Thursday, October 23, 2008

Faith says “Yes”

Faith is the “amen,” the “yes,” to God’s gifts. Like an open hand, Faith receives what the Lord wants to give.

And God delights to give. The good work He began in each Christian at the day of his baptism, the Lord is continuing until the day of the return of Jesus (Phil. 1:6). God delivered the gifts of faith and forgiveness of sins in Holy Baptism, but He doesn’t quit once faith has been delivered. No, He is always working through the proclamation of His word to sustain faith. He is always working through the mouth of the minister to absolve sins. He is always working through His Holy Supper to forgive sins, to nourish faith, and to enable the faithful to love each other.

Faith says “yes”; it never says “no.” Unbelief says “no” to God’s gifts. Unbelief closes the open, receiving hand of faith. Unbelief tells God that, while His gifts may be good, they’re just not needed right now.

While unbelief and faith can coexist, as they did for the father of the demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:24), unbelief wars against faith. How long can a person refuse God’s gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation before he has completely destroyed God’s gift of faith? Who knows? Better not to find out.

If you know someone who, by continuing to refuse the gifts God offers in the Divine Service, is acting out of unbelief, warn him. Call him to repent and to receive the Lord’s good gifts that He offers freely and continually.

Saturday, October 11, 2008





before becoming


in only 3 months.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Absent Fathers

When did church become something only for women and children? Why are there families in pews without husbands and fathers? Why are there so many absent fathers?

The countdown to the time of my own fatherhood is on. Weeks, days, hours remain before my testing by fire. It’s a daunting task that lies before me, to be sure. And how a pastor is a father to his family matters so much that St. Paul told St. Timothy that if a man cannot manage his household, as husband and father, he is unfit to be a pastor (1 Tim. 3:4-5).

Why does Jesus call men to be disciples? And why does the Lord call men to be pastors? Not because women are inferior (they’re not). Not because women lack the skills necessary (they don’t). Simply because only men can be husbands and fathers.

Just as pastors are fathers to the congregation entrusted to their care (as Luther says in the Large Catechism), fathers are pastors to their families. That’s a huge responsibility. And it’s one for which men will be called to account. Raising God-fearing children will not happen if fathers are not presiding at the family altar: with daily prayer, Scripture reading, and devotions.

For the Feast of St. Michael, Luther preached, “The Lord is very angry, and it grieves him deeply when young people are not carefully trained. ‘Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones,’ he says, whoever teaches young people to curse, swear, lie, slander, to be unchaste, and so on, it would be better if he were dead. By this he indicates that such sin will be punished not merely with temporal death, but with eternal damnation. The world regards this punishment as wrong, and that is why all kinds of offenses flourish. It is the accursed devil’s doing that the world’s young people are now so depraved, wild, and undisciplined. They become the devil’s children and are capable of nothing but cursing and swearing, slandering and lying; they live immorally, are disobedient, and guilty of all manner of malevolence. Woe to those who foster this in them. For the sentence has already been pronounced upon such people, as Christ says, ‘It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’”

That’s a serious warning. Luther took seriously the task of fathers to instruct their children in the faith, to raise them as pious Christians, so much that he wrote a manual for fathers to use in instructing their children: the Small Catechism. Nearly every section of the Catechism begins, “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.”

Men, stop abdicating your responsibility to teach your children the faith and to model the faith to them. Be a faithful father. Be a man.