You are not my child

You live in my house. You eat my food. You wear the clothes that I No One is Asking by B Talprovide for you. You enjoy all the benefits from being a member of my family.

But I have told you time and time again to keep your room clean, and you don’t. I have told you time and time again to take the trash out on Thursday night, and you don’t. I have told you time and time again to pick up after the dog goes, and you don’t.

So I really don’t consider you to be my son, anymore. I am telling you to leave my home. I don’t love you anymore.


Is that how it works with us?  Is that how our parents treated us?  Is that how we treat our children?



I removed the sentence about ‘Mr. Washer’ from the post.

It was not very charitable of me, and I was wrong to have it there to begin with.



How to recognize “Yeah…But” Syndrome

When one is confronted with the pure, sweet truth of the gospel of schizophrenia 1 by CHAZ+Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, they immediately say, “Yeah (that’s all well and good)…but you can’t just live anyway you want.”


It’s been a while since we’ve discussed this phenomenon here at The Old Adam lives, but I think maybe it’s a good time to revisit the “Yeah…but” syndrome.

What is at the heart of a “yeah…but“?

I believe it is a biblicist’s view of scripture which awards the same value to every line of scripture; a total inability to distinguish the law from the gospel; an ignorance of the purposes of the law and that of the gospel; a desire to have some input into the salvation project; a failure to see that the gospel always trumps the law.

So when St. Paul says in Romans that to one who works, he will receive his reward based on those works, but the one who does not work will be justified by faith (paraphrased – I forgot to get my Bible out of the car), the “yeah… but”-er goes into a state of cognitive dissonance. A sort of Christian schizophrenia results. And since the law is written upon our hearts and ‘doing’ to justify ourselves is our default position, then the law side of the equation takes over.

What happens then is that you get one who knows what the gospel is, and pays lip service to it, but ultimately is still bound to the law as a way to justify themselves before God.

They will deny this all day long. But their actions, and what comes out of their mouths betray them to another reality.

The Word of God will actually ‘DO’ to people, that for which it intends.

So when a gospel message is preached, people are forgiven, liberated, and freed, all because of what the Lord Jesus has done for them. But when the law message is preached, people are put back into the slavery which the law brings; that of accusation and condemnation.

So this is not a little thing  this “yeah…but” syndrome. It can be quite deadly and take over and drown out the gospel. St. Paul makes that painfully clear in his letter to the Galatians. One can “sever themselves from Christ.”

So, do we abandon the law?  NO!

But we don’t try and harness it to our betterment in the eyes of the Lord.

Because of Christ Jesus, the Lord already loves us before we start the day!

We use the law for our creaturely obligations that we might live as well as we can on this earth together, and the law is used by God to expose us, to accuse us, and to condemn us, so that we can in no way rely upon ourselves and what we say, do, feel, or think, to make ourselves right with God.

And then…the “yeah… buts” come again!




Anybody want to refute that in any way? Anything to add?



What ‘not’ to do (say)

Because of time constraints, I did not have time to listen to most of this talk (sermon?) by Paul Washer. So I forwarded the video to the last couple of minutes for the payoff. Whatever good he may have accomplished in the first 56 minutes, he totally (in my opinion) destroyed in the last few minutes.

This type of Christianity is responsible for creating Pharisees, phonies, or driving people out of churches.



I’m anxious to hear your take on it.  Thanks.




Slip Slidin’ Away



This (slip sliding away) is the effect of the  law… believe it or not.


We are all slowly, and in some cases not so slowly, slip slidin’ away.

There will be, in the end, nothing at all left to grab onto, and we will slip into the grave.

Death, the law, will have it’s way with us. And on the way, also, it will have it’s way with us. We are broken and corrupted and compromised and that affects those around us, who are also broken, corrupted, and compromised.

It’s very sad really.  Very sad.

Last night I saw a young family in the market where I work. A man and his wife and two young children. Full of love, and life, and happiness. What a pleasure to see them enjoying each other. Seeing them also reminded me of some of the things I did to rob my own family of such happiness. I was also reminded that a new day is promised where our relationships will all be like that (better actually…whole, intact and complete.

As I slowly slip slide away, I thank the Lord for using (for His purposes) the suffering that I have wrought, and that the world has wrought, and I thank Him for the future to come where there will be no more suffering, and no more tears. Only peace and love and joy.




