Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 29 - Gospel and St. Michael and all Angels

Dr. Brighton was on Issues, etc yesterday talking about Michael and the angels. And Pastor Stuckwisch has this excellent sermon for the day.

As for the Sermon on the Mount reading from Matthew 5:

1. It's amazing how the readings from TDP (often accidentally) throw you back to what you heard on Sunday in church (at least for us 3 year types, with the cutting off of that which causes to sin).

2. I posted these thoughts on anger in May. To them I will add this tidbit from Dr. Kleinig at Doxology in Naperville: if we stop ourselves from being angry, then we will also stop ourselves from loving. Love does not rejoice in evil (1 Corinthians 13:6), but neither is it neutral. Jesus is warning against the sinful side of anger.

3. It was a hard reading yesterday, looking into the mirror of the perfect law of God, and seeing again that I am not perfect as my Father is perfect. While searching for something completely different, I was glad to stumble upon this passage in "Minister's Prayer Book" by Doberstein (pg. 326-329):

Dear John:
So you want to be a pastor of souls? Absolutely necessary for this ministry is a mirror. But you, I know, are not fond of gazing into a mirror. And yet there are a lot of people who like to stand in front of a mirror because they are pleased with themselves. But you an I get no pleasure from looking into the mirror. I do not mean the mirror in the bathroom, but rather that unerring mirror of the Word of God that reflects the true picture of what we are. It reveals that latent anger within us as the source of murder. It exhorts us not to let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26). And we take our hatred into the night and our dreams and drag it around with us for weeks. And our hard and heartless words? The Lord would have our hearts free of dust and dirt. And they are like an untidied drawer into which we stuff all kinds of rubbish to keep ourselves and others from seeing it. But we reproach others for their secret disorderliness. God's Word bids us to set our light on a stand that it may give light to all in the house (Matt. 5:15). But does our light shine in our own home? Sometimes in our homes one leaves the other to sit alone in the dark! How can one "who does not know how to manage his own household" (1 Tim. 3:5) sow and cultivate love in the congregation? A look into that mirror paralyzes one's joy in this ministry. "Sweep before your own door!" You say it to yourself, and I say it to myself too.
My dear friend, don't be trouble. Don't avoid this mirror. If you shun its judgment, your pastoral care of souls will die, no matter how zealously you busy yourself with it. Then the worm is gnawing at its root. If you stand before the person who seeks your counsel as a paragon, how is the poor duffer going to have any trust in you? And do you not arouse his trust when he senses the fact that you too have to struggle and fight, that you too have your falls and the Lord's grace must constantly be picking you up again? We do not need to wash our dirty laundry in public every day, but in certain cases we can let those who seek our counsel know that their sin is also our sin. How can we ever hear confessions rightly without confessing ourselves? The other person gives us the key to his heart when we give him the key to ours. At the close of the service the pastor does not urge the congregation to pray for him simply to make a show of the terrific strain of his office, but because he too is not only a sinful man in general but also has to fight against evil every day and, like all the rest of us, always needs the prayers of the congregation. There is a legend of a little girl who had an ugly hump on her back, so deformed that she was either ridiculed or pitied by everybody. But when she died it turned out that the ugly hump concealed angels' wings. May it not be that all the ugly things in our lives that dismay us have in them angels' wings? We can make everything, literally everything, the subject of our prayer. So a look into the mirror of God's Word can become a blessing for us and for those to whom we minister.
My dear friend, don't avoid the mirror of the Word of God. If you do, your pastoral care is done for. Then you have ceased to care for your own soul. After all, it is not merely our own nature but the face of our Lord Christ that gazes questioningly at us from this mirror. And what more salutary could happen to us than this? His gaze kills our pride. Only a humble man can really be a pastor. His Word summons us to resist all evil to the death. Only a fighter can be a real pastor. The Lord's presence promises us forgiveness and gives us the courage again and again to make a new beginning. But how could our spirits be glad without his promise: "Behold, I make all things new." His Word is a call of alarm that keeps us from stiffening into self-satisfied security and saves us from the danger of fleeing into a deceitful double life. How often we try to put our best wares in the show-window while back of the counter there is nothing but junk. The mirror of God preserves us from being phony paragons. Real pastoral care requires truth. And that's what God's mirror gives us, in order that we two may care for others with unflinching and joyful hearts.
So we two shall hold on, you, dear John, and your friend who greets you.
- Christian Lendi-Wolff, from "Von Mensch zu Mensch. Seelsorgerliche Winke" (1954).

