Missionary from the Mid-South District of the LCMS

Kudos and God’s blessings to Katelyn Hiett from one of our sister congregations in the Mid-South District, Nashville North-South Circuit.  Katelyn is in the deaconess program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and will be embarking on a mission to serve an orphanage in Ntshogweni, South Africa.  Katelyn works with Hands of Mercy, a recognized service organization of the LCMS, in Yambio, South Sudan, to encourage people with disabilities and “train them in marketable skills to provide for their livelihood.”  Katelyn has started a blog to chronicle her mission that begins in August.  We’ll be following Katelyn on this blog as well.  An excerpt from her first blog post introducing her new mission is below.  You can also find out more about Mid-South Missions here.

“Not by Might” says the Lord

It is quiet and dark outside and the early morning dew has yet to set in. The rest of America is still sleeping, but I am wide awake. I suppose that is what 36 plus hours in transit from the other side of the world will do to a body. I have returned, now for the third time from Yambio, South Sudan where I work as a missionary deaconess for Hands of Mercy. For those of you who maybe are not so familiar with Hands of Mercy, it is an outreach of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan to people with disabilities. My involvement began when I was sent to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN to begin my deaconess training. There I met Deaconess Pat Nuffer, founder of Hands of Mercy. Ever since it began in 2005, she has been going back and forth to Yambio to continue the church’s outreach to people with disabilities and to further strengthen Hands of Mercy as it moves toward self sustainability. It has been that goal which HOM has striven toward since its inception. As one might suspect, achieving it in a cultural context where war, disease, and poverty dominate is a bit of a challenge to say the least. It has taken quite a while and has been an uphill climb for Hands of Mercy to be in such good position to actually make this long time goal a reality.

Self sustainability is a buzz word among NGOs and non-profits working in the third world, and most especially in Africa. If anything is true, the way to self sustainability takes an almost inhuman measure of patience and perseverance. A measure I certainly have not attained to, but am learning well under the direction of Pat. This recent trip to Yambio brought to the fore the message God gave to Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts (4:6).”

Read the entire post here:  four degrees north: “Not by Might” says the Lord.

From Heaven Above to Earth I Come — The Trajectory of Worship from Christianity Today

Christianity Today magazine has been doing a series on worship and music in the church.  This article by John Koessler, Professor of Pastoral Studies at the Moody Bible Institute was published in the March edition of the magazine:  The Trajectory of Worship | Christianity Today.

CT has looked at the worship wars affecting the wider evangelical church, and music has been on the radar screen of late.  Koessler notes that a lot of the music in the church today annoys him.  He suggests that, based on his experience as a youth singing campfire round songs during the week and hymns during the day, that the music being pushed and played in many congregations really is not appropriate for worship.  Koessler notes that our conception of worship generally focuses on man — what I am doing in worship.  And so it becomes an earth to heaven action rather than a heaven to earth action.  Koessler observes that Scripture paints a different portrait of worship:  Worship always begins with God and comes to earth.   Continue reading “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come — The Trajectory of Worship from Christianity Today”

Post from Concordia Theology » One

A thoughtful post entitled “One” from Professor Jeff Kloha at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis raises some interesting questions.  “But what if Acts 2 was not really about stuff we should try to copy? What if this Word was not given as a mere model for us to try — and fail — to emulate? What if Luke is writing down Pentecost to show us who we are (have been made) in Christ?”

These questions identify one of the key issues facing the church today — we are so busy trying to “do” church, reinvent it so that we can “get people saved” that we forget to BE who we “ARE” and who we have been created to be in Christ. In fact, in many cases I do not think that local churches know who we are or are supposed to be. We fall too easily into the trap of measuring success on the basis of objective standards and corporate metrics and are led into a spiritual blindness that cannot see who we are and what we are to be not what example to follow, model to implement or what we are to do. The doing comes from being creatures of the Creator, sons and daughters of the King, unite in the ONE body of Christ.

We all have a different idea of which example to follow, which standard to use, and how to measure what success looks like in the church.  In doing so we try to make church appealing to the masses of unchurched folks, because, after all, that is what “doing church” is.  In trying to appeal to the culture, we succumb to the post-modern mind-set of truth being relative, and the right way of “doing church” is what I or the individual local congregation say it is.  Rather than trusting in the Word of God and receiving the blessings of forgiveness and the Sacraments in faith, and being who we are created to be, we would rather reinvent the Body to appeal to our conception of what it ought to be.  It is real easy then to dismiss those who do not agree as foolish, divisive, heretical and just plain wrong.  Butt then again, the Glory Story is generally the one we favor, rather than the bloody mess of the deadly, life-giving Cross that re-forms us and restores us fully to the Creatures we are.  If we are truly sons and daughters of the King of Kings, of the Triune God, shouldn’t we be sons and daughters?

Concordia Theology » One.

For All Parents: Tenn. Law Bans Posting Images that Viewers MIGHT Find Offensive

Tennessee recently enacted legislation making it a crime to post images online that viewers might find offensive.  “A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.”  Read the whole article here:  Tenn. law bans posting images that.

