I’m very thankful

today for the leadership that we in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have in Rev. Matthew Harrison. Here are his opening remarks when testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform: “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

Here is his video:

Here is the transcript:

“Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We don’t distribute voters’ lists. We don’t have a Washington office. We are studiously non-partisan, so much so that we’re often criticized for being quietistic.

“I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, ‘I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.’

“We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.

“We have the nation’s only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.

“I’m here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer … system. Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.

“We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

“We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.”


LC-MS President Harrison responds to President Obama

Here are both a video and written respons from Pres. Harrison to Pres Obama’s HHS ‘compromise’.

 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In response to President Obama’s announcement Friday concerning an “accommodation” to a previous mandate that health plans must cover all forms of birth control (even those that can kill the unborn), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) remains deeply concerned. We strongly object to the use of drugs and procedures that are used to take the lives of unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception. Drugs such as “Plan B” and “Ella,” which are still included in the mandate, can work post-conception to cause the death of the developing child, so don’t be fooled by statements to the contrary.

We see President Obama’s action Friday as significant, in that it appears to have been prompted by the many voices united in concern over an infringement of our religious liberties. But the “accommodation” did not expand the exemption for religious employers, nor did it restrict the mandate in any way. It simply described a temporary enforcement delay and a possible future change—a change that, unfortunately, would not adequately protect religious freedom or unborn lives.

We remain opposed to this mandate because it runs counter to the biblical truth of the sanctity of human life. We are committed to working to ensure that we remain free to practice the teachings of our faith, that our religious rights are not violated, and that our rights of conscience are retained. Freedom of religion extends beyond the practice of our faith in houses of worship. We must be free to put our faith into action in the public square, and, in response to Christ’s call, demonstrate His mercy through our love and compassion for all people according to the clear mandate of Holy Scripture.

The government has overstepped its bounds. This controversy is not merely about “birth control” and the Catholic Church’s views about it. It’s about mandating that we provide medications which kill life in the womb. And moreover, and perhaps even more ominous, it is about an overzealous government forcing coercive provisions that violate the consciences and rights of its citizens. We can no longer expect a favored position for Christianity in this country. But we can, as citizens of this great nation, fight for constitutional sanity against secularizing forces. As we have vividly experienced in discriminatory state legislation with respect to homosexual adoption, we, and our institutions (and those of other religious citizens of good will), are being robbed of the right to the free exercise of religion absent government intrusion or threat. The next assault will come upon church-related retirement facilities. How much longer will it be legal in this country to believe and act according to the dictates of biblical and creedal Christianity?

Jesus bids us, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). We will pray for and support our government where we can, but our consciences and lives belong to God.

In His peace,

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Tim Tebow’s Fire

John Parr has gone and done it. He’s updated his #1 hit St. Elmo’s Fire into a song that gives tribute to Tim Tebow. I have to say that I’m offended. Why? It’s not because the song is about Tim Tebow, or even because I can’t get this terrible song out of my head. I’m offended because I like the movie St. Elmo’s fire.

Here’s the terribleness in all of it’s terribleness. Below it are the lyrics.

Growin’ up
Gotta keep your eye on the ball

Make it fly,

Give it everything, give your all

But maybe sometimes if you feel the pain
You’ll find you’re all alone
Everything has changed

Play the game
You know you can’t quit until it’s won
Soldier on
Only you can do what must be done

You know I’m out there

Down on one knee
a prisoner
And I’m tryin’ to break free

CHORUS:

I can see a new horizon
Underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s
Flyin’ higher and higher

Gonna be a man in motion

All I needs my Broncos team
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebows Fire

Oooh…

Burnin’ up
Don’t know just how far that I can go
(Just how far I go)
Soon be home
Only just 4 downs to go
I can make it
I know I can
You broke the boy in me
But you won’t break the man

(CHORUS)

I can see a new horizon
blazin on the Mile High
I’ll be where the eagle’s
Flyin’ higher and higher

Gonna be your man in motion

All I needs my Broncos team
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebows Fire

I can climb the highest mountain
These Broncos cant be beat
I can feel St Elmo’s Fire burnin’ in me
Burnin’ in me

Just once in his life
A man has his time
And my time is now
And I’m comin’ alive

I can hear the music playin’
I can see the banners fly
Feel like a man again

I’ll hold my head high
Gonna be a man in motion
These broncos can’t be beat
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebow’s fire

(CHORUS)

I can climb the highest mountain
Cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo’s Fire burnin’ in me

Burnin’
Burnin’ in me
I can feel it burnin’
Oooh, burnin’ inside of me

Here is a poem by C. S. Lewis and a recording of the carol “The Friendly Beasts” by Sufjan Stevens. Merry Christmas everyone!

The Nativity

Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So May my beast like folly learn at least
The patience of the beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
O that my healing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!
(C. S. Lewis)

Mixed Martial Arts for Jesus

A few day ago a fellow LC-MS Pastor, although one can’t tell, had on his blog the success of an outreach event at his church that involved the largest MMA (mixed martial arts) event in Arkansas history. This totally makes sense because didn’t Jesus say “love thy neighbor as thyself by punching and kicking them until they tap out.” 

Fellow Lutherans can just get me mad. 

Here’s the link to the blog post.

Here’s a video from Pr. Fiene at Lutheran Satire as a response: