Sunday, March 30, 2008

Remember in Times of Trial

This morning, in church, we sang a song that really seemed to hit home with the changes that seem to be inevitably coming in our synod, brought to light with the cancellation of Issues, Etc. I thought I would share the lyrics here for meditation, and also as reference for prayer.

"Oh, for a Faith That Will Not Shrink," TLH #396, from Luke 17:5; St. Peter; Wiliam H. Bathurst, 1831, alt.; Alexander R. Reinagle, 1836

Oh, for a faith that will not shrink
Tho' pressed by many a foe;
That will not tremble on the brink
Of poverty or woe;

That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chast'ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain
Can lean upon its God;

A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without;
That, when in danger, knows no fear,
In darkness feels no doubt;

That bears unmoved the world's dread frown
Nor heeds its scornful smile;
That sin's wild ocean cannot drown
Nor Satan's arts beguile;

A faith that keeps the narrow way
Till life's last spark is fled
And with a pure and heavenly ray
Lights up the dying bed.

Lord, give us such a faith as this;
And then, whate'er may come,
We'll taste e'en now the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home.
This is beautiful as a prayer, asking God to keep our faith strong and steadfast in the midst of tumult in the world. It could just as well be prayed in our current struggle with the changes in our synod.

President Kieschnick, it appears, is trying to "transition" the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod into a "seeker-sensitive/purpose-driven" church, as opposed to the "Gospel-driven" church it has always and historically been.

No good can come of this. It will turn the LCMS into a denomination that is not unique to any other. The LCMS is quickly becoming a church body that embraces gimmicks and marketing ploys, fads and catch phrases. It is becoming a church body that is more concerned with fitting in with the world than changing it and resisting its wiles.

Remember these words from John 15:18-20... (From Bible Gateway)

18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

If we are so concerned with what the world thinks as to look and act just like the rest of the world, then the world will accept us as its own. But that's not what we are here to do. We are not here to "fit in" with the world, but to let the world know that it is sinful, and that God, Himself, is the cure.

Yes, we will be hated for it, persecuted, spat upon (hopefully not literally, but figuratively). That is what happened to Pr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz: They preached and helped spread the Word of God without dressing it up in fancy catch phrases, songs that are not hymns, or gimmicks. They, in fact, rejected such nonsense, and I believe (as do many others) that they lost their jobs and their radio program because of it.

Verse 20 ends: "If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." This is why Issues, Etc. had such a large following.

In fact (and I hope President Kieschnick takes note of this), since the program was canceled, people who were not already familiar with Issues, Etc. have been finding and listening to recordings of the show, liking what they hear and signing the petition! In other words, the cancellation of the show has served to only increase its popularity and demand for its return!

Confessional Lutheranism is not going away anytime soon. We may have to hold services apart from the LCMS eventually, but we will not and cannot relinquish or compromise our faith just because our current leader tells us that we have to conform to the world. Doing so would be giving in to the devil.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Issues, Etc. Is Gone; What Now?

I think that the cancellation of Issues, Etc. has caused a lot of us who usually don't post much on our blogs to do so more often. In fact, it's surprising how much you start to do when the ability to do something you once enjoyed is taken away.

For those of us who heard about the show's cancellation and the firing of Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz early on, our tone has changed (somewhat) from outrage to action. We are still demanding answers from the LCMS headquarters, and want to know who pulled the plug and why. We are still angry that this was allowed or forced to happen.

So, what do we do now? We need to continue to spread the word about what has happened. Even at this point, there are a lot of people who don't know, primarily because they don't subscribe to the same e-mail lists as a lot of us do, and don't usually listen to the program online – maybe just on Sunday nights. There was a program on last Sunday night, but unbeknownst to any of us, that was the last Sunday night broadcast. And those who don't have access to the internet or don't use it like many of us do won't likely know anything about this until they talk to others at church tomorrow morning, or try to listen to the program tomorrow night and realize it's not on.

Realize that this program was listened to by not just those in the LCMS, but by other Lutherans and by other Christians not associated with any branch of the LCMS. Talk to your friends about it, even if you think they wouldn't have a connection. The more people who know about it, the better. Maybe they'll sign the petition, too. At the time of this posting, there were about 3,440 signatures. Mine was one of the first 25. (Because I don't publicize my name on my blog, that's the only narrowing you're going to get. Those who know me know which signature is mine.)

What more can we do? Look at my last post and take down the contact information. Write real (paper) letters if you can – e-mail only goes so far, and many of those on the list have programs designed to send back a generalized form letter to the sender. You can call the LCMS headquarters at 1-888-THE LCMS and ask to talk to someone who isn't just taking down notes, but rather someone who has some kind of authority in this position. Don't allow yourself to be transferred to just anyone: ask to whom you are being transferred and why.

