Archive for Steadfast Lutherans

Sermon — Pr. Martin Noland — With God Nothing is Impossible

Text: Luke 1:26-38
Fourth Sunday in Advent; Series B

nothingisimpossiblewithGodpostersmallWhen I was a doctoral student at The Union Theological Seminary in New York City, I avoided getting into arguments about theology and the Bible with my classmates or professors as much as possible.  I got the impression that I was the only student there who believed that the miracles reported in the Bible actually happened.  I was at that school in order to learn about the history of Christianity, not to try to make “converts” to my beliefs or the position of my church.

However, there was one day at lunch in the cafeteria, that a student–whose name I don’t remember–decided he would make a fool out of me.  He . . . Read All

Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies: Christmas and Sigillaria

Do the Nativity sets Christians use actually have their origins in the pagan Roman festival called Sigillaria?

Sigillaria

Macrobius in Saturnalia 1.11.46-50 discusses the Sigillaria–a festival that involves the purchase and giving of little human figures and candles. The fact that little figurines were used in this pagan Roman festival is the basis for the claim that Christians stole this idea to make their own Nativity Sets. This festival, Sigillaria, seems to have been a market day rather than a religious feast, but is closely associated with Saturnalia. And there too, the date has nothing to do with the dates chosen by the early Church for Christmas. [full text from Schmid’s article]

 

When was Sigillaria?

Macrobius’ Saturnalia. . . Read All

“Mary, What DID You Know?” (Sermon on Luke 1:26-38, by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

“Mary, What DID You Know?” (Luke 1:26-38)

Every year several of the radio stations in St. Louis start playing nothing but Christmas music. I think they start sometime around mid-August, but that’s beside the point. They play Christmas music, and a few of the songs even have something to do with the birth of Christ. Yes, it’s true! And one of the most popular of these songs is a song called, “Mary, Did You Know?” You’ve probably heard it, I’m guessing. The idea of the song is that someone is asking Mary, the mother of our Lord, if she knew what would become of her son. Did she know at the time of his birth what her son would do . . . Read All

Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — The Quest for Light and Life

Christmas Eve – 12/24/2014
Sermon Text: Luke 2:1-20

 

Audio Text:

Come back later for audio of this sermon.

 

In the Name X of Jesus.  AMEN!

Beloved in the Lord,

Going about darkness walking about in Death

Steadfast Sermons GraphicOn this night of nights we gather about in this place because long ago a virgin was with child.  Betrothed to her Joseph, Mary of the house and lineage of David, was found with child.  She knew no man, not even Joseph, before conceiving.  And she knew no man, not even Joseph, before giving birth.  Mary was pure and Joseph was righteous.

On this night of nights we gather about in this place because long ago this blessed virgin Mary, gave birth . . . Read All

Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies: Christmas and Juvenalia

Did Christianity Steal the Date of Pagan Winter Solstice Celebrations? Juvenalia is one of those Roman festivals that is claimed as a winter solstice celebration that was borrowed or baptized by Christians for Christmas. But was it even a winter solstice celebration?

The Mis-Use of Roman Records-Juvenalia

Nero ruled 54-68 A.D. (before his first shave?)

When modern critics of Christian Christmas make claims that Christians stole the solstice celebrations they usually mix together their ideas of Roman, Germanic, Nordic, and Celtic winter celebrations into an anachronistic mash or impossibly conflicting claims. The method is to overwhelm people with their supposed “information.” There is just too much data for the average person to absorb. Viewers and readers assume that the people

. . . Read All

Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Responding to Evangelical Prooftexts

 

Responding to Evangelical Prooftexts

The idea that “God won’t give us more than we can handle” is pretty common these days. I even had to gently correct my wife on this matter a couple days ago. Pop Evangelicalism has morphed 1 Corinthians 10:13 from the idea that God protects us from our own weakness to “what doesn’t kills us makes us stronger.”

. . . Read All

Contending for Creches and Crucifixes

crucifix1            Nativity crèches (mangers) are popular and acceptable at Christmas time among Christians yet resistance or misunderstanding accompanies the use of crucifixes. Both are graven images and yet we find the graven image of Jesus in a crèche acceptable while the graven image of Jesus on a cross is not. Christ on a cross leaves us unsettled and supposedly is a violation of the Second Commandment. What is going on?

