OSLPK movie night

Election Day Prayer Vigil

The sanctuary will be open for prayer (it normally is by the way) on Election Day.  To help with your prayers on Election Day, we have put together a resource with Scripture readings, a meditation on our vocation of citizen, and some suggested prayers.

 


Election Day Prayer Vigil

Suggested Order of Meditation:

Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families in Lutheran Service Book pg. 295-298

 

You may read the appointed readings for the day given in the red letters and/or read one or more of the suggested readings included below.  We encourage you to allow the readings to form your prayers.

 

Suggested Readings

 

Psalm 118:5–9 (ESV)

            5       Out of my distress I called on the LORD;

      the LORD answered me and set me free.

            6       The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.

      What can man do to me?

            7       The LORD is on my side as my helper;

      I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

            8       It is better to take refuge in the LORD

      than to trust in man.

            9       It is better to take refuge in the LORD

      than to trust in princes.

 

 Romans 13:8–10 (ESV)

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

 

Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)

             6       For to us a child is born,

      to us a son is given;

                  and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

      and his name shall be called

                  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

            7       Of the increase of his government and of peace

      there will be no end,

                  on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

      to establish it and to uphold it

                  with justice and with righteousness

      from this time forth and forevermore.

                  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

 

Psalm 46:1–11 (ESV)

            1       God is our refuge and strength,

      a very present help in trouble.

            2       Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

      though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

            3       though its waters roar and foam,

      though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

            4       There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

      the holy habitation of the Most High.

            5       God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

      God will help her when morning dawns.

            6       The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

      he utters his voice, the earth melts.

            7       The LORD of hosts is with us;

      the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

            8       Come, behold the works of the LORD,

      how he has brought desolations on the earth.

            9       He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

      he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

      he burns the chariots with fire.

            10       “Be still, and know that I am God.

      I will be exalted among the nations,

      I will be exalted in the earth!”

            11       The LORD of hosts is with us;

      the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 47:1–9 (ESV)

            1       Clap your hands, all peoples!

      Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

            2       For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,

      a great king over all the earth.

            3       He subdued peoples under us,

      and nations under our feet.

            4       He chose our heritage for us,

      the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

            5       God has gone up with a shout,

      the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

            6       Sing praises to God, sing praises!

      Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

            7       For God is the King of all the earth;

      sing praises with a psalm!

            8       God reigns over the nations;

      God sits on his holy throne.

            9       The princes of the peoples gather

      as the people of the God of Abraham.

                  For the shields of the earth belong to God;

      he is highly exalted!

Eph 5:1–14 (ESV)

5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.

 

Psalm 1:1–6 (ESV)

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 Blessed is the man

      who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

                  nor stands in the way of sinners,

      nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

            2       but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

      and on his law he meditates day and night.

            3       He is like a tree

      planted by streams of water

                  that yields its fruit in its season,

      and its leaf does not wither.

                  In all that he does, he prospers.

            4       The wicked are not so,

      but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

            5       Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

      nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

            6       for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

      but the way of the wicked will perish.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

1 Timothy 2:1–4 (ESV)

2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

 

Reflection on the Christian in Society

I have just said that Christians, among themselves and by and for themselves, need no law or sword, since it is neither necessary nor useful for them. Since a true Christian lives and labors on earth not for himself alone but for his neighbor, he does by the very nature of his spirit even what he himself has no need of, but is needful and useful to his neighbor. Because the sword is most beneficial and necessary for the whole world in order to preserve peace, punish sin, and restrain the wicked, the Christian submits most willingly to the rule of the sword, pays his taxes, honors those in authority, serves, helps, and does all he can to assist the governing authority, that it may continue to function and be held in honor and fear. Although he has no need of these things for himself—to him they are not essential—nevertheless, he concerns himself about what is serviceable and of benefit to others, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 5[:21–6:9].

