Sunday, October 29, 2006

Are Denominations the Cause of Disunity?

Lately, I've heard a lot of people speaking negatively about the whole concept of denominations. For example, I overheard someone saying that if Christians could just come together apart from their denominations we'd have unity in a minute.

I guess the more I reflect upon it, the more I disagree with that sentiment; and that's not just because I'm a pastor. Consider for a moment what we would have without denominations. We would have a bunch of people: each with their own opinions, their own interpretations, and no accountability. We'd have, in short, pandemonium. (Even greater than what already exsists!)

We would have no ability to create consensus with such a group. That is, unless they wanted to come together to the lowest common denominator. And even then agreement would be impossible.

Also, I consider the phenomenon of many nondenominational churches. What ends up happening is that a nondenominational church realizes that it's very difficult to stand all by itself. It ends up finding other like-minded congregations or even an organization that is like-minded. Upon finding these like-minded cohorts they seek to strike an agreement to willingly walk together in ministry. They might even pull together their resources in order to more efficiently train pastors and send missionaries. Sounds an awful lot like a Synod.

I believe that denominations are the key to future unity in the Christian church. Representatives from denominations may come together to talk about theological agreement/disagreement. These representatives would be speaking on behalf of many Christians. Even that situation can be chaotic, but is certainly a whole lot better than bringing thousands and thousands of Christians together to all speak at once.

Denominations give accountability to their members and pastors. Without such accountability, it is very easy for people to be led far astray from the gospel. (Of course it's still possible for people to be led astray within a denomination. It's just that people have a recourse against a false teacher within a denomination.)

While I long for unity in the Christian church, I don't believe denominations are stumbling blocks to it.


Today in Bible class, one of the students made a comment that was simply enlightening about the topic of predestination. She said that she perceived that people run into problems with the topic of predestination when they try to treat it as a means of grace.

I really appreciated her comment because it was a concise explanation of what I was explaining to the class: that predestination is never treated apart from Christ.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Miss Veedol

Most of us are familiar with Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis flight across the Atlantic. But how many of us are familiar with the Miss Veedol flight from Japan to America across the Pacific?

Miss Veedol was the first plane to fly nonstop across the Pacific Ocean. The flight took place on October 5, 1931. It went from Misawa to Washington. The flight lasted about 41 hours and puts the current 11 hours needed for the trip into perspective!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another Resource

There's another resource to identify Lutheran blogs on the web: Lutheran Blog Links

Another tool that I think is going to be very helpful in reading blogs is the new Sony Ereader. It utilizes a new technology called Eink. It is supposedly like reading on a page. One of the things I really like about it is that it will sync up with blogs. I'm hoping that having blogs in a more portable and readable form will allow me more opportunities to follow blogs.

We have a rainy day here in northern Japan. We were planning to go to the zoo down in Morioka. But due to the poor weather we decided to stay closer to home. So we are going to check out the Misawa aerospace and science Museum. I'll have a note or two on how that goes.



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New blogging tool!

I have just discovered the ultimate blogging tool. It is the software Dragon naturally speaking version 9. It is text recognition software. It's been a few years since I've tried text recognition software. The last time I tried it was about five years ago. It didn't work so well then.

This new version works almost perfectly right out of the box. I spent about 10 minutes training it. In fact, I'd say it makes fewer mistakes with the voice recognition than I make typing.

So I'm really hoping that this is can I help my blogging get off the ground in a better way. Typing is so laborious to me that I don't often update my blog because it becomes more of a chore. But being able to dictate my blog, I think I'll be able to update it more often because it's much easier.

I believe that I will be updating my blog much more frequently now. I've just discovered a whole slew of Lutheran blogs. It was like uncovering a treasure trove. One of my favorite nexus of Lutheran blogs is one called Lutheran carnival you can find it here: Lutheran Carnival

Until next time God bless and keep you.
Pastor Matt and he

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sermon Preparation

Blogging takes a bit of time, and I haven't had much of that! (That and I haven't written a sermon in a few months.) But I want to get into the habit of doing so and since today has been rainy (along with most of yesterday) I've been stuck inside so this is a good time to restart!

I am preaching tomorrow so it's prompted me to get out some readings and analyze and apply.

The readings chosen for tomorrow are:

Jeremiah 11:18-20 -- innocent prophet being "set up" by his enemies
James 3:16-4:6 -- jealousy causes quarrels
Mark 9:30-37 -- who's the greatest?

The immediate illustration that comes to mind is the movie "The Caine Mutiny". The story had all the elements present in these readings: plotting, lying, and jealousy.

In "The Caine Mutiny" the captain made several mistakes. Then, in the midst of a typhoon, the Executive officer challenges and relieves the captain from command.

Later, in the court martial, the Executive officer's defense attorney was able to prove that the captain was incompetent. At the celebration party, the attorney upbraids the Executive officer and others. Even though the captain made several mistakes and may even have been legally incompentent--at one point the captain asked the officers for help and they refused to help him.

That, said the attorney, put the blame of failure in command on the officers, not the captain.

The christian should anticipate the needs of others. If we see someone having trouble we should lend them aid--even before they need it. And we needn't even receive praise for their assistance. We should never relish the fall of another.

Sometimes offensive behavior and plotting is obvious, sometimes it is subtle, but it is always wrong--regardless of motivation.