Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kelly's Blog » What makes the Christian faith relevant to daily life?

Kelly's Blog » What makes the Christian faith relevant to daily life?

Another excellent blog post I read recently.  It is a response to 'relevance' and how much of the Church  is doing what it is doing in the name of it, and more specifically, it is a response to the recent crazy NASCAR prayer.

Here's a segment from the blog post:

There’s an alternative way for faith to be relevant to daily life without all conversations with God sounding like texts to your BFF, or for the administration of the sacraments to resemble Senior Week at the ocean, or for the catechesis of children to look like a trip to Six Flags, etc. etc. In fact, nothing could make faith seem smaller and more irrelevant than this. If the message of Christ crucified and the forgiveness of sins is true, then the message is always relevant and always gloriously good. Attempting a bait-and-switch with the Gospel is to tell people that the candy coating is the truly good stuff, and the Gospel is the bitter pill that you’ve tricked them into accepting along with the candy. In fact, could it be that people might actually find some value in something of transcendence, something counter-cultural, timeless, and stable– something that’s not about advertising and bait-and-switch? (italics mine)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Grace Must Be Obtained Before Baptism?

Great piece from C.F.W. Walther.  Found on the Gnesio blog:  Grace Must Be Obtained Before Baptism?

Walther nails it.  It is preposterous how the Anabaptists and those today can turn a precious gift that Christ has given us, into a work.  The blog post is worth the read.

I liked this quote specifically:

Every heresy that has sprung up was caused by the heretic’s inability to believe that man becomes righteous in the sight of God, and is saved, by grace alone. That is the real rock of offense against which all heretics, all false teachers, dash their head. But there is no escape from this dilemma: either believe this truth or see what will become of you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What the Gospel is and is not...

The gospel is NOT:

  • therapy.
  • God having a dream for your life.
  • God having a plan for your life.
  • casting a vision for your life or for church.
  • having our best life now.
  • having a purpose for our lives.
  • becoming debt free.
  • building and having healthy relationships.
  • about getting rid of the 'Eeyore' mindset.
  • making a decision for Christ.
  • that we can be used by God.
  • about being effective and successful.
  • about being on mission for Jesus.
  • having a better walk with Jesus.

The Gospel is:

  • Christ and Him crucified for our sins.
  • All the world being redeemed by Christ's shed blood on the cross.
  • It is Jesus and His work for us.
  • Christ and His victory over sin, death, and the devil.

The Gospel has being truly hijacked by much of the 'Church.'  I hear so many sermons about all the things we can do, need to do, ought to do, etc.  It is truly grating.  If we can do anything at all to please God on our own, then Christ's death on the cross was completely pointless, and He was nailed on it in vain.  It would be one thing if these sermons preached that we were sinners in need of God.  And His redemption of us leads us to good works.  But they do not do that.  These sermons are a form of paganism.  They teach what we can and should offer to God to earn His favor.  Sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly.

We are saved unto to good works.  Not the other way around.  We cannot appease God.  Our good works are as filthy rags.  His righteousness is perfect and is freely given to us.

May Christ give us eyes to see and ears to hear His true Word.  Christ have mercy on us. 

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.   - Galatians 3:10-14

Friday, July 1, 2011

Veggie Tales and Jericho and God's Word...

I came across this devotional from Higher Things.  I wanted to pass along to the meager few readers of my blog.

From their site:  The mission of Higher Things, Inc. is to assist parents, congregations, and pastors in cultivating and promoting a Lutheran identity among youth through conferences, retreats, publications, and the internet.

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 6:6-27; Acts 10:18-33

So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It may be that most youth today are familiar with the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho from “Veggie Tales.” In that version, Joshua and the children (“vegetables?”) of Israel are rewarded for following God's explicit instructions. Leave it to a cartoon to turn the story of Joshua into a story about us!

No, the walls of Jericho fall down because the Lord smashed them. He used the marching trumpets and the ark to do it, but let's not be fooled into thinking it was “obedience” rather than God's power that did it. That's the danger we constantly face. We always want to turn what God does into something we've done. We always want to take the promises God makes and make them conditional upon our response.

When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” And He meant it. The preaching of the Good News of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name is the declaration that our trying to make things happen with God is done. We can't do it. Jesus did it.
When Jesus died for our sins, the walls of hell collapsed. The enemies of God were routed. The kingdom of Satan was plundered. Jesus descended into hell and laid it out for the devil: “You're done. I've won. End of story.”

The devil, of course, wants to fool us and get us to believe that it's not so. So we read again of the fall of Jericho and the destruction of the Lord's enemies. When the devil whispers that there's something left for you to do to get right with God, just remind him of what happened at Jericho. And Calvary. And the font and altar. And that evil one will slink away in defeat. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Rise! To arms with prayer employ you, O Christians, lest the foe destroy you; For Satan has designed your fall. Wield God's Word, the weapon glorious; Against all foes be thus victorious, For God protects you from them all. Fear not the hordes of hell, Here is Emmanuel. Hail the Savior! The strong foes yield to Christ, our shield, And we, the victors hold the field. (LSB 668:1)


My personal addendum...

While Veggie Tales may be guilty of tweaking the story of Joshua and Jericho and what God did...  the very same thing happens in many, many churches across American evangelicalism do the same thing with story, and the rest of scripture.  They turn all that God has done by His spoken word into what we ought to do for God.
8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We would do well to remember that it has been finished.  We can rest in His faithfulness.  We can rest in what He has already done.  We are His workmanship... He is the author and perfecter of our faith... not us.  And that is some good news...