Just as he performs all other works of love which he himself does not need—he does not visit the sick in order that he himself may be made well, or feed others because he himself needs food—so he serves the governing authority not because he needs it but for the sake of others, that they may be protected and that the wicked may not become worse. He loses nothing by this; such service in no way harms him, yet it is of great benefit to the world. If he did not so serve he would be acting not as a Christian but even contrary to love; he would also be setting a bad example to others who in like manner would not submit to authority, even though they were not Christians. In this way, the gospel would be brought into disrepute, as though it taught insurrection and produced self-willed people unwilling to benefit or serve others, when in fact it makes a Christian the servant of all. Thus, in Matthew 17[:27] Christ paid the half-shekel tax that he might not offend them, although he had no need to do so.

 

-Martin Luther

 


Suggested Prayers

For good leaders

Lord God, as I pray for all who are in authority, I thank You especially for the form of government given us in our beloved country.  Give me the grace with my fellow citizens to value the officers and magistrates of our government as those sent by You.  Instill in me that respect and honor that is due them.  Lord, endow them with wisdom for their several duties, with a spirit of sacrifice for the common welfare, with mercy and justice, with uprightness and kindliness.  Correct the evils of selfishness, greed, a vain desire for honor, or abuse of power among us as well as in the other governments of the world.  Grant that the true purposes of government may prevail, safeguarding peace and prosperity, so that we may live soberly and uprightly in Your sight and have opportunity to tell of You and Your kingdom.  These petitions I direct to You because in Jesus I know You as my Father and Lord. Amen.

Lord, Grant that we may choose trustworthy leaders, contribute to wide decisions for the general welfare, and serve You faithfully in our generation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

 

For Peaceful Life Together

Heavenly Father, God of peace and harmony, You would have Your children on earth live together in peace and quietness.  Frustrate the plans of all evil men who would stir up violence and strife, spoil the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and according to Your will, end all wars in the world.  Lead us to confess the truth of Your Word that from the lusts of our own hearts come wars and fighting among us.  Help me by Your Word and Spirit to crucify my sinful flesh and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that to the best of my ability, I may be at peace with my neighbor.  Mercifully hear my prayer and grant us peace in our days.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For Comfort in Distress

Heavenly Father, I come to Your throne of mercy bowed down and wearied by the weight of suffering and disaster visited upon our country.  I beg You to protect this nation in our hour of need. I acknowledge my trespasses before You and do not deny either my own transgressions of Your holy Law or the sins of other citizens of my homeland.  We are laden with iniquity, but You call us to Your forgiveness, salvation, hope, and life.  Turn the hearts and minds of all to You, that they might find peace through the cleansing of Jesus’ blood.  Let me not be confounded or dismayed so that I, a child of Your grace, may courageously speak to this needy world of the hope that is within me.  Make me an instrument of Your peace in a world of conflict, a witness to the power of faith in a world lost in unbelief, and a bearer of the joy that overcomes the sorrow of a fallen world.  Grant to the leaders of this nation and all the nations of the world wise counsel, calm thinking, and unselfish aims.  Amid the tumult of disaster, build Your kingdom and turn even more souls to Yourself.  Because of Your grace, we are not altogether lost but find peace and forgiveness I You.  O Lord, give me the grace to seek You, trust You and confess You, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

For Guidance In Our Vocation As Voters

Lord God, You have called us, Your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual hope, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in You we may glorify Your holy name and finally, by Your mercy, obtain eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

 

For Blessings Upon Our Country and Neighbors

Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage.  Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will.  Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action.  Grant that we, who came from many nations with many languages, may become a united people.  Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land.  When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

 

 

 

Prayers are from

Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House: St Louis 2006

Lutheran Book of Prayer Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis 2005

OSLPK movie night

Family Worship

What does family worship look like?

I thought I would share what my family does.  But before I do, I want to stress that what you are about to read is something that we grew into.   We did NOT start out this way.   It has grown over the course of several years.  So, what I hope is to give you an example of something that you can grow into using in your own family.  For those of you who are not members of OSLC-Joliet, we have kids ranging from 4-9, so it does work with the younger set.

