31 March 2008

A Tribute: What Have We Learned from Issues, Etc.?

We were taught not be ashamed of the Gospel “for it is the power of God.”

We learned that good sermons teach the truths of God faithfully and clearly. Listening to Christ-Centered, Cross-focused sermons from Rev. Bill Cwirla, Rev. Will Weedon, and Dr. David Scaer were favored by all. When we applied the sermon diagnostic tool to the Christ-less sermons so prevalent today we were appalled.

We now know what we believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans because of Dr. Lawrence White, Dr. Karl Barth, Rev. Peter Bender and Dr. Ken Schurb who provided catechetical instruction grounded in God’s Word.

Instruction in the proper distinction between Law and Gospel was provided by Dr. Carl Fickenscher, Dr. Tom Baker, Dr. Cory Maas, and Dr. Richard Eyer. They brought to bear the teachings and C.F.W. Walther.

There was a battle for the Bible during the 1970’s. Thanks to Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. Barth we now know what was at stake. And as I speak we are seeing first hand history repeat.

Life issues such as stem cell research, abortion, and euthanasia were addressed by Wesley Smith, Scott Klusendorf, Greg Koukl and Dr. Jim Lamb. We were taught and equipped to “defend life from beginning to end.”

We are more informed about Islam and other world religions thanks to scholars such as Dr. Alvin Schmidt and Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. We now know the two faces of Islam – one when in the minority and another when in the majority.

We studied many Hymns including “What Child is This” and “Stricken Smitten and Afflicted” with Dr. Art Just and Pastor Henry Gerike. Lutherans gave the church hymns because hymns teach us doctrine. Through hymns we praise God by telling everyone what he has done.

We unpacked the myths about Luther and Worship with Rev. Will Weedon and Dr. Ken Schurb, and in so doing learned that worship is not about what we do for God, but about receiving his gifts and hearing God’s Word.

The doctrine of vocation was thoroughly explored by Dr. Gene Edward Veith and Dr. Steven Hein. The purpose of vocation is to serve and love one another - we are all masks of God. “God doesn’t need our good works. But our neighbor does.”

We were taught “Why Bad Things Happen” from Rev. Matt Harrison. We learned how suffering is the Lord’s alien work as Martin Luther would say. Suffering drives us to Jesus for he is the way.

Our seminaries were well represented by Dr. Jeff Gibbs, Dr. Larry Rast, Dr. Cameron MacKenzie, Dr. David Adams and many others. They spoke on such topics as Scripture and Tradition, The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Fundamentalism, and Civil Religion.

Where would we be without a clear understanding of how Doctrine and Practice affect one another? Rev. Klemet Preus’s book “The Fire and The Staff” and numerous discussions were invaluable it is true. Doctrine is what you believe about Jesus—His life and death and their meaning to you.

Articles of faith such as Repentance, Prayer and The Person and Work of the Holy Sprit were clearly expressed by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, Dr. Andrew Steinman, and Dr. Richard Schuta. We believe faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from God, given by the power of the Holy Sprit; thus all the glory belongs to God alone it is not something we merit.

Justification is the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls and Sanctification not rightly understood can turn into Law. Dr. Daniel Preus, Dr. Steve Hein and Dr. Carl Fickenscher clearly explained from scripture how God works to save.

We were introduced to a new generation of defenders of the faith including Rev. Brain Wolfmueller, Rev. Steven Parks, and Chris Rosebrough who addressed important topics like Baptism, God and Suffering, and Christ-less Christianity.

We studied books of the Bible with Dr. John Seleska and Tim Seleska including the Psalms. Each week we prepared for our Sunday school lesson with Deaconess Pam Nielson. What important insights and knowledge we were able to glean.

History was another topic often discussed with Dr. Paul Maier and Dr. Martin Noland. The topics included The Events Surrounding the Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ, The Reformation, Roman Catholicism, and Early Christian Historian Eusebuis.

The errors of Pietism and the Church Growth Movement were exposed by Aaron Wolf, Dr. Larry Rast, Rev. Rod Zwonitzer, Craig Parton, and Chris Rosebrough. We learned what the true marks of a church involve - the means of grace and salvation, the proclamation of the Gospel and sacrament administration.

We may never have known of such great theologians as Dr. Norman Nagel, Dr. Louis Brighton, and Dr. Ron Feuerhahn who were eager to share their insightful instruction on Eternal Life, The Presence of God, The Lords Supper, and Papal Authority & Roman Doctrine.

Luther’s explanation in the Heidelberg Disputation of Theologians of the Cross was clearly conveyed by Dr. Paul Grime, Dr. Steven Hein, and Dr. R. Scott Clark. “That person deserves to be called a theologian who comprehends what is visible of God through suffering and the cross.”

Culturally relevant topics were discussed by Dr. Mike Horton and Dr. Laurence White. They involved American Evangelicalism, Christianity and Pop Culture, and the Secularization of the Church. We were taught that there is no such thing as Evangelical style and Lutheran substance. “It’s not style or substance; its style forms substance.” In the church, what we believe establishes what we do and who we are.

And let us not forget the thought provoking and educational articles published in the Issue etc. Journal including: “Locus and Focus,” Purpose Driven or Forgiveness Given,” and “Mere Monotheism.”

Such a wide range of topics were discussed on each and every show with guests including Ed Meese, John Shelby Spong, Dr. Alveda King, Bishop N.T. Wright, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Robert Schuller,. This speaks to Jeff Schawrz’s dedication and abilities as the Issues etc. producer to compile a guest list with the likes of these.

I would be remiss in not recognizing the invaluable contribution of Pastor Todd Wilken. Not only were his questions insightful and probing, but the fact that he too was able to address all of the topics mentioned from a scriptural and cultural perspective was nothing short of astounding.

Thanks to Issues Etc. I don’t want to be Emergent, Purpose-Driven, or to Become a Better Me. I want Jesus, only Jesus, nothing but Jesus who lived a perfect life and died for me.

This list is by no means exhaustive, yet I hope it conveys the blessing received from Issues ETC. There is much appreciation especially from the laity who received an education worthy of a degree.

While this “voice in the wilderness” has been silenced for now, “God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose” and I can’t wait to see how.


Mark Dowell, Columbia IL

Long Day

Led devotions and taught two classes at TSP + Took the sacrament to a beloved shut in who is staying 2 hours away at her daughter's for treatments (and does she ever look GREAT - praise be to God!) + Visited with some wonderful folks considering membership + Cindi and I grabbed a bite of dinner + Board of Christian Life Meeting

That's all for the day. I'll have some comments on the day's developments regarding the Issues, Etc. front tomorrow, God willing. If you wrote me an email and I didn't get back to you, I'll try to address correspondence tomorrow too. Right now, I'm going to find out what Brother Odd intends to do about the problems facing the monastery. (Blame Philip!).

30 March 2008

Our Beloved Schwarz Family from this Easter

That's Jeff, Jack, Emily, Katie, Justin, and Beth. God's blessings on Jeff and Beth's trip to Mayo this week! May the Holy Angels guard and protect them on their journeys and may God grant them good success. We love you guys.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus, as people doubly blessed we will not conclude our Easter festival. Instead, we will, from now on, daily keep it, daily eat our Passover Lamb in faith, daily purge the leaven of sin from our hearts, daily eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, and daily celebrate our resurrection with Christ and our new walk with Him. If, then, we were to die today or tomorrow, we would die in the Lord and by this blessed death, we would enter with Him into a life of eternal glory. May Jesus Christ, our precious Passover Lamb, help us all to do this through the power of His bloody sacrifice and His victorious resurrection. To Him be thanks, praise, glory, and honor, both in time and in eternity! -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 357,358

Reminder: Annunciation

St. Paul's will celebrate the Divine Service for the Annunciation of Our Lord this Wednesday at 6:15. As noted earlier, the day is transferred out of Easter Week to a week day following the Second Sunday of Easter according to LSB rubrics.

