Embarrassing is only the beginning

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2016 by Country Preacher

The church in the west is facing its first large-scale persecution since the time of Cyprian. We need serious leadership in these latter days. Men who hear the Word of God and keep it. Men who are able to exhort, rebuke and encourage.

The men in this photo seem to think church is some sort of game:

Screen shot 2016-04-21 at 7.59.40 PM It would be sad enough if they were merely shepherds and bishops in the church. But they are actually training the shepherds and bishops. This is more than just embarrassing. This is shameful. What on earth are the poor and dying to think of the church? Are those who have had their livelihoods ruined by the powers and authorities of this dark realm to find comfort in such twaddle? Why would someone facing the loss of reputation at the hands of the politically correct left, merely for speaking obvious truths, think that the LCMS had anything to offer them?

Is this how we behave in the house of the Lord God Almighty? Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire for less than this.

Shame on the men in this photo. Shame on every one of them.

Problem Solver

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2016 by Country Preacher

Apparently, some people are concerned that I am posting anonymously. Perish the thought. I have nothing to hide. So, I uploaded my picture for the header.

Sadly, my computer skills do not match my earnest desire for transparency. It seems that the picture was too big, and all that is left after cropping is a portion of the picture. I’m sure my friends recognize me, but those who are unacquainted with me may still have trouble with that. Sorry. If I ever figure out how to post my whole face, then maybe this thorny problem can be solved.

If only there was a way to find out information on the interwebs.

Sin Begets Sin

Posted in LCMS on April 20, 2016 by Country Preacher

Worshiping_the_golden_calf.jpgThe more we neglect God’s Word, the more we are forced to neglect God’s Word. An example might help to see what I mean.

Years ago, there was not a SET or a PIF form. Pastors were called based on what little information was available through personal contacts, or what the District President might personally know of a man. Perhaps a few notes from other District Presidents regarding his qualifications for office were made. This is before my time. Or my parents time. You have to go back a looooooong way to reach faithful practice on the part of DP’s in the call process.

Eventually that system was no longer working. Why? Because we had pastors that were teaching falsely: The bible is the “Word” of God, but didn’t really happen; Baptism is a Sacrament, but there is another level of gift from the Holy Spirit; The church has been wrong the past 1944 years about closed communion; we are Pelagians who believe in the authority of the word, but not it’s power so we need to install a praise band up front…  You get the idea.

How to make sure that the wrong pastor (faithful) didn’t get sent into a congregation? Ask him about his practice, of course! So the SET form was developed. Each question is basically a variation of “Did God really say?” in areas such as the Office of the Holy Ministry, Worship, Communion Practice, Women in the Church, Charismatic gifts, etc.

The problem was that District President’s also found that the wrong kind of congregations (faithful ones) were sometimes calling pastors. So, a congregational self-study was instituted. This way, the District President could find out how faithful the congregation really wanted to be. If they were too faithful, then a faithful pastor would be procured. If they were wobbly, then it was time to send in a less faithful pastor to lead them further astray. (The District Presidents who did this were called “Fair” and “churchmen”, and were highly regarded by all involved.)

But what of congregations that, time and again, insisted on faithful pastors. They were definitely a problem. Some sort of solution was needed. The “Intentional Interim Pastor” (Otherwise known as “Methodism”) was born. These were men – often retired – who were more sympathetic to the District President’s point of view. They were, above all, nice men. So, when an unfaithful pastor (And Intentional Interim is by definition unfaithful practice) was sent into a faithful parish, the people all marveled about how nice he was. Hopefully, they never noticed that he wasn’t faithful. In the two or three years he served the vacancy, he would try to make faithful congregations wobble. Now, a less-than-faithful pastor could be procured for them.

Oh, this is obviously not how it was sold to congregations. That would never play in Peoria, as they used to say.

No, the District Presidents sold all of this as a way to “make sure it is a good fit” between pastor and congregation. Some Walther quotes were yanked out of context, and presto! Instant justification for terrible things being done. What was a good fit? Where pastor and people “like” each other. It’s not about faithfulness to God’s Word. It’s about personalities. And so, rather than consider the qualifications for office mentioned in scripture (Husband of one wife, apt to teach, etc), things like, “Tact”, and “Computer Abilities” and “Good with youth” are listed. Why? Because that’s what a congregation might be looking for in a pastor, instead of “Preaches faithfully”. We want instant connections, rather than pastor and people laboring in the word, and learning to love each other. The COP considers the call process more as a dating service than fulfilling God’s command to have a Shepherd for the sheep.

The farther we have strayed from God’s word, and the more we have adopted the psychological model of pastoral ministry, the more problems we have, and the more we must rely on the psychological model of pastoral ministry to solve our problems.

Of course, the problems can never be solved that way. In ancient Israel, the people were pressured from outside nations.  So, they erected mixed altars, to avoid offending their enemies. God was offended. He brought trouble on them to warn them. Well, the obvious solution was to embrace idolatry wholeheartedly in order to win the favor of their neighbors in Canaan. Which brought more judgment, and required more allies from among the heathen, so they needed more idolatry… You get the point.

The question is, when will we?

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!

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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.”

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