Every evening just before bed we sit down all together.  And we follow this order of service.

  • Say Invocation – “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” making the sign of the cross
  • Sing from Sing the Faith – Luther’s Small Catechism set to music- we usually sing about 3 songs one is the newest the other two are review songs.  We have a schedule drawn up.
  • Read the account for the day from The Story Bible
  • Ask the kids the questions that accompany each account.
  • Say the prayer that accompanies the account.
  • Say the “Learn by Heart Verse” from Congregation at Prayer and Repeat twice.
  • Review older “Learn by Heart Verses”  we also have a schedule set up for reviewing the verses.
  • Say the Catechism for the week from Congregation at Prayer
  • Sing a hymn from My First Hymnal – we do try to go by the church year.
  • Prayer time – Everybody has a chance to offer different petitions and depending on if the petition is a request or thanksgiving the rest of us will respond “Lord, hear our prayer” or “We thank you, Lord.”  As a note, if you are just starting you may need to prompt your kids by asking if there is something that they are thankful for or that worries them.  And it is OK to be thankful for something we adults may think as inconsequential.  All good things should be received in thankfulness.
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Luther’s Evening Prayer – Luther’s Small Catechism under Daily Prayers
  • Benedicamus – L: We bless the Lord F: Thanks be to God

Depending on the length of songs and how distracted the kids are a particular evening it takes about 15-20 minutes to do the whole service.  I tell you though it is worth the time and effort.  And if you are thinking “That’s great but you’re a pastor,”  it doesn’t take a pastor to do.  What it requires is patience and a willingness to grow.  I also want to note we do plan at some point to switch from using The Story Bible to using a regular Bible translation once our youngest is a little older and can follow along better.

A good way to start is this

  • Invocation while making the sign of the cross
  • Scripture reading – possibilities are the daily Bible Reading from Congregation at Prayer or a reading from The Story Bible
  • Lord’s Prayer

From here you can grow.  And at the same time, you don’t have to follow what we do.  I am sharing what we do as an example.  You can also follow the Order of Meditation on the Congregation at Prayer.  You can use the order of Family Prayer found in the Lutheran Service Book or Treasury of Daily Prayer.  I will attest that what we are doing works.  Our kids are picking up the hymns, verses and catechism rather quickly this way and their familiarity with the Bible is becoming rather astounding for kids so young.

Links to the resources I mentioned in the post

My First Hymnal

The Story Bible

Sing the Faith and CD

Treasury of Daily Prayer

Congregation at Prayer

OSLPK movie night

Tricked by the Devil

The problem with evil is that it seems so good. Evil is not like the old westerns where you could tell who the bad guy was by the color of his hat. Nor is evil like the vile demons of horror movies with looks that not even a mother could love. No, evil wears the cleverest disguise. Evil looks good. As it is written, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 12:14). The now sainted Dr. Louis Brighton put it a little more colorfully. “Satan isn’t some little ugly fellow in a red suit with a pointy tail, he is a beautiful blond in a red negligee lying on satin sheets.” So just as Satan disguises himself, so does he disguise his evil and his messengers as Paul notes, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Co 11:14–15).

Evil isn’t dark, shadowy and scary. It’s bright, cheery and sounds good. In fact, more often than not it is simply a twisting of something that is good. Satan isn’t really all that original. He’s not good at coming up with his own material, but he excels at making twisted parodies of that which is good. For example, a way that he can snare a Christian is to trick us with the idea of doing things that please our Heavenly Father, because we naturally want to do things that please God because they are good to do and helpful to the people around us. So, Satan takes those God-pleasing actions and he twists them into something evil. Usually, Satan warps them into away to build up ourselves and turn them into a means of self-worship – just look at what happened to the church in Corinth, they twisted all sorts of God pleasing things into status symbols (1 Corinthians 14). He also likes to trick us into abandoning the mind-boggling generosity of our Father in His gracious gift giving by leading us to believe that God is somebody we have to buy off.

