Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dark Knight...Old Adam revealed-darn!

If anyone hasn't seen Dark Knight, it is a great movie. Heath Ledger was an awesome Joker and Christian Bale is the best batman (at least since Val Kilmer?)

One thing that struck me about Dark Knight was how the Joker was always trying to make the Old Adam in people come out in full force. Everything the joker did he would attempt bring out the worst in people: selfishness, pride, anger, and violence. He would give them choices that would test people in their ethics and their feelings toward each other.

However, the show also did give an argument for the natural knowledge of the Law. When people were presented with options to whip each other out, they resisted because they knew something was wrong with it, although they did not know why.

God tell us that the Law is written on our heart by Him. We know that to kill our neighbor is wrong, we know that stealing is wrong, we know sexual relations outside of marriage is wrong, and although we go against the 10 commandments, we all feel a certain amount of guilt (some more than others) And when push comes to shove, often people want to do what is right.

Yet, the darkness will always be with us. As the Joker will always be against Batman, the devil will always be in battle with us and God until the final judgment. Until then, remember your Baptism, cling to the cross, go to worship each week, and receive the Sacrament.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baptism in the way?

The story goes like this...

A student at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, was lamenting the structure of the new chapel built in 1992 in a class with Dr. Norman Nagel. The student was upset with the acoustics, the color of the wall and then said, "And why do they put the baptismal font in the back of the church, it is just in the way."
At that moment, Dr. Norman Nagel slowly replied with a deep Australian accent, "Shouldn't our Baptism always get in the way?" The student was silent!
In the history of the church, the baptismal font was placed in the "front" of the church, right when you entered the sanctuary. The reason for this was because each time a member would enter worship, they would have to step aside from their normal walkway and remember what God did in Holy Baptism. It might be in the way, but it is meant for that purpose.
It is like our every day Christian life, each day we enter our vocations and often our Baptismal identity gets in the way! When we are tested to live according to worldly standards and not God's, our Baptism gets in the way and tells us how to live. When we are tempted to keep our resources only for ourselves, our Baptism reminds us of who gave us these gifts. And when we are tested to fix our eyes on things other than God, our Baptism reminds us who to keep focused on.

Our Baptism gets in the way when we want to live like the Old Adam. But what good does living like the Adam do for our lives as Christians anyways? Thank goodness our Baptism does get in the way.

"On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vacation needed: Reflections after!

From Thursday, July 17th-Saturday July 26th, my family will be on vacation in Minnesota. As everyone should do, I am halting all ministry functions, spending all my time with family, and taking time for prayer and study of the Word (after the kids are in bed)!

Spend time with your own family and reflect on all the gifts God gives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To Baptize or not baptize babies?

"Pastor, the church is basically the same, they just wait longer to baptize, like 12 or 13."

I never thought that I would hear this from someone who grew up Lutheran and was catechized relatively well! However, growing up during this "emergent" culture, I understand more of what the Lutheran reformers were dealing with when the Augsburg Confession (The first full Lutheran document written by Philip Melancthon) was written in the 16th century. Here is the 4th article concerning Baptism.

Concerning Baptism, our churches teach that Baptism is necessary for salvation and that God's grace is offered through Baptism. They teach that children are to be baptized. Being offered to God, through Baptism they are received into God's grace. Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the Baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.
(Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, AC Article IX.)

Why Baptize babies? Simply put, they are terrible sinners like you and me (Psalm 51). Actually, for anyone to confess Jesus as Lord (1 minute old or 99) they must have the Holy Spirit. And when one is baptized as a child it is just as much of a miracle as a 13 year old. Figure it this way, here is a little baby who doesn't do anything but mess their diapers, cry, and keep you up at night, but through Baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit this child can have faith? How UNAMERICAN!

If one goes to a church that "waits" to baptize individuals, simply put, there are major differences in the churches that go beyond the simple act of Baptism. It is a difference on believing on how faith comes. If you baptize infants, you truly believe that faith comes by God through the Word (Romans 10:17). If you wait, then you believe that we have something to do with belief.

My suggestion, stay at a church that baptizes infants. If the church doesn't, they are good Americans (I do it all by myself), but they have major differences with what Scripture tells us. If you have any questions on this, drop me a comment!