For starters let us go back to the Ten Commandments and realize three versions of the Commandments exist: 1) the most ancient versions still used by the Jews, 2) a system developed by St. Augustine embraced by Rome, Lutherans, Anglicans and a few others, and 3) one used by Evangelicals and . . . Read All

Great Stuff — Creches and Crucifixes

Another great article found over on LetItStet.com:

 

crucifix1Crucifixes can scare Lutherans.

Even good Lutherans.

The kinds of Lutherans who like to sing hymns with their families on Christmas Eve and who write checks each Sunday and who love their pastor right down to his white socks and black shoes.

Oops.

That’s their seminarian.

Still, we stiffen up a little when we see a crucifix. It’s uncomfortable.

It’s not the Jesus we like. We like the Good Shepherd Jesus, the one surrounded by wandering sheep. Or the smiling Jesus, holding little children in His arms. Or the Jesus robed in white, exiting from His three-day rest in the tomb.

The Jesus on the cross is harder to stomach.

He’s . . . Read All

The Church in Need – A Hard Look at Giving – Guest post by Vanessa

641084_moneyThanks to Vanessa for this guest post.  For more by Vanessa check out her regular blog: Bible, Beer, and Babies.

No one likes to talk about money. I know of no church elder, pastor or lay member who enjoys standing in front of their congregation to talk about dollars, debts and givings.

Whether we avoid the topic due to fear of accusations of legalism or worry over ties being drawn to televangelists and word of faith scammers who cheat people out of money, promising health, wealth and promises God Himself didn’t make all for a small fee, the fact remains — we suck at talking about money. It’s uncomfortable and perhaps taboo, because we all know, people are to . . . Read All

“The Great Christmas Gift Exchange” (Sermon on Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11, by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

“The Great Christmas Gift Exchange” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

There is a game that is played at this time of year at Christmas parties all across the land. The game goes by several names, but I think most often it is called “Rob Your Neighbor,” and I’m sure many of you have played it. The rules may vary from place to place, but generally I think it goes something like this. Each person brings a gift that could go to anyone in the group, depending on how the game turns out. The gift is wrapped in a package, so you can’t tell what is inside. When it’s your turn, you pick one of the gifts. The thing is, you have nothing . . . Read All

Sermon — Pastor Tony Sikora — Mary’s Bundle of Joy

Advent III, Dec 21, 2014
Sermon Text: Luke 1:28-36

 

Audio:

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN!  Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 1st chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

Carried Along by the Word

Steadfast Sermons GraphicScripture teaches that “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2Pe 1:21 ESV)  Thus, carried along by the Holy Spirit the prophet Isaiah spoke to an unwilling, ears stopped up, stubborn, stiff necked King Ahaz.  “The Lord Himself will give you a sign.  Behold, . . . Read All

Great Stuff – Reformation of Suffering

Suffering.

The many explanations are pretty much a pile of rubbish. People suffer on without consolation. The explanations more or less just pile on, making suffering worse. Think of Job’s comforters; and let’s not be too harsh on them. Do you have three friends who will sit on the smoldering ash heap with you for seven days without saying a word? They were his friends, and good ones. But they were wrong. With good intensions, they poured salt in Job’s wounds. What is a pastor to do?The_Lamentation_of_Job's_Friends_LACMA_M_48_5_2_8

Luther faced this. He made a breakthrough. He reformed suffering. This is valuable stuff. And now, a contemporary of ours, Ronald K. Rittgers, has brought Luther’s insight forward for us in a . . . Read All

Eighth Commandment Cluster Bombing

Love is the best construction for same-sex marriage. Faith is the best construction for the existence of the ELCA. Hope is the best construction for holding to reincarnation. Charity is the best construction for Somali pirate ransoms. Joy is the best construction for Pentecostalism. Peace is the best construction for appeasement of tyrants. Kindness is the best construction for abortion. Goodness is the best construction for being obedient to the Dalai Lama. Self-control is the best construction for having yoga in church. Forbearance is the best construction for allowing adultery in the pulpit to continue.

All the above statements are ridiculous. Yet they are hardly beyond the pale in the way that the Eighth Commandment is abused in LCMS circles . . . Read All

“Inviting Some and Keeping Back Others”: Who is Welcome to the Lord’s Table?

Sacrament-AugustanaChrist established His Church on earth so that sinners might receive His gifts of Word and Sacrament. Put another way, the Church exists to give sinners Jesus.