I recently read a devotion that takes thankfulness, which is good, and turns into a means to manipulate God for His favor which is absolutely horrible. One, we could no more manipulate God than we could suddenly learn to breathe water. Two and worse, it leaves us in a place of uncertainty. If God giving me joy is based on me being thankful, how can I be sure of being thankful enough? You can’t. The devotion at hand doesn’t even offer you some external evidence of material blessing ala Joel Osteen. I guess not being like Osteen could be a point in favor, but leaving us hanging with no way to know for sure of God’s blessing is a just as horrible place to be as his pointing us to our material blessings as evidence of God’s disposition towards us. And in fact, what the devotional does is quite contrary to what God has done. Even though God has made it clear we cannot judge our state before Him by our circumstances – He has promised that because of His faithfulness we can have assurance that He is there for us to forgive our sins – bless us – in the gifts of His Word, Baptism, and Communion (John 20:22, Romans 6:3-5, Matt 26:26-28.) The devotional, doesn’t take you there. It just leaves you hanging – “Am I blessed or not? I can’t tell.”  And so, Satan takes being thankful and sends us into a nasty tailspin of always seeking to be more thankful so that you can be blessed and then wondering if you were thankful enough because you can’t be sure. And thus, Satan tricks us away from Jesus and the assurance of the free gift and moves us towards ourselves and the work that we do leaving us in the pit of doubt or self-deception.

Sadly, what I describe above is from the incredibly popular devotional called Jesus Calling. Notice in the picture to the side, that she openly states: “in this transaction: you give me thanks …and I give you Joy.” Essentially, she is saying if you pay Him, God will give you a service as if He were the person at the counter of your local fast food joint. That’s not how it works. jesus speaksThankfulness is not an act of obedience. Thankfulness is the natural reaction of gratitude one who has received a wondrous gift that is offered freely and not from obligation. More often than not thankfulness is expressed in the equally natural result of God’s redeeming work, our new obedience. Yet, even here we do not benefit from our new obedience. And our new obedience isn’t even for God, it’s for the benefit of our neighbor. Which means, we cannot confuse it with a system of payment as is portrayed in this devotion.

When we are thankful to God we aren’t paying a bill; we are overflowing with the gifts He gave us. Take for example Psalm 89, which Mrs. Young quotes. We will look at the context immediately surrounding her quote.

                Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
                         steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
                Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
                           who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
                who exult in your name all the day
                           and in your righteousness are exalted.

(Ps 89:14–16) ESV (Please note she uses the NIV which is different from all the major translations)
The way Hebrew Poetry works is that it generally uses thoughts in parallel that play off of each other usually negating or building upon one another.  That means in order to understand the verse you need to look at its paralleling thoughts. In this case verse 14 and 16. Our question is who are the blessed? Verse 16 tells us. They are the ones who have been exalted in God’s righteousness. They are righteous because as verse 14 tells us, “God’s steadfast love and faithfulness” goes before Him. The people are blessed or in a joyful state because they have been made righteous through God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. In other words, they are joyful because they have been redeemed through the gracious work of Jesus on the cross. They are not given joy because God gave rendered a service on payment the joy came first.

The other verses do not fair much better.  Ephesians 5:20 is in the midst of several exhortations on our treatment of our neighbors.  It unpacks what I pointed out earlier, that our thankfulness benefits the people around us.  It also involves proclaiming the great work that God has done in saving us – that is the heart of the Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19).   Psalm 118, is worse.  Here the Gospel is clearly overlooked.  Without going into too much technical detail, I will say the verse “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” is a bookend verse.  The last verse of 118 is the exact same words.  This a signal to the reader.  The main point is in the middle of the psalm and that central point is going to inform our understanding of the bookends.  So, our main point is going to be centered around verse 14-16 roughly speaking.

