Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RIP Jerry Reed

I don't know if you remember Jerry Reed, he was Snowman in the Smokey and the Bandit movies. He also wrote a few songs. Given the oil issues we've been having, I thought of one of his songs a while back, and was singing it to my boys the other day. Do you remember the oil crisis in the 70s, brought about by Jimmy Carter? This song was written and sung to satirically bemoan that fact. I don't know if many of you remember it, but it is funny stuff. Here are the lyrics below. And if you want to listen, here that is... http://www.last.fm/music/Jerry+Reed/_/The+Crude+Oil+Blues

CRUDE OIL BLUES
Writer Jerry Reed

Well now listen people let me tell you some news
I'll sing a song called the crude oil bluesWe're low on heat'n oil we're low on gas
And I'm so cold I'm 'bout to freeze my....self
We got the crude oil blues
Cause the winter time sure gets cold to the bottom of my shoes
Well my hands are shakin' and my knees are weakBut it ain't because of love it's from the lack of heat¨
I've got the crude oil blues

I'm gonna tell you a story bout this drunk I knew
He kept his basement full of homemade brew
But the winter got so bad it screwed up the boy's thinkin'
He got so cold he had to burn all his drinkin'He's got the crude oil blues
He said the wintertime can sure get cold to the bottom of your shoes
He said burnin' this booze just destroys my sou
lBut there's one thing about it honey when you're cold you're cold
I've got the crude oil blues[ guitar ]

Well when we made this record there was a little bit of doubt
Whether or not the thing was ever gonna come out
I said hey chief you reckon this record will be released
He said 'son we ain't got enough oil to keep the presses grease
We got the crude oil blues
And son if we can't make records then we don't need you
I said what am I gonna do if I can't sing and pick
He said 'well just keep yourself warm playin' all them hot licks
We got the crude oil blues

Oh mama don't forget to bring in the brass monkey
And remember what Albert Winestein said
That coolin' is condusive to cuddlin'
Honey I love ya but pass the duck down
Hey I read a sign on the pump at my favorite gas station yestrday
It said uh he who expecteth nothin' ain't gonna be deceived

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What's in your hand, Pastor?

I was out fishing the other day and enjoying a fine cigar. While there, I chanced to run into a layman from another LCMS congregation. There is a lot of room on a pier when you're fishing, but you're still close enough to others to carry on a conversation. Soon we'd struck up a conversation were talking about the normal pier-fishing things; catching any? seen any? think they'll turn on today? what you using to entice them? We even got around to introducing ourselves to each other. And, as conversations tend to go, inevitably the question was asked, "What do you do?" To which I responded, "I am a pastor, a Lutheran pastor."

It was then that we exchanged some more information, he also being Lutheran - and a Missouri Synod Lutheran at that. Of course this piqued our interest and heightened our connection. Next we discussed where we were living and to what parishes were we connected.

Upon learning where this man was from, and what congregation he attended, I knew also who his pastor was. I decided then to commit an experiment...

Why??? This layman's pastor and I had gotten into a discussion about Christ's body and blood in the sacrament. He happens to believe that while Christ's body and blood are received by the communicants, they are not held in the hands of the distributing ministers. We went on to discuss this topic at great lenght. I even mailed to him a paper written on this very specific topic in which the Scriptural reasoning and quotes from the Confessions prove beyond disputation that Christ's body and blood are not only received by the communicants, but also held in the hand and distributed by the pastor. Even given this evidence, this particular pastor continued to contend that during the distribution, the pastor does not hold Christ's body and blood in his hands, but the parishioners do receive it.

(An interesting sidebar is the fact that this pastor also practices open communion, admitting any and all who are baptized to the altar. Could it be that his belief in "receptionism" is responsible? Could it be that he believes that only those who receive the bread and wine "in faith," receive the body and blood of Christ. And likewise, since those who do not receive it in faith are not receiving Christ's body and blood, they cannot be sinning against it. So, let all commune.)

So, as we tried to entice Chinook Salmon to bite upon the lures we were casting, we continued to talk. Over the course of time, he began to ask a couple theological questions. As the conversation continued, I steered the conversation to the Lord's Supper - I was curious if he held the belief of his pastor. His beliefs on this topic are as follows.

1) Of course it is the Words of Institution, Christ's own words, which unite Christ's body and blood to the bread and wine in the sacrament.
2) As it is the Word which brings about the miracle, not only do the communicants receive Christ's body and blood, but the pastor also holds them in his hand as distributes the elements.
3) In fact, Christ's body and blood remain with the elements that are not consumed.

A couple interesting tidbits also appeared in this discussion.
At the beginning, while believing that the Word brings about the miracle of real presence, he also believed the change happened only when the sign of the cross is made over the elements. In fact, when I pushed further, he initially believed that if the sign of the cross is not made, then Christ's body and blood are not present.
He also initially believed that only "red" wine was an acceptable choice for service at Christ's table and white was not. Why? Because while he believed in the Real Presence, he also believed that the only red wine could be used because red represented blood.