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, His eyes as flame,
All hail to thee, thou lowly Maiden Mary:
Most highly favored Lady:

For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee.
Thy Son shall be Immanuel by seers foretold.
Most highly favored Lady:

O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection!

Low Sunday

What a joy it was today for the Liturgy to return to what we think of as "normal." Much as I love the great sacrifice of praise that is offered on Pascha, there is something simply sustaining about the return of our regular Divine Service. Well, almost. During the days of Easter the Gradual is omitted and the Alleluia Verse is lengthened. The hymns continued to bring us the bright joy of the Paschal Victory, yet this Sunday that joy was swathed in the familiar.

I've been a pastor for over 20 years, and yet when we come to the liturgical changes during Holy Week and Easter, I find myself nervous, jittery that the old habitual way of doing the service will take over, and I'll distract the people from their worship by my blunder. When Low Sunday arrives, except for the missing Gradual, it's back to the regular ordering of things and the Easter joy still is reigning. I confess it's a relief.

29 March 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We can pray without ceasing if we pray in the spirit, so that at least our mind is always watchful towards God in holy desires. It is not necessary that we should supplicate God with loud cries, because as He dwells in the hearts of the godly He hears the very sighs of our hearts. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditations* XXV

Patristic Quote of the Day

Nothing pains the soul more than slander, whether directed against one's faith or one's manner of life. No one can be indifferent to it except those who like Susanna have their eyes firmly fixed on God. For only God has the power to rescue from peril, as He rescued her, to convince men of the truth, as He did in her case, and to encourage the soul with hope. To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander. -- St. Maximos the Confessor, *Fourth Century on Love* par. 88, 89

Message from Todd Wilken

When I was on the air, I often joked about retreating each night to the “Wilken Compound” and closing the gate. Radio can be an isolating profession. I would even say in jest, “I have no friends.” I was wrong.

In fact, the first thing Jeff said to me as the International Center’s doors closed behind us on Holy Tuesday morning was, “Now we’ll find out who our friends really are.” We have.

“Thank you” seems to fall short. “Thanks be to God” is better. In the days to come, we will need all the friends we can get.

We’ll always have one. His enemies called Him “the Friend of sinners.” To that I can testify. “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

The first person I called on that holy Tuesday morning was not my wife. The first person I called on that morning was my Pastor.

I love my wife (I called her next). My wife is my best friend in the world. But that morning I didn’t need a friend; I needed a pastor.

Our Church needs a faithful pastor too.

If you want to carry on the legacy of Issues, Etc., you already know what to do: Pastors, go to the pulpit and the altar, be faithful to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confession in everything you preach, teach and practice. Preach Christ crucified for sinners.

People of God, require your pastors to do nothing less and nothing more than that. Hear the Word, trust Jesus, live for your neighbor.

Everyone, when decisions are required (be they congregational, district or synodical), remember: You need a faithful pastor, and so does your Church.

I keep hearing in my head those words from Hebrews: “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” This is so true.

This story has no martyrs; no one has died. This story has no sacrificial lambs; no blood has been shed.

The only story I’m interested in telling is the story of the one Martyr, the story of the Lamb of God. That story has all the death and blood I will ever need.

The writer to the Hebrews also asks a question:

The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?
What can man do to me? What can man do to you?

The answer to that question is seen just inside the threshold of the hollow tomb; it is heard in the frightened voices of the women who saw Him alive again; it is written in the blood of the true martyrs mingled with the blood of their Savior.

What can man do to me? Nothing; Christ is risen.

Wir sind alle Bettler,

Todd Wilken

Apples to Apples

No, not talking Macs today. Mr. Strand has written:

"During the last full month (February 2008) for which we have reports, the average number of live, streaming listeners during the “Issues” Monday-Friday timeslot was 64."

I asked for and received last year's report of the FM streaming numbers from the KFUO station manager yesterday. These numbers sound impressive: 281,445 stream hits from 3/07 to 3/08. If we divide this number by 365 since the FM station is on every day of the year, we end up with 771. But we need to further divide this number by the hours that FM operates each day - and that would be 24. What do we end up with? An average of 32 listeners via live stream per hour for the FM side of KFUO if you spread the figures evenly across their operating time.

Let's see: Issues drew an average of 64 hits on the live streams per hour, while the FM station draws an average of 32 hits on the live stream per hour. Hmm. Odd, what? I wonder if they're thinking of pulling off the live streaming for FM then? I wonder how much it costs KFUO (the Synod treats AM/FM under a unified budget, I believe) to stream the FM content 24 hours each day for about 32 listeners each hour?

P.S. I wonder if KFUO would share the AM stats for the other shows that remain and that they stream. What are those figures?

Vespers Service and Bratwurst Dinner

Folks: A Vespers service will be held at 5:00 P.M. on April 13, 2008 Emmaus Ev. Lutheran Church in St. Louis with a bratwurst dinner to follow. You can click here and then register to attend. This is a great opportunity to show our support for Issues, Etc., and to get together to pray, to sing, to hear God's Word, and to enjoy the comfort and support of fellow pilgrims who are saddened by the loss of the show.

White Horse Inn Interviews Ms. Hemingway


28 March 2008

Worth A Rerun?

Here's some thoughts I put together a few years back on the whole matter of what I term "missiolatry" - something I think is having a very adverse affect on our Synod:

Missiolatry is a problem. If our “god” is that to which we look for every good and from which we expect help in every time of need, it’s clear the “god” of too many “Christians” (especially those that go by the Lutheran moniker) in this day and age is missions! If you ask 9 out of 10 members of the Lutheran Church what the Church’s primary task is, they’ll answer without hesitating: “Make disciples!”

I think it far better to say that the primary task of the Church is to worship God. "This is the Christian faith, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity." (Athanasian Creed) Jesus said: "For the Father seeks such to worship Him." John 4.

What is the purpose for the Church's existence? It's purpose does not and cannot cease when time ceases. It's purpose is eternal. This is the way the very first book of Lutheran Dogmatics (Melanchthon's 1543 Loci Communes) puts it: "The human race has been so created and then so redeemed that we as the image and temple of God might celebrate the praises of God, for God wills to be known and worshipped."

The relationship of this to the task of the Church in this age is then clarified: Christ has sent His whole people into this world to speak the Word that rescues people from their false worship (their idolatry, which leads only to eternal death), and brings them with us into the worship of Him who alone is LIFE, the Blessed Trinity.

This helps prevent us from thinking about the Church in the shallow way of a "come on in so that you can go out and get some more" club. WHAT are we calling people into? WHAT are we calling them away from? We call them into the worship of the Blessed Trinity, which is faith, the receiving of the divine Life of God through the gifts He gives – and one of those gifts is the liberation from individualism and the gift of true communion with each other in His Body. We call them away from the worship of false gods, which is death. As long as the Church is in this world, she is to work tirelessly at this, but it is not her ultimate vocation. Her ultimate vocation is found in that which she does now which she will continue to do forever.

The Psalmist exhorts "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." Too many nowadays seem to describe the Church's life not in the "tasting and seeing." Just in the "inviting." But I am convinced that our evangelism efforts falter because our people are not tasting the goodness of the Lord! You see, if you enjoy something, you praise it to others.

Think about it. If you enjoy a movie, you say to others: "You have got to see this!" If you enjoy a restaurant, you say to others: "You have got to eat there!" If you enjoy a book, you say to others: "This is a must read!" We praise to others that which we natively enjoy. We can’t help ourselves!

