The Researchers are Coming to Get You!

An article from the Life Issues Institute’s website ( entitled “I’m Pro-Life and Oppose Embryonic Stem Cell Research” by J.C. Willke, M.D. describes in depth the growth pattern and process for a “fertilized egg” to the later stages of a fetus’ development.  The quote he made that stands out to me the most defines, I think, the discussion of when life begins.  “The biologic fact is that from day one, inside and then outside of the uterus, this is one continuous, uninterrupted period of growth and development.”  Effectively, he is saying that life begins when the mother and the father literally come together and form a living creature, even if it starts as a single-celled organism.

Using embryonic stem cells for research is like finding out that we can take required, vital organs out of a living, active person and use them to test ways to make our lives better.  I am not referring to the taking organs from people who are already dead, or have donated their bodies to science.  I’m talking about “researchers” walking into classrooms, or businesses, or libraries, or grocery stores and grabbing your teacher, or your boss, or even you, and cutting us open to find parts to use to treat others.  This is ESCR.  It is taking life from living creatures for “research.”

If we assume that the life of a single-celled version of a human being is not worthy of the same protection we give animals from product testing, we will reach a point where taking people who are less “important” or “productive” for testing will become a reality.  Life is precious and a gift, no matter how old or many-celled it is.


Good Stuff Found Online

Sometimes I come across things on the web that require reposting.  This is one of those things.  Enjoy.

The humble, profound thing called preaching

 Speaking is the most human thing we can do. Lowly and normal and profound all at the same time. We can email or string video images together on You Tube but speech makes us human. Despite the circus claims of scientists and charlatans, animals such as chimps or dolphins cannot talk. Only humans, made in the image of the Triune God, the God who speaks, do that.

Which means there is hope for the sermon. If the Word became flesh, if God created with His voice, if humans are at their most human when talking, the sermon can never fully wither away. For we crave such face to face talk. The more we retreat to lonely computer stations and darkened dens, the more empty we feel. Our ears are hungry.
The human voice, aligned to the truth of ancient, Biblical, credal patterns of speech, is not an outdated mode of some sort of generic “communication,” it is itself a Christian message. To talk Christ, to proclaim, to “evangelize” in the original sense of the word, is itself a radical Christian message.When a pastor steps into the pulpit and addresses people with his voice, he is not simply imparting information that might be imparted in multiple other ways, he is showing people how to be human and how to be Christian.

The church, in holding onto the sermon, is not engaging in blind preservation and refusing to change in response to the new realities of the digital age. She is holding onto a bit of what it means to be made in the image of God, to truly be a person. We were made to speak and to listen. The Gospel is not bare information, it is a living proclamation that, in its declaration and reception, restores us to our true humanity.

From here.

Luther, the Graphic Novel?!

Well, it was only a matter of time, I guess.  And it has arrived:

Luther: The Graphic Novel

(See the sneak-peek trailer below…you can ignore the overly dramatic voice and get a look at the content)

In full disclosure, I should state that I haven’t read this book, or even looked through it, for that matter.  And I don’t think I need to in order to lay claim to the following thoughts.

If you grew up as I did, in a Lutheran home, or attended a Lutheran school as I did, you would most likely have run across these books.  The Arch Books were a part of my bedtime stories, required reading during book time in school, and something that introduced me to many of the Bible stories available to children for their learning and understanding.  “God, I’ve gotta talk to you!”, “Jonah and the Very BIG Fish”, and “SAMSON” were just some of the stories I remember hearing.  I’ve been lucky enough to read them to my son, who listens intently and makes me wait to turn the page until he’s gotten to inspect every single minutiae of every picture.  It was just one more way for us as a family to share the message of the Bible, the story of Christ, and the Works of the Lord throughout history and our lives.  I’ve been so happy to have those books in my life, and I would encourage anyone to pass them on to the children in their lives, whether it be sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, or the neighbor’s children from next door.  And what better way to spread the message of Christ than to do so through the Bible stories which can build and strengthen faith.

But there are two things which the Arch Books did not do that disappoint me.  First, they never moved beyond the realm of Bible stories into the history and material of the church.  Now, we can say that Arch Books are not intended for that purpose, and I would certainly agree.  The vehicle of the Arch Books is a proven one, and it was not applied to the next stories to come about after the Bible.  Where are the stories of Luther, or of the church’s struggles and hope throughout history?  Don’t we want to make that available as well?  What about the meaning of the cross, or the pictures of the lamb in stained windows, or the changing colors in the church throughout the year?  Those things are made available to adults, but in a format not quite as readable as Arch Books.

And the second thing which the Arch Book didn’t (and couldn’t) do was be accessible to the next level of children.  My son is aging quickly, and he’s moving beyond Arch Books.  A story, with the poetic writing and the cartoonish drawings of the Arch Book series are excellent for young children, but get left behind rather quickly as time marches on.

Enter the graphic novel!  This is an excellent idea.  The format is accessible to the youth/teenager, the cost is available to parents, and the story of Luther is a compelling one.  Bravo, CPH!  Now, can we take the Arch Books and move those stories to the graphic novel format?  The bubbly cartoons of Arch Books are just child-like enough to put off a growing child who is starting to see the world for what it is.  Let’s give them the Bible in a way that helps them understand the truth of it.


