Saturday, December 17, 2016

Truck Stop Jewel -- Gloria (Reprise), David German (Conductor), Calvary Chancel Choir and Gloria Cast with Symphony Orchestra (Performer)

I like truck stops, the real ones, for real truckers. They have stuff, different stuff, stuff you don't see everywhere.

During Advent, they have cheapo Christmas CDs. I have bought dozens and dozens of them for two dollars and less over the years. Many of them are junk, but some are junque (note spelling to indicate better junk), and some are jewels.

Here I feature the reprise of the overture from one of my truck stop jewels. David German conducts the Calvary Chancel Choir and Gloria Cast with Symphony Orchestra. This is track 17 from Mistletoe Music's CD, ASIN: B0002YFU0Y.

If you don't see the audio player below this line, your browser does not support it. Click here.

You can get this truck stop jewel from the comfort of your own home, via Amazon, here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Conversion: New Series of Four Articles

Brothers of John the Steadfast has published a series of articles by me on conversion.
The first article surveys the ample fund of Scriptural content showing that prior to regeneration, man lacks the reason or strength to believe in Jesus Christ or come to him. It shows the work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace to bring sinners to contrition and faith.

The second article simplifies the complicated history of ideas about conversion through church history. It summarizes all the possible positions into a two-by-two arrangement. It uses graphic illustrations to make the subject even easier.

The third article focuses on Reformation churches. It discusses the unrelenting dispute between Calvinists and Arminians over free will. It explains how that really is a myopic dispute, because both sides in it are oblivious to the third way of Lutheran teaching. It shows how the structure of thought in Calvinism and Arminianism is the same, and only Lutheran teaching uses a different structure that delivers on the motto, sola scriptura.

The fourth article addresses a problem with the way we tend to think about the effects of sin: that spiritual death does not really mean death, but some figurative condition. That figurative, not-really-dead condition seems to leave us something we can do, and therefore must do, to cause our conversion to Christ. This error is the source of the monster of uncertainty, or a nagging lack of assurance of salvation, where we are uncertain of what we did for our conversion. The defeat of the monster comes from the Word and faith. By the Word and faith we see death as death both bodily and spiritually, so that there is nothing we can do for our conversion. By the Word and faith we see Christ alone raising us to life by his Word alone. We see him doing this both in resurrection and regeneration. The case of resurrection is used to help clarify the case of regeneration.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Make Sure You Enjoy Being in the Field on Your Way to Resurrection

Sidney Herald religion column published November 27, 2016

One spring when I was a teenager, my Dad injured his back. He landed in the hospital in traction. That left seeding the crop to me. Could I get it done? I doubted and dreaded.

When I got to the farmyard, before I knew what I was doing, I had climbed the windmill tower and surveyed the fields, then looked down at the grain drill. It was 16 feet. How was I supposed to cover those fields with 16 feet? Wouldn’t that take an eternity? Would I make it to the end?

After filling the drill with seed and fertilizer, I started for the first round. One glimmer of hope appeared. It’s been done before. I tried to keep that thought in front of me.

That night I visited Dad in the hospital to give the daily report. I was surprised how unconcerned Dad seemed to be. He even commended me on the acres I’d seeded. As I was stepping from his room to head home, he called my name. When I turned around, he said. “A lot of acres there.” “Yahh,” I exhaled. “Well,” he said, “just make sure you enjoy being in the field, round by round, because before long, seedtime will be over, and you’ll miss it.”

That gave me a lot to chew on. He was giving me assurance. As he had gone before me and seeded the farm in the past, I could follow. I too could seed the farm. He wanted me to have an assurance so strong that I could work in hope and joy, not in doubt or dread.

The Lord’s Word is like that, giving us assurance not only about seeding this year’s crop, but about our whole life, and our resurrections after our bodies die.

What will happen when we die? How can we be resurrected to eternal life? Our eyes cannot see any more than my eyes could from the top of the windmill tower. Our eyes see hundreds and hundreds of acres. Our eyes see a 16 foot drill. But God’s Word shows us what our eyes cannot see.

Just like seeding the farm, resurrection has been done before. Jesus has gone ahead of us into the resurrection. We can follow.

Paul writes, “God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Corinthians 5:14) He writes, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”  (Romans 6:5)  “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” (2 Corinthians 4:14)  “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Jesus himself said, “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)

As I was to enjoy being in the field, round by round, we also are to live our lives toward our resurrections with joy. Peter writes, “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A General Liturgy Bibliography

v. 1.4
by T. R. Halvorson

Brauer, James Leonard. Meaningful Worship: A Guide to the Lutheran Service. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1994.

