Archive for May, 2010

Sermons

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 by Country Preacher

A few years ago, I was privileged to hear Dr. Dale Meyer speak to our pastor’s conference.  He spoke a good bit about preaching.  Not surprising, since he has a doctorate in Classical Rhetoric.  One of his comments was that many pastors start their sermons with a  story to get the attention of the hearer.  He suggested that at the start of the sermon you already have their attention.  You should save the really good story until later to recapture their attention.  People only pay attention for about 2-3 minutes, unless something recaptures their attention.  If you do not re-engage them in some way after that, you have lost them.  So why blow a chance to re-engage them with a story by telling it at the beginning?

Just a bit of Saturday morning advice for preachers.

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Grrr.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 by Country Preacher

Even though I don’t always agree, I enjoy reading First Things.  But this latest article just made me go “Grrr.”  It was fine until the end, which said :

For many they are the last, great efforts to live out the promise of Lutheranism as a church on this continent. If they fail, the only remaining option may be a bracing swim across the Tiber.

Because, if the ELCA and it’s remnant groups don’t work, there must not be any Lutheran’s left.

What they must mean is Lutheranism mixed with subtle amounts of Gospel Reductionism.  Of course, that must always degenerate into nothingness, so there is, in fact, no promise to that sort of Lutheranism at all.

And since the CORE group has no problem with female clergy – which is a massive break from two thousand years of Christian Tradition – they are already alienated from the majority Christians throughout the history of the church.   They will also fall prey to the homosexual agenda.  You can’t allow women clergy – which denies the very nature of God  – and then keep human sexuality intact.

But then, such talk is not filled with ‘promise’, it is filled with “fundamentalism”.  Which is probably why these people don’t’ consider the LCMS a viable alternative.  They wouldn’t want Law and Gospel, would they now?

How Things Should Be

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2010 by Country Preacher

Over at the Reverend Father Heinz’s blog, you can see how things should be.

Structure and Governance

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2010 by Country Preacher

Interesting article over at Firstthings about the structure of the Roman church.  Interesting to me is that the CNH district of the LCMS seems to be claiming in a lawsuit the exact authority a roman bishop is saying Rome does not have.

As I have noted in the past, with great power comes great responsibility.  IN the past the Districts have simply shrugged off lawsuits from congregants, saying in effect, “We have no authority over the congregation.”   I know of one case where a District used this to get out of a lawsuit involving allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of a pastor.  Would that district be able to get out of a lawsuit so easily today?  If the lawyer was even half competent, I believe that the district would not.  And ironically, the lawyer need only quote from a lawsuit filed by a sister district, and several rulings of the CCM.

Liberty? We don’t need no stinkin’ liberty!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 by Country Preacher

I can’t believe it, but the Forestboar is pointing out a government encroachment of liberty before the intrepid defender of individual and states rights, the esteemed Father Hollywood.

Apparently, according to the LCMS website, your wireless microphone is illegal as of June 12, and must be destroyed by you.  Then you get to spend money buying a new one.  Why?  Because the FCC said so.

What, you say?  Congress passes laws?  Oh, you silly idealist.  The constitution is so quaint.  You probably also think you can poop in any toilet you want, or flip a switch and have any old light bulb you want to buy come on.

You can’t do any of these things without gom’ment permission.  And now you can’t use your microphone either.  Certainly not while going potty with the lights on.  Because those are forbidden.

Catechismus Satis est

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 by Country Preacher

Since no one asked me for advice, I thought I would give it anyway.

There is a proliferation of Catechetical materials out there.  A certain group sells at least five different programs, and now offers a website to assist.  They will e-mail quizzes to students and send you the results.  You don’t even need to grade them.  No longer must you tediously instruct and examine your catechumens face to face.

Every pastor worth his salt has published a catechetical program to help you instruct your children (for a price, Ugarti, for a price.)  Heck, I’m working one myself.  They can be based on any manner of ideals and centered around various different themes (Matthew, The Liturgy, The Great Big Book of Everything [If you’ve ever seen it, you know what I mean], etc.)

For pastor’s who are new to the parish, they may wonder, “What should I use?”

So here it is, my never fail, sure to work, supply list for instruction in the faith :

Holy Scripture (Whatever version you use for the lectionary)

Luther’s Small Catechism (Synod catechism can be helpful, but is not required)

Luther’s Large Catechism (Far more valuable than the Synod one)

The Hymnal your congregation uses.

How to plan your lessons? Read the preface to Luther’s Small Catechism.  He gives a three point plan.  Follow it.

Next Read Luther’s Large Catechism on whatever topic you are about to teach.  Outline it to yourself.  Be prepared to preach/teach this to your catechumens.

Find scriptural passages (a chapter or two at a time) that can be used to introduce the topic.  Use Scripture as the starting point, and then explain it using the Small Catechism.

Ta.

Da.

Now you don’t need expensive and useless workbooks and quizzes.  But if you want to test them on something, test them on the assigned memory work, which will be from Luther’s Small Catechism.

Oh, and one more thing : If you can’t grade their memory assignment with the book closed, you are cheating.  Shame on you.  If it’s important enough for them to memorize, then you had better have it memorized.  No excuses.

Saving the life of the mother…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 by Country Preacher

First Things has a recent post that commented on the excommunication of a nun who recommended an abortion for a woman who had pulmonary hypertension.  (Mortality rate of roughly 30-50%) The Roman Church allows abortion only in cases where the result of surgery to save the mother’s life is the unfortunate death of the child (eg. ectopic pregnancy), not in cases where the mother’s life is simply in danger.

I’m not sure that the LCMS has ever made such a distinction.  For all our talk about “we oppose abortion…”, and for all the  CTCR documents that have been produced on the topic, we’ve never bothered to define “save the life of the mother.”  What does it mean?

An article published almost 15 years ago in First Things, written by Dr. Thomas Murphy Goodwin, dealt with some of these questions.  It turns out that doctors have a perverse incentive to actually recommend abortion for any so-called high-risk pregnancy.  If you try to carry the baby to term and something happens (Even to the baby), they are liable for damages.  If you abort, they are not liable.  So, if there are any problems at all, they can either risk higher insurance premiums forever, or recommend an abortion.  As I said, perverse.

Agree or disagree with Rome’s action in the article above, you have to respect that when they say something is true, they will stand up for it even when unpopular.  In the LCMS, too often “charity must prevail” becomes code for “Never speak God’s law.”

One more note, extrapolating from the Goodwin article :

Roughly 2 in 30,000 pregnancies in 1996 were actually high risk to the mother (mortality rate of 20%+).  That’s .006%.  So, if you know someone who is pregnant, and the doctor recommended an abortion because it was “high risk” – you might suggest to them that they read that article.  And get a second opinion from someone who specializes in high risk pregnancy.