Heavy Law…Heavy Gospel


 The Holy Land Experience Theme Park - The Ten Commandments by Rob SheridanOur pastor decided to open the Ash Wednesday worship service with a reading of the Commandments, all 10 of them, followed by Martin Luther’s explanation of what each one means, and then time between each one of those readings for personal and silent reflection.

And then readings from Scripture about how God feels about those who keep His Commandments, and those who do not.

That’s the law. That’s heavy duty law. No wiggle room. Law that leaves you (or should leave you) no where to go.

Then, those who wished to receive ashes on their foreheads and the reminder of our mortality with the words “from dust you have come and to dust you will return.”

And then a sermon (not a class as so many sectarian preachers like to give during a church service, but a real sermon) highlighted further our complicity in not keeping the Commandments in so far as we so often ‘will’ not to keep them.

 Now there are no modern day ‘Pharisees’ left standing, but all are cut off at the knees by the sharp sword of God’s Law.

Then the pastor relates that he too is complicit in this rebellion (to dispel any notion that some in the church, by virtue of their office or calling, can handle this law project).

Then the pastor, as God’s mouthpiece, hands over to us  free of charge, the life giving Word of life, the renewing, liberating, redeeming Word of promise that Christ Jesus knows who and what each one of us we really are, but loves us so much that He was willing to take upon Himself, all our sins. That in that bloody death at Calvary, we were made right with God. Not by anything at all that we do. But by what He did.  By what He is doing, and by what He will yet do…for us.

No instructions how to improve. No decisions to make. No principles to follow. No guidelines for Christian living… just death at the hands of a righteous and loving and perfect God.  And then life from a righteous and loving and perfect God… in the love and forgiveness that Jesus gives to us from the cross.

And a reminder that all of this, every bit of it, comes to us in our baptisms, as a gift of God. (I know that rankles some)

And, like icing on the cake, we were invited to actually touch, and taste, and swallow that love and forgiveness and renewing Life, in the bread and the wine of  the Sacrament of the Altar.

So, once again, God’s Word was done ‘TO US’…and ‘FOR US’.

We are laid low, and lifted high…for His sake.

We sang some wonderful old hymns, received the benediction, and hopefully went home brand new people…yet once again.

Sound a little boring?

Not to me it wasn’t.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Wednesday evening.

( and I TiVo-ed Spongebob…so I wouldn’t have to miss it)




As a sidenote…the movie  ‘Lilies of the Field’ will air this afternoon on Turner Classic Movies. (check for time in your area)

I just love this movie about an itinerante Baptist (Sidney Poitier) and a small group of Catholic nuns in the desert Southwest.

It’s a classic.



Quotes attributed to Martin Luther


Martin Luther  (1483 – 1546, 63 years)

It would be a good thing if young people were wise and old people were strong, but God has arranged things better.    –MARTIN LUTHER

I never work better than when I am inspired by anger; for when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart. –Martin Luther (1483-1546), Table-Talk, 319

I have a better Caretaker than you and all the angels. He it is who lies in a manger … but at the same time sits at the right hand of God, the almighty Father. Therefore be at rest. — Martin Luther , letter to his wife Kate: 1546, eleven days before his death.

Pray, and let God worry. — Martin Luther

Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen .
–Martin Luther, at the Imperial Diet at Worms, 18 April 1521.

The anabaptists pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive baptism. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but – more frequently than not – struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. If God can communicate the Holy Ghost to grown persons, he can, a fortiori, communicate it to young children. Faith comes of the Word of God, when this is heard; little children hear that Word when they receive baptism, and therewith they receive also faith.
— Martin Luther (1483-1546), Table Talk CCCLIII [1569] .

Some one sent to know whether it was permissible to use warm water in baptism? The Doctor replied: “Tell the blockhead that water, warm or cold, is water.                — Martin Luther (1483-1546), Table Talk CCCLIV[1569].

There is not a word in the Bible which is extra cruem, which can be understood without reference to the cross.

