Birth and Re-birth.

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9).

Thursday night during the World Series my wife went into labor. She wanted to stay home until it was over to make sure the Cards won before we left. (That’s my wife!) We got to the hospital around 11pm and the baby was born 6:56am Friday. Our little Labradoodle is 19in long and weighed in at 8lbs even. The Lord be praised for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

This morning Jen and I had the little girl baptized in the blood that flowed from the pierced side of Christ. We did this because infants, like our little Labradoodle, and all people who are descended from Adam and Eve, are sinners and deserves punishment because, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Out of God’s love in Christ, Labradoodle is part of the ‘all nations’ mentioned in Matthew 28 and Jesus Himself invites all children to come to Him in Luke 18.

Thank the Lord for doing this promise and work in our midst today. Despite what some teachers in the world proclaim, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21) applies to infants as well.  “Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” (Psalm 30:9).

Labradoodle being cleaned after lying on mommy.


My beautiful bride after a long night and the birth.

Labradoodle sitting up during cleaning.

Me and my baby.

A sleepy girl.

Momma and girl.

Girl in her mommy’s baptismal gown.

Not a great picture, but it’s all of us.

Jen, Labby and me by the girl’s banner.

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Romans 1:29-32

29. Having been filled in all unrighteousness, wickedness, selfish greed, malice, full of envy, murder, rivalry, deceit, malignity, insinuators, 30. slanderer, God haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventive criminal, sons disobedient to parents. 31. without discernment, treacherous, callous, merciless. 32. Though they know perfectly well God’s decree that such things are worthy of death, they not only do them, but also are in agreement with those doing them.

After Paul has listed sexual acts, as discussed yesterday, now moves on to other vices that people do. He counts all of these vices, these actions that plague consciences, as sins that deserve death. Is that fair? Yes it’s fair. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23). These vices are manifestations of sin and sin needs to be destroyed, burned up and never done again. However, these vices, these sins are things that I’m comfortable doing. It’s easy to be boastful, greedy, and merciless. It’s almost impossible to be humble, gracious, and merciful, but that is what we as forgiven sons and daughters of God are called to do. We are called to live our faith. “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17).

 

Luther Quote of the Day

I have said that in this manner one must care for the body and protect a good reputation, wife, children, and the whole household, and that, so far as possible, one must do everything that pertains to the preservation of these. For if everyone were to neglect giving attention to his own affairs and to his office, whether publicly or privately, I, too, would neglect the office entrusted to me and would be able to say: “Why do we preach, teach, and baptize?” And yet God did not create us and put us into this world that we should abandon ourselves to ease and pleasures and thus east every care upon God (1 Peter 5:7), as if there were nothing whatever for us to do. But when a person has done his duty in his own position, then indeed the success and outcome of all activities must be entrusted to God. Thus a farmer does not commit the care of his field to God in such a way that he himself does none of the things that pertain to agriculture, does not plow, and does not cultivate the land; but after doing all these things, then indeed he asks God for increase and favorable weather. If we are heard by God, let us be thankful. If not, let us bear it patiently and render due obedience, in order that we may learn what the perfect and pleasing will of God is in us (Rom. 12:2).

Luther’s works, vol. 7: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 p 115

Walther Turns 200

C.F.W. Walther turns 200 today, and this is why you should know who he is. By Travis Scholl

Many American Lutheran Christians will be marking the 200th birthday of one C. F. W. Walther today. Outside of those circles, very few will even know his name. But there are more than a few reasons why St. Louisans shouldn’t forget him.

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther was born on October 25, 1811 in Saxony, Germany. After studying theology at the University of Leipzig, he became a pastor in the town of Bräunsdorf, Saxony, and quickly became disenchanted with what he saw as coercive political entanglement with religion. Hence, he involved himself with other religious leaders and followers who coalesced into an immigrant movement to America.

They landed at the port of New Orleans in 1839, where a small group stayed and remain even today a vital part of the culture of the city. Most of the group landed in St. Louis, with another portion establishing farming settlements further south along the Mississippi River in eastern Perry county, Missouri.

Walther quickly took roots in his new Missouri home, and particularly in the burgeoning city of St. Louis. He started the first Lutheran church west of the Mississippi River, Trinity Church, which remains a thriving part of the Soulard neighborhood. He was pastor of Trinity for 46 years. Trinity Church soon spun off three other large congregations, Holy Cross in south city and Zion and Immanuel on the north side. Yet, they all wanted Walther as their pastor. So for decades Walther spent every Sunday preaching and teaching at all four places.

Before returning to St. Louis from Perry county, Walther founded Concordia Seminary, was its first professor and president, and oversaw its move to St. Louis. He taught there from 1850 until his death in 1887. He played the central role in organizing likeminded Lutherans throughout the United States in forming the church body now known as The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, serving as its founding president from 1847 to 1850, and again from 1864 to 1878.

In his spare time, Walther was a quintessential entrepreneur. He started, wrote, and edited three different magazines. He wrote numerous books, including one of the landmarks of American Lutheran theology, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. He established a publishing house, Concordia Publishing House, which still operates out of its offices on Jefferson Ave. in south city. All of which was considered the “new media” of its day.

In the midst of all this, he considered himself a proud citizen of both the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri.

He died on May 7, 1887, and was buried in Concordia Cemetary in south St. Louis, where a mausoleum now honors his gravesite. He died as the unquestioned cultural and religious leader of the largest immigrant community of nineteenth-century St. Louis.