The last thing we want to do is to put a barrier between Jesus and His people. But this can happen in a variety of ways, for example, by not coming to church, neglecting God’s Word and prayer at home, and living a willful, deliberately sinful life. Unfortunately, even churches can be guilty of putting a barrier between Jesus and His children (no doubt unintentionally). This often happens when it comes to the practice of the Lord’s Supper, either by admitting those who are not yet ready (open communion), or by denying the . . . Read All

Christ Myth Theory [Jesus is a copy-cat]

This particular claim toward pagan sources for Christianity and Christian Holy Days goes under various names: Jesus Myth Theory, Jesus Mythicism, Mythicism, Copy-cat Theory, and probably other terms.

The basic claim is that Christ is a fake: an unoriginal copy-cat of some other supposedly more ancient pagan god or gods.

These claims are bunk. Both historians and Biblical theologians have been very thorough in debunking these claims since their earliest times.

A common example that circulates on the web, Twitter, and Facebook is the following graphic:

Most people who share this kind of post do not have the intellectual integrity to bother checking up on these claims. And having a reputation as an Atheist thinker doesn’t seem to keep even . . . Read All

Warm up at the Lutheran Concerns Association Annual Conference

The Lutheran Concerns Association Annual Conference is right around the corner on January 19, the day before Concordia Theological Seminary’s Symposia begin in Fort Wayne. Come hear an all-star group of speakers in a relatively small venue, the theme of which is Thy Word Is Truth. The speakers and their topics include:

  • Dr. Cameron A. MacKenzie – Controversy over Translating the Bible – from Jerome to the Present
  • Dr. Jeffrey J. Kloha – Manuscripts and Misquoting, Inspiration and Apologetics
  • Dr. Peter J. Scaer – A Hermeneutics of Meaning: Created to be in Conversation with God
  • Dr. Martin Noland – The Brief Statement of 1932 as a Defense of the Plenary Authority of Scripture Against the Modern Theory of Development
. . . Read All

“Who Are You, John?” (Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28, by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

“Who Are You, John?” (John 1:6-8, 19-28)

How would you like to be defined in terms of someone else? I mean, who you are, your life and identity–when people think of you, they always compare you to somebody else? Are you like this person? Are you like that person? I suppose it could get old after a while. Why can’t people just take you for who you are, on your own terms? Well, today we’ll meet someone whose life was always being defined in terms of someone else. And you know what? He was okay with it. And so this morning we ask the question: “Who Are You, John?”

“Who are you, John?” And here we’re referring to John the . . . Read All

Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Dec-25-nativity-icon-incarnation-of-the-lord-jesus-christSoon we will be celebrating the season of Christmas where the Second Person of the Trinity by the working of the Holy Spirit took up residence in Mary’s womb to be our Savior. This miracle is called the “incarnation”. Sometimes the word “incarnation” loses non-Christians and can even intimidate Christians. So let us look at the word, “incarnation,” and see what it means.

The word, “incarnation” is a fifty-cent theological word from the Latin language which means that God “took on flesh,” or, that God is in flesh(ed). Think of it this way. There are two or three types of dinosaurs. There are; 1) herbivores which ate plant matter, 2) carnivores which ate meat, and then 3) omnivores . . . Read All

Why We Don’t Create Pastors Willy-Nilly

This past Monday, Issues Etc host Pr. Todd Wilken interviewed Pr. Paul McCain of Concordia Publishing House on “The Smalcald Articles: Excommunication, Ordination, The Call and the Marriage of Priests”. There was a short segment of four minutes that focused on the issue of people taking the pulpit without a rightly ordered call. We thought it worth excerpting this portion because it is a helpful (for laity) “translation” of our Confessions regarding how we train, certify, call and ordain men into the Office of the Holy Ministry.

Some key highlights (not a verbatim transcript) and please listen to the excerpt below:

  • There has been a problem ever since the Wichita Convention [1989] which adopted a “footnote to the Augusburg Confession,
. . . Read All

Elsie Moe Went To Church

CommunionThe Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s official and historical position on the Lord’s Supper is that she practices close[d] communion.  The practice of close[d] communion is a key component of our doctrine that’s rooted in scripture and our confessions.  From a broader perspective, Holy Communion is a public confession of our faith.  Therefore, it may be helpful for the synod to examine herself from the perspective of a pastor examining a visitor to his parish.