We discussed these last two thoughts which he held. When pointed out to him what he was saying, he was very quick to see the error and laugh at how foolish he had been. "Of course it is the Word which brings about the miracle of uniting Chist's body and blood to bread and wine." "If Christ's Word unites Christ's blood to the wine, it isn' about the color of the wine, for Christ's blood is present - it doesn't simply represent His blood."

What I found interesting from this conversation is that when laymen, left with what they hear each week in the Divine Service, God's Spirit will indeed lead them to faith - correctly understanding this precious gift from God. And, when they have fallen into error, if the Word of God is explained to them, they are quick to deny their misunderstanding and embrace truth. For this, we can indeed give thanks to God for His grace.

This Sunday morning, I held in my hands the precious body of Christ and His most holy blood. I was blessed by God to distribute this gracious gift of God to His beloved children. - they ate of His body and drank of His blood - for the forgiveness of their sins and the strengthening of their faith.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Trinity 8 Sermon - from July 13

I am posting this draft of this particular sermon for one reason only, it was preached on the date closest to the 15th Anniversary of my Ordination into the Office of the Holy Ministry.


Speak My Word Faithfully
Jeremiah 23:16-29


Our text for this morning is the Old Testament lesson read earlier from the 23rd chapter
Jeremiah’s prophecy.

We pray Luther's Prayer before the sermon: Eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, give us Your Holy Spirit who writes the preached Word into our hearts. May we receive and believe it and be cheered and comforted by it in eternity. Glorify Your Word in our hearts and make it so bright and warm that we may find pleasure in it, through Your Holy Spirit think what is right, and by Your power, fulfill the Word, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

How many of you could tell me what happened fifteen years ago on July 11, 1993? It was an incredibly memorable day. It had been a day I had been looking forward to for over a year. When it came, it terrified me. Every year, as I remember what took place that day, I pause to ponder some things and examine them.

You see, on 11 July, 1993, I was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry - and as I prepare to go to the Doxology pastoral training this coming week, I couldn’t help but remember that anniversary - even more so, as I considered today’s texts. As I reflect upon that day and the vows I took, again my heart was filled with dread, fear, and anticipation. Why? Because the words of our text to Jeremiah and the words of Jesus in our Gospel lesson make me pause and consider a couple questions. Have I been faithful to the Word of the One who has called me into that office of the Holy Ministry? Have I been a faithful prophet or a false prophet?

There are words in both these texts that cause some sober reflection. Jesus warns the people to beware of false prophets. He states that there will be some who will come to him on the last day declaring that they had preached in Jesus’ name, cast out demons in Jesus’ name, and done mighty works in Jesus’ name. What will Jesus’ response to them be? 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

To Jeremiah, the Lord of hosts said: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, 'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'

For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Behold, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. "I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.

Those who follow their own heart, no matter what the Word of the Lord says, will find themselves in dire straits come the last day. Those who preach a message catering to the whims of the people, the unfaithful prophets/preachers who would not call them to repentance, will also find themselves in trouble when the last day arrives.

As if these texts were not enough, I try to keep Paul’s words to the young pastor, Timothy always in my mind. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Tim. 4:1_4 ESV)

Yes, it is obvious that many who claim they have been sent by God have been overcome by a desire to keep the people happy, and have resorted to telling the people what they want to hear. In Jeremiah’s day, many had done it to keep their own life intact, for many of the prophets and apostles were killed because they spoke boldly about sin and repentance. Some do it today so they can remain popular or to keep their church full, and they get a steady paycheck.
Of course, some have the best intentions. They truly want people to believe in God. So, they remove all the obstacles. In their proclamation then, they remove any discussion about sin and death and judgement and repentance. Instead, they tell their listeners how God loves them just as they are.

What did Jesus command His disciples to go out and preach? They were to go out, that repentance for the forgiveness of sins might be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)

How many pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers - basically the modern day prophets - fail to do this, and are instead filling the people with vain hopes? How many are speaking visions of their own minds and not words from the mouth of the Lord?

More to the point as I reflect back on these 15 years since my ordination - how can I know that what I am speaking is from the mouth of the Lord?

Dear friends in Christ, lest you tune me out thinking that this is just a sermon where I am examining myself, this is also important for you. According to our text, and the words of Jesus, if I or another preacher teaches falsehood, and if you are led astray to believe it, what is at stake is your eternal well-being, your salvation.

From Old Testament times, to the time of Jesus’ fleshly sojourn on earth before His crucifixion, to the time of the Apostles, and even through today, there have been those who have proclaimed falsehood in the name of God and Jesus Christ. They found it more important to be popular and keep the people happy than to faithfully proclaim the truth. It is what Paul warned Timothy about. And today, it seems even more important. Today, if people do not like what the pastor has to say, they will walk away and find another church. And there are plenty out there willing to tell people whatever they want to hear.