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28 Gospel

  • Nice how the current Responsory (pg. o-69) throws one back to continuing meditation upon today's Gospel text.
  • And the Bonhoeffer writing was tremendous. "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die."
  • Praise to you, O Lord Christ, for you are our righteousness that we may enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • (and no matter whether you are a 3-year type, or 1-year, check out this snippet from the sermon for yesterday by December's "Portals of Prayer" author.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What others are saying... errr.. asking

Pr. Weedon asks about your thoughts concerning TDP after about a year of using it.

September 26 - Malachi 3

for those of us who are preparing to preach on Mark 9:49 from the 3 year LSB series tomorrow, Malachi 3 sure serves us well.

I also have some thoughts on Malachi 2 - blessings becoming curses/dishonoring God leading to being faithless to the neighbor - and the application of that to the practice of open communion... but there is the aforementioned sermon preparation that must happen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24 - 1 Timothy 6

I never was good at seeing the structure of a text on my own. At the seminary, I was very glad that when Dr. Just expected us to write about the structure of a particular text, he provided us with the structure in his Luke commentary. So it was very surprising to me when the structure of today's text just jumped out at me - an ABCBA pattern, highlighting the C point (which also finds expression in A and B points.) A is verses 3-5 and 20-21, warning about avoiding irreverent babblers who depart from teaching true doctrine. B is verses 6-10 and 17-19, warning about how the love of money leads away from the faith. C is 11-16, which encourages steadfastness in confessing the true faith.

And I know that the passages were chosen separately, but Nehemiah sure paired up well with its reminders of what happens when God's people become faithless.

Lord, keep us faithful to You, for You remain faithful to us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What others are saying - Sept 22 and 23

(but first a quick note to say I liked how the hymn for Sept 22 started with a theme from Nehemiah and ended with a theme from Timothy.)

Before yesterday, Rev. Stuckwisch was already thinking about 1 Timothy 5. I'm glad the TDP reading gave him an occassion to post those thoughts.

Rev. Weedon has this post about liking today's writing. Take note of Rev. Petersen's comment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21 - Nehemiah and St. Matthew

Nehemiah was a rich text today, after a conversation with some brothers lamenting the lack of repentance in their people. And yet, there are the rich in Nehemiah's day who do repent at his preaching. The example of Matthew also indicates the same, though there is no specific word from the Bible that says Matthew was guilty of charging unfair taxes. On the other hand, Jesus does seem to say in Matthew's house that he needed to receive mercy. Also from the Nehemiah text was what to do when you are trying to deal with rumors about what you are up to: Pray to God to strengthen you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 19 - 1 Timothy 2

under the theme of praying for all people, I just noticed the Let Us Pray resource for this week includes this prayer:

Give hope to those who battle with depression, and sustain those with mental
illness. Help us all to know the full consolation of Your love, especially when
we are overcome with anxiety and despair.

I certainly appreciate knowing holy hands of pastors across our synod will be lifted up in prayer tonight and tomorrow for members of my congregation who struggle mightily with depression, as well as many dear friends (I hear a second volume of "I Trust when Dark My Road" might be in the works! If you haven't read it, the first printing is all gone - but you can go here to read the pdf. well worth your time.)

At my own darkest moments, I've been glad to know that others are praying for me when I can't.

September 18 NT reading (a day late)

Chief of sinners though I be,
You are truly worse than me.

The reading from Nehemiah 1 was tremendous (reminded me of Isaiah 6, with a prayer that takes ownership of the corporate sins of Israel. Plus there's that quick little prayer right before he speaks to the King.) And LOTS of goodies in Paul's first chapter to Timothy, more than I used to realize (and then if you open it up to the real hymn referenced above, even more goodies). But having just gone through Doxology, Dr. Kleinig's talk about a "good conscience" made that phrase stand out. Sometimes we try and create a good conscience by justifying ourselves. For instance, the mangled lyrics above demonstrate one of our approaches to life (but end up walking the path to death) - "I ain't perfect, but at least I'm not guilty of the sin that guy does."
God uses His Law to awaken our conscience (which may have been so darkened by sin that we actually feel pretty good about ourselves) to its badness, then uses His ministry of Word and Sacrament to deliver to us faith and a good conscience. Apparently Hymenaeus and Alexander were delivering a falsely "good" conscience, and thus were handed over to Satan. But only for a time, so that they would again rejoice in the truly good conscience that comes in the name they blasphemed at the time of the writing.

