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Archive for December 12th, 2016

A Great Rerun!

Need a little heart-warming in cold December?  This may do the trick: 

The Hallelujah Chorus by Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska, five years ago

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  1. Luther called preachers shaken by a reed, ”reed preachers”, who preach  by popular opinion in order to “…temper the truth to the sensitive fastidiousness of fashionable hearers”. Martin Luther King Jr. said of the Church that there was a time when she was like a thermostat when she preached, Thus sayeth the Lord, setting the temp;  but now the Church is more like a thermometer adjusting the message to the current temp.

  2. Then there are those preachers who teach that yes, Jesus will sure help you do the good deeds to get into heaven, if you just do good works, are purpose driven, witness to 10 people this week, give God the glory everyday. These are “grace, but” preachers.  Yes, the Lord saves by grace but you better do good works to seal the deal. The Lord has sealed the deal if you will, as it is written, 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  These “grace, but” preachers  I will call “deed preachers”. 

  3. And there are those who preach Jesus Christ for weary sinners, those who mourn, who are poor in spirit, who make for peace, all whom Jesus blessed in the Beatitudes. Preachers preaching and teaching the summation of the Scriptures in the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.  The Church catholic and confessional which preaches Jesus Christ, the fullness of God, the fullness of man, who came down to heaven, who’s Advent we celebrate as He drew near in the Womb of the Virgin Mary. For we do not preach ourselves, as it is written.  For Christ’s sake, for His Name’s sake, His preachers preach, teach and administer the Lord’s Word…not for their own name sake.  The Church with those preachers are Creed preachers. The Lord calls pastors to be Creed preachers and teachers as were the holy Apostles.

Reed, deed or Creed preachers?  We are drowning in the first two, reed and deed preachers and gasping for air to breath in the Holy Spirit preaching and teaching us Christ.

  1. John was no reed preacher, with his polling numbers in hand to tailor the message, to make millions and live in soft clothing in a mansion built by ministry dollars. They do not preach the comfort of the Gospel to law stricken sinners, but the way to be comfortable in this world which only cozies us for hell. This is what reed preachers do, 2 Peter, and this Scripture from 2,000 years ago, is so sadly apt for our day. I use the KJV because it is so precise:                                                                         But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.                                                  Notice what Peter wrote, the false teachers and prophets bring in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that BOUGHT them…” When I read it just know I slipped up on “bought” to say “brought”.  The Lord bought us with His Blood.  There are so many that deny or ignore the Atonement of Christ in His shed blood upon the cross and preach their opinions.  Nowadays the “way of truth” is spoken of as evil.  Just yesterday, a bomb was thrown into a Coptic Church, in Egypt, killing 25.  The Church and her “way of truth” is regarded as evil…as is here when Christians speak of the sanctity of life and of marriage and the way of truth is spoken of as evil.  But why do they do this?  Even churches?  So with “feigned words”, that is, fake words, “make merchandise of you”.  The Greek is now translated as “exploit” but the KJV is more to the Greek:  making the Gospel as something to be tailored to the world to make it “fit”and then make us objects, merchandise. It makes money and again look at the televangelists.   Reed preachers shake in the wind with every whim of false doctrine.  Reeds produce no fruit.

  2. John, by every account, was great in deeds: baptizing thousands upon thousands, day after day, eating locusts and wild honey, forsaking a semblance of everyday life.  Yet, John was not saved by his own holy and outstanding deeds.  He too needed to hear from the mouth of the Lord’s Christ, the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and miracle of miracles, the poor have good news preached to them. Twelve years ago, when my friend and colleague Lou Smith’s abdominal aorta burst, he did not make it to the operating room.  Before Lou was taken into the  operating room, he asked his pastor, Are the promises true? Yes, Lou, they are, said his pastor. And Lou was one of the brightest men I have ever meant and he needed to hear.  The promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus.  John in prison needed to hear that the promises are true. John was no deeds preacher, that is deeds to attain salvation which is sheer grace. When John was in Elizabeth’s womb, when the Word of Mary’s greeting came to Elizabeth’s ears we are told John leapt in the womb.  The Holy Spirit called John, formed him, saved him and out of that faith, that creed, came the deeds he was called to do, prepared beforehand to be his way of life.  For us as well.

  3. John preached the Creed that the Messiah is coming, the Coming One and out of the Creed, the Lord makes faith and from that good soil, comes forth deeds, maybe not as great as John’s, but first who are we judge?  but the fruit of love, joy and peace endures in families, churches, societies and cultures.  When we stop and think about it, John’s strict lifestyle does not compare to the fruit of love, joy, peace, self-control… They are the fruit of the Holy Spirit and are miraculous in this dark world. In this dark world, millions wanting to be heard and seen in countless tweets and blogs and nothing is remembered or cared for long, echoing in the sounds of silence. The Lord calls us to live the creed in our daily vocations, but even if they are outstanding deeds, they do not save the soul, only one deed has and will,  the deed of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.  Tell John what you hear and see, said Jesus. In John, Israel and  the world heard and saw a creed preacher. Who needs the Creed?  Is like asking who needs Christ Jesus?  The Lord gave the answer:  the blind, the lame, lepers, the poor. The Lord’s work in their lives point to the Lord that ye may know He saves.   Those know their need of the Lord.  The wretched teeming to be free because the preachers of the age, who fashion God’s Word into their own image, who are

We know only God’s good work:  Jesus Christ.  The violent, like Herod who killed all the male children under two to kill the Christ, lay violent hands on God’s reign to stop it.  They can not.  His good work won’t allow it.  It’s stupid to try to take Christ out of Christmas, the Lord has not allowed it. He seeks us to find us, keep us, hold us.  John prepared the way.  John was Elijah in every which way, including being in the cave of doubt and worry.  Oh, for a love that will not let me go.  He held John in His promises fulfilled is what He wills for you as well.

Jesus’ first formal sermon begins with the beatitudes, the first one being:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Present tense, present tense blessing from the present tense Savior.  The Lord does not ordain the great and powerful, the wise and omnicompetent to preach His Word.  Luther, days before he died, preached, it is true we are all beggars.  Jesus is the beggar king, to raise out of the depths, beggars, sinners.  He preached His sermon through the dead, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the poor, for the dead, the lame, blind, deaf, poor.  He does so gently and sweetly and tell John, what you hear and see, the  sermon of His undying love for John, for you.  Now John, in prison knows, that first beatitude, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And he hears another beatitude, And blessed is the one who does not stumble on account of me. His manger and His Cross are His sermon to us, the living Christmas card and greeting for you:  telling us what He did, is doing and will do when He comes again at the final Advent.

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