So back to John 4. The woman tasted the living water (note that she left her bucket at the well!!!), and then goes to her countrymen and tells them: "Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!" She drank from the living water, and so she invites others to taste and enjoy it with her.

The answer to solving the wimpy witness is never to beat people over the head with the so-called "Great Commission." It is to get them to drink deeply of the living water, and then they too will be crying out with the Spirit and the Church: "Come, and drink freely of the water of life!" (Rev. 22)

Lord, deliver us from the sin of missiolatry and help us to truly find our life in worshipping You and receiving Your gifts and grant us the grace so to enjoy Your bounty that we constantly summon others to the Feast of Life, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rod Dreher

has also chimed in (and I couldn't resist the temptation to chime in to what was said over there):

Crunchy Con

HT: Christine

First Things

A reflective post:


A Jump on Miscericordias Domini (Good Shepherd)

Here's a homily from yesteryear that I've always particularly enjoyed preaching:

Once upon a time (a real time, mind you, not an imagined one), there was a wolf. He was a fat old thing. You see, he had it pretty easy. Whenever he wanted to eat, he only had to walk his door of his cave and look at the sheep that fed right outside. He’d eye this one or that one. And then he’d go after it and with a pretty minimal struggle, he’d bring the sheep down and eat away. And the more that he ate, the bigger he got, and the bigger he grew, the hungrier he got. He was a wicked old thing; sometimes he’d just poke his head out the door and howl. All the sheep began to shiver at the very sound of him. He’d chuckle to himself. “Yes, you better be afraid, you stupid sheep because one of these days I am going to eat you, and it won’t be pleasant, oh no it won’t. Ha! Ha!” This big, bad wolf, you see, had a name. A name of fear. The sheep had only to think of his name and they’d get wobbly on their knees and some would faint outright. His name, you see, was Death. And Death was always hungry and never satisfied. Always eating sheep and always wanting more. And he stank. The very smell of him was worse than his name or his howl. He was altogether dreadful, let me tell you! He was in charge and all the sheep knew it.

There came a day when he was feeling hungrier than usual. He poked his head out the cave door to roar and he couldn’t believe his eyes. Why, right there in front of his door, on his very door-step almost was the fattest, juiciest sheep he’d ever laid his eyes on. The effrontery of it! He drew in the air to fill his vast lungs and then he let out a stone-splitting howl. All the other sheep in the vicinity turned tail and ran. They were afraid. All but the sheep that grazed still just outside his cave. That sheep paid him no heed at all. Kept on eating, just like it hadn’t even heard him. He was getting mad now. He came bounding out the door and right up to that impertinent animal. Again he sucked the air into his lungs and this time he breathed out right in the sheep’s face. The sheep looked up and blinked as the hideous odor of decay was blasted in its face. Totally unconcerned the sheep blinked and then stared.

Now the wolf was getting himself into quite a tizzy. “Don’t you know who I am?” he snarled. The sheep looked at him and said: “Yes. I know.” Calm, at peace even. The other sheep began to creep back at a distance to watch. They couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. “Well,” snarled the Wolf, “aren’t you afraid?” The sheep looked Death, that old wolf, right in the eyes and said: “Of you? You have got to be kidding!” Now the wolf was so livid with anger that he spoke low and menacing: “You’re for it, lamb chops. You are not going to have it easy. I’m going to take you out slow and painfully.” There was a moment of silence and then the sheep said: “I know.”

The other sheep had all been watching because they’d never heard anything like this before. But the moment that the wolf pounced they turned away. A great sadness filled them. They had thought, well, they had scarcely dared to hope, but it was just possible that, this once, the wolf wasn’t going to get his way. But their hopes were dashed. It was an awful and an ugly sight. The wolf chowed down. It was slow and it was painful, just like he said. And in the end, there was nothing left. He turned his rude face, red with blood to the other sheep, and he belched. They turned tail and ran, knowing that he’d be back for them one day soon.

As the wolf went back to his cave, he took out a tooth pick and cleaned his teeth and he thought that he’d never tasted a sheep that was quite so good before. Nothing tough about that meat. It was tender and rich and really altogether satisfying. The thought hit him with surprise. It was almost as though his insatiable hunger had actually been quenched for once. The thought was a little disturbing. Well, no matter, he thought. And off he went to bed.

When the morning came the wolf wasn’t feeling quite himself. It was almost as though he were getting a bit of tummy ache. Such a thing never happened. He always woke up ravenous and went off to start eating first thing in the morning. At least a dozen or so sheep before the dew was off the grass. But not this morning. His tummy WAS grumbling. By noon he was feeling more than discomfort. He was feeling positively ill. He who had brought such pain on those poor sheep, he was getting a taste of pain himself and it was most unpleasant. He kept thinking back to that impertinent sheep he had eaten yesterday afternoon, the one that had tasted so strangely good. Could it have actually been poisoned or something? It wasn’t long before he stopped thinking altogether. The pain was just too great. He rolled around on the floor of his den and his howled and yammered.

The sheep heard the sound and didn’t quite know what to make of it all. They crept cautiously nearer and nearer to the door of his house and turned their heads listening. What could it mean?

It was sometime in the dark of the night that the wolf let out a shuddering howl. Something was alive and moving inside its own gullet. Something that pushed and poked and prodded until with a sudden burst, the gullet was punctured and hole ripped open. And something, rather, someone stepped right out through the hole, right out of the massive stinking stomach. The wolf felt like he was dying. And I suppose in a way he was.
The figure that stepped out of the wolf’s belly was totally unknown to the wolf. Why, it looked like a shepherd. He’d heard of such a critter, but had never actually met one. With a staff in his hand he walked around and stood facing the wolf. And he began to laugh. He laughed and his laugher burst open the door of the wolf’s house. He laughed and the sheep were filled with bewilderment wondering what was going on in there. He laughed and he looked the wolf right in the eye.

“So, you don’t recognize me, old foe? It was I who ate outside your house three days ago. ‘Twas I that you promised would die horribly and how you kept your promise. But what do you propose to do about me now?”

“You? The wolf gasped. The voice was the same; he recognized it. This shepherd was indeed the sheep whom he had swallowed down. “You. But how? Oh, the pain!” The shepherd smiled and said: “Well, I think you’re pretty harmless now, my friend. Go on and try to eat some of my sheep. I promise you that as fast as you swallow them down I will lead right out through the hole I made in your stomach. And then you’ll never be able to touch them again! Ta!”

The wolf howled in fear and anger and rage, but there was nothing he could do. The Shepherd had tricked him, fooled him good! And the Shepherd then stepped outside the door and called the sheep together. They knew his voice too. They’d heard it before. They stood before the Lamb who had become the Shepherd and they listened as he told them what would happen to them. “You’ll die too. He’ll come out in a few days and be hungrier than ever. He’ll swallow you down. But don’t worry. I punched a hole right through his belly and I promise you I’ll bring you out again.”

Once upon a time, and the time was 2,000 years ago. But the promise still holds: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” It is the comfort of the Resurrection that Christ reaches us today in his Supper. Here we may taste the body and blood that went into the wolf’s mouth, but which the wolf could not hold. As you eat and drink you have the same promise: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life!” Let the old wolf howl and snarl all he will. We know about the hole in his tummy. We know about the Sheep who is the Shepherd. Our Good Shepherd. Amen!