The Bible is the cradle wherein Christ is laid. — Martin Luther

Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want.   –Martin Luther

Anything that one imagines of God apart from Christ is only useless thinking and vain idolatry.   –Martin Luther

It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbour.                                          — MARTIN LUTHER

Ah, we poor people, to be so cold and sluggish in the face of the great joy that has clearly been prepared for us! This great benefaction exceeds by far all the other works of creation; and yet our faith in it is found to be so weak, although it is preached and sung to us by angels, who are heavenly theologians and who were so glad for our sake! Their song is very, very beautiful and describes the entire Christian religion. For giving glory to God in the highest heaven is the supreme worship. This they wish and bring to us in the Christ ..
 –Martin Luther quoted in E. M. Plass, WHAT LUTHER SAYS, p.154

Let him who wants a true church cling to the Word by which everything is upheld. –Martin Luther

Next to faith this is the highest art — to be content with the calling in which God has placed you. I have not learned it yet.   — Martin Luther

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime.    –Martin Luther

Dear Kate, we arrived in Halle today at eight, but did not continue on to Eisleben because a big Anabaptist met us with waves and hunks of ice. She flooded the land and threatened to rebaptize us … We take refreshment and comfort in good Torgau beer and Rhenish wine, waiting to see whether the Saale (river) will come down … The devil resents us, and he is in the water – so better safe than sorry.
–Martin Luther to his wife:, in Theology of the Reformers, Timothy George.

I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them on the hearts of youth. I would advise no one to send his child where the Holy Scriptures are not supreme. Every institution in which men and women are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must be corrupt.   –Martin Luther

The whole being of any Christian is Faith and Love… Faith brings the man to God, love brings him to men .
–Martin Luther (1483-1546)

If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright. Martin Luther

It is the most ungodly and dangerous business to abandon the certain and revealed will of God in order to search into the hidden mysteries of God. MARTIN LUTHER

Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes. Martin Luther

If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly. Martin Luther

Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we prohibit and abolish women? The sun, moon, and stars have been worshipped. Shall we pluck them out of the sky. Luther

Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You have become what you were not so that I might become what I was not. MARTIN LUTHER

In Romans 7, St. Paul says, “The law is spiritual.” What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart. But no one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart.– Martin Luther (1483-1546), “Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans”

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. — Martin Luther

The state of matrimony is the chief in the world after religion; but people shun it because of its inconveniences, like one who, running out of the rain, falls into the river. Martin Luther, Table Talk

A marriage without children is the world without the sun. Augustine quoted in Martin Luther, Table Talk

Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. The devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the word of God.
Martin Luther

Nothing on earth is so well-suited to make the sad merry, the merry sad, to give courage to the despairing, to make the proud humble, to lessen envy and hate, as music. Martin Luther

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. MARTIN LUTHER

It is the most ungodly and dangerous business to abandon the certain and revealed will of God in order to search in to the hidden mysteries of God. — Martin Luther

Original sin is in us, like the beard. We are shaved today and look clean, and have a smooth chin; tomorrow our beard has grown again, nor does it cease growing while we remain on earth. –MARTIN LUTHER

Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him. In Hebrew, “Be silent in God, and let Him mould thee.” Keep still, and He will mould thee to the right shape.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Whenever I happen to be prevented by the press of duties from observing my hour of prayer, the entire day is bad for me. MARTIN LUTHER

All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask; yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart. Martin Luther

God has placed two ways before us in His Word: salvation by faith, damnation by unbelief (Mark 16:16). He does not mention purgatory at all. Nor is purgatory to be admitted, for it obscures the benefits and grace of Christ.
Martin Luther Table Talk

Dr. Henning asked: “Is reason to hold no authority at all with Christians, since it is to be set aside in matters of faith?” The Doctor replied: Before faith and the knowledge of God, reason is mere darkness; but in the hands of those who believe, ’tis an excellent instrument. All facilities and gifts are pernicious, exercised by the impious; but most salutary when possessed by godly persons.” Martin Luther (1483-1546), Table Talk, LXXVI. [1569]

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but–more frequently than not–struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. Martin Luther (1483-1546), Table Talk [1569]

When God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed upon by the Spirit of God, desire and acts, not from compulsion, but responsively.