There is talk about protesting the decision on the steps of the "Purple Palace" which is the LCMS headquarters in St. Louis, MO, one of these Saturdays coming up. No specific date has been determined at this point, but consider attending. One commenter on Pr. Weedon's blog suggested making it a vigil instead of a protest, so that the negative connotation of a protest is removed. (His was comment number 70-something.)

Bottom line: As I said in my previous post, we cannot sit by and idly take this kind of abuse by the "powers that be." If they are willing to cut the most confessional and best Christian radio program there is, and fire Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, it seems they will stop at nothing to take away every trace of real Lutheranism there is. Countless pastors have been thrown out of the LCMS for non-Scriptural reasons; they were thrown out for BEING FAITHFUL to God, to the Lutheran faith, to those they served.

With so many congregations throwing away good Lutheran liturgy and hymns in favor of big praise bands, contemporary music and "feel good" messages (I won't even attempt to call them sermons), the line between what is and is not Lutheran has been blurred to the point that those from Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. backgrounds can go from their own churches to a so-called LCMS church and find nary a difference.

Those of us who are staying faithful to the confessions and to Scripture are becoming fewer and fewer, and are understandably skiddish about speaking out too loudly for fear that our pastors will be made to join the list of those thrown out for faithfully doing the jobs they were trained to do in the LCMS seminaries!

If we're going to survive these evil trials (yes, they are evil), we need to stick together and fight. We need to stand up for our pastors and for the right to remain Lutheran, and not let the world influence our worship, but rather have our worship and faith influence the world in which we live.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Issues, Etc. and the Travesty of its Cancellation

By now, I'm sure many of you have heard about the cancellation of the very popular radio program "Issues, Etc.", which was hosted by Pastor Todd Wilken and produced by Mr. Jeff Schwarz. And if you've heard about this, you likely also know about the OUTRAGE it has caused amongst those who listened to the program.

It is still not known WHY the program was canceled, or by WHOM! A statement was put on the KFUO-AM website stating that the decision had been made because of "programmatic and business reasons," but those reasons are never given. What's even worse, especially for Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, is that THEY were never given a reason for what happened!

Now, I don't know about you, but if I'm terminated from a job, I would like to know why. 

There are literally hundreds, probably thousands of people not just in the United States, but WORLDWIDE who are very upset and hurt by the decision to cancel this show. I've read comments from people who've said that Pr. Wilken and the show in general were responsible for their conversion to Lutheranism, and in some cases, Christianity.

It wasn't just Lutherans – and certainly not just Lutherans in the Missouri Synod – who listened to the show on a daily or weekly basis, but also those from various other denominations who enjoyed and benefited from listening to the confessional Lutheran pastor who ran the program, and his equally confessional guests. One of the reasons for this was that the Gospel and Law were presented in truth and in love and deep devotion to Christ and His church on Earth.

To cancel this show abruptly, without warning or explanation, is a devastating travesty, and none of us should take any of this sitting down, and we don't have to.

There is a petition circulating that you can sign your name to, and hopefully it will make an impact at KFUO, the LCMS headquarters, the LCMS Board of Directors, and the Board of Communications. It's being targeted at the "Purple Palace" and KFUO directly, because it is thought that these organizations were primarily responsible for canceling the show and firing Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz.

It appears that a PROTEST may be in the works, as well. The idea is to protest in front of the LCMS headquarters, and possibly also in front of KFUO in St. Louis, Missouri, very soon. How soon? We don't know. Pastor William Weedon of Hamel, Illinois, is asking that we keep these problems and the people involved in our prayers, and try to make it through the rest of Holy Week and Easter focusing on these very holy events instead of getting riled up. I know that's not going to be easy, though.

The Wittenberg Trail administrators have created a fund that you can contribute money through PayPal to Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, but if you don't feel comfortable with doing that, you can send a check or money order to this address: 

"Schwarz/Wilken Fund"
St. Paul Lutheran Church
P.O. Box 247
Hamel, IL 62046

Also, Darth Nemoyer has listed a LOT of information on his blog about this event, and has even listed websites and other blogs where the issue about "Issues" is being discussed. 

We CANNOT allow our confessional pastors to be persecuted, fired and left to fend for themselves, especially when OUR SYNOD, the same entity that gave them their training and congregations by means of callings or placements, is the one that is throwing them to the curb because they're being FAITHFUL! Issues, Etc. was the ONLY Christian radio station that taught correct Christian doctrine from a Lutheran standpoint. It was the ONLY one that guided confessional Lutheranism, and helped not just pastors, but laity... and even people in other denominations! 


Join the fight. For Issues, Etc. For Pastor Wilken. For Mr. Schwarz. For all that is holy, right and salutary! Pray that evil will not take over our synod, and that we have the courage to stand against it when it comes knocking. If we allow this to continue, evil will overtake this synod. WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE! God save us all.