Bible Verse

that is always useful to keep in mind, particularly when we are agitated about something:

"for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God" - James 1:20

Patristic Quote of the Day

There are many things of all kinds which receive the name of evil. Some of these are troublesome to all men in general, while some of them are troublesome to some only; but there is nothing like wickedness of the soul and disease of the will. -- St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 200

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Many say, 'Instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned with souls and with lead them to Christ.' But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls. -- C.F. W. Walther, "Our Common Task: the Saving of Souls" 1872 (HT Susan)

The Media Weighs In

Wall Street Journal on Issues

27 March 2008

Blessed Luther

"Without Christ there is no forgiveness; but in Christ there is nothing but forgiveness." Homily for Easter Tuesday

Thanks be to God!


Have you signed up yet? If you listened to Issues, Etc. and appreciated, you should:


Easter Hymn

Blessed Martin Luther once said that no one could ever get tired of singing this hymn; I have members who disagree with him (fancy that!), but *I* think he was right. The more I sing it, the more I love it; the more I love it, the more I want to sing it.

Christ is arisen
From the grave's dark prison.
So let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be.

Were Christ not arisen,
Then death were still our prison.
Now, with Him to life restored,
We praise the Father of our Lord.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Now let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be.
Alleluia. (LSB 459)

Interesting Download Stats for KFUO

click here

Be patient; it's a rather large PDF file. These figures (as Pastor Esget notes below) do not include, apparently, any downloads through iTunes or WMA downloads.

FM Figures?

Why weren't the FM figures included? I *thought* that it was the generally understanding that funds generated from KFUO FM Classic were to help underwrite the cost of the Gospel outreach of KFUO AM? Maybe I'm all wet on that? Mr. Ames over on LQ noted the disparity between what Mr. Strand reported and what the Synod's official records show - but the official records don't seem to make a distinction between FM/AM. Why was that distinction made now in reporting only the AM Budget when Synod apparently treats it as a unified budget? I may be all wet. Money is not something I can even pretend to understand. Just a question for clarification, though.

Here's One Take on Strand's Letter

click here

Some Questions that Arise

from Dr. Erich Heidenreich:

Is the revenue generated by Issues, Etc. underwriters, church sponsors, ALL Reformation Club income and Bott Radio Network contributions included in Issues, Etc.’s total revenue figure?

Why were the host and the producer made responsible for a $3.5 million loss since 2001 and not KFUO management?

You have given statitistics for people listening live on the web. Why have you failed to release the on-demand listening statistics? How does the on-demand listenership of Issues, Etc. compare to the on-demand listenership of other KFUO produced programs in the past year?

The official responsibility for raising financial support for KFUO lies with the LCMS Foundation. Is it true that LCMS Foundation President Tom Ries was strongly critical of Issues, Etc.’s on-air editorial positions, specifically its public critique of popular televangelist Joel Osteen?

What was the total listenership for the weekly nationally, syndicated edition of Issues, Etc.?

How many grant proposals were written for Issues, Etc. compared to other proposals for KFUO-AM and KFUO-FM?

Why was Issues, Etc. the only KFUO-produced program required to raise and account for its own funds?

Why was Issues, Etc. the only KFUO-produced program that generated major financial underwriters like Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne, Concordia Publishing House and LCMS World Relief?

Why cancel all of Issues, Etc.? Why not first cancel the more expensive Sunday night nationally, syndicated edition of Issues, Etc. and continue to do the three-hour weekday local broadcast of Issues, Etc.?

Why not make cuts at top-level, higher-paid management at KFUO?

Why were the audio archives of Issues, Etc. initially removed? This doesn't cost KFUO any salaries and benefits?

Why fire the only Lutheran Pastor on staff, of the more than 20 full-time employees at KFUO?

Does the LCMS Treasurer, Tom Kuchta, think that Issues, Etc. was the cause of KFUO’s financial woes?

Does KFUO management think that Issues, Etc. was the cause of KFUO’s financial woes?

Why cancel the show just as it was launching a major development initiative (Issues, Etc. 300)? This campaign had the potential to eliminate the entire fiscal year deficit for KFUO-AM.

David Strand's Further Response


March 27, 2008

Dear Christian Friend:

Last week the decision was made to discontinue the “Issues, Etc.” program on KFUO-AM Radio, a ministry owned and operated by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). A brief statement was posted soon after on KFUO-AM's website citing programmatic and stewardship (business) reasons for this decision.

Following the discontinuation of the program, some KFUO-AM listeners asked for more information as to why “Issues, Etc.” had been ended. Detailed reasons are not usually provided when making program changes, and I intend to continue our policy and practice not to publicly discuss specific personnel matters. However, I do want to provide additional information regarding some of the significant challenges we faced prior to the discontinuation of the program and to respond to the inquiries of those who were particularly fond and appreciative of “Issues, Etc.”

In fiscal year 2007-08, KFUO-AM’s operating deficit was $620,698. Since 2001, the accumulated deficits at the station have been in excess of $3.5 million. The LCMS budget, entrusted to our care by members of our Synod’s congregations, has absorbed these shortfalls for years. After long and prayerful consideration, it became clear that measures had to be taken to stop the ongoing, staggering losses.

Although some are under the impression that “Issues, Etc.” was profitable and self-supporting, the fact is the program lost approximately $250,000 in the last fiscal year. While airing for only 18 percent of KFUO-AM’s programming week, “Issues” accounted for more than 40 percent of the station’s total deficit. These figures are based on the audited financial statements of the LCMS.

Over the years, every effort has been made to cut expenses at KFUO-AM. At the same time, particularly in the past year, extraordinary measures were taken to bolster the financial support of the station. A sizable portion of those efforts focused on assisting “Issues, Etc.,” the most costly program on the AM schedule. Unfortunately, these measures have not solved the problem. As of February 29th, two-thirds into the current fiscal year, KFUO-AM was on pace to suffer heavy losses again.

Some may also be under a misapprehension about the size of the “Issues” audience. In 2005, station management decided it could no longer justify paying for expensive ratings reports in light of the predictably low and static nature of KFUO-AM’s audience numbers. At the time, a blending of the spring 2004 and spring 2005 “books” showed an average listening audience during the “Issues” Monday-Friday timeslot of 1,650. There is no indication these numbers have grown appreciably since.

As for the audio streaming of “Issues, Etc.” via the Internet, the numbers are similarly low. During the last full month (February 2008) for which we have reports, the average number of live, streaming listeners during the “Issues” Monday-Friday timeslot was 64.

On Sunday nights, when the first hour of “Issues” was syndicated in a number of markets (an opportunity for which, during the past fiscal year, the LCMS actually paid $66,000 in broadcast fees), and where the second hour was available only on the Internet, the peak number of online listeners on the KFUO stream was 39.

Sadly, very difficult financial conditions sometimes require decisions that are not popular among all affected. In the case of KFUO-AM, the time had come when good stewardship of the church’s funds required a decision that meaningfully curtailed the deep, ongoing losses at the station. Ending the costs associated with “Issues, Etc.” was the only viable option, and the decision to do this was prayerfully and contemplatively made.

I am sorry that those who enjoyed “Issues” are disappointed, but I have made the show’s archives available, and I respectfully hope that all listeners will support the ongoing radio ministry of our beloved Synod.

Sincerely in Christ,

David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication Services

[I notice that there was no mention of the number of DOWNLOADS of the show, which seems to me to be one of the more frequent ways folks listened to it. I wonder if Mr. Strand would be willing to share those particulars?]

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (2008)

Ezekiel 37:1-14 / 1 John 5:4-10 / John 20:19-31

“Can these bones live?” That’s the big question. Ezekiel surveys the valley, and they are bleached white, scattered here and there, a veritable valley of the shadow of death. It looks like that’s the end - and not just for them, but for us all. But God asks: “Can these bones live?”