When God wants to speak and deal with us, he does not avail himself of an angel but of parents, or the pastor, or of our neighbour. Martin Luther

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars. Martin Luther

It is just like someone who is sick, and who believes the doctor who promises his full recovery. In the meantime, he obeys the doctor’s orders in the hope of the promised recovery, and abstains from those things which he was told to lay off, so that he may in no way hinder the promised return to health…Now is this sick man well? He is sick in reality – but he is well on account of a sure promise of the doctor, whom he trusts, and who reckons him as already being cured…So he is at one and the same time time both a sinner and righteous. He is a sinner in reality, but righteous by the sure imputation and promise of God that he will continue to deliver him from sin until he has completely cured him. So he is entirely healthy in hope, but a sinner in reality. MARTIN LUTHER, commenting on Romans

This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not what we shall be but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified. — MARTIN LUTHER

I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of Hell unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt. Martin Luther

I more fear what is within me than what comes from without. –MARTIN LUTHER

The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn. Martin Luther

In the worst temptations nothing can help us but faith that God’s Son has put on flesh, is bone, sits at the right hand of the Father, and prays for us. There is no mightier comfort.–Martin Luther

In this sort of temptation and struggle, contempt is the best and easiest method of winning over the devil. Laugh your adversary to scorn and ask who it is with whom you are talking. But by all means flee solitude, for the devil watches and lies in wait for you most of all when you are alone. This devil is conquered by mocking and despising him, not by resisting and arguing with him. Therefore, Jerome, joke and play games with your wife and others. In this way you will drive out your diabolical thoughts and take courage
Be of good courage, therefore, and cast these dreadful thoughts out of your mind. Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. Sometimes it is necessary to drink a little more, play, jest, or even commit some infraction in defiance and contempt of the devil in order not to give him an opportunity to make us scrupulous about trifles. We shall be overcome if we worry too much about falling into some sin.
Accordingly if the devil should say, “Do not drink,” you should reply to him, “On this very account, because you forbid it, I shall drink, and what is more, I shall drink a generous amount.” Thus one must always do the opposite of that which Satan prohibits. What do you think is my reason for drinking wine undiluted, talking freely, and eating more often, if it is not to torment and vex the devil who made up his mind to torment and vex me. –Luther

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. –Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Peace if possible, truth at all costs. Martin Luther

The will is a beast of burden.
If God mounts it, it wishes and goes as God wills;
if Satan mounts it, it wishes and goes as Satan wills;
Nor can it choose its rider…
The riders contend for its possession.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)

The wisdom of the Greeks, when compared to that of the Jews, is absolutely bestial; for apart from God there can be no wisdom, not any understanding and insight. Martin Luther

No good ever came out of female domination. God created Adam master and lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled all. –Martin Luther, “Table Talk”(1532)

Who loves not woman, wine and song
Remains a fool his whole life long.
Martin Luther

If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there. –Martin Luther (1483-1546)

It is pleasing to God whenever thou rejoicest or laughest from the bottom of thy heart. –Martin Luther (1483-1546)

“It’s true that a good diet is the best medicine when it suits the individual, but to live medically is to live wretchedly.” Then he related some examples of deceased persons who starved themselves to death on the advice of their physicians. “I eat what I like and will die when God wills it.”
Luther’s Tabletalk from No.3801

He had a rose in his hand and marveled at it. “A glorious work of art by God,” he said. “If a man had the capacity to make just one rose he would be given an empire! But the countless gifts of God are esteemed as nothing because they’re always present. We see that God gives children to all men, the fruit of their bodies resembling the parents. A peasant is said to have three and four sons who look so much like him that they’re easily mistaken for one another. All of these gifts are despised because they’re always present. Luther’s Tabletalk from No.4593

‘When Luther’s puppy [n. 116, Luther’s dog Tölpel is mentioned again and again in the Table Talk.] happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, he [Martin Luther] said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.
Luther’s Works, Volume 54, Table Talk (Philadelphia: 1967), pp. 37, 38. May 18, 1532

For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant. –Luther’s Tabletalk No.1877

No good work is undertaken or done with wise reflection. It must all happen in a half-sleep. This is how I was forced to take up the office of teaching. If I had known what I know now, ten horses wouldn’t have driven me to it. Moses and Jeremiah also complained that they were deceived. Nor would any man take a wife if he first gave real thought [to what might happen in marriage and the household]. Here Philip said that he had diligently observed that in history great deeds had never been done by old men. “This was so,” said Luther, “when Alexander and Augustus were young; afterward men become too wise. They didn’t do great things by deliberate choice but by a sort of impulse. If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need us who are old. Our Lord God doesn’t do great things except by violence, as they say.” — Luther’s Tabletalk No. 406

