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When I wake up usually I have terrible breathe…don’t we all?  Coffee, though, seems to cover over the funk like the humidity covers over my body when I walk out of my front door in the morning.  Coffee the rich, slightly bitter bite of dark roasted coffee is more welcome than the burn of Listerine.  Coffee, Coffee, Coffee I love it.

Before I was married to my wife I did not drink coffee all that much.  That is not to say I needed coffee because I married my wife.  That is to say she was a regular coffee drinker then we were married.  I worked at a coffee shop for that very reason I believe.

What are all the benefits of coffee?  I have no idea.  Suppressing morning breathe, increased morning activity, higher motor function and alertness, these all seem to be benefits.  Drawbacks?  I would think jitters are the worst, perhaps an upset stomach if you are so bold to drink several cups without any food on your stomach.  If wisely taken for the individual taker, because like beer we all have our different tolerances, coffee is a magical ground bean.  Another magical fruit.


The Bride of Christ

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The Whole Church throughout all the World is being conformed to the image of Her Husband.  At the Cross:  that is where we fall.  That is the scary, dumbfounding place where we flee.  We disciples as individuals are bound to do so.  However, after the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost courage comes with Him.  Conviction is granted to individuals, and the church.  We are brought together in the knowledge of the Truth.  The Truth being that Jesus Christ, the Captain of the Vessel the church and the Husband of His Bride has defeated our enemies.

He is the New Adam.  He does not shirk His spiritual and physical care of His Bride as Adam did.  He is no feminist Dr. Louis Brighton might say.  He does no lay aside the role in which He was placed.  He is the Good Husband.  We, the church, are the Whoreish wife.  Shall we be content with our whoreishness?  I would pray not.  I would pray we fight knowing the victory over our sin is ours by our Husbands doing.  As individuals we are called by our Baptism, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to fight against sin and die to it daily.  Like our husband be raised to a new life.  Live in that new life by the Power of the Spirit in submission and constancy.

Go to the Cross and do not be afraid.  From there you will be dragged out of death into life by the powerful arms of God.  You will not do it on your own, so God does it for you.  If by Faith you die, by that same faith you will be raised.   A faithfulness that is Christ.  A faith inspired and encouraged by the Spirit of Truth who bears witness about Christ in you.  By living a life in Christ you learn you are no better than Christ.  You will grow to know Crosses well.   For if they hated Christ and killed Him they will also do the same to you and me for being en Christos.

It is easy to fear.  When you see in the world around infidelity, divorce, and the decay of family.  It is easy to doubt that your husband will remain with you when you are so unfaithful to Him.  Do not be afraid.  He is nothing like earthly men.  His heart is not swayed by beauty around Him.  His eyes have no other object but you.  His beloved bride is His entire desire.  Not others infatuate Him.  He loves you perfectly without equivocation.  He will never walk away from you.

It is hard for us to imagine a husband remaining with an unfaithful woman.  It is perhaps even harder for us to imagine a woman would remain with an abusive husband.  If the man or woman goes back to their spouse again and again in love and forgiveness we scoff.  “What a fool”  Indeed what a fool Christ looks to this world.  Returning to us again and again.  Out of pure love without ulterior motives.  We whore around, we beat the face of God, we abuse His Grace and yet again and again He comes to us.  Wipes away the sin and again raises us to be perfect and white clothed in righteousness.  His wisdom, His ways, are nothing like ours.  Thank God for that.

Vicarage and the Image of the Son

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Walther writes in his work Law & Gospel, Dau ed., in thesis five I believe that when a man enters into the seminary he knows all things and when he is in his fourth year he knows very little, if nothing about theology and the church.

Vicarage conforms us to the image of the Son.

If there is one way, when vicarage is conducted in its proper order as prescribed by the Synod and Seminary, it is the submission to the Bishop.  Jesus Christ submitted all authority to His Father’s Will of salvation for Creation, specifically humanity.  My Submission to the Bishop, as well as the church, has perhaps been the greatest advancement Spiritually this year.

I know nothing of the ways of God.  I know no reason why I ought to be a called man into the office of the ministry.  I am an outsider in my own family and considered to arrogant and impatient in ministry and care.  I submit to the whole authority and history of the church and am considered narrow-minded.  I hold the Office in High Regard and am considered to tend toward Clericalism, which I do not even know about.

The image of the Son is submission to the Will of God.  I will submit all the more as the Will of God is revealed to me through the Son.

St. James the Elder

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Being conformed to the image of the Son.  Paul tells us that for those whom love God, God works all things for good.  As with Joseph who told his brothers, “You meant the things you did for evil, but God meant it for good.  To bring about that many people would be saved.”  Being conformed to the image of the Son is the desire of faith not of the flesh.  It is the desire of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Humans cannot obtain faith in any way other than the Grace of God.

Saints are conformed to the image of Christ with the result that they, like Christ, will be raised from the dead making Christ the Firstborn among many brothers.  Because for those whom are elected by God are justified and glorified by God.  St. James the Elder was such an elect man.