We could look at some specifics, to see what has become acceptable teaching in some circles that claim to be Christian, but we don’t need to. You know! You know what is being taught out there and you know what is in error. Why? Because the Scripture is very clear.

Only those who are trying to justify what they know in their heart is wrong proclaim that what is in the Scripture is just one of many interpretations. But, there are many who do so, there are many false teachers out there - you only need compare what they teach to the Scriptures.
God’s Word is very clear to call sin what it is. God’s Word is very clear that those whom He calls to proclaim His word, are to call sinners exactly what they are - sinners. And, to call them to repentance. For it is in repentance where the greater truth of God about them is to be proclaimed, that they are forgiven sinners. Their sinfulness has been nailed to the cross in the very flesh of Christ.

That, dear friends, is where true hope is to be found - in the crucified and risen Son of God, Jesus Christ.

There is only vain hope in the preaching that doesn’t call to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In fact, that is no hope at all. Those who think they need not repent, are trusting themselves, not God. Oh yes, they may feel good believing such lies. They may believe they are wonderful Christians, that they are living God-pleasing lives, and that God is satisfied with them. And the preachers who tell them such things may even be wildly popular and write best-selling books. But whoever claims to be without sin, God tells us, is a liar.

True hope is in Christ Jesus. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Where those who come and speak faithfully the Word of God, the Spirit is at work. God’s word leads to repentance and to trust in Christ Jesus for forgiveness.

The hope of Israel was in the works of God. False prophets led them to trust in themselves. That is vain hope.

As I prepared to come to you today with a message, and proclaim that it is from the Lord, I was again filled with dread, fear, and anticipation. I have been called by God to carry out a noble task - to proclaim His word - just as God spoke to Jeremiah, one of those who has His word and speaks it faithfully.

I dread those times where the truth of God’s Word will offend people. I fear for those who will walk away from it because their vain hope tugs at their hearts strings, and they continue clinging to the sins they love rather than repent.

But even more, I anticipate God will work, even through my stumbling stammerings, to bring to faith those whom He wills to be His dear children.

I know without a doubt that I am a bumbler as a pastor. I have sinned in thought, word and deed - by what I have done, and what I have left undone. I have not always loved my neighbor as myself, nor have I loved God with my whole heart. There are those whom I have hurt and those whom I have failed to help. Simply put, I am a sinner.

But, I am in good company, for there are numerous other sinners whom God has called to serve Him by proclaiming His word: the arrogant one, Peter; the chief sinner, Paul; the runner, Jonah; the one slow of tongue, Moses; the one convinced he was the only one left, Elijah; and all the others who, in spite of their sinfulness, spoke His Word faithfully - for He led them to do so - and forgave them their failing.

There is One, however, who in all that He did, never failed. He humbly proclaimed the Word His Father instructed Him to speak. Without sin he lived everyday of His life. When things got tough, He didn’t run to Tarshish, nor did He flee His responsibilities - but instead, He died for those who hated him - to redeem them from their sins.

Dear friends, I beg of you to join me. I encourage you to repent and lay your sins on Jesus - the faithful Word of God made flesh.

Faithfully hear the Word of God spoken to you; you are forgiven. Trust that Word of God spoken in all faithfulness. Receive gratefully Christ’s body and blood given to you in the blessed sacrament. By the Word of the Lord, it is a holy meal in which you are strengthened in faith to believe that in eating and drinking, you are given forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation.

In these things, dearly beloved of God, is true hope. In the Word spoken faithfully is Christ crucified delivered to you. It is that Word faithfully spoken which bestows upon you the gifts He purchased with His innocent suffering and death.

That dear friends, is the word of God that I speak to you. And, it is that Word of God in which you must trust with all confidence, and are saved. Amen.

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

New to this

OK, a friend (thanks Rob) told me it was easy to blog. So, here I am. Will I stay? Who knows. Will there be much to read here? Depends on my mood.

The musing may wander from theology to fine smokes to fishing or hunting - or they may wander elsewhere as well. Today, it is just off the cuff and quick.

Theology - Today is a day to teach a few Bible Studies. 1. The Baptism of Jesus 2 & 3. Proverbs chapter 4 (at an assisted living facility and at a retirement community complex) 4. Psalm 49 (yes, four Bible Studies in one day)

Cigar and/or Pipe - Hey, I have four Bible Studies to teach, you think I have time for a smoke? What, are you nuts!!!

Fishing - see the note just above, but I am looking forward to getting on the water soon.

Hunting - Waiting patiently! Took son's rifle to the gunsmith to have a scope put on it. This will be his first year to go way up north. Looking forward to that as well. So far, he's only wounded deer - thankfully, another friend was able to put the deer down so we didn't leave one suffering out in the woods. The bow is ready to go, but will I have the time to scout out a place to do that? Good question!