The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15  Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16  the right hand of the LORD exalts,
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

Once again, it becomes clear that thankfulness is a response.  Even more if you read further on you will find that this is a prophetic psalm about Jesus “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps 118:22).  With the way the verse is used in the devotion we are turned away from the intended meaning of Jesus towards ourselves.  We are taken away from the glorious news that God works out my salvation freely because He is gracious and delivered into the hands of a bill collector who fixes our credit rating only because we paid him something.

Mrs. Young took a part of Scripture and removed it from its context. In doing so she changed its meaning. Did she intend to change the meaning? I don’t know, I want to assume the best. However, we still must take seriously the verse means the exact opposite as the devotion would have you to believe. Sadly, such a thing is very common. And it would seem that Mrs. Young has fallen for one of Satan’s more common tricks. As Rev. Jonathan Fisk notes “One of the sneakiest tricks of the devil is to quote God’s words, but to not quite quote *all* of them.” That’s what has happened here. Part of God’s words were quoted and so it looked like what she wrote is correct, but reading God’s word in the context of the rest of His words makes it clear the words mean something different than Mrs. Young implies. The more I hear of this book, the more that I think that it is Satan’s words in his well-used disguise – a messenger of light. I really do not know Sarah Young so I will not comment on her personally, but I am pretty sure she has not been hearing Jesus as she once claimed. (you can read more about her “hearing Jesus” at 10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling).

So what does this mean to you who have been reading Jesus Calling? Satan has taken advantage of your good desires.  You’re not the first person Satan’s tricked. In fact, welcome to the club. He’s tricked pretty much everybody including yours truly. I bought into a few of Satan’s lies myself. I can sympathize and so could a few other far more notable figure such as Peter, Paul and Martin Luther. Each of us has bought into a lie of Satan’s, more importantly the light of Jesus’ truth shined forth, breaking the lie and renewed us in the life giving Gospel of Jesus. You were looking for something good that spoke to your situation and Satan tricked you with something that appeared to do so. It is not too late for you. Now that Satan’s trick has been exposed, it’s time to admit you were tricked. Set the book aside, preferably in the recycling bin. And once again, hear Jesus’ real words of great Joy in the pronouncement of Absolution – “I forgive you of all your sins.” If learning these things about a book you held dear has shaken you up, I invite you to come and talk. I’ll commiserate with you. I’ll even offer Jesus’ words of great joy and comfort for free in Holy Absolution (That is assuming you are one of my parishioners reading this article; if not talk to your own pastor. I am sure he’d be happy to help you.) We can even explore devotionals that really do what Jesus Calling only claimed to do – give you true comfort.

 

Update – I wish to quickly address if the above is an isolated incident.  As much as one would hope that maybe she had a bad entry this is not the case.  Young does, what I address,  throughout the entire book.  For a more comprehensive review of Jesus Calling please listen to this podcast on Just and Sinner by Pr. Jordan Cooper and his wife Lisa Cooper.

OSLPK movie night

Passing on a Christian Worldview – The Overlooked Radical Tool

The year is 1529, the Reformation is well under way.   Martin Luther and his fellow pastors and professors had been teaching and proclaiming the Gospel for nearly 12 years. Now, their influence had spread throughout Germany and other parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet, even as their influence spread, the reformers in Wittenberg possessed little idea of how the Gospel and Scriptures were understood amongst the priests and laity outside of the city. So, Luther and some of his fellows began visiting congregations throughout the country. What they found was incredibly distressing. For all that the unleashed Gospel had spread the people were fairly ignorant of Scripture and their worldview was still largely affected by the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church.

The result of these visits is what is probably the most overlooked worldview shaping tool ever devised, the Small Catechism. Yes, the book that has been gathering dust since your days in confirmation is one of the most radical worldview shaping tools ever created.