Chief of Sinners though I be, Jesus Shed His Blood for me

Monday, July 14, 2008

Could he have been assured of his baptism?

This is an episode from ER where a man who is dying is trying to find comfort from the "chaplain" who looks more like a supermodel. She is trying to use her will and feelings in order to make him feel better, but he is looking for something more. How would he have reacted if she would have pointed him to his baptism, or offered baptism if not baptized? Leave your comments!

Friday, July 11, 2008

What should a baptized child of God listen to for theological reflection?

I recently listened to the radio on my way to working out at the fitness center and I was listening to a Christian radio station in the area. I enjoy listening to "contemporary" music and like bands such as Third Day, Newsboys, and Steven Curtis Chapman. Obviously I don't enjoy some of the lyrics or the theology they "preach" at a concert, but I will listen on my daily drives to visits to members or to workout.

Yet, I have found the discussions of the announcers to be fluff at best. Most of the time they speak with a sensitive voice or are very preachy as if they were at a revival. There is very little if any theological discussion, Biblical thought, or proclamation of Christ. Which is why it was very refreshing for me during my Seminary career and now after to listen to a show called, "Issues Etc" with Rev. Todd Wilken. Pastor Wilken is a LCMS pastor and is one of the only radio shows that promotes apologetics and THE only Lutheran radio show that discusses deeper theological ideas. They have a new format that started on June 30th and are currently online. They discuss such things as how to analyze a good sermon from your church, debates on homosexuality, women in ministry, views on Holy Scripture, and views of the Sacraments. All of this they bring in people from the Lutheran faith and other faiths to bring effective discussion on these very important issues. Plus, they do so understanding that our identity is not based on what we do, but based on Christ, the cross, and our identity as baptized children of God.

Issues Etc is online every weekday from 3:00-5:00 p.m on You can also download previous shows on your computer or I-Pod. Check it out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Maybe I need to be rebaptized?

Two girls and a child on the way. Maybe I need to be rebaptized to make it through the day.

Actually, I should be asking my wife who is the saint in the whole deal as she stays at home and keeps everything in order.

We look forward to the Baptism to come in November or December. And not only will we have a suitcase ready full of clothes, toiletries, and a pillow when the baby comes, but also a bottle of water and a bowl just in case a baptism needs to occur after the birth!

God's Blessings to everyone as they prepare for worship this Sunday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How does a Baptized Child of God handle a poor person asking for money?

Recently we had an individual came to church asking for money for gas. He told me story after story about how he lost his job, wife, children, and self-esteem. And after our long conversation, he boldly asks me, Can you provide me with $20 for gas so I can find a job?

What would you do? As God has called us in Baptism to go and serve our neighbor (Mark 12:31). But what do we do in this situation? We as a church will usually take a person's word that they are struggling and they have no where else to go, BUT they also could be people who go to each church in the area and ask for money for drugs or alcohol. What does one do to effectively serve their neighbor with the love of Christ?

I have struggled with this for a long time. Sometimes I gave the people money and sometimes not, either way I felt guilty! This was until recently when I visited our local food pantry, Mukwonago Food Pantry in Mukwonago, WI. I met with the director, Cindy and I asked her what we should do. She said, "NEVER, NEVER give them money!" (instantly my guilt started to wane). "More than likely they are going to hundreds of churches a year and that is how they make their money. The best thing you can do is send them to the local Food Pantry and let them do their jobs." She asked me some of their names and she knew every one of them. 99.9% of the time if someone is asking you for money, it is because that is their job. It isn't because they can not work, it is because that is their work. They go to places like churches, to the people who wear their emotions on their sleeves, and swindle pastors and others.

So what is the best way to serve your neighbor as a baptized child of God? Visit your local food pantry and ask about their services for people to find jobs. If they do, then donate your money, food, services to that food pantry. Pray for the people who work at the food pantries and if someone asks you for money, then direct them to that pantry. That is how we handle individuals here at St. John's. At the Mukwonago Food Pantry, Cindy and the volunteers will work with each individual to direct them to resources to find jobs, gas cards, food, etc and lead people to move on in life and not become dependant on the food pantry. As a church, as sinners cleansed by Christ through the waters of Baptism, we are called to serve our neighbor and what better way than to let the people who work in that field do it!