Faith and the Spirit go together, but the Spirit is not always revealed. So Cornelius had the Holy Spirit before Peter came to him, although he didn’t know it. Those in the book of Acts who said, “We don’t know the Holy Spirit,” also had the Spirit, just as the patriarchs in the Old Testament had Christ, although they didn’t know him. They clung to the word, and through it they received the Holy Spirit. Later in the book of Acts he was manifested to them outwardly. It’s to be understood thus: The Word comes first, and with the Word the Spirit breathes upon my heart so that I believe. Then I feel that I have become a different person and I recognize that the Holy Spirit is there. Accordingly these are two things: to have the Holy Spirit and to know that you have him. When somebody speaks in your ear, you hardly hear his words before you feel his breath, so strong is the breath. Even so, when the Word is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit accompanies it and breathes upon your heart. — Luther’s Tabletalk No. 402

One ought to love one’s neighbour with a love as chaste as that of a bridegroom for his bride. In this case all faults are concealed and covered over and only the virtues are seen. — Luther’s Tabletalk No. 217

Serve the Lord with fear, and exult with trembling” (Psa 2:11). Let somebody bring this into harmony for me: exult and fear! My son Hans can do it in relation to me, but I can’t do it in relation to God. When I’m writing or doing something else, my Hans sings a little tune for me. If he becomes too noisy and I rebuke him a little for it, he continues to sing but does it more privately and with a certain awe and uneasiness. This is what God wishes: that we be always cheerful, but with reverence.– Luther’s Tabletalk (from No. 148)

Ever since the fall of Adam the world knows neither God nor his creation. It lives altogether outside of the glory of God. Oh, what thoughts man might have had about the fact that God is in all creatures, and so might have reflected on the power and the wisdom of God in even the smallest flowers! Of a truth, who can imagine how God creates, out of the parched soil, such a variety of flowers, such pretty colours, such sweet vernal grass, beyond anything that a painter or apothecary could make! Yet God can bring out of the ground such colours as green, yellow, red, blue, brown. Adam and those around him would have been elevated by all this to the praise of God, and they would have made use of all created things with thanksgiving. Now we enjoy all this to overflowing, yet without understanding, like cattle or other beasts trampling the most beautiful blossoms and lilies underfoot. — Luther’s Tabletalk from No.4201

That the Creator himself comes to us and becomes our ransom – this is the reason for our rejoicing.– Martin Luther 25 March 1533 “Table Talks”

Let us act with humility, cast ourselves at one another’s feet, join hands with each other, and help one another. For here we battle not against pope or emperor, but against the devil, and do you imagine that he is asleep?–Martin Luther

Junker Henry means to be God and do as he pleases.-Martin Luther on Henry VIII, as the King marries Catherine Parr on 12 July 1543.

All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask; yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask…. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Pray, and let God worry. -Martin Luther [b. 11/10/1483], in the last letter written to his wife Katy, before his death on 2/18/1546]

If God promises something, then faith must fight a long and bitter fight, for reason or the flesh judges that God’s promises are impossible. Therefore faith must battle against reason and its doubts…………. Faith is something that is busy, powerful and creative, though properly speaking, it is essentially an enduring than a doing. It changes the mind and heart. While reason holds to what is present, faith apprehends the things that are not seen. Contrary to reason, faith regards the invisible things as already materialized. This explains why faith, unlike hearing is not found in many, for only few believe, while the great majority cling to the things that are present and can be felt and handled rather than to the Word. ~ Martin Luther, The Promises

If anywhere the day is made holy for the mere day’s sake — if anyone set up its observance on a Jewish foundation, then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it, to do anything that shall remove this encroachment on Christian liberty.- Luther

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us. –Martin Luther (1483-1546)

A good preacher should have these qualities and virtues: first, to teach systematically; second, he should have a ready wit; third, he should be eloquent; fourth, he should have a good voice; fifth, a good memory; sixth, he should know when to make an end; seventh, he should be sure of his doctrine; eighth, he should venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honour, in the world; ninth, he should suffer himself to be mocked and jeered of everyone…. Martin Luther (1483-1546), Table-Talk



Why Bother?

