Story Time

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2015 by Country Preacher

Once upon time there was an Apostle. Let’s call him “Paul”. And Paul the Apostle saw that the church might not take the Good News of Jesus death and resurrection seriously. So,Paul (who, we must remember, was writing by inspiration of the Holy Ghost), wrote some things to make sure that people understood how important and valuable the Gospel was:

In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

Centuries later, when the church had been corrupted, another man, we’ll call him Martin Luther, was sent by God to reform the church. And, being faithful to the word, he collected some scripture passages in a little book, called a catechism. In this book was a “Table of Duties”, that outlined what different people were supposed to do. And he had both of those verses from Paul the Apostle in there, to let people know that pastors were supposed to be supported by the people they preach to. This meant that pastors would be expensive. But the people, eager to follow the command of our Lord, and with gratitude in their hearts for the Gospel, always remembered this, and followed the command very carefully.

Just kidding. The people decided that following the bible was hard. So they came up with a thing called “worker priests” that flatly contradicted what Paul says. Basically, you have a pastor, but don’t pay him enough to live on! Then, he earns his living somewhere else, so the church members can save some coin. And apparatchicks called district presidents loved it! Because part time pastors didn’t have enough time or energy to hold them accountable to be faithful.

The people also thought, “As long as we don’t call them pastors, we don’t have to train or pay them properly”. So they invented a category called “licensed lay minister”. And the apparatchicks really loved it! Because these men didn’t have the time, energy or the training to hold them accountable to be faithful.

Oh, the people were naughty. And the District Presidents, who should have known better, were naughtier.

But everyone lived happily ever after, because that’s how all fables end. I mean, it’s not like God threatened that those who mock him in this exact way will face judgment or anything…

Thinking out Loud: Of Bishops

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2015 by Country Preacher

When the Blessed Reformer complained about the Roman bishops, saying that they were “worldly lords and princes, who will neither preach, nor teach, nor baptize, nor administer the Lord’s Supper, nor perform any work or office of the Church”, the context sure makes it seem like he did not intend us to finish the sentence with, “and therefore, if you would only remove men entirely from the pastoral office, put them in an office building, and make them beholden to bylaws, so they aren’t burdened by the challenges of the pastoral office, and can truly lead the church, then the problem would be solved.”

But, then, I’ve been wrong before. Maybe he did mean that. Once we solve our Augustana XIV problem, maybe we can look into fixing the Smalcald 3:10 one.

And David his Ten Thousands…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2015 by Country Preacher

There is truly nothing new under the son. Al Barry had the synod balloon (although, in his defense, there is some evidence this was thrust upon him). The Keischnick administration went all in from the starting bell with Ablaze!(tm). Apparently the current synod leadership has reached the “They did what?” phase of their administration. I give you: Nonsense word coffee coaster!


What does it mean? We’ll have to wait and see. Which is to say, it means nothing, because, and I can’t emphasize this enough, it’s NOT A WORD!!!!

Is it a confessional attempt to displace the Transforming Churches Network? Can’t be that, because the sort of people who like that won’t do something confessional anyway. Does it mean the Eucharist – the thing which feeds us, around which out life centers, and which draws us into the life of Christ and the communion of saints each Sunday morning? A quick check through the catechism would indicate that, although there are many names for the Lord’s Supper, Revitality is not among them. (In fact, every known term for the Lord’s Supper uses actual words.)

Whatever it means, this much is certain: The ad agency owes the synod a refund. Because, seriously?

Also, is that dark spot a water stain because it really is a coaster? Or is it a map of some country in Africa where we are moving our headquarters to be closer to the global center of Christianity, specifically the Lutheran Church? Only time will tell. Until then, all we have is the teaser coaster. And really, I think that’s enough.

No seriously. Stop now.

That’s the Way it Is…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2015 by Country Preacher

Whenever the church leadership comes up with policies that are “good for the church”, it seems inevitable that they will fall most heavily on the pastors (although, the church leaders themselves manage to avoid bearing the burden. Funny, that.)

From Elijah, to Chrysostom, the pattern is the same. The troubler of Israel, the faithful preacher is driven out for the comfort of those at the top. Luther notes how miserably most pastors live in his own day – A sign of how much the Word of God is despised. And Jesus says that the faithful will be killed by those in the church who think they are doing service to God by their actions.

In our own day we have Candidate Status – the very word is enough to make the palms of faithful pastors sweat. But, we are assured, we need such things. It’s really for the good of the church. Toss another pastor into the woodchopper, and move along, there’s nothing to see here. Just making the church gooder.

