The Great Joy

This morning I presided at the Holy Baptism of two children- twin boys. I was also able to preside over the course of the last five years at the Holy Baptism of their mother, two sisters, and one brother. Dad serves in the US Army and was in Iraq when the twins were born; now he has returned and the boys have been washed clean in the blood of Jesus Christ. What great joy, the Lord preserving the father of five, and the Lord saving the two little ones by His Name and promise. Lots of joy to go around. I pray that Our Father will give this family some more great joy in the future, and that He'll use me as His instrument to administer the salvation that is full and free in His Son.


New Synodical Resolution on Birth Control

...to be considered in convention this summer!

A reader alerted us on 4/27/10 to an overture for the LCMS convention on the subject of birth control. The LCMS Reporter Online now reports that the Theology and Church Relations floor committee has declined the resolution on birth control, as was easily predicted, but surprisingly it was declined with a resolution composed by the floor committee itself, as follows:

...a final resolution declines three congregation-submitted overtures -- to end all official theological talks with the ELCA; to request the Synod president not to attend ELCA Churchwide Assemblies; and to return to a Scriptural position on birth control. The committee cited the encouragement of 2Tim: 2:25 to "correct opponents with gentleness" so that God might grant them repentance as reasons for the first two declinations. As for the third overture, the committee noted that the Synod has never had an official position on birth control."

Yes, that is true. There was that strange 1981 CTCR report on sexuality referred to the synod for "study" - but it was never adopted in convention. It is also interesting to note that the recent resolution that was submitted did not claim the LCMS had its own official position on birth control. It stated the following:

Resolved, That the 2010 LCMS convention declare that the LCMS still accepts the scriptural position of Martin Luther on birth control and the position long promoted in the LCMS by such ortho- dox LCMS theologians as John H. C. Fritz, Walter Maier, Martin Nauman, Theodore Laetch, and many others.

It is precisely because the Purple Palace has never officially adopted a resolution in contradiction to the longstanding teaching of the church catholic (including 400+ years of unanimous Lutheran condemnation of contraception), that the original overture was simply suggesting that this longstanding Scriptural position of the church (the one promoted on this blog) should be acknowledged by all who honor their fathers in the faith. No resolutions need to be rescinded. The truth only needs to be reaffirmed.

The "democracy of the dead" has spoken loudly and clearly for thousands of years, and its unanimous voice has only been very recently (and quite unofficially) contradicted by the chronological snobbery of "the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about." False teaching on this subject has, indeed, been published by CPH and propagated in our seminaries, dismissing our fathers in the faith as ignorant and unenlightened while praising the likes of Margaret Sanger.


The Baby Conference

Babies: Blessing or Burden?
a conference from Vision Forum Ministries

There are very important distinctions between "Quiverfull Lutherans" and the typical Christian Reconstructionist brand of "Quiverfilling" found amongst our Reformed brothers and sisters. As the Vision Forum is distinctively Calvinist, I wonder how hard it would be to pick the bones out of this fish. Nevertheless, I have found quite a bit of the material produced by these people and their friends to be a great blessing (for instance, this book co-authored by one of the presenters at this conference).


Thou Shalt Not Steal

Ergo, Don't Have Babies

At home in the zoo

They've never used these cats in a Yaz commercial, yet, but they might as well. Cats, even the ferocious, man-eating ones, are cute.

This is in the Big Cat Country at the St. Louis Zoo. In case you can't read the text, this is what it says:

"The need for contraception in zoos may seem surprising, but it is vital for successful breeding programs. The Wildlife Contraception Center helps scientists facilitate controlled pairings. This high-tech matchmaking allows individuals to live in natural social settings. To make sure only pairs recommended by the SSP breed, some cats are put on birth control. Sometimes even the same type and brand a human would use!"

Medicating against Motherhood

Great article at the Hausvater Project by Rev. Robert C. Baker:

As the Pill Turns 50, a New Generation Seeks to Rediscover Marital Chastity

Growing Up to Be a Child

I gave this high school baccalaureate homily yesterday in Bancroft, Nebraska. It is about being child-like and open to God’s blessings, even if we don’t expect or plan on them, because we have a true, caring Father in heaven.

You are about to take a large step. You are leaving the security of your family on the way to becoming a grown-up. I'm not going to burden you with changing the world, though. Even if it were possible, that is too much to lay on someone. Instead, my advice is to be child-like.

This may be exactly what your trying to avoid, but this is what God Himself would have you do. Adults seem to have everything planned out; they act in control. That is what you are supposed to become. So, you are told to worry about your education, career, family, and success. That is quite a lot.

If you take that route, pretty soon you are worrying about how you are going to pay for your unborn child's college tuition, before you have even started college. That doesn't sound very fun. What I am saying is don't lose that child-like wonder. Don't narrow your future based on your own limited imagination. The only thing I can promise is that your future will not turn out like you have planned it. To be a in-control, set-in-stone, perfectly planned-out adult, is not possible. You have a heavenly Father who likes to chuckle at our plans. We are all children, even if we don't admit it. And that is the only way to approach the future---without depression or psychosis. Because someone else is in control.

To children, life is a mystery. They embrace the unknown and get excited about the many possibilities. They ask questions and want to know why. They think like the words of Psalm 8: When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

We really are like grass, that is here today and gone tomorrow. Old age and forgetfulness will come to us all. If you live long enough, you will likely need someone else to dress you. Don't aim to change the world. After all, fathers set their children's goals.