It’s Ash Wednesday. Millions of Christians will be going to worship Ash Wednesday by my new clever nameservices and mass this day (or evening) to mark the begining of Lent.

Is observing Ash Wednesday a requirement for Christians? Is it a harmful and archaic ritual  that Christians should dispense with? Or is there some good purpose for the lives of Christians in attending Ash Wednesday services? 




“Shorts and Cheap Clothing”

This is an excerpt from a sermon by Pastor Charles Spomer and presented on The Lutheran Hour, June 2, 2002 


Why is it that, try as I might to have a stronger faith, I am so often wavering? Why is it that when I attempt to build a foundation for faith, I only find my house washing away with the sand? It must be that I am not obedient enough to God’s righteous demands of me, or I haven’t given myself deeply enough to the working of God’s Spirit, or I haven’t denied myself and emptied myself enough for God to fill me, or I don’t have enough faith in God or His Word. Is the cure for this that I must plunge deeper, reach higher, run stronger, beat myself longer, read more Scripture, or pray more fervently?

Is that the way to come up with more pleasing fruit, the kind Jesus talks about in Matthew 7? This covering of righteousness, or clothing, seems to be the most costly because it demands the most of me and takes the most out of me. But while it appears to be one thing on the outside, in reality it is another thing altogether on the inside. What appears costly is truly cheap, and what appears to be cheap because it costs me nothing, is the most precious and costly.

If I plunge deeper, reach higher, study more and pray more and so forth, while that seems to be costly, on my part it is cheap and shoddy, precisely because it is my part. St. Paul in Romans states, “There is no difference. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No difference between what and what? No difference between Jew and gentile, between those whose lives were dedicated to obedience of the Law from the Deuteronomy lesson, performing the sacrifices God required of His people, worshiping Him and studying the Scriptures, and those who didn’t? All that expensive stuff of obedience for nothing? Absolutely! Why? Hadn’t God required it? Absolutely! Hadn’t they tried to do it for God’s glory? Absolutely! But they had ALL fallen short of the glory of God, both those who tried obedience and those who didn’t. The problem is that God demands and expects absolute obedience. Absolutely! Best effort is not acceptable. “I’m improving, progressing, moving along in my walk,” is not acceptable. For God requires, demands, and rightly expects absolute and immediate perfection in obedience to all that He has commanded. And His absolute demand is not only in relation to what we do but, most importantly, to what we are. He requires perfection not only in what we do, but in what we are.

So any effort made by a person who is not and cannot be perfect, cannot and never will be perfection, no matter how Herculean the effort we put forth. The clothing of our efforts is itself cheap, tawdry, raggedy, filthy, unfit to cover a person who is sinful and disobedient in nature. That clothing, if you will pardon the bad metaphor, is like trying to cover a pair of ugly legs with a pair of shorts. They will never bring forth fruit fit for the glory of God always falling short.

The confirmation class youth was correct. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in cheap clothing.” The clothing of the righteousness of our own making seems to us to be as costly as silver or gold, but is indeed cheap, coming up short, and worthless as a filthy rag in the sight of the God who demands perfection. And the false prophets who demand perfection, or tout the perfection of life as the sign of one’s salvation are ferocious wolves. The fruit they bring forth in life may appear to be holiness and righteousness, good deeds, the glory of God. But all of that falls short and deceives us into thinking that God is satisfied, even delighted with what it is we do and have done. They would point us to ourselves and to our efforts, our growth in holy living, as if we were perfectable. But we continually fall short and are well aware of it in ourselves no matter how much we may deny it. And that is where we get eaten up. Our doubts about our faith, about God’s goodness, the effectiveness of God’s Word loom large because we have been directed toward the wrong thing, toward things which seem important and costly to human understanding and thinking. But God directs us toward the stumbling block of Christ.

God does something which appears to be worthless, coming up short. He gives His Son into death, ignominious, torturous, tragic death on the cross for crimes He did not commit. Jesus, the Son of God, willingly gives up His life for the unrighteous, worthless sinners, enemies of God, you and me. He takes on Himself our sins and dies under their weight, because of them. He dies in our place because we have a desire to be clothed in the cheap clothing of our own works and merit, wanting God’s favor because we have done something or accomplished success in God’s sight. He died because we have denied the power and effect of our sin, despite the fact that we know we have fallen short.