So, why do it? Why do men even bother to enter the holy ministry? Well, most aren’t told of the cost before they enter. Never discount the power of misinformation. We study the parts of scripture about Sacraments and Justification. We skip the parts about “if they hate you, know that they hated me first.” And while we tell them that they will suffer, we might skip the bit about who is causing the suffering. (Robert Preus was a confessor who saw his reputation destroyed by the very church that he served and spent years protecting from wolves. Today he is celebrated. His tomb has been carefully whitewashed. Good job, everyone.)

But the more fundamental reason is that sometimes, very occasionally, we get to speak the Word of God to someone. And they listen. They hear and believe the word. There’s nothing else like it in the world. In fact, speaking the Word of God is so awesomely amazing, that it’s even quite the privilege when they don’t believe it – in some ways, even more so.

And through it all, we have the promise that Christ will take the burden from us. That’s not always easy to see when we are being death marched into the wilderness, Chrysostom style, or weeping and in a fetal position in the desert praying for death like Elijah. (And remember, that happened right after the victory over the prophets of Baal.) But the promise is good. Jesus says that the moments when we are ‘gooded’ the most, are the moments we should rejoice. And some days, when church leaders are out there doing their best to make things better for us, that’s all we have. But it’s enough. Satis est, as our confessions say in a different context. Or, as the Blessed Reformator said, (who knew a little something about the help afforded by church leadership) “let these all be gone. They yet have nothing won.” Or, as Jesus himself reminds us, shortly before he was shown some real hospitality by the esteemed churchman of his own day, “In the world you will have trouble. But do not be afraid, I have overcome the world.”

Buy These Books.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2015 by Country Preacher

It’s a sale so big, it has people saying, “Affordable books from CPH???” And, as a public service, I got up early for the CPH warehouse sale so you don’t have to. I also went through the entire listing of academic resources. That’s right, I looked at every book on both pages. And here are the ones you need, if you don’t have them:

Fabricated Luther. Enough with the Nazi’s already. Almost Half off!

Also, Robert Preus (53% off!), Robert Preus (62% off!), and Robert Preus (59% off!).

All four books, only $56. And if you’d rather let Indiana Jones fight the Nazi’s, you can get Preus’s Lord of the Scripture Trilogy for only $36. (Plus S&H. We must never forget the S&H…)

So, if you’re wondering what Orthodoxy sounds like when it’s done right. Order up some Preus. Or Preus. Or Preus. You, your congregation, and the wider church will be glad you did.

Pruning Like a Wild Boar

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2015 by Country Preacher

In seminary we were told at least once a week, do not to go into a congregation “Like a bull in a China shop.” Well, Mythbusters proved that a bull in a China shop can actually be quite agile. Myth Busted.

The professors never warned against pruning vines like a wild boar. Of course, that’s not really a saying. But our Lord compares the church to a vineyard. He is the vine, we are the branches. And he prunes the branches (us) so that they (we) bear more fruit. Not necessarily a painless process, but a necessary one.

When the anti-Christ excommunicated Luther (Wait, that can’t be right…) he referred to the church as a vineyard, suggesting that Luther was a wild boar that threatened the vine. Of course, Luther (who was the angel with the pure and everlasting Gospel, prophesied in Revelation) was/is no threat to Christ’s church. He was just sent to reform – that is, to prune things a bit, and get rid of some dead wood.

October reminds us that the church is always in need of Reforming. I don’t claim Luther-like powers to understand the Gospel or to teach it. But, like the Wild Boar of old, I try to do my part, ham-fisted though it may be.

So the ForestBoar returns to the blogging vineyard. And, with the grace and elegance one might expect of such a delicate creature, I will once again ‘prune the hedges of many small villages’. (Bonus points if you know the 80’s movie that came from.)

Not to Generalize

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by Country Preacher

The Lutheran Church has been called “The Singing Church” since the days of Martin Luther himself. We sing. It’s what we do. A trained Lutheran organist is ready for this. I have worked with organists from many different “faith traditions.” The only ones who know how to lead a congregation in singing are the ones who have been trained as Lutheran organists. I have even worked with professional organists who have played on some of the most magnificent pipe organs the world has to offer, and they can rock the organ in ways I can’t even imagine or comprehend. But when it comes to playing the Divine Liturgy (page 15/184) and leading congregational singing, I promise you that Gramda Schmidt on the ol’ Wurlitzer knows a whole lot more about it than they do.
Lutherans sing. And if you aren’t ready for that, your years playing the organ at First church of generic protestantism, or Our Lady of Perpetual Mumbles will not prepare you to play our service well. It just won’t. Which I why I so very much love and appreciate having two organists born and raised in the Lutheran Church. They just know how it’s done. I miss them when they are on vacation, and am always happy to see them when they return.


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