Brauer, James Leonard. Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei: What the Lutheran Confessions Say about Worship. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

Brightman, F. E. Liturgies Eastern and Western: Being the Texts Original or Translated of the Principal Liturgies of the Church: On the Basis of the Former Work by C.E.Hammond: I: Eastern Liturgies. Oxford: Clarendon, 1896. (online here and online here)

Brunner, Peter. Worship in the Name of Jesus; English Edition of a Definitive Work on Christian Worship in the Congregation. Trans. M. H. Bertram. St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1968.

Dawn, Marva J. Reaching out without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Elert, Werner. Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries. Trans. N. E. Nagel. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1966.

Fenwick, John R. K., and Bryan D. Spinks. Worship in Transition: The Twentieth Century Liturgical Movement. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995.

General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America. An Explanation of the Common Service: With Appendices on Christian Hymnody and Liturgical Colors, and a Glossary of Liturgical Terms. 5th ed. Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1908. Print. Revised and Enlarged. (reprint, Emmanuel Press, Fort Wayne, Indiana: Emmanuel Press, 2012) (Written for use in Luther League meetings). (online here)

Giertz, Bo Harald. Liturgy and Spiritual Awakening. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1954. (Another translation online here and online here)

Grisbrooke, W. Jardine. The Liturgical Portions of the Apostolic Constitutions: A Text for Students. Bramcote, Nottingham: Grove, 1990.

Harris, Paul R. Explanation of the Divine Service in the Lutheran Hymnal, Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, TX, 2011. (online here)

Herl, Joseph. Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation, and Three Centuries of Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Horn, Edward T. Outlines of Liturgics; on the Basis of Harnack in Zöckler’s Handbuch Der Theologischen Wissenschaften. Englished, with Additions from Other Sources.. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1912. (online here)

Just, Arthur A. Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2008.

Kleinig, John W. Course Notes in Liturgics. Adelaide, Australia: Australian Lutheran College, 2009). (online here)

Lang, Paul H. D. Ceremony and Celebration: An Evangelical Guide for Christian Practice in Corporate Worship. St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1965. (reprint, Emmanuel Press, Fort Wayne, Indiana: Emmanuel Press, 2012).

Leaver, Robin A. The Theological Character of Music in Worship. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 1989.

Liturgy: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. By Arthur Just. Perf. Arthur Just. Lutheran Visuals, n.d. DVD. (available for ordering here)

Löhe, Wilhelm. Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith. Ed. J. Deinzer. Trans. Frank Carroll Lonaker. 3rd ed. Newport, KY: Publisher Not Identified, 1902. (online here)

Marquart, Kurt. “Liturgical Commonplaces.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 42.4 (October 1978): 330. (online here)

Marquart, Kurt. “Liturgy and Evangelism,” Lecture delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod–U.S.A. in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 8, 1997 (audio online here)

Maschke, Timothy. Gathered Guests: A Guide to Worship in the Lutheran Church. 2nd ed. Saint Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 2009.

Memoirs of the Lutheran Liturgical Association. Pittsburgh, PA: Association, 1906. (online here)

Nagel, Norman. “Luther’s Liturgical Reform.” Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology VII.2 (1998): 23-26. (online here as part of the entire issue)

Olson, Oliver K. Reclaiming the Lutheran Liturgical Heritage. Saint Paul, MN: ReClaim Resources, 2007.

Piepkorn, Arthur Carl, and Charles McClean. The Conduct of the Service. Fort Wayne, IN: Redeemer, 2006.

Pless, John T. "A Narrative Commentary on the Divine Service," in John T. Pless. Didache. Fort Wayne, Indiana: Emmanuel Press, 2013. (online here as printable pamphlet and online here)

Pless, John T. Divine Service: Delivering Forgiveness of Sins, presented at the South Dakota District Lay/Clergy Conferences, Rapid City, SD May 6, 1995, Sioux Falls, SD May 7, 1995. (online here)

Pless, John T. “Herman Sasse and the Liturgical Movement.” Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology VII.2 (1998): 47-51. (online here)

Pless, John T. “Liturgy and Evangelism in the Service of the Mysteria Dei”, Mysteria Dei: Essays in Honor of Kurt Marquart, eds. Paul T. McCain and John R. Stephenson (Fort Wayne, Indiana: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1999), 233-34. (online here)

Pless, John T. “Six Theses On Liturgy And Evangelism.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 52.1 (1988): 41-52. (online here and online here)

Precht, Fred L., ed. Lutheran Worship: History and Practice. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1993.

Preus, Klemet I. The Fire and the Staff: Lutheran Theology in Practice. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2004.

Reed, Luther D. The Lutheran Liturgy, a Study of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America. Rev. ed. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1947.