You have a perfect Father, who will be a father to you. In Jesus Christ, we have forgiving God, who truly cares. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" [Matt 6]

Enlightened adults act like they have it all figured out. But what joy is there in knowing the end of the story? Being a dependent child is more freeing and interesting. Children are free to make mistakes. A good father might let you skin your knee, but not break your neck.

We need a perfect Father. When sins overwhelm and your plans disintegrate, be a helpless child. Then you are strong in the heavenly Father's strength. This Father sacrificed His perfect Son Jesus, so you could be His child. So be a believing child. A loved and protected child. Don't worry about your future, but trust in His fatherly care. You are very valuable to Him, whether you have a career or not. This is the only way to have true life.

Children do not aim to be successful, they instead try to please their father. In this way, let the Lord determine your success. Be open to His blessings, even if you didn't exactly choose them. Let God worry about your future. Just enjoy what He gives you. After all, life is short on earth. We would rather be with our true Father anyway.

A song-writer [Bob Dylan] once wrote: "He not busy being born is busy dying.'' To be a child, a child of God, is to be alive. Just strive for what is right and do your best. He will lay out a good path for you. He will pick you up when you fall. Even less than perfect earthly fathers do that. A child sees each day as a gift, not a burden. Never stop learning. Even if you are done with homework, you need a Good Teacher. Jesus calls and instructs by His Word. Listen and learn from Him. He will not flunk you. He will guide you to the heavenly Father.

Classes are almost over, but there is much to learn and see and do. So much, that I hope you can say this, as a child of God, about your high school years: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now. [Bob Dylan again]" Amen.


You Must vs. You Can

When troubled or worried, I always used to tell myself that I'd just have to trust God. And, when trials would overwhelm those I love, I’d tell them as well: “You’ll just have to trust God.”

In recent times, I have instead learned to put it this way: I CAN trust God! (as in, God is entirely trustworthy, I can trust Him 100%!!!)

It’s amazing the difference there is between thinking "I
have to” and "I can.”

This is how I can go to sleep at night and face each morning with peace: “…for into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and ALL THINGS!”

Of course, this doesn’t get us off the hook from striving with our best efforts to fulfill our vocations. However, it does free us from worry and fear. Even through all our failures and sins, God will turn all things for good. We do the best we can, and only with God’s help, knowing that we can trust Him for the results. There is tremendous comfort in this attitude toward God, because it simply looks at His attitude toward us.

Like an infant in the arms of a loving parent, we CAN trust God. An infant doesn’t think: “I have to trust mom and dad.” An infant just trusts.

The Law says: You must trust the Lord.
The Gospel, on the other hand, says: You can trust the Lord!

In the Bible story depicted in stained glass in the header of this blog, Jesus says:
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
Lord, grant us all such childlike trust!


Death of a Dream

Last week was National Infertility Week. With Mother's Day coming soon, and Father's Day not long beyond, with Confirmation Sunday just recently passed for many of our congregations, it is worth pausing to remember those from whom God has withheld the blessing of children and offered instead a journey of patience. More awkwardly, we also remember those who have withheld God's blessing from themselves, only to later desire it, but not find it.

The following article traces one couple's difficult quest to conceive: Death of a Dream. The article concludes with the realization that whether childless or child rich, one must wait upon the Lord who blesses in His own manner and His own timing. Sadly, however, the article begins with a recognition (though not so clearly a regret) that the couple's recent struggle for fertility had been preceded by a five-year insistence against fertility:

When my husband and I married, we made a deal: We'd wait five years before starting a family. Five years would allow us to start our careers, be on better financial footing, and have time just for us. So when the moratorium passed, with anticipation, I stopped using birth control.

After 12 months of not taking the Pill and still buying tampons, I started to research the subject. "Eight-five percent of couples trying to conceive will become pregnant within one year." Red flag. We were already past that.

It is odd how frequently pastors emphasize in pre-marital counseling that marriage takes three--the husband, the wife, and Christ who holds them together--and yet when it comes to self-imposed infertility, so many couples follow in the path of the woman writing this article: "When my husband and I married, we made a deal...." Where was Christ in that arrangement? For five years she and her husband pushed away God's gift of children, and then after one year of failed attempts to conceive, followed by some invasive procedures, they felt their dream of having a child was dying. How alive had that dream been during their first five years of marriage?

If we, as Christians, truly want our dreams to live, we must put to death the sinful flesh, drowning that Old Adam through daily contrition and repentance, asking God to forgive us for our prior attitudes and actions that have sought to thwart His will, and to give us the strength to rightfully seek and accept His current will for our lives. We must let our own dreams die, and learn to dream the dreams that He has for us. Just as those who delayed coming to the Wedding Feast had their invitations revoked, so also God's gift of fertility may only be available for a time.


Marriage and Family - Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Robert Preus - 1988

In 1988 at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, the President of the Seminary Rev. Dr. Robert D. Preus and his lovely wife Donna were asked to give a presentation to the seminarians and their wives on the subject of marriage and family - especially as it relates to life in the parish. With the help of Apple's Garageband software, I have extracted and digitally remastered the audio from a VHS copy of the presentation provided to me by Rev. M. L. F. Freiberg in May of 2007.

This 94 minute presentation is a treasure trove for not only seminarians and pastors, but for all parents.

You can right click and download this MP3 and listen to it on your iPod or another MP3 player if you wish. You will want to listen to this several times to mine all of the gold nuggets contained therein. In addition, here is a PDF of the handout of Bible verses Dr. Preus mentions in the discussion.