Sadly, over the years we have created an environment that allowed us to overlook the value of the Small Catechism. It became a text book. Nothing kills a book faster than becoming a text book for a class. Because, what do you do with a textbook after you finish a class? You either put it on a shelf to never look at it again or you get rid of it. As a pastor nothing makes me sadder than to see somebody put their Small Catechism in the for sale pile. But, we did it to ourselves. I must confess, I did it myself. The catechism was just a means for getting head knowledge.small catechism

The catechism is so much more than head knowledge. Comprised mostly of Scripture the Small Catechism can be understood as almost as the Bible in miniature. In the Small Catechism we are given the basic frame work of God’s Word and the means to understand what God is telling us. What is more is that we are even given a frame work by which to live and understand our own lives. In short, these 30 some pages (as formatted by CPH’s Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation) contain the greatest tool the average person can have.

What we have been given.

A means to understand the Bible.

The six chief parts of the catechism are set up the way they are specifically. They chart out how we can understand the Word of God by using God’s Word. Most of the Small Catechism is either a direct Scripture quote or a paraphrase of the Scriptures. So, it is possible for us to read the Scripture and see how the various events, songs, and prophesies illustrate the Six Chief parts and demonstrate a fundamental principle of understanding the Bible – Scripture interprets Scripture.

The Ten Commandments

Luther placed the Ten Commandments first because the Ten Commandments identify the problem by showing us our sin. Essentially, they summarize the various statements of God’s Law in the Scriptures. I’d like to point out briefly that the explanations draw heavily on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which is essentially a commentary on the Ten Commandments.

The Apostles’ Creed

There are three main creeds that Luther could have chosen for the Small Catechism, but the Apostles’ Creed serves best because it shares the redemption story. Essentially, we can understand the Apostles’ Creed as the summary of the Redemption story. The creed confesses the Gospel truth that God is our Father and creator and how He as our loving Father restores us through the work of Jesus. Plus, the creed confesses the Scriptural promises of how God makes us His in Christ and sustains us. In doing so, the Apostles’ Creed truly is a summary of the Bible, because the entirety of Scripture revolves around the Redemption story.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is God given faith’s response to hearing the Law and the Gospel of the Redemption story. It is the prayer that asks for the very things God has promised to give – forgiveness, what we need to live, and protection from evil.

Baptism, Absolution, and Communion

These three things along with God’s word are God’s answer to the petition “deliver us from evil.” I will be treating these sections individually later but for now they are collectively God’s answer to the Lord’s Prayer. For it is by the means of Baptism, Absolution, and Communion that we are given forgiveness of sins and deliverance from Evil. They give us the very bread that we need to survive the onslaught of Satan and his minions.  They bring us out of this dead world by bringing Jesus, the Lord of Life, to us.

Table of Duties

This is the answer to the question, “What does a holy life look like?” Here you will find Scripture verses pertaining to many of the stations of life we will find ourselves in through the course of our lives. And so, it serves as the starting point for figuring out what God would have us do in our life.

All of these Six Chief parts come together into one fantastic tool that can shape our worldview and enable us to pass on the worldview.   The first step we take is memorizing it. For many of us that may mean re-memorizing it. I will suggest to ways to memorizing the Small Catechism. The first is to read one of the Six Chief parts each day. The other is this nifty little CD from Concordia Publishing House called Singing the Faith. I highly recommend Singing the Faith because music is a fantastic mnemonic device (a tool to aid memory recall).

Why memorize?

You cannot form a worldview unless it is so solidly engrained into your mind that it becomes a natural part of your thinking. And working to memorize something will do just that. When learning a new language, one of the best ways to learn is to be completely immersed in that language. People who have studied abroad have experienced this phenomenon. When we work to memorize something, and I don’t mean the cramming so many school kids do before a test, rather the intentional work designed to promote long term retention, we end up immersed in the work we are memorizing. The shear act of memorization requires regular exposure. For example, Pastor Schlote gets up every morning and does a series of stretches while reciting bible verses. Every day begins with that memory work. Another example, is in my own family we have been using the Singing The Faith CD, music gets into your head. I catch myself singing “The First commandment…What does this mean?…” while sitting in my office or driving around town. At first, it made me laugh, but then it drove home how powerful a memory tool music is. But this is what means to become immersed.  You are exposed in such a way that even when you are not actively thinking about it, it comes to mind.