For more information on the Mukwonago Food Pantry check out their website...

To God be All the Glory

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Baptism actually does something today?

I will never forget when I entered Seminary in St. Louis. We received a sheet that indicated what our education for the next four years would look like. It was layed out on a pie graph. The graph included things like spiritual and personal growth, field work, chapel, vicarage, and study time. And what confused me was what was in the middle. There was a small circle that had the words, "Baptism." "What in the world? What does that event 23 years ago have to do with my education now?" I thought to myself. I thought the Seminary was crazy, if not at least weird!

Obviously I had been greatly influenced by evangelicalism, especially the church growth movement. I thought that my spiritual life was about what I did, how I made the decisions for Christ, and the Sacraments were just some nice things to do occasionally. But with the help of a friend, I was pointed back to the basics: The Small Catechism

What does such baptizing with water signify?
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Every day that we confess our sins, we are in essence rebaptized! We drown and die, just like Jesus did and are raised to a new life. It indicates a daily renewal in the Lord and a time that our Lord picks us back up. I would also compare it to the life God gave Adam. Every morning we wake up, dead in our sins, and through our Baptism, He breathes life into our nostrils and points us back to Jesus. EVERY DAY!
This is why the LSB encourages us to make a sign on the cross when we begin with the invocation in worship. It reminds us that God has claimed us, that He is present with us, and He will point us back to His Son in this service and in every day life.
Lord Have Mercy, Christ Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Baptismal Birthday-The day it all started-Do you know it?

How many of us know our Baptismal Birthday? If you know it, post it in the comments, if you don't, I would highly suggest that you talk to your home church or find your baptismal certificate and find out the date, the pastor, and the church that you were baptized.

This is one of the missing links in the church today. I believe it was lost during the 70's-90's. I visited a gal who is 94 years old and she showed me in her bedroom a framed certificate above her bed and as I looked closer, it was her baptismal certificate given to her 94 years ago. She was taught as a child to place that above her bed to remember what God had done for her. During my childhood, I never remember a conversation on Baptism, my baptismal birthday, or any pictures of my baptism. I don't blame my parents or my godparents, because that was not something that was commonly practiced and sometimes almost discouraged because they did not want to look Catholic. But today, it is deeply needed for our young people, so they know if the identity that they have in Christ!

I would suggest to find out your baptismal birthday and the baptismal birthday of your children. When you find the date, bring out the candle, the white garment, have a cake, invite your friends over and celebrate the regeneration we received and still receive through the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Baptismal Life Every day?

"What is my purpose?", we ask ourselves as we go through each stage of life. Many in today's world constantly struggle with this question and look toward many avenues in order to answer this question. They will search little snippets of various religions (Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism), pop-evangelical literature (Purpose driven life), and most often their emotions to determine their purpose. The hope is that by researching and practicing these ideals, one will by their own will be able to discern the reason one is here on earth. However, this research ends up forgetting one, unalterable fact: the sinful flesh.

No matter how hard one works, studies, or meditates, they will never be able to fit the bill. They have a cancerous disease that permanently separates them from their God and eliminates the chance of perfection, or even a chance for moving up the ladder. Due to original sin, each human being has no good identity, but SINNER!

As individuals search for their purpose, they do so with an identity of SINNER and that identity does not do much as one stands before their Lord every morning. However, the Scriptures, point us to an identity that gives each person a purpose that goes beyond all other forms of pop-culture and doesn't even require us to do anything. And that identity is as God's Child that is proclaimed to us every day, not because of our decision or our work, but through a a few simple words, and a little water that came up on our head, which we call, HOLY BAPTISM.

Each day we start not as one's who are sinners, but as one's claimed as His Own and called to fulfill our vocation at each stage of life. This leads us to the question of the Christian life, not necessarily what is my purpose, but what does it mean to be a baptized child of God every day?

This will be the foundation of every blog posted, what does my Baptism mean every day and what does it mean from a confessional Lutheran point of view. As we continue on this journey, we will dig into God's Word, the Lutheran Confessions, and viewpoints from other religious views. May God Bless our time together as His Children under the cross of Christ!