There’s a clutter in my church life…

How cluttered is your church/faith life?  I know mine is very messy.  From the choirs I sing in (yes, plural) to the Board I serve on to the Bible classes and the books to read and the things to discuss and wonder and about which to pray.  I spent so much of my time thinking about my faith life, trying to remember what I’m supposed to be doing next in my church life, how I’m supposed to fit it all in, and then wondering how to streamline my faith life and church life so that they can dovetail together.  I want my life at church to hum along like a well-oiled and maintained machine.

There’s a website I like to read called  It’s an organizational nirvana, with interesting stories about ways to align your life with your priorities and pictures of beautiful and well-maintained office spaces.  But my favorite part is “Unitasker Wednesday.”  Every Wednesday, the website’s author finds a device/tool/object that very strangely, and often times absurdly, completes only one task, and usually not very well.  This is the kind of stuff you would find on the TV at 3 o’clock in the morning, only far, far less useful.

This, of course, begs the question, “Is there some way for me to organize my faith/church life?”  A plan or system or alignment that can bring it all together and make me able to move mountains, get it all done, and still get to choir on time.  And the answer is:


There it is!  The Word of God is the ultimate Unitasker, only this one works as advertised and without fail!  All this time for working and planning and organizing, and completely missing the point!  I can spend the time I have doing things at church, being “involved” and trying my best to be a part of the church, but I’ve forgotten that I already am!  Jesus has called me to be His, to be part of His Bride the Church, in the Word with the Water in my Baptism.  He has called me by name, and given me Life Eternal in His Word.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  – Colossians 3:16-17

I don’t need to “organize” my faith life into my church life, and vice versa.  My Faith in Christ and Him crucified does it for me, not my own efforts or strength.  My priority is to read and study His Word, to listen to Him speak to me through the pages and the verses, and to repent of my desires to “be all that I can be” to the congregation.  A Faithful existence is not one filled to the brim with “church,” but one filled to the brim with God’s Word and Sacraments.  The clutter is swept away, and from that faithfulness comes the work that God has laid out for me, and the use of the talents that He has given to me to serve His church.

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in all sincerity and in faithfulness.”  – Joshua 24:14 (My confirmation verse…oddly appropriate.)

Denominationalism vs. Confessionalism

I caught this post over at Pastor Weedon’s blog.  It’s gotten me thinking so I figured I’d repost it.  So, what do you think about it?  I’ll respond tomorrow.

I’m not sure it will clarify or not, but for what it’s worth.  We in the LCMS do not accept denominationalism.  We do not believe in the branch theory of the Church.  We recognize that our practice of closed communion is exactly what would be appropriate for the entire visible Church on earth.  We believe that what we believe is precisely what every jurisdiction/communion SHOULD believe, because it is – we hold – nothing other than what the Scriptures teach.

In other words, we don’t regard those who hold to a different Confession as just “another denomination.”  We regard the other confessions to the extent they differ from ours to be falsifications of the truth.  As offensive and prideful as they may sound, it’s not intended to be anything less than what (until very recent times) EVERYONE believed about their own confession.

So we act in our communion discipline *as if* we were the legitimate heir and successor to the Catholic Church of the West.  That’s a self-understanding derived from our Lutheran Symbols.  We do not claim to be the only jurisdiction in this Catholic Church of the West, purified by the Gospel.  We recognize other particular churches around the globe in whom the same faith resides – from the churches of the Archbishop of Latvia, to the churches of the Archbishop of Kenya and the Bishop of Southern Africa and the President of the LCC, and a bunch of others.  Consequently the notion that our altars are closed to non Missourians is actually not at all accurate.

In the corrupted state of the Church in which doctrine that we cannot but regard as false and dangerous is enshrined in the confessions of other jurisdictions, this leads invariably to acknowledging in them that while members of the Church Catholic may well reside in their midst (in fact, most certainly DO), nonetheless those Churches by the acceptance of various falsehoods alongside the truth of God, cannot be acknowledged as true sister churches on a par with our Synod.  Again, I know it sounds horrific to the ears of those who think denominationally, but if you think confessionally it makes perfect sense:  confessions can be entirely pure, somewhat corrupted, or totally destructive of the Christian faith.  We tend to put almost all the other confessions (Anglican, Reformed, Roman, Orthodox) as “somewhat corrupted.”  Totally destructive would be something like a Mormon or JW confession.

So back to the assumption that an LCMS person holds the pure confession – that IS the assumption we would make, unless the person in question gives evidence that his participation at our altars is in fact a lie – that he disagrees with our Lutheran confession of the Christian faith as expressed in our Lutheran Symbols.

I’ve probably offended all my ELCA friends and many of my Missouri ones by the above, but I think it’s clear that until we can get the differing ecclesiologies understood, there’s no hope of anyone understanding our practice of responsible communion (my preferred term), which takes seriously into account the nature of one’s public profession at a given altar (where, as Pr. Speckhard says, he or she is willing to accept correction).