The poster does not even intend to offend someone or post an image of the person who takes offense or “suffers emotional distress.”   There only need be the “reasonable expectation that the image be viewed by the victim.”  The “offensiveness” is totally dependent on the reaction of the viewer!  It is a subjective standard without any real objectivity.  The law paints with pretty broad strokes and leaves a lot of questions open.  Needless to say, we need to take better care of our online activities.  Images and activities can crop up in job interviews, or applications to colleges and universities.  They have a way of creeping into lawsuits to show the character of a person, and undermine their credibility.  For parents, we need to do a better job of monitoring our children’s online activities.  Tennessee’s revised law (the legislation amends T. C. A. 39-17-308 on harrassment) makes the activity described above a delinquent act, punishable by up to 30 days of “community service, without compensation, for charitable or government agencies as determined by the court.”  The new law takes effect July 1, 2011, so parents, take some time to discuss with your children responsible use of the internet and social networking sites.

The Proper Work of God and The Alien Work of God

The proper work of God is the work of the Gospel, that is, to create mercy and forgiveness.  God makes peace, righteousness, mercy, joy, love, truth, patience, kindness, and health.   God is the Creator.  He creates.  God creates that which pleases Him and calls it good.  The Gospel.

The alien work of God is condemnation and judgment upon sin.  It is the crucifixion and destruction of the old Adam;  the suffering and death of Christ;  the satisfaction of His justice and holiness; the punishment of sin;  chastisement and discipline of His children.  Justice.  God’s Law.

Hans Holbein the Younger, Allegory of the Old and New Testaments, c. 1524, oil on wood, 49 X 61 cm. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

“It is as if he were saying: “Because you scoff at the Word, the Lord is forced to do a strange work, namely, to judge and to destroy.” For the proper work and nature of God is to save. But when our flesh is so evil that it cannot be saved by God’s proper work, it is necessary for it to be saved by His alien work. Because in good times we stroll and stray from the Word, our covers have to be made narrow, and we must be disciplined by various afflictions so that we may be saved by God’s alien work; the ungodly are altogether driven by God’s proper and foreign work because they   V 16, p 234  do not want to get under these narrow covers but want to stretch out in their own. Meanwhile God keeps His own by means of the cross and narrow covers and thus separates them from the ungodly. This is God’s alien work, by which He condemns the ungodly, so that we may be saved. So you see that our flesh is outwardly indulgent when it is without the cross, and therefore various afflictions are necessary to control that flesh.”

Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 16: Luther’s works, vol. 16 : Lectures on Isaiah: Chapters 1-39 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (Is 28:21). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

I have been basking in the glow of the Ascension of Christ and meditating on the mystery of this God-Man who has received all authority in heaven and in earth from God the Father.  He now sits at the right hand of power, and reigns and rules over all creation and heaven as the only begotten Son of the Father.  The right hand is not located in time and space, but transcends it.  It is a mystery how this right hand of power can be at the same time in heaven, yet everywhere.  For Christ cannot be truly God and man if He is limited in time and space.  He would not then be part of the economy of the Trinity, being less than the Father and the Spirit.  No, he IS truly God and truly Man, fully human.  John describes this God Man, the risen and ascended Christ in his vision in the book of Revelation.  Christ lives and rules and reigns in through and among us.  To Him be all glory and honor and and power forever and ever!  Amen!

Vision of the Son of Man

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


Article from Concordia Theology » Reframing the Story: The End of the Emergent Conversation

Concordia Theology » Reframing the Story: The End of the Emergent Conversation.

      For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  Romans 1:16.
The is an absolutely fascinating and thorough review of the effects of post-modernism on the body of Christ and review of the the spiritual, but not religious movement in the church.  Carol Geisler does a terrific job of summarizing the theological underpinnings of the so-called “Emerging Church” movement in Christianity.  This is the movement that says historical Christianity, grandma and grandpa’s church, Cardinal John Henry Newman’s church, Pope Benedict’s church, Luther’s church, St. Augustine’s church, Christ’s church, is not for today’s modern, spiritual seeker.  I may have more on this article after having the opportunity to thoroughly digest it, but for now it has been re-published in its entirety below:

by Carol Geisler

Carol Geisler works at Lutheran Hour Ministries and the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations. A former teacher and principal, she earned the Ph.D. in historical theology from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

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The emergent church movement is by no means a new conversation (the description preferred by its advocates) but the discussion continues to attract mainline denominations searching for practical ideas in ministry. Emergent interests such as social networks, personal stories, and “authentic” spiritual experiences are pursued to reach the unchurched or to encourage a generation of young Christians. Admiration between denominations and emergents is something of a one way street, however, as emergent advocates tend to regard the denominations (sometimes referred to as “tribes” or “villages”) with a certain amount of disdain. There are emergents from many tribes, including Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans, but emergent theologian Tony Jones comments, “In the end, the new definition of ‘Christian’ may not be what particular doctrines one believes or which flavor of church to which one belongs but whether (and how thoroughly) one is woven into the fabric of global Christianity.”[1] The language and practices discussed in the emergent conversation also attract listeners from the Missouri Synod tribe eager for new ideas in evangelism. Before Lutherans join whole-heartedly in the conversation they may want to consider the discussion’s general direction because it is not an open-ended dialogue. What do its leading voices have to say? What will the fabric of global Christianity look like when the conversation ends and the emergent reweaving is complete? Continue reading “Article from Concordia Theology » Reframing the Story: The End of the Emergent Conversation”