Ezekiel takes the safe route: “O Lord God, you know.” Don’t ask me about these big issues of life and death! It’s beyond my brain what can happen. I don’t know if these bones can live, but you do.

Comes the answer: Prophesy! And speak the Word over them he does. The bones comes together with a great rattling. But they lay on the ground now, dead bodies. More gruesome maybe than just bare bones. And then comes the answer again: Prophesy to the breath, the Spirit, and breath on them that they may live.

And as prophesies to the Breath, the Breath of God comes and enters them and suddenly they are standing on their feet - a great army. “Can these bones live?” Yes, for the Word can reconstitute their nature and the Spirit can give them life. Word and Spirit sent from the living Father.

But what about when the One who is dead is the Word Himself that called to life? Is there hope then? Thomas was doubtful. “Can these bones live?” The bones of Him who raised the dead, but when He is killed, can He live again?

The others told him: Yes! These bones CAN and DO live again. But Thomas had trouble taking their words to heart. He wanted to see, to touch, to handle.

How great is the kindness of the Lord! He not only appeared to the others, but He came again for Thomas. Appeared before him, bringing peace, and inviting: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Believe what? “These bones live!”

Did he? Did he touch? Did he handle? Some think no, others think yes. I think yes - because Jesus told him to, and I don’t think Thomas was about to disobey his Lord’s words anymore. He had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears that these bones live.

Jesus had breathed into the disciples and told them to receive the Spirit. The resurrected life that shone in His body He wanted to plant inside of them. And to them all He gave a commission of forgiveness. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”

Life risen from the dead sends out His own with an embassy of forgiveness, an embassy sealed with the good news that “these bones live” and because HIS bones live again and forever, ours shall too.

Let us crumble to the dust. Let us become a bleached field of bare bones, whitened in the sun. Nevertheless, nevertheless these bones shall live again.

Such was the joyful message that the Church carried out into all the world. With Christ our Lord there is forgiveness for all sin - as sure on earth as it is certain in heaven - spoken by the men He sends in His stead to speak it. With Christ our Lord there is a life that reaches beyond the grave, and so we go toward the grave not as those who are agnostic about whether God can make these bones live again, but as people who are certain that our bones will live again when Christ stands once more upon this earth and calls us forth by His Spirit.

This is the victory that has overcome the world - this is our faith. The Spirit, the water, the blood - they all testify to its truth. God has given us His testimony about His Son, that in Him we have forgiveness and in Him we life, and in Him is resurrection from the dead. This is the truth that sets hearts free and fills them with joy: “These bones, MY bones, shall live!”

Already the inside fellow, the new man, lives from this life and in this certainty. And we carry it around inside of our bodies that are our outer self, wasting away. We live inside from the Age of the Resurrection.

Christ in our Baptism breathed into us His Spirit and gave us a share in that life which never ends. There He wrapped us up in His holiness, covering our sin, freeing us from the old way of living with its dead end of doubt and despair and He planted in us hope of a life that never ends.

And whenever the absolution is spoken at His command by His sent servants, the Spirit of life is blowing again and the dead are called to life. We only have it inside ourselves now, but we know it will be in our bodies also on the last day. He doesn’t forgive a piece of us; He forgives the lot, the whole man, the whole self, and so what rises in victory over corruption is not some disembodied soul, but the whole person, made like Him.

And here at the Eucharist, we’re there with the disciples. And Jesus, the living one, is among us. He shows us the wounds so that we can see that it was indeed the body that went into death which is now standing before us, forever beyond the grip of the grave. He feeds to us His body and His blood, forgiveness and life. And our hearts rejoice that we have seen and known the Lord, and we cry out to all the world our conviction that these bones shall live again, and we join Thomas in falling before our Lord and confessing: my Lord and my God! Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed that these bones shall live! Amen.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The miracle of the Christian Church is based on the miracle of the Resurrection. Christ rose from the grave, triumphant over death. We, too, shall rise; we, too, shall triumph in our faith. The forces of materialism seem to triumph for a time. The Roman empire seemed invincible. It controlled the earth. It stretched out its hands, greedy, grasping, tyrannical, to possess the earth. It aimed at domination, power, glory, money, luxury. But it could not last. It tried to possess the earth and lost it. But on that Good Friday there hung One on the Cross; disfigured, shamed, spat upon; and from that throne He built a Kingdom that can never die. It cannot die, for it was built on love, eternal love, which triumphed that Easter Morn. - Von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 103

Patristic Quote of the Day

How marvelous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering. He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself. The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same. Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill. Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed. - St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon on Romans 12

26 March 2008

You ready for one more blog?

Here's a very helpful blog where you can find information (as it comes available) about Vespers in St. Louis and a meal and such - a time for those who support Issues, Etc. to gather and pray and hear the Word, sing God's praises, and enjoy the comfort of each other's company:

click here

Yup, I Can Get Used To...

...wrapping up Wednesday Evenings with:

Spoken Divine Service - 6:15
OT Catechesis - 7:00
Compline - 7:45

What a wonderful way to end the day! And Compline's return is like an old friend coming home again.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore, let them fear, who do not feel their sin, but charge ahead with an impudent and proud heart, in sin without any regret, and without any repentance or amending of life. But the others, who feel their sin and repent, should not fear. For this table is prepared for the sake of these grieved and anxious hearts, so that they may find comfort and refreshment there. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for Easter Wednesday 1534 (House Postils II:52)

Patristic Quote of the Day

"Declare a holy day," not in a slothful manner, but "in full assemblies" (ver. 28). For this is the voice of joyfulness among those that keep holy day, who walk "in the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even unto the house of God." For if there be there the spiritual sacrifice, the everlasting sacrifice of praise, both the Priest is everlasting, and the peaceful mind of the righteous an everlasting altar. And what shall we sing there, save His praises? What else shall we say there, save, "You are my God, and I will confess unto You; You are my God, and I will praise You. I will confess unto You, for You have heard me, and art become my Salvation." We will not say these things in loud words; but the love that abides in Him of itself cries out in these words, and these words are love itself. Thus as he began with praise, so he ends: "Confess unto the Lord, for He is gracious, and His mercy endures for ever" (ver. 29). With this the Psalm commences, with this it ends; since, as from the commencement which we have left behind, so in the end, whither we are returning, there is not anything that can more profitably please us, than the praise of God, and Alleluia evermore. - St. Augustine on Psalm 118

Speaking of Archives...

Just received this kind note from Brian:

Pastor Weedon,
In another attempt to hold on to the blessing that was "Issues, Etc." I started a blog and podcast, http://wittenbergmedia.org, that edits the archived shows by topic and guest and also makes them commercial free. The first series I'm doing is the one you did on the historic liturgy. The first part is up.

About Issues Archives

There is lots of talk online about the archives being gone again - and they apparently are BUT I called the station and they said this:

We are busy trying to compress all the files - the station servers are being bombarded with download requests and are overwhelmed with the requests - SO they are working as fast as possible to compress files so they are easier and quicker to download. NO FOUL PLAY involved. The process to compress one year of files is 6hrs and so they are doing a year a day. Estimated time for all files to be back up is Monday.

25 March 2008

Another Blog to Read

Petersen on Issues

Pr. Petersen's words are always worth pondering. He has obviously given long thought to how to address the matter.

A Great Site to Check Out for Issues Info


Where'd Annunciation go?

The custom is to transfer Annunication out of the Easter Octave if it falls within it. Thus, at St. Paul's, we'll observe Annunication next Wednesday at our midweek Eucharist.

Wow. Read this comment!