Imagine for a moment that Elsie Moe, a vacationing LCMS member, decided to visit a confessional LCMS church.  Let’s say that the pastor saw Elsie, approached her and struck up a conversation.  While chatting, Elsie indicated that she was planning on receiving communion.  The pastor began asking . . . Read All

It’s Party Time!

The 2015 Brothers of John the Steadfast Conference is coming up! The one pious bone in my body thinks the best thing about the Conference is the seeker-challenged Matins and Vespers Services. The other 205 bones are equally split between the No Pietists Allowed Parties and the guest speakers (you have to break the wish bone I guess).

If you can’t quite imagine the full flavor of a No Pietists Allowed Party, visualize the Mos Eisley Cantina from the first Star Wars movie, complete with smoke-filled rooms, shady characters, and exotic food and drink, minus the lightsabers of course. And with speakers like Pastors Bryan Wolfmueller, Clint Poppe, Larry Beane, Hans Fiene, and Todd Wilken, there’s bound to be one . . . Read All

Why I joined the ACELC.

ACELCLast night I received a phone call from Rev. Dan Bremer informing me that the ACELC has accepted my associate membership to the organization (associate membership is for individuals; membership is for congregations).  Here is why I joined using the words of the organization:

Association – It is good for brothers to dwell in unity, to have association with each other.  Very few Christians in history have been given the task of being the lone wolf.  I am not one of them.  I need an association of like-minded pastors who hold to the same beliefs and confession and believe this strongly enough to be labelled all sorts of things.

Confessing – Not confessional (although they are) but confessing, that is . . . Read All

Sermon — Pr. Martin Noland — The Beginning of the Gospel

Sermon Text — Mark 1:1-8
December 7, 2015 — 2nd Sunday in Advent, Series B

Beginning of the GospelThere is always something exciting and auspicious about beginnings.  Today we baptized John Smith [fictional names], which baptism marks the beginning of–and created–his Christian faith.  John himself marks the beginning of the next generation of the Smith and Mueller families.  What will John be like when he grows up?  We don’t really know, but we have some idea from our experiences.

We have watched other children in this congregation as they were born, were baptized, were held in their mother’s and father’s arms in church, began to walk on their own two feet, began to talk, began to converse intelligently, go to school, develop abilities . . . Read All

Smiley Face – Official Newspaper of the LCMS

(Update: I have modified the second last sentence in the fourth paragraph to clarify it: “does not report all facts, it presents positions” TW)

“Official newspapers” are breeding grounds for pride in their publishers, and cynicism in their readers. We rightly ridicule the likes of Granma, “Órgano oficial del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba”, but what are we to make of party-line publications in free societies and religious polities?

Those were my thoughts upon receiving the latest edition (Dec 2014)  of the Reporter, the “official newspaper of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod”.

gty_arts_culture_subordinated_ll_111221_vblogAll sorts of organizations have ‘official publications’, and the meaning of that phrase is clear: “This is what we want you to . . . Read All

Sermon — Pr. Martin Noland — Behold Your King

Sermon text: Matthew 21:1-9
December 7, 2015 — First Sunday in Advent

behold-your-kingToday the Christian church changes its colors from green to purple. Although some churches use the color blue during Advent, we retain the traditional color purple at Trinity because of its history and its meaning.

As early as the time of Moses, the citizens of Tyre and Sidon, two cities on the coast of present day Lebanon, were producing purple dye from a sea snail called the spiny dye-murex. The deep, rich purple dye made from this snail became known as “Tyrian purple.”

Tyrian purple became the color of kings, nobles, priests and magistrates all around the Mediterranean. In the Book of Exodus, God instructed Moses to have . . . Read All

Eggnog isn’t for Unbelievers.

christmas-balls-1437409-1-mIt’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s what the song says so it has to be true…right? I do enjoy the holidays, though mostly for selfish reasons. I get to overeat and overdrink. I get to spoil my kids. I get to sit on the couch under a warm blanket all day, because it’s too cold and snowy outside without feeling guilty about being lazy. I get to drink “the Nog” and eat a wide variety of my mother’s Christmas cookies.  I might even get to look forward to a Christmas bonus.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas for Christians is obviously a great time of year (For the record…I like Easter better…you know the . . . Read All

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