Richard, J. W., and F. V. N. Painter. Christian Worship: Its Principles and Forms. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1892. (online here)

Sasse, Hermann, and Ronald R. Feuerhahn. The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters. Ed. Matthew C. Harrison. Vol. 2. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2001.

Schoedel, Walter M., and David W. Christian. Worship Is Celebrating as Lutherans. St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1990.

Schroeder, George W., and Herman J. Zemke. A Catechism of Christian Worship; a Study Guide for Lutheran Youth and Adults. Ed. R. Allen. Zimmer. Saint Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1961

Spinks, Bryan. Luther’s Liturgical Criteria and His Reform of the Canon of the Mass. Bramcote, Notts.: Grove, 1982. Print.

Spinks, Bryan D. The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to Contemporary Culture. London: SPCK Publishing, 2010.

The Divine Service — An Explanation (pew card available here).

Thompson, Bard. Liturgies of the Western Church. Philadelphia, Pa: Fortress, 1980.

Vajta, Vilmos. Luther on Worship, an Interpretation. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1958.

Waddell, James Alan. A Simplified Guide to Worshiping as Lutherans. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2009.

Waddell, James Alan. The Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church: Adiaphora in Historical, Theological, and Practical Perspective. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2005.

Webber, F. R. Studies in the Liturgy. Erie, PA: Ashby Print., 1938. (online here)

White, James F. A Brief History of Christian Worship. Nashville: Abingdon, 1993.

Wisløff, Carl Fredrik. The Gift of Communion; Luther’s Controversy with Rome on Eucharistic Sacrifice. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1964.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. - Some Things I am Thankful For

Some things I am thankful for:
  • My Mom and Dad, who gave me life on purpose, brought me to the font of Baptism, raised me in the Catechism and knowledge of salvation, and made me unafraid of and accustomed to work.
  • My wife who, knowing my faults, married me anyway, and continues steadfastly with valor in sharing the forgiveness and grace of God to me, in whom my heart safely trusts.
  • My children, who avail themselves of the means of grace, continue in the repentance and faith of their Baptisms, and hand on the faith to my grandchildren.
  • My Pastor, who guards my soul against error and doubt; who faithfully and industriously preaches and teaches the Word, and frequently administers the sacraments; and who models Christian marriage and fatherhood.
  • My fellow congregants, who accept me in the equality of sin and the equality of salvation.
  • My country, by which God in his inscrutable wisdom has secured to me an easy life of peace and prosperity, insomuch that it perplexes me to consider the millions not similarly made at ease.
  • My employer and co-workers, with whom many hands make light work.
  • My neighbors here, who conduct themselves peaceably and in good order, who help one another in need, and who in their vocations and labors love one another.
  • My farm, the sign and medium of my stewardship.
Please join me in giving thanks to the Lord for all his benefits, especially for giving his Son into death for our salvation.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Who are these people, really?

Sidney Herald religion column published September 4, 2016

This is a presidential election year. There have been so many candidates. People wanted to know, who are these people, really? Who are these promise makers?

One of the parties started with four candidates. One candidate is a political veteran who has been known for decades. The others are less known. People wondered, who are they? Even about the veteran, media and political people ask, do we really know her?

Another party started with 17 candidates. Most of them are political veterans, but known mostly only in their own states. One is a national celebrity, but he never ran for office before. Media reports paint him as flexible in his positions. Pundits ask, who is he, really?

Many people had a similar reaction to Jesus.

Many thought Jesus was a political figure. Wise men from the east asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2) That title, King of the Jews, recently had been newly coined by King Herod for himself and himself alone. It was a political title, and the use of the title by the wise men sounded like political trouble from a rival. “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3) They all wanted to know, who is Jesus, really?

The question, who is Jesus, persisted. The religious leaders feared that He was a threat also to them. When Jesus said, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven,” and “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” they grumbled, saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?" (John 6:42)

In his home town of Nazareth, his neighbors said, “‘Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ And they were offended at Him.” (Mark 6:3)

To say that He came down from heaven and that He is the bread His Father gives from heaven was to say that He is the Son of God. That is why they tried to deny it by saying who his earthly father, mother, brothers, and sisters were.

But, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4) The resurrection brings Christ from his state of humiliation, by which he voluntarily laid aside his appearance of glory, to his state of glorification, in which his Father made it plain that Jesus is his Son.

All Jerusalem knew of his resurrection because of the political turmoil about his empty tomb. The apostles and many disciples saw him alive. In one case, more than 500 disciples saw him at once. (1 Corinthians 15:6). “The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:52-54)

Why does it matter who He is? Because just like presidential candidates, if He is not truly who He says, He cannot make good on his promises. Jesus “was delivered [to the cross] for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Jesus promises justification, the forgiveness of sins. Because Jesus really is the Son of God, because He is resurrected, He really gives justification. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Why was Jesus dead only until the Third Day?