Lord, lead us always to turn away from those ways we try to justify ourselves. Make us instead to rejoice in Your justification of us. Bring to repentance those who blaspheme Your name.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17 Psalmody

Psalm 130 is one of my favorites. So much so that I fear writing anything about it because my words would not do the psalm justice. I will say that I feel like I have been waiting on the Lord quite a bit, and this psalm comes along with the good encouragement that my waiting will not be in vain for He has not marked my iniquities.

anyway, Todd Pepperkorn has an old sermon on this Psalm here. apparently he's hosting a Lenten preaching seminar next winter based on this and other penitential psalms. I'd be curious to know how his dark road experiences might have changed his approach to preaching 130.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16 OT Reading

2 Chronicles 35:21 has a bit of mystery to it. I look with suspicion on people saying, "God wants me to do this very specific thing, so don't get in our way." And especially when it is Neco, the king of Egypt, whom I would guess does not worship the same God that I do. Nonetheless, it turns out that I would have been as wrong as Josiah was to disregard this message, which really was from the Lord.
Since I have not yet purchased a copy of one of them new fangled study Bibles from a certain publisher about 50 miles from here, I looked the verse up in Kretzmann (online here), which said, "What Necho believed to be the will of the Egyptian god whom he served, that he transferred to Jehovah of Israel, in order to persuade Josiah the more easily." However, I don't think we can untangle this mystery so easily, since the Chronicler in verse 22 says that the words of Neco came from the mouth of God.
As Paul asks, "Who has understood the mind of the Lord?"

btw, if you want to know more about Cyprian than what TDP gives, check out this post.
Also, Weedon has this quote from Cyprian today, and yesterday recommended looking at the additional reading from Nahum.
2nd btw, if you know both Weedon and the Uneasy Priest, make sure to ask the latter for his impression of the former... I'm still giggling after the Mac-store inspired impression on Saturday night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


yesterday's and today's have stuck out in my mind. Psalm 1 serves as a good doorway to the 149 that follow, encouraging us not to scoff, but to delight in the torah (instruction) of the Lord.

Psalm 38 from yesterday is a great follow up (a reminder even) to Sunday's prayer of the father from the Gospel (in LSB 3 Year) - "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." David is weighed down by guilt (though his words could describe the physical anguish of depression, grief, excessive anger, etc.) David is able to be honest with himself before God about how much it hurts (not that God needs to be told - David's longings and sighings are not hidden from God, so He does not need to hear it, but David (and you and me) need to speak it. At Doxology, Dr. Kleinig reminded us that God invites us to dump our anger on God.)
Just as it seems the darkest - with light, friends and companions all gone - there is still hope. Just when it feels like I will be overwhelmed with sorrow, faithlessness, hopelessness, and think that I am no longer simul justus et peccator, but only 100% unbeliever, faithful words are put into my mouth: "For you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer."

Lord, though sometimes I question whether I have any faith left at all, Your Word reminds me that in Truth I do believe. Help my unbelief. Deliver me from the Evil One, who desires to rejoice over my foot slipping.

Monday, September 14, 2009

and we're back...

just got home from the third and final round of the Doxology seminar. truly a great blessing. More later (you know how busy you are once you get home from being gone), but for now I just thought I'd let you know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

have you done it?

don't say I didn't warn you if you lose files when your hard drive goes blank. back up your files now. it would have been so easy for me to do it... grumble... I now basically have a brand new 2 year old computer... with factory settings... oh well, such is life.
And Weedon, the thought did cross my mind that I should just plain get a Mac. And then I thought about how expensive those things are.
Oh, and today's TDP Old Testament text is one of my favorites... it was definitely written for my comfort and learning. As Cwirla preached the Sunday I attended his church back in 1997, Elijah needed to learn there are no soloists in the symphony of God. I need to learn that too.
And what great mysteries to rejoice in that Paul reveals in Ephesians 3. I know you probably forget they are mysteries, because I know I do, and I know no temptation has come upon me except that which is common to you.