There on the cross God has done the impossible. He has exchanged the precious life of His son for the worthless lives of His creatures who separated themselves from Him. He has taken the shame of punishment and death in their stead, and paid the price for their sin. He has given the most costly sacrifice which paid for sin once for all, accomplishing our freedom, and has given that freedom from death and guilt of sin freely, and free of cost to us. The costly becomes free! We are not clothed with our own efforts, which accomplish nothing. It is not because we have plunged deeper, reached higher, run stronger, beaten ourselves longer, read more Scripture, or prayed more fervently, but we are clothed with the righteous accomplishment of Christ on the cross and His merit which has worked everything perfectly for us. Christ has paid for the sin of all mankind. Peter tells us in his first letter that we were not redeemed with silver or gold which perish, but with the precious blood of Christ. God’s favor, or grace, to us is not cheap clothing, but costly. God’s favor or grace to us is free. It has cost Him, and He has gladly born that cost and not required repayment by us.

God has not let it up to us to lay the foundation of the house which will stand up to the storms of floods of life. He Himself has laid that foundation in Christ. Even its delivery is not C.O.D. but free. But, again, in God’s own fashion, the delivery is made in ordinary ways, which seem cheap to us sinful human beings that are looking for the spectacular. God comes to us in human words, in the very words concerning Jesus Christ and His death, which pays for sin, restores us to God’s favor, and therefore destroys the hold that death has on us. God comes to us in words concerning Christ’s resurrection which assure us that Christ is indeed risen from the dead, and because He is risen, we, too, shall rise from the dead on the Day of Judgement and live with Christ forever in heaven.

Words don’t seem that powerful. They are too ordinary. Where are the big building blocks I am supposed to use to build my house of faith? Where is the spectacular experience and sensation of something fantastic happening? Where is the overwhelming response I have? Where is that fire of the Spirit, being taken out of myself and transported to a higher plane? Since those things look to me and to what I expect, they are cheap clothing. It is in the ordinary words of the message of Christ’s forgiveness, the Word of God which accomplishes God’s purposes; not ours. The costly clothing of the precious blood of Christ which covers sin is brought to us in that Word of God.

The precious and costly robe of the blood of Christ is brought to us in the unassuming washing of Baptism. Baptism, that action which many regard as insignificant and merely symbolic because it has nothing to do with our action, will, or decision, is the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit says Paul in Titus 3. In Romans 6 He instructs us that we “who were baptized in Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” The precious blood shed in shame on the cross is brought to us to effect forgiveness and new birth in that action of baptism. Why? Because of the pomp, the ceremony, the pastor? No! Those are cheap things which perish. It is because the promise of God connects us in that washing to the cross of Christ and more! No less than the apostle Peter in his first letter tells us, “Baptism now saves you also. It saves you by the resurrection of Christ.” Since the death of Christ is brought to us in the washing of baptism, it is the death of the power of sin over us. The resurrection of Christ is also worked in us there in that washing of new birth as the new creation which the Holy Spirit alone can produce is brought to life in us. It does this not because it is we who perform it, but because God is the one who baptizes us. Baptism, which appears to be nothing, clothes us in the costly clothing of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another gift of God which seems to be cheap and nothing in the estimation of human reason is the Holy Supper of our Lord. Holy Communion is seen by some as ineffective because it is simply a ceremony and involves nothing of our action, except our remembrance. It can be nothing more than bread and (God forbid) wine, because nothing else makes sense to my cheap understanding. In truth, it has nothing to do with our having plunged deeper, reached higher, run stronger, beaten ourselves longer, read more Scripture, or prayed more fervently. This Supper is nothing less than Christ Himself coming to be with us and in us. It is His promise (and He cannot lie) that together with the simple and ordinary bread and wine which appear to be nothing, He gives us His precious body and blood which were delivered for the forgiveness of our sins. This forgiveness is delivered free and freely here, unqualified as we are to receive it. Nevertheless, we receive Christ and His gifts here by faith, trusting His Word, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” We receive that costly clothing of the precious blood of Christ for our rescue from sin and death. God looks on us sinners with His favor because of Jesus’ righteousness and sacrifice for us. He sees the precious robe of Jesus on us.