So if you want to start passing on a Christian Worldview begin with the greatest most overlooked Worldview tool – the Small Catechism.  I’ll spend the next six or so entries going into each part and how they affect our worldview.

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Books Every Home Library Should Include

All of these books are great, but since budgets are a necessary evil when it comes to buying books, I arranged them in descending order of importance.

Home Library
Books Every Home Library Should Include

A good study Bible – personally I recommend the Lutheran Study Bible – the articles and notes are second to none, the only way to get better notes is to buy a commentary series like The People’s Bible Commentary Series or the Concordia Commentary Series (both are excellent choices).

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions-A Readers Edition of the Book of Concord – This is the collection of our agreed upon confession. There are some parts people may find familiar such as Luther’s Small Catechism, but there is so much more to us than the Catechism. Luther’s Small Catechism was only meant to be the start, here in the full collection of the confessions you will find the confession of faith which has stood the test of time.  You can’t find a better explanation of Scripture, plus like a study bible there are notes to help you understand more difficult passages.

Treasury of Daily Prayer –  The best devotional ever written.  Each day you will read a Psalm, a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, and a writing by various authors on the theme of the passages.  Plus, it has daily prayers, the daily offices (devotional times based on time of day).

Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible – This is the pivotal work of Rev. C.F.W. Walther, where he explains the importance of rightly understanding and dividing the two central themes of the Bible – Law and Gospel.  This particular edition has a lot of helps and notes to aid people in understanding the book and more importantly understanding Scripture itself.

Lutheran Book of Prayer – The name kind of says it all.  This book is a collection of prayers.  In it you will find prayers for each day of the week during a month’s time.  There are prayers for special occasions, times of trouble, of preparation, and many others.  This is a good tool if you are at lost for words, want to pray but don’t know how, or even if you are unsure of what to pray for.

Reading the Psalms with Luther– One of the classes Luther taught as a professor was the book of Psalms.  In this book he introduces each Psalm and guides you through reading the ancient song book of the church.

Lutheran Service Book – Every home should have a copy of the hymnal.  In this book is a collection of songs that have been passed on for centuries connecting us with the Christians who went on before us.  Plus it has excellent resources for personal devotions.  I can imagine somebody saying why would I have a hymnal at home?  So, I will share a story that comes from my families history.  My mother when she was about 11 lived in Turkey when her father was stationed at the U.S. Embassy there.  During this time a violent insurrection began that involved fighting in the city they lived.  Locked in their apartment afraid to go out, my mom and her family comforted themselves by sing hymns.

The Lutheran Difference – This book will help you understand what sets us apart from other denominations, helping you to understand our distinctive teachings.  It will help you understand why we never really fit into the nice neat categories sociologists like to use

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A Tale of Two Men

The following was written after a conversation with a friend late one night….

There was a man…He believed in Jesus, was raised in the church. He was actively involved in the life of the church. But he, little by little, allowed sin to take hold in his life; soon he was living in open sin. His life was immoral. He still claimed to believe in Jesus…but he was really dead in his trespasses and sins. The fruit on his tree of faith was beginning to rot. “The wages of sin is death!” Rom 3:23

There was a man…He believed in Jesus, was raised in the church. He was actively involved in the church. His whole life centered around the church; he served the church. He was doing all the right things! But, little by little, he began to go through the motions of the faith. He still claimed to believe in Jesus…but inwardly, his life of faith was dying. The fruit on his tree of faith was beginning to rot. “The wages of sin is death!”