Sidney Herald religion column published July 17, 2016

In May of this year, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced a woman convicted of drug importation with intent to distribute to probation rather than prison time. The theory was, the restrictions on felons outside bars are punishment enough. The New York Times reported that Judge Frederic Block suggested anything more would be overkill.

In 1701, attorney Basil Montagu published an address to both houses of the British Parliament titled, "Hanging not Punishment Enough for Murderers, Highwaymen, and Housebreakers." He noted that many laws had been enacted to try to reduce the tide of those crimes. With those laws, there was an increase in executions, but still the tide was rising. Hanging, it seemed, was too short a punishment for the crimes.

That is the civil realm. How about the spiritual realm? How much punishment does sin deserve?

We need to include in our computation two aspects of sin: original sin, and particular sins. We usually think of only our particular sins. Limiting the issue that way, we pick out some of our sins, ignore the rest, and go to work diminishing how bad they are. After a while, we have ourselves convinced that our sins are not so bad, and our punishment from injuries, sorrows, and disappointments in this life probably is enough, and when we die our souls will fly straight to heaven.

We tend not to see our sins the way those we've hurt do. How much does God love those we've hurt? What should He do about that?

Worse yet, Americans today have practically no conception of original sin, or think it is not really sinful sin, or think it is not such sin as condemns in and of itself without any particular sins. Of course we'd say that. We are not the victim of it. It is more realistic to consider who we offend by sin, and let that Person have a say. That Person will be in this heaven we think we’re going to. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine that He will have a say there, even if we won’t give him one here. Maybe we need to be a little more objective.

There is a goodly number of people who already have been more objective, who sense the enormity of their sin, and wonder how enough atonement ever could be made for their sin. They are fearful and doubtful. If you are one of these, it is to you that I speak now, and ignore the rest for the time being.

There is a way you can know the atoning death of Jesus was enough punishment for your sin. You can know because of his resurrection, ascension, and being seated at the right hand of the Father. You can know because, three days is not the measure of his sacrifice. His value as the Only Begotten Son is the measure. His holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death are enough because of who He is. Because it was him, God raised him from the dead and said, “Enough,” for the whole world, for you.

Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Romans 4:25 “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day.” Acts 10:39-40 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 His value as the Only Begotten Son is more than a match for your sin.

The Way Out for General MacArthur, Jesus, and Us

Sidney Herald religion column published May 1, 2016
During World War II, General Douglas MacArthur was on the Philippine island of Corregidor helping to defend that country from invasion by the Empire of Japan. Fearing that Corregidor would fall and MacArthur would be taken prisoner, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to go to Australia.

MacArthur balked from February 20 to March 11. He argued that help could make it through the Japanese blockade, and save the Philippine people from enslavement. A submarine was provided for MacArthur’s escape, but he wanted to show that there was a way out. By showing that there was a way out, he would be showing that there was a way back, a way of salvation for the Philippine people.

MacArthur obeyed the President, but broke through the blockade with his “Bataan Gang” staff in PT boats. He set out after sunset. After two days of being bounced around on rough seas, nearly being spotted by a Japanese warship, and thought to be dead and buried under the waves of the ocean, on the third day, he reached Cagayan on Mindanao.

When MacArthur reached Melbourne, Australia, he declared, “I came through and I shall return.” MacArthur showed that there was a way out and a way back to deliver the people from slavery.

Jesus showed that there was a way out, a way back, and deliverance from slavery to sin, death, and the Devil. On the mount of transfiguration, “two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:30. That word “decease” is a translation into English of the Greek word that also is translated as “exodus.” Exodus, like exit, is a way out.

Exodus for the Hebrews was a way out of bondage to Pharaoh and Egypt. This, like General MacArthur escaping through the sea, was an escape through the Red Sea. In Jerusalem, Jesus would accomplish an exodus, a way out of bondage to the Devil, the world, and the sinful human nature. He, being fully divine and fully human, would take our place, suffer death, be buried, and on the third day rise again to life. Like MacArthur, He promises to use that way out as a way back, to return for us, and deliver us into the freedom of his everlasting kingdom. People asked Jesus for a sign of who He was and how He could do all the things He was saying He would do. He answered, “No sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

This referred to the death and burial of Jesus. From the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed, “You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me.” Jonah 2:3. Nearly these same words are spoken by Messiah in Psalm when he is dead and buried for our sins. He cries, “All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” Psalm 42.7.

In passages like these, the Bible frequently uses being under water as a symbol of death and burial. Apostle Paul uses that imagery to teach Baptism. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4. In Baptism, we go under water, joining Jesus in his death and burial. Rising out of the water, we join Jesus in new life.