4430. Jason Allen St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Fort Riley, Ks I am in the Army and a friend gave me the web site of Issues, Etc when I was getting ready to go to be deployed to Iraq. I was fearful I would be killed in the war. I told a friend who always talked to me at the gym and he gave me the web site and told me to look up a program by Dr. Brighton and this would be a big help to me. When I listen to Dr. Brighton he told us about heaven and what Jesus did for us to get there. It was like a spring day in my life. If I ever get to St. Louis I am going to look him up. When I was growing my parents never went to church but once or twice a year. I had a lot of fear of Christ and that he was going to punished me. I looked in several Lutheran web sites to see if I could find out what happened to Issues and found one that said a church president took it off. I did not have time to read all the information that was in there. I would like to ask him if he has ever been in the Army and have a best friend die in your arms like happened to me in Iraq. Thanks Dr.Brig

(HT: Pr. Franck)

[Note that there is no evidence our President removed the show; but he did not prevent its removal. A distinction of sorts.]


....and still counting!

God Bless David Berger!

Easter 2008

An open letter to the Praesidium of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Dear Brothers in Christ,

There are times when one must step back and be willing to admit a mistake. This, I am convinced, is one of those times. It offers, however, also a window of opportunity. On Tuesday, March 18, a widely syndicated, web-cast radio program on KFUO-AM dedicated to Lutheran apologetics and getting out the Gospel message was effectively cancelled by terminating the employment of its host and producer, ostensibly for “programmatic” and “business” reasons. The lack of specific information, because employment issues are involved, has led to much speculation concerning other possible reasons for the action of a staff member of the Board for Communication Services.

According to information supplied by a district president, the president of Synod has given his permission to acknowledge that “The KFUO decision transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction.” And, we are compelled to add, neither was the action prevented. Thus, it is difficult to attach sole responsibility to any one person. It might well have been expected that the abrupt termination of two prominent staff personnel at KFUO during Holy Week, as well as subsequent actions, such as the initial removal of all traces of the Issues, etc. program from the web (with archives later restored) and the lack of explanation on the air regarding its absence, would cause great division within Synod and offense to many in our church body and beyond. That has clearly been the case. It has not been Synod’s finest hour.

Although we cannot change what is past and done, we can focus our attention on what remains to be done. Even from the dismal perspective of this week, we see a window of opportunity. As you know, a petition circulating on the world wide web has garnered to this writing nearly 4000 signatures – pastors in the parish, Lutheran lay people, other Christians, and those who credit Issues, etc. with steering them or their acquaintances to the saving Gospel. I encourage you to go to the site and see for yourselves. The number has grown hourly.


On the site, you will find a wealth of testimonials to the benefits of Issues, etc., from witnessing to the Gospel to defense of the faith. The program has clearly been spiritual and substantive theological sustenance for Lutherans and a powerful witness to the Gospel to Christians and non-Christians alike. Below is a random selection of signers and comments. None of the names is familiar to me. I trust that no privacy is violated, as all names and comments are publicly posted.

As a Christian apologist who has spent many years defending the faith, I would ask that you please restore the Issues, Etc. program. I am not a Lutheran, nor have I always seen eye-to-eye with Todd. And yet I can only view this dismissal as a true loss for the entire Body of Christ, regardless of denomination affiliations. Todd Willken has consistently dealt with crucial issues affecting the church in general, paying careful attention to exposing error wherever error might be found in the cults, the occult, and world religions. He has been a faithful servant and a dedicated voice of truth in the ever-growing din of false teachings throughout our culture. Please reconsider your actions. In Christ, RICHARD ABANES

I am very saddened about the abrupt removal of this program from KFUO. It has been a wonderful learning tool for my personal spiritual growth. Whether you are of the liberal or conservative persuasion we are all to be focused on Jesus Christ our Savior and not on "politics" of the church. In this case the devil has won. Micki Horstmann, Concordia Lutheran Church Kirkwood, MO

I am a Baptist General Conference pastor who has benefited greatly from the Issues, Etc program. I am very dismayed and disappointed that you have discontinued this fine program. Does the LCMS not care about truth, the gospel, and its own confessions? I have told my wife that if I keep listening to this show I might end up becoming a Lutheran! Your decision to remove a program that so clearly promotes the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was a careless one. Even as a non-Lutheran I was greatly impacted by this program and its confessional approach. In my opinion, you have cut one of the best things you had going. What a shame. Rev. Scott Eaton, Calvary Community Church, Schaumburg, IL

We have often used the discussion points and contents of Issues, Etc. as a jumping off point for our Topical Men's Bible Study. We have found this program to be of great value. Please return this program to the public. Rev. Michael Wenzel, Trinity Lutheran Church, Olympia, WA

I found Issues Etc. to be very insightful and unwavering in its analysis, especially of current events. It helped me by being a shining example of thoughtful and respectful analysis of issues from the Lutheran Christian perspective, while always preaching Christ and Him crucified. Olivier Calle, Messiah Lutheran Church, Marysville, WA

[The following comment is included in view of the reason given for Tuesday’s action. To protect the privacy of the signer, the name has been deleted, although it is on the petition.]
The $750,000 LCMS beneficiary of my policy is in [jeopardy] here. Council Bluffs, IA

I converted to the Lutheran Church largely because of Issues, Etc. Adam J. Roe, Trinity Lutheran Church Worden, IL

One observer has also noted the demographics of the petition signers. I have not personally verified them. Ages range from 7 to 84. All but one state has been represented. Ten vocations have been listed, including pastors, missionaries, chaplains, military personnel, professors, and students. Twenty denominations have been listed other than Lutheran, including Presbyterian, Baptist, and Roman Catholic. Most significant is that signers represent 21 countries. Issues, etc., is truly an international program. In addition to the above are the hundreds (possibly thousands) of e-mail messages that representatives of Synod have received, individually and corporately.

No survey conducted at great expense to Synod could have provided any more valuable information on the importance of KFUO radio and its related web ministry – truly a providential byproduct of Tuesday’s action. It is most unfortunate that it took such action to reveal the esteem in which the program, Issues, etc., is held and how effective LCMS radio ministry has been and can be. What a unique opportunity we have, with God’s help, to convert a sow’s ear into a silk purse!

Are we ready to retrace our steps, brothers? Is it possible, in a spirit of Christian humility and regret, to admit the error and to take steps to redress it? Let me be the first to confess any sin of commission or omission that may have led to the action. As an elected member of the Board for Communication Services, I have pledged to conduct church business in an open and honest manner. In two weeks, I will be meeting as a member of a joint BOD/BCS committee. We are to deal with two charges or “scenarios.” Below is the relevant excerpt from the February 2008 Board of Directors meeting minutes:

Resolved, That the LCMS Board of Directors establish a committee of three members of the Board of Directors (appointed by the chairman of the Board of Directors) and three members of the Board for Communication Services (appointed by the chairman of the Board for Communication Services), plus the Synod’s Vice-President–Finance–Treasurer as a non-voting resource person, to present two scenarios for consideration at the May (or August) 2008 Board of Directors’ meeting:

Scenario 1: A comprehensive operations, programmatic, and financial plan for engagement of KFUO AM and FM in support of the mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod “vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world.”

Scenario 2: A comprehensive communications, programmatic, and financial plan for allocation of net assets realized from the sale, realignment, joint venturing, or other type of divestiture or reallocation of KFUO AM and FM assets in support of the Synod’s mission.