Two men: one openly living a sinful lifestyle – dying from the outside in; one going through the outward motions – dying from the inside out. Both experienced the reality of death; both needed to have Life restored. By dying to self, confessing their sin inward and outward, by turning back again to the life-giving, life-transforming Spirit, they tasted again the GRACE of God! They were dead; He had made them alive again in Christ. “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”
Rom 6:2

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Daily Writing – 2011 – 10 – 05

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
– Psalm 86:15-17
“SHOW ME THE MONEY!!” Or to be more pious, “SHOW ME A SIGN!!!!”  Have you ever asked for a sign from God?  I have to admit I am hesitant to pray such a prayer as the words “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29)  But then I realize a sign has already been given, it is the sign that is the answer to King David’s prayer.  No greater sign has been given than the cross.  How great is the love of one who would die for those who reviled Him?  The sign has been given to show us exactly how merciful and gracious God truly is.
Crucifixion
He comes the broken heart to bind,
  The bleeding soul to cure,
And with the treasures of His grace
   To enrich the humble poor.
– Hark the Glad Sound (LSB 349:3)
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Daily Writing – Easter Monday Week 3

It is indeed necessary for me, who falls and sins so often, who so quickly becomes lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame myself through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy reception of Your body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, I fall away from my holy purpose.  For from the days of his youth the senses of man are prone to evil, and unless divine aid strengthens him, he quickly falls deeper, but Holy Communion removes him from evil and confirms him in good.

-Thomas Kempis

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Lord, Have Murphy!

Have you ever had “one of those days”?

On those days, when you are almost afraid to ask “what else can go wrong?”, you have a choice to make. You can listen to Murphy or you can listen to God.

Murphy in his first law states: “If anything can go wrong, invariably it will!” There is nothing you can do about it, so you might as well have a good laugh.

God in His Word makes this promise: “All things work together for good, for those who love God and who are called according to His purposes.” The God who made everything out of nothing, promises that He can take those things that invariably go wrong in this fallen world in which we live (sorrow, pain, sickness, suffering, misfortune) and use them to bring about His good purposes.

Join me in saying: “Lord, have Murphy!” In other words, “Lord, You take care of Murphy; I’ll trust You and Your promises!”

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It’s just a hole – a devotion – 2nd in a series

So once again we come together to talk about God building up our lives and the building up of a house. This time we want to talk about a hole. That’s what I said a hole. I still remember when my dad was building a house being taken out to the property so he could show me a hole. Now let’s take a minute and talk about that hole. The first thing you notice about the hole is its shape. It’s perfectly formed. There is smoothness to the sides of the hole. It’s like someone came along and took out just enough dirt. Not one speck was removed that did not need to be moved. Into this hole would eventually go the concrete to build up the foundations of the building you are building. But that will come later. For now it’s just a hole. But what determined the amount of dirt to remove and how was it taken out. Where did it go? These questions are of course easy to answer big machines removed the dirt and took it someplace we hope to be recycled into something useful.

But what about our spiritual house? You know the one God is building out of our lives for Him and His purpose. Well the good news it’s in the same way your start with a hole to build up a house God starts with a hole in our lives. I know what you’re thinking. A hole. God starts with a hole. Yes He does. The first thing God does is throws out all the things in your life that no longer matter and are not needed. He throws out malice and envy and pride and anger and all sorts of addictions. (Colossians 3:8) He gets rid of the things that have been keeping you from him. Like it’s been said in pop culture, “There is a God shaped hole in all of us.”  We all have this hole and ever since we came to Christ, God has been empting it and filling it with his presence and Spirit. Still in order to do that He must first dig out all the things that are wrong in this place.  How does he do the digging is a mystery for the ages. He digs out of us the God shaped hole that we have been trying to fill with the way the world wants us to fill it. Like the building of a house he does not throw out one piece of dirt that can be used later on. He is constantly throwing out the dirt in our lives, the sin if you will, and replacing it with His purpose and presence.

Into this hole will go a lot of things we will talk about in the coming months. For now let us just thank God that he has dug a hole on our lives and removed all of the things that needed to be gotten rid of.