The older of the Sons of Thunder James did not always know just what the image of the Son held for him.  Jesus knew though.  In Mark 10 James and John approach Jesus and ask to be at his right and left hand when He enters into Glory.  Jesus asks them if they will be able to drink the cup He will drink and be baptized in the baptism He will be baptized into?  They declared that they are able to do so.  He tells them they will drink the cup and be baptized as He is.  They will be conformed to His image because of their faith.

Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection.  The image of Christ and the image of God.  We were made in the image of God.  We fell.  Now we  are baptized and born again.  The sinful image we adorn is washed away.  We are baptized into Christ.  We put Him on.  We take on His image because it is spoken onto us, and in us, by the Word of God.  That image is not only a spiritual image but also a physical one.

Spiritually the image of The Son is one of humility, servitude, submission, prayer, dependence, and joy.  Physically the image of The Son is one of thinness, hunger, emptiness, brokenness, ugliness, and roughness.  James held such an image in time.  Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection by faith.  Through time and trial faith is grown.   Through the cross faith is given.

All of Christ’s life was lived under the Cross.  His Birth and Life all lead him into death.  He suffered much at the hands of sinful men.  Then meant everything for evil.  God meant it all for good, with the result that many people may be saved.  The Cross is death.  For Christ it is the end of his life and breath.  For us it is the end of our sin.  Now we too share in the Cross of Christ.  In the Cross of Christ we glory.  We share in the Birth and Life of Christ through His death.  His death is our death because we are baptized into Him.  Our lives are lived under the Cross.

The Cross is the end of our sinful lives.  The Cross of Christ is the death of sin.  Forgiven, forgotten, washed away, white as snow.  We are white as fresh spun wool.  We are spoken this way by the Word of God.  We are justified by Grace through Faith in Christ.  We now, by faith, drink the cup Christ drank because we are Baptized into the Baptism He was Baptized into, a Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit leads us, as it led Christ, to the Cross.  To death. To Resurrection.

The Father raise the Son.  The Father rewarded the Faith of the Son with Life Everlasting.  The Son is vindicated by Resurrection.  His Faith was foolishness to the World but not to God.  His death was empty to the World, but not to God.  Therefore, God raised Him from the dead because of His Faith.  We are conformed to the image of the Son.  Suffering may be present.  Men may do evil to us.  Even our own church.  But, do not be afraid.  Men mean it for evil, God means it for Good, for the sake of faith, for the sake of the Son and His Faith.  We learn we are no better than our Lord Jesus Christ.  No pupil is above the Master.  Our Faith is given through the Cross.  Our Faith is refined through the Cross.  Our Faith, James’ faith, and the Faith of all the Saints is one that conforms to the image of  the Son by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Family and Church

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I spent the week with family.  We were in Missouri at Table Rock Lake.  I recommend a stay on the lake.  It is beautiful in a way I cannot describe.  However, the lake occupied only a small portion of my time.  All of my time was with family.

My family is involved in church.  My father is a pastor, my mother a teacher and organist, my aunts and uncles are teachers, administrators, church stimulators, and lifelong members of the LC-MS.  I even have sister who is married and her husband is a Baptist Pastor. Needless to say we talked about church.

I am continuing to grow in the depth of my dislike for division on all levels of church.  We seem to continue to disintegrate into smaller and smaller subsections of the same church.  The more I read scripture the more clearly I seem to see the specific way Jesus taught, spoke, lived.  I see God revealed.  I do not see much wiggle room for clever definition.  I try to never let myself interpret anything apart from what has already been said.  I do not think there is any “new” theology or practice that can come from Scripture.  We have the church and what she has done.

That might be why I have such an easier time writing sermons now than I did at the beginning of vicarage.  I think I was trying to manufacture something new and fresh to make a mark.  That might always be a temptation for me.  When I started reading through Luther’s Sermons, those of Fr. Norman Nagel, Fr. William Weedon, Fr. Heath Curtis, and several other orthodox clergymen I saw that they preached like Luther, like Augustine, like the church.  I think that is an important reality for us now as a church.  Are we speaking and acting like the church.  I think we are.  I also think there is a large part of us that are not.

I had several conversations on the matter with my father and uncle who are both experienced, veteran, LC-MS members.  We all stand apart.  We are divided in the same church.  Even politically, which I hate saying, how stupid does that sound?  We are politically divided in the church.  How can the church have a polis other than that of Christ?  Anyway, lest I digress I will regain focus.  The conversation revolved mostly around elections and vision of the LC-MS.  I think my uncle has a certain view because he is employed by Ablaze money, at least as far as I can tell.  He is a church revitalizer, which I think is  noble task for the church to undertake.  However I feel it revolves mostly around making the church desirable for persons to come into rather than orthodox and united with the church as a whole.  Again, I am speaking from a limited viewpoint.

It was interesting to say the least.  Listening, interacting, sharing what little I can share.  I think I will gladly remain as ignorant as possible on the topic of polity.  I will struggle to know and hold to the truth of the one true church.  I will continue to seek the kingdom.  I will submit to Christ and His Bride, and repent of my independence in thought and action.  I will become what the church wants me to become.  I know, we know, by Christ and His Word and Life.