Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jokes & Preaching

Pastor Petersen has a worthwhile post on humor in the pulpit over at Cyberstones, and I suppose it could be categorized under Pastor McCain's recent posts:  "Because it Had to be Said."

I used to belong to a Lutheran church where sermons always seemed to begin with jokes, cheesy object lessons, or cutesy stories, and they ALWAYS seemed to undermine the death and life nature of Law and Gospel sermons.

Everyone had a good chuckle and relaxed, as nothing serious was to follow.  (Do the professors at St. Louis actually teach their students to do this?  Seriously.  Do they?)  Beginning sermons in this way seemed to be an attempt to be a good old boy and 'relevant' in an appeal to some country club style of populism.  

Every Christian should be required to read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death and consider how the terrible state of public discourse in our country might be influencing the pulpits in our churches!

Cyberbrethren: Pious Pretense and Attacks Against Faithful Shepherds

Pastor Paul T. McCain makes this very wise observation:
Congregations that refuse to abide by the faithful preaching and teaching of God's Word and force a pastor out who is carrying out his ministry faithfully but not according to the whims of the wealthy members in the congregation...
  • who want him to marry their fornicating children who refuse to stop living together,
  • who demand he commune their relatives who have long ago abandoned their Lutheran confession,
  • who demand that the pastor stop calling on inactive members because he is irritating them,
  • who insist that the pastor accept as baptismal sponsors people who have no interest in seeing the child raised in the Lutheran faith,
  • who do not want their pastor talking about the differences between church bodies,
  • who never want to hear the Law preached too specifically,
  • who want their pastor to be, more or less, their hired hand, not deserve another pastor and it is a shame when a church official allows them to receive another one!
Of course, those who attack and oppose faithful pastors do not really want a biblical pastor, like the one Pastor McCain describes above. And such sad, lost people will rarely force a pastor out honestly, for pretense and passive aggression are always their modi operandi. Instead, they write 'letters of concern' to district presidents or do their dirty work behind the scenes or through secret ballots.

They will not openly tell a district president why they are so dissatisfied with their pastor. Instead, they will point out that 'souls are leaving the church' because the pastor is not compassionate enough, caring enough, is not open to lay readers, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I wonder how often domineering women or hen-pecked husbands are behind such attacks: "Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." Isaiah 3:12

May God give 'church officials' the wisdom and character to discern the truth that such disgruntled sheep are rebelling against their faithful shepherd because they are in open rebellion against Christ, our Good Shepherd. Such deceived people, more than anyone else, are in need of the faithful shepherding that they so despise. Their souls are in grave danger.

"The curses of the ungodly can be more pleasing to God than the hallalujahs of the pious." -Martin Luther

Friday, September 28, 2007

When Pastors Fail

Pastor McCain:
Over the years I've observed as pastors are put out of office unjustly. I do not deny this happens. And that it happens, when it happens, it is a tragedy.

I have also observed as pastors are put out of their office due to their own foolish behavior and malfeasance in office. What is particularly upsetting to me is that pastors put of office due to their own fault will, more often than not, attempt to wrap themselves in the flag of "confessionalism" or "orthdoxy" and claim they are being persecuted.

Such pastors should not expect any sympathy when they fail to call on the sick, the shut-in and the dying, but instead think they have more important things to do. When they are cautioned about such behavior and ignore it and persist in it. Well, it's their own fault when finally they are asked to leave. A recent example: a pastor was asked by a family to visit mom, whom they had to put in a home. He said he would. He didn't. He was asked again. He said he would. He didn't. Foolish!

I'm not making this up. This happens, and is happening. Pastors simply failing to perform the basic duties of their office. I have experienced this first-hand with a pastor who was asked to leave after he failed to call on a person who was dying, after many requests, and this was merely one of many examples of this kind of behavior on his part. And recently another pastor who has been warned repeatedly over a good length of time, continues, defiantly, to persist in neglect of his duties.

So, make it very hard for pastors who do face persecution for being truly faithful, when you, due to your own dumb fault, are asked to leave. Enough said.

And to all the pastor out there who are being faithful, who are performing the duties of your office. Thank you! God bless.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Priesthood of all Believers, Lesson #1

"The doctrine of the Royal Priesthood is often used as an excuse to do away with any form of distinction between people. Particularly, it sets up an antagonism between the clergy and the laity, so that they are at odds with one another. This occurs time and time again. Whenever our own church body, the Missouri Synod, has addressed the Royal Priesthood in the past, it has been because there had been some type of antagonism between clergy and laity, which is sad because there is so much joy in this doctrine that is lost because it is only seen in terms of conflict." -Rev. Roger James, 9/23/07

Last Sunday, my pastor said these words as he began a new year-long Sunday Bible class series, an in-depth study of the Royal Priesthood of Believers. (Lesson #1 in mp3)

Erich and I will do our best to faithfully record all of these classes and then post them here. You can also automatically receive them by subscribing to our church's podcast, Law & Gospel at Zion.