Hymnus Deo

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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Issues Etc. Cancelled

I have just learned that my favourite online radio show, the LCMS-sponsored Issues Etc., has been cancelled. In trying to discover the reason, I found out that others in blogdom have already known about this and have been trying to contact those involved in an attempt to get the show back on the air. Here are a couple of links to check out if you’re interested:

http://talkingdonkey.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/issues-etc-gone/

http://bringbackissues.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Gradual for Good Friday

Reproach has broken my heart and I am full of heaviness and I looked for some to take pity but there was none and for comforters but I found none. Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hardware Mispronunciations, pt. 3

It’s been a while since I’ve done any of these, but here are a few more:

Concreek – concrete

Pacifically – specifically (not a hardware item, but a mispronunciation anyway)

Filter head screw driver – Phillips head screw driver

Backpack mower – backpack blower (one of my favorites)

Moss balls – moth balls

Air reflector – air deflector

Wheat scraw – wheat straw

Smacklin’ – spackling

Feedamice – feeder mice

Surgical outlet – the customer was apparently referring to a surge suppressor


I’ve got enough for one more list, so I’ll save the rest for later.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A big waste of time

So I was watching TV and decided to stop by the TV Guide channel to see if anything worth watching was on tonight, when I noticed that Big Brother 9 was coming on tonight. I’ve never watched more than ten seconds of the show, an excruciating ten seconds, I might add. It was painful enough for me not to return to it again.

But Big Brother 9… that means they’ve had nine seasons of it? They’ve been doing that crap for nine years?!? And people are watching it? My goodness. Our country is worse off than I thought.

Feasting on a mountain

I was reading today’s gospel text, John 6:1-14, when a couple of details of the text stood out to me as they never had before. John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand has two details that the other Gospel writers leave out in their accounts (Matt. 14, Mark 6, Luke 9). First, John mentions that “Jesus went up on the mountain”. Secondly, John notes that “the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.”

There are numerous parallels between this and other passages that John probably had in mind. Mountains are mentioned many times in Scripture, notably as places of worship. Among other things, John probably had in mind Moses’ receiving of the Law at Sinai, where Moses received specific instructions about the worship of Israel, and where the people sinfully ate in their worship of the golden calf (1 Cor. 10:7). Later in John 6, Jesus would show the people who followed him that they were idolaters just as those in Israel of old were (vss. 26 and following). Also interesting is John’s noting of the nearness of Passover. In Moses’ meeting of Yahweh at Sinai, Israel had just celebrated their first Passover feast, and so the connection with the golden calf incident is obviously intentional.

But the passage also brought to mind the setting of the Last Supper. John tells us of the celebration of the Passover by Jesus and his disciples (John 13:1. In fact, John notes the nearness of the Passover several times – John 11:55, 12:1 – suggesting that the feast of the Passover plays more than a passing significance in his thinking and writing). He does not show the connection between Passover and what we call Holy Communion (or Holy Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper – pick your own term) as the other Gospel writers do (Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22), though the allusion to Holy Communion in John 6 has been noted by theologians through the centuries (vss. 53-56). Nor does John note that they celebrated the feast in an upper room (Mark 14:15, Luke 22:12). But this second aspect is worth noting in connection with John 6. While Jesus did not celebrate the Passover with them on a mountain, I think it may be reasonably suggested that in feasting in the upper room they were in fact symbolically feasting on a mountain, paralleling all the other passages dealing with mountains throughout Scripture. The fact that they also went out from there to the Mount of Olives would seem to relate as well.

Sometimes there are no shortcuts

Yesterday at work I overheard a couple of women talking about great Joel Osteen’s latest book is supposed to be. They only spoke of him briefly, expressing how much they love Osteen, before moving on to other topics. Whenever I hear conversations like that, I want to jump in, but often hesitate. I find when people latch onto someone like Osteen, trying to convince them that maybe he isn’t the kind of person they should be listening to is a difficult task. People become defensive when you attack their favorite icon, and often they take your words as an attack on themselves.

Osteen’s goal is in “encouraging” people and making them feel good about themselves, and people are responding in droves. As I’ve alluded to before, this is the same phenomenon that we’re currently witnessing with Barack Obama. He’s an inspirational speaker. He’s a good rhetoritician who speaks of hope and change, and no matter how vacuous the terms are he’s using, people love it. Osteen’s speech is equally vacuous, but the thousands of people who worship him hardly notice.

People of every time period want to be encouraged and want to feel good about themselves, but there’s something in the air in our own time and place that is making more people in want of these things. I’m sure a number of factors have contributed to the current zeitgeist, such as the state of war we’ve been in the past few years, attended by the increase of government intrusion into our lives in the name of “protection”, all of which has generally failed to provide the promised results. The shows on TV are more fast paced, violent, and profane. Even the TV news shows, along with the “reality” shows, are more negative than positive, carrying a sense of power and vindictiveness about them. And so when someone like Osteen comes along, smiling really big, and says lots of feel-good sorts of things, it shouldn’t be a surprise that people attach themselves to him in a emotional way.

For a lot of people, though, I would expect that Osteen provides them with a way of feeling good about themselves without dealing with their guilt. We all sin, even Christians, on a regular basis, and unless we are of the most hard-hearted of individuals, we feel guilty for at least some of those sins. We know instinctively that we can’t just sin without something being done with that sin. And there is a solution, only one solution, to that problem, and that solution is the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is in trusting in Christ’s work that we are saved, whether we are trusting in him for the first time or for the five thousandth time. I think a lot of people turn to Osteen because they haven’t heard the gospel. This should give us an impetus for evangelism in making sure those that we know not only see Christ in us, but also in telling the gospel whenever an opportunity arises.

Part of the blame, then, can rightly be laid at the feet of the church. This is true of the church in regard to her individual members, but also the church as an institution. As I have said in criticizing the institutional church before, so long as the church doesn’t preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, people will look elsewhere for answers for their guilt.

In our part of the country, we also have the problem of people simply misunderstanding the gospel and the character of God. Thanks to various false teachings, such as Weslyan/Pentecostal Perfectionism and Baptistic legalism, people can come to a number of wrong conclusions. For instance, with the kind of teaching that goes on in some Fundamentalist churches, one can easily come to think that God is cranky and stingy and really doesn’t want to forgive anyone. Or one can believe that God is ready to throw off His relationship with them the first time that person commits a sin. It is important that we emphasize the character of God, especially as expressed in the Gospel. People need to know that God isn’t fickle and petty like we are, but instead He overflows with love and forgiveness freely, not only because He is able to do so, but because He wants to.

I think, however, that the followers of Osteen have their own responsibility in this as well. If they turn to God as He requires, many know what this means for them – they will have to be accountable to someone other than themselves, and that they will have to repent of their sins. But this is not only what God requires of us. It is also what is good and right for us. And there is no other way than this to deal with our guilt. Sometimes there are no shortcuts.

So we all need prayer. Those of us who seek to represent Jesus Christ aright need prayer that we might do as we should. Those who idolize Joel Osteen need prayer, that they might turn from worshipping him to worshipping Jesus Christ. And Joel Osteen himself needs prayer, that he might turn from preaching a false gospel, to embracing and preaching the true gospel, which is the only gospel that is.

Melville on Theology

Good theology is like a good garden.

--Herman Melville, The Confidence Man

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hannity and Colmes

TONIGHT ON HANNITY AND COLMES: Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes will accomplish nothing of real value as they insult one another and talk over top of their guests, all while creating a sense of excitement to deceive you into thinking something important is happening. Don’t miss it!

Pietism...

...is driving 10 mph below the speed limit.