My own personal ties to Walther are as thick as blood. My forebears were among the immigrants who traveled with Walther to America, eventually becoming part of the settlements in Perry county.

He was, of course, not without his faults. He arrived in the United States just a few years before the Civil War. And although he would have thought it inconceivable to personally own slaves, he badly waffled on the issue of slavery as an institution. And in churchly circles, his theological stridency gave him a number of enemies just as it won him many friends.

Yet, perhaps in a nod to his strict German sense of modest restraint, amid all of the institutions and communities of St. Louis that are still his heir, not a single one of them bears his name. Not even a street in his old neighborhood.

And I am certain he would have it no other way. Which is perhaps the best reason St. Louis should remember him anyway.

Romans 1:26-28

26. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. For their women exchanged natural sexual relations for ones against nature. 27. Similarly, even the men abandoning natural sexual relations with females because they were burning in their desires for one another; men in men, shamelessness perpetrating and the corresponding reward, which was in the nature of things for perversion. 28. Just as they did not approve of God in their knowledge, God gave over to their unfit minds, to do what is not fitting.

The idolatry of making God in man’s image is alive and well in many Christian churches, denominations and synods. We live in a day and age where the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church United States of America) and other ‘liberal’, ‘progressive’ or ‘social justice’ leaning church bodies in America and the world no longer call homosexuality the sin that it is. They go out of their way to show in some backwards proof-texting that homosexuality besides not being a sin, should be tolerated and welcomed with open arms and a place at the Lord’s Table. There’s even a website to help an individual find gay friendly congregations that won’t call them out on what sinners they are. As sinners those who practice this sin, just like any other sin, need to hear the full extent of the Law, not placating or psycho-babel. They need to repent, which is to turn away from their sin, which is different from saying I’m sorry while still doing it.

Never mind what St. Paul states here in Romans, or what Lev 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Come on Ed, that text was “written for certain people at a certain time.” Get real. With that mindset one can disregard the entirety of Scripture that one doesn’t like or use Scripture to support things that aren’t mentioned. Don’t commit adultery… that was only for Israel in the promised land to show their faithfulness, besides open marriages totally work, just ask that quack down the street. I really to need to go on a diet. I know, I’ll do the Daniel Diet that is based (I use that term loosely) off of Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.”

Lord have mercy!

Luther Quote of the Day

When God works, He turns His face away at first and seems to be the devil, not God. Thus in the present account His face was turned toward the harlot and the tyrant; He disregards Joseph and cherishes these alone. Thus Jeremiah also complains: “Thou art near in their mouth” (12:2). Therefore they boast that God is at their side, is well-disposed toward them, and cherishes them. “God dwells here!” they cry out. But Joseph, Jacob, and Abraham do not have this face turned toward them. This means that the devil is dwelling here. “You cannot see My face” (Ex. 33:20). For God is accustomed to lead and govern His own as is described in the song of Habakkuk: “Thy paths are in many waters, and Thy footprints are not known.”59 Likewise in Is. 30:20–21:60 “Your eyes shall see your Teacher, and your ears shall hear the word of One giving admonition behind you.” And Christ says to Peter: “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7). “You want to see My face; you want Me to do what seems to you to be advantageous and good. But I shall act in such a way that it will seem to you that some fool has done this, not God. You must see My back, not My face. You must not see My works and counsels with which I am fashioning and refashioning you according to My good pleasure. It should seem foolish to you. But you will not accept and understand these things in any other way than as if they were death and the devil himself.”

Therefore let us learn this rule and order which God is wont to employ in governing His saints. For I, too, have often attempted to prescribe to God definite methods He should use in the administration either of the church or of other matters. “Ah, Lord,” I have said, “I would like this to be done in this order, with this result!” But God would do the very opposite of what I had sought. Then the thought would come to me: “Nevertheless, my plan is not disadvantageous to the glory of God; but it will contribute very much toward the hallowing of Thy name, the gathering and increasing of Thy kingdom, and the propagation of the knowledge of Thy Word. In short, it is a very fine plan and excellently thought out.” But the Lord undoubtedly laughed at this wisdom and said: “Come now, I know that you are a wise and learned man; but it has never been My custom for Peter, Dr. Martin, or anyone else to teach, direct, govern, and lead Me. I am not a passive God. No, I am an active God who is accustomed to do the leading, ruling, and directing.”

Luther’s works, vol. 7: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 p 103-104

Romans 1:24-25

24. Therefore God handed them over into the deep desires of their hearts to desire, to dishonoring of their bodies within them, 25. such as exchanging the truth of God for falsehood and worshiped and served to the one created instead of the Creator, the one who is blessed to all eternity. Amen.

Giving in to my lusts, desires, perceived needs and the like is easy. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to ignore myself and my sinful, Ed-centered voice in my head. In fact, some days I’d rather follow those desires and give in to those temptations. Life would be easier if I made a god in my own image. A god that approved of the depravity and wretched putridity of my sin and encouraged me to do more of it. A god that praised me for the hard-work, sacrifice and service for others I do out of self-serving desires. The old man is always wanting to put God down on his own level, to put God down in the muck and the mire.

How much easier it is to worship the creature than the Creator. How much easier it is to put myself above what the Lord commands in His Law, “”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). There is nothing worse in this world than what I know than my own sinfulness. “For there is nothing in this world worse than sin” (Luther).

Yet, I do not desire sin. I abhor that I am sinful and confess my sins to God the Father, seeking His forgiveness. St. Paul in Romans 7 says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”

Thank God that St. Paul continues with Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you  free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”