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.

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