God gives the costly clothing of Christ to cover us. As God has required of us complete and perfect obedience to His law, He has provided it for us and to us in Christ. As God has required of us perfection of being, He has provided it for us in the sinless being of our brother Jesus. Everything God has required of us He granted to us for the sake of the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has clothed us in the wedding garment required to live in His presence, because of Jesus. He has provided us with faith in Christ by His own Word, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They are not cheap clothing because they do not require our effort. They are precious clothing because they are the result of Christ’s work for us.

“Beware of those who come to You in sheep’s clothing.'” The false prophets are those who require our action and decision and effort for God’s grace to be effective in our lives. The fruit of that ferocious teaching is the loss of our certainty of God’s favor, the emphasis on ourselves, and eventually losing sight of Christ Himself. Those thornbushes and thistles cannot bring forth the fruit of the Spirit, faith, comfort and joy. Nor can they provide the foundation of life they purport to supply.

The foundation laid in our effort or decision is sand. It shifts as we shift. It slides as we face the storms of life and the rising tides. The foundation of Christ and His promises, as ordinary as they seem, and as much as they are attacked, are the only certainty for us. Look to Christ and His cross. His promise is new birth in your baptism, a solid foundation because its power comes from outside of you. His promise is forgiveness through His body and blood in His Holy Supper, a solid foundation because it is God’s gift delivered to you. This foundation is built on the solid rock of Christ alone, which we also receive through the spoken and written Word of the Bible, and not upon ourselves. He alone will withstand the storms and floods of sin, death and doubt, for He has clothed us in the precious robe of His forgiveness and holiness. Amen




I remembered this one from a while back.  I sometimes listen to the Lutheran Hour while geting ready for church on Sunday morning.

I am pleased that the local non-demon./Baptist radio station now runs The-Lutheran-Hour as part of their Sunday lineup of programming.



Any thoughts about the sermon?


You can read the entire sermon at “Shorts-and-Cheap-Clothing”





Psalm 51

10, 11, 12

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.




 I often find that I am unwilling.  Unable.


But my Lord is always willing to save me, yet once again, and bring me home.

And again, I stray.  And I continue to pray David’s prayer.






In praise of “going through the motions”


By Glen Scrivener of Christ-the-Truth

Isaiah warned us and Jesus repeated it – it’s hypocritical to honour the Lord with your lips while your heart is far from Him (Isaiah 29:13; Mark 15:8). It’s something I pray about every Sunday, “As I preach or pray or sing, may my lips and my heart be set on the Lord Jesus.” But there’s another danger. We can react the other way and disdain anything ‘external’. We say to the world: “I reject ‘works’, I’m all about the inward life.” And so we’re constantly taking our spiritual temperatures. We neglect ritual (as though it always leads to ritualism). And we start to think of faith as a thing – the one really meritorious work! The faith-works polarity becomes, in our thinking, an internal-external polarity. Internal – good. External – bad. We start to imagine that mental acts are good old grace while physical acts are nasty old law. But that’s not how it is. There can be a crippling legalism of the heart (ever felt it?) and there can be a wonderful liberation in gospel rituals (ever experienced that?). Take communion. Please. No but seriously, take it. Because here is a gospel ritual which, because it is external, brings home the grace of Jesus all the stronger. We are not (or at least we should not be!) memorialists. Jesus has not left us a mental duty with the bread and wine as mere thought prompters. We have been left a meal. To chew. And to gulp down. There are motions to go through. And they are the same motions we performed last week. And the week before that. But here’s the thing – these motions are means of God’s grace and not in spite of their externalism but because they are external. Here is a gift that comes to you from outside yourself. And it comes apart from your internal state. But nonetheless it is for you – sinner that you are. So take it regardless of whether your heart is white-hot with religious zeal. Take it regardless of whether you are really, really mindful of the gravity of it all. And as the minister prays the prayer of consecration and your mind wanders… oh well. Don’t ask him to start again. Go through the motions I say. Your heart is meant to catch up with the motions. That’s why the motions were given. Because our hearts are weak and not to be trusted. So allow the Word to come to you from beyond. Allow Him to love you first. Don’t disdain ‘going through the motions.’ For many on a Sunday – those grieving or sick or gripped by depression – they need to be carried along by these motions. And for all of us – if we’re going to be people of grace, we need these externals.




Nice job, Glen!


You are another non-Lutheran who gets it.