My first thought following the announcement of Tuesday’s action was that the timing could not have been worse. But our God is a God of paradox, even a God of surprises. Within days of our first meeting, He has provided an unexpected gift: living, breathing evidence of the value of radio and web ministry for The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. He has demonstrated that we need more, not fewer, programs like Issues, etc. to support the mission of the LCMS. And so, in working on Scenario 1, we do well to examine carefully the responses found in the petition to help us understand the value of Lutheran radio and web ministry as a source of spiritual nourishment for our members and an effective means of outreach to the world at large. We have been given an unexpected gift. Let us accept it, learn from it, and build on it. In recent years, access on the world wide web, both to live call-in radio programs and to program archives, has increased exponentially the ability of the LCMS to “get the Word out.” That availability needs to be maintained and expanded.

Now that we have concrete evidence of the protean values of such programming, as well as evidence of its international reach, we also have opportunity to re-direct resources to this ministry. We can, for example, consider such sources as Fan into Flame funding. Is there any more appropriate use for these funds than Gospel-centered, Spirit-powered Lutheran outreach on radio and on the world wide web?

Our work initially, however, must be to repair the breach of trust in those who have seen that trust broken. Readiness publicly to admit the error is the first step. It will go a long way in re-establishing that trust. Since personnel issues are involved, I can make no concrete proposal for initial action, but I have no doubt that means to initiate it are within the purview of your respective offices. It may be that no overture will be able to bridge the deep divide caused by the termination, but every effort must be made to re-instate the program, Issues, etc. Changes in personnel or format will be viewed with great suspicion. If the injury to the two men was too great to expect a return to business as usual, then we will have to learn from our mistake. I pray, however, that with God’s help and the sincere good will of all involved, the error can be re-dressed. Let the world see how the church can really work.
Brothers, it is time to move forward with all urgency in positive directions in LCMS radio and world wide web ministry.

May our Risen Lord forgive us our errors, help us to labor together in love, and continue to support us in our efforts to carry His Word by all means to the ends of the earth.

In Him,
David O. Berger

A postscript of concern: It would be a sad irony indeed if the cancellation of one of the most widely listened-to programs on KFUO-AM – a program supported locally in other metropolitan areas and broadcast nationally, and a program with a long record of donor funding – were to lead to a financial crisis at the station, forcing the committee to consider Scenario 2 immediately. We pray fervently that that will not happen, but rather that generous donors will look past the unhappy circumstances of the past few days and see the value in radio and related world wide web ministry and continue to support it. Once a license is given up, it will not be regained.

[This open letter is a personal communication from the keyboard of the above-signed. While I have noted my membership on the BCS, I speak neither for the Board for Communication Services nor as a faculty member at Concordia Seminary.]

Prayer for Enemies and Persecutors

O Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of God, in Your Word, You have prescribed for us this rule of love: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 5:44). I pray also to You, the most generous forgiver of sins, for my enemies and for those who persecute the church. Give me the grace of Your Holy Spirit so that I not only forgive my enemies from the heart, but also heartily pray for their salvation. Do not sharpen over them the stern sword of revenge; instead, anoint their heads with the oil of mercy. Extinguish in their hearts the hot ashes of wrath and hatred so that they do not flame up into the infernal fires of hell. May they recognize that life is quickly dissipating vapor and smoke (James 4:14), our bodies fleeting ashes and dust (Sirach 10:9). Then in their mortal bodies they will not bear immortal wrath nor receive the enemy of their souls into the feeble home of their earthen body.

May they recognize that this deep-seated hatred is their greatest enemy because it kills the soul and excludes them from participation in heavenly life. Enlighten their minds so they gaze into the mirror of divine mercy and recognize the ugliness of anger and hatred. Direct their wills so they are moved by teh example of divine forgiveness and resist the inclination to be angry and to injure. Graciously allow that, as much as it depend on me, I may live peacefully with all people. Turn the hearts of my enemies to reconciliation. May we walk harmoniously on the path of this life because we hope for one place in the heavenly kingdom. May we not be separated on earth because we desire to live as one in heaven. We call on You, the one Lord and God of heaven. It is by no means right that servants of the one Lord are not united. We are only mystical body under Christ the Head. For members of one body to fight one another is disgraceful and dishonorable. For those whose faith is one, and whose Baptism is one, it is fitting that they be one in body and soul.

--Blessed Johann Gerhard *Meditations on Divine Mercy* pp. 146,147

Das "Dritte Ding"

No, not in the sense that Luther meant it, rather in the sense that Pr. David Jay Webber expresses it:

There is that which MUST be believed, for it is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures as divinely true.

There is that which MUST NOT be believed, for it contradicts what is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures as divinely true.

There is that which MAY be believed, for it does NOT contradict what the Sacred Scriptures reveal as divinely true, but in fact harmonizes with that revelation, and has a long history of fellow Christians believing it across the centuries.

It strikes me that the third thing, the third point, is what St. Thomas Aquinas called "probable" but not "incontrovertible" as he said in the Summa:

Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."--Summa Theologia, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

I believe that the Orthodox use the term "theologoumena" for something akin to the third category, and by that term mean something stronger than merely what Lutherans mean when they tend to dismiss something as "just pious opinion." Thoughts on Pr. Webber's categories?

[I note Gerhard using the very category most reverently in his homily for Quasimodo on the question of whether the scars of our Lord remain visible in His holy body to this day. "Yet with this it should be noted that this actually should not be regarded as an article of faith, because there exists no express, clear testimony from Scripture about this. Rather, it is only a presumptive conclusion." And yet he goes on to speak of the matter with great reverence for the way the ancient teachers laid down their reasons for so concluding and clearly agrees with them and includes them in his sermon - Postilla I:364-366]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the fullness of time, You sent this Savior to us. Through Him, You recall us from death to life, from sin to righteousness, from hell to heavenly glory. O Lover of all humanity, whose delight is in the children of men, who can offer worthy praise for this philanthropy? Moreover, who can conceive of it? These are the incomprehensible riches of Your goodness. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *Meditations on Divine Mercy* p. 63 (trans. by Pastor Matthew Harrison)

Patristic Quote of the Day

We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song. - St. Augustine

The Big Question

I love Pastor Asburry's blog this a.m. - must read stuff:

click here

24 March 2008

Bekah's Latest

We all think it looks like Lauren G., but Bekah assures us that it is just an accident that it does.

Oh, and Folks!

Don't forget those letters to the editor for the Reporter AND the Lutheran Witness. Just write to tell them how much you were blessed by Issues, Etc. and how you want to see it restored or a cogent reason given for silencing this voice of the Gospel.

Sign the Petition! (Thanks, Pr. Gallas!)

I commend Blogreaders

to check out this site:

Pastor Cwirla

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the doctrine of Transubstantiation, nevertheless, as in almost all of her corruptions, the Church of Rome has not so much absolutely removed the foundation, as it hidden it by wood, hay, and stubble of human devise. Truth can sometimes be reached by running the corruptions of it back to the trunk on which they were grafted. -- C.P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 629

Patristic Quote of the Day

What then? do not we offer every day? We offer indeed, but making a remembrance of His death, and this [remembrance] is one and not many. How is it one, and not many? Inasmuch as that [Sacrifice] was once for all offered, [and] carried into the Holy of Holies. This is a figure of that [sacrifice] and this remembrance of that. For we always offer the same, not one sheep now and tomorrow another, but always the same thing: so that the sacrifice is one. And yet by this reasoning, since the offering is made in many places, are there many Christs? but Christ is one everywhere, being complete here and complete there also, one Body. As then while offered in many places, He is one body and not many bodies; so also [He is] one sacrifice. He is our High Priest, who offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. That we offer now also, which was then offered, which cannot be exhausted. This is done in remembrance of what was then done. For (says He) "do this in remembrance of Me." ( Luke xxii. 19 .) It is not another sacrifice, as the High Priest, but we offer always the same, or rather we perform a remembrance of a Sacrifice.-- St. John Chrysostom on Hebrews 9

The Lord's Humor?

