaching and leading others to do the same. The goals of Church and Change have been achieved.

So, it’s time for Church and Change to make a change of its own. It’s time to let others take the lead. As of today, Church and Change has finished its run. We are confident that the “spirit of change” will continue. We believe that Jesus, who called us to share his name with as many as possible and in as many different ways, will continue to lead us. We pray that Jesus will give you strength and wisdom to march forward! It has been a privilege to get to know, work with, encourage, and learn from so many of you. We thank our Lord for the blessing of Church and Change and for you!

Please contact Pastor Ron Ash at rvash@new.rr.com.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fellow servants in God’s church

We have begun the season of Lent, with its proper emphasis on humble repentance before the cross and with its singular focus on the journey that our Savior took to reach that same destination. No one needs these reminders more than those who have the privilege of proclaiming and teaching law and gospel in the public ministry.

As we lead God’s people to acknowledge and confess their sin, how important and necessary it is that all of us examine our hearts, our actions, and our words with blunt and brutal honesty. Can we begin to encourage God’s people to godly repentance without first saying with the apostle, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Can we call upon sinners to acknowledge and confess their sin and guilt without first applying the words of the hymn to ourselves: “My burden in thy passion, Lord, thou hast borne for me, for it was my transgression which brought this woe on thee” (The Lutheran Hymnal 172:4).

When we do that, of course, we will find things in ourselves that we do not want to find. Pride and arrogance. Laziness. Worry. Self-love. Hateful anger. Slander and lying. Neglect of God’s Word. Thoughtless worship. Neglected prayer life. Thirst for material security. If we are honest we will see those things in ourselves—and much more. And if we are really listening to the law of God that we are called to preach and teach, we will fall on our knees with the tax collector, despairing and desperate, and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

But there is more to that message that God has entrusted us to preach and teach. There is the message of a Savior, setting his face toward Jerusalem, fully aware of what was waiting for him there. There is the message of the Lamb of God, soon to sacrifice himself for rebels and prodigals and scoundrels—for us. There is the message of the One who took the world’s guilt—my guilt—on himself, paid the price demanded by a righteous God, and completed the task of crushing the head of the serpent once and for all. Can we dare to preach and teach that good news without first embracing that message for ourselves in faith and joy? Will we be able to be faithful heralds of the good news unless that good news that “It is finished!” penetrates our hearts and lives?

Let Paul’s words lead you to the cross as you prepare to lead God’s people to the cross through Word and sacrament: “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord. . . . This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. . . . Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:8-12). Throughout this Lenten season, may God lead you to humble, heartfelt repentance over your sin and to the incredible joy of knowing and believing that your sins are forgiven. And then preach that message with zeal and power, because you know whom you have believed.

Serving with you in Christ,

President Mark Schroeder

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Taking up the Sword of Faith

I commend to you http://www.intrepidlutherans.com/. This is a blog that takes up the sword and mantle of Confessional Lutheranism in the WELS.

Several years ago Aaron started this blog, Bailing Water, as a way to open up discussion on the inroads of the Church growth methods in the WELS. Aaron started this blog about the time the 2006 convention got underway. He gave up and I took up the mantle.

Bailing Water provided fruitful discussion on important topics and brought to surface many hidden agendas. For many the true agenda and players list of the Church and Change group was revealed.

The WELS has changed. There is disunity. Is Jeske WELS or LCMS?

As time and need arise new posts may rise to the surface here on Bailing Water. But, rest assured, for the years to come Bailing Water will remain a Confessional and historical resource.