From Synod's webpage today (HT: Pr. Cwirla):

Throwing Out Some Ideas

A few thoughts on Issues, Etc. on this Monday when our churches pray: "O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life."

1. The idea of gathering for prayer, for encouragement from the Word, and for the comfort of being together - this sounds very good. And I wonder if a Sunday evening Vespers at one of our parishes in St. Louis (I'm thinking of Hope), followed by a meal and a speaker might be a good thing?

2. On the follow Monday, those who could stay could gather for a further prayer Vigil outside 1333 S. Kirkwood with a focus on asking God to restore the show. Where two or three are gathered...! We could include in this Vigil a special time of prayer for our Synod, her leaders, her pastors, workers, and all our parishes, and the spread of the Gospel in all the world.

3. The week that seems best suited for this is the week that the Board for Communication Services is next scheduled to meet in St. Louis, which would mean April 13th for the Vespers/Banquet and April 14th for the prayer vigil (much better word and focus than "protest" - says this boomer with a trace of resignation).

4. Ask one of the Board for Communication Service members or one of the District Presidents to present the petition to the BCS at its next meeting, asking for a reversal of the decision to cancel the show. This meeting will be held (I have been told) latter in the week at a hotel near the St. Louis airport and not at 1333 S. Kirkwood.

5. Continue in prayer throughout this time that God's good, gracious, and perfect will be done; and continue to get the word out, asking folks to sign the petition. Issues Etc. Petition

An addendum: my friend Pr. Don Kirchner brought to my attention that some might be under the impression that Synod had not offer a severance package to Pr. Wilken and Jeff. That is not the case. A severance has been offered; I do not believe that as of yet it has been either accepted or declined. However, that is their business and not ours.

I'd appreciate thoughts on the five points above.

23 March 2008

Hymn for Easter Evening

Who are you who walk in sorrow
Down Emmaus' barren road,
Hearts distraught and hope defeated,
Bent beneath grief's crushing load?
Nameless mourners, we will join you,
We who also mourn our dead;
We have stood by graves unyielding,
Eaten death's bare, bitter bread.

Who is this who joins our journey,
Walking with us stride by stride?
Unknown Stranger, can You fathom
Depths of grief for one who died?
Then the wonder! When we told You
How our dreams to dust have turned,
Then You opened wide the Scriptures
Till our hearts within us burned.

Who are You? Our hearts are opened
In the breaking of the bread -
Christ, the victim, now the victor,
Living, risen from the dead!
Great companion on our journey,
Still surprise us with Your grace!
Make each day a new Emmaus;
On our hearts Your image trace!

Who are we who travel with You
On our way through life to death?
Women, men, the young, the aging,
Wakened by the Spirit's breath!
At the font You claim and name us,
Born of water and the Word;
At the table still You feed us,
Host us as our risen Lord!

"Alleluia! Alleluia!"
Is the Easter hymn we sing!
Take our life, our joy, our worship
As the gift of love we bring.
You have formed us all one people
Called from ev'ry land and race.
Make the Church Your servant body,
Sent to share Your healing grace!
--Herman Stuempfle, LSB 476

Images from Holy Week and Easter

The sound of the bells ringing as the children marched in behind the cross, their palms waving: "All glory, laud, and honor!"... The look on their faces as they receive the Sacrament for the first time... Walking in the warm almost Spring sunshine with Cindi, and Lucy tugging and tugging... Dean and Lauren home for the week... The shock of Jeff's call on Tuesday... A flurry of emails and calls and then watching the LCMS internet presence explode at the outrage (and outrage it was and is)... The long readings from the Passion accounts on Holy Tuesday and Wednesday, just losing ourselves in this eternal story... The packed Church for Maundy Thursday Eucharist, with Matt Harrison and family and Bishop Obare's son, sitting in the first pew... Dean assisting with the veneration of the Cross at Friday's main service... The silence before Tenebrae Vespers and the dying of the Light... The jubilant singing of "Rejoice, Angelic Choirs" at Vigil... Stu, John, and Dean assisting in the liturgy for that night... The confirmation of 11 more (young and old) and giving the Sacrament to those who have been waiting long to receive... FOOD!... Trumpets and organ, timpani and bells, tambourine and choir, joyful congregation celebrating the most joyous Eucharist of the entire year... Easter dinner: two plates of fried chicken, deviled eggs, mock-potato salad, mock-corn bread, biscuits and sausage gravy, cheesecake with fresh strawberries (thank you, Jo) or cherries, and vanilla cake (lo-carb, of course) and as wonderful as it was, I was having a hard time staying awake to enjoy it!... Saying goodbye to Dean and Lauren... A LONG nap...ready now for cards and a little snacking... Xristos anesti! Alithos anesti!

Something David Whipped UP

on his MacBook Pro in less than an hour this afternoon - and for no reason at all (which is the mark of true artistry, I think):

Bekah has also been working on a painting that I think is her absolute best so far, but when I went to get a picture of it she told me she wasn't finished with it yet. Sigh. Looked good to me!

I am always amazed at what artists can do. My appreciation for the arts has mostly been in music, but my kids may just make me come to appreciate the visual arts yet!

Xristos anesti!

Alithos anesti!

The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad.
The passover of gladness,
The passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From sin's dominion free,
Our Christ has brought us over
With hymns of victory.

Let hearts be purged of evil
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light
And, listening to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own "All hail!" and hearing
May raise the victor's strain.

Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin,
Let all the world keep triumph
And all that is therein.
Let all things seen and unseen
Their notes of gladness blend
For Christ the Lord has risen,
Our Joy that has no end.
--St. John of Damscus (LSB 478)

22 March 2008

Tired and Joyful

Vigil has concluded. We welcomed 11 people into communicate membership tonight, bringing our total new communicants for the week to 19. What overflowing joy! Tonight we were renewed in our baptism and sang to the Risen One who reigns among us in His Eucharist. Special thanks to Pr. Rethwisch (of Holy Cross, Wartburg IL), John Klinger and Dean Herberts for assisting in the liturgy. And to the Bells of St. Paul for gracing our service with some fabulous bell music! Now it's bed time and tomorrow at 4:30 comes mighty early - that's when stoves have to be lighted for the Easter breakfast. So let me say it to all the blog readers:

Xristos anesti! Alithos anesti!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

"Our joy that has no end..."

Look Who's Preaching at Vigil!

I decided to move over and let St. John Chrysostom have the pulpit:


Are there any who are devout lovers of God?

Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?

Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?

Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,

let them receive their due reward;

If any have come after the third hour,

let him with gratitude join in the Feast!

And he that arrived after the sixth hour,

let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.

And if any delayed until the ninth hour,

let him not hesitate; but let him come too.

And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,

let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.

He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,

as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.

He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.

The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;

rich and poor, rejoice together!

Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,

rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.

Let no one go away hungry.
Partake, all, of the cup of faith.

Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,

for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;

for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.

He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.

He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,

"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.

It was in an uproar because it was mocked.

It was in an uproar, for it was destroyed.

It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.

It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.

It took earth, and encountered Heaven.

It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?

O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!

Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!

Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;

for Christ having risen from the dead,

is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Easter Divine Service

That a tomb is empty is not necessarily good news, or even big news. Easter is not about an empty tomb. Especially since Jesus’ tomb was not empty at all. There was someone in it. Only it was not Jesus. A young man who had clothed himself in white, we are told. We may surmise the young man to be an angel by the way the women react: terror! That’s the usual response of human beings when we encounter one of God’s holy messengers.

Listen to the messenger, though, and he tells you news that is both good and big. “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here. He is risen. See the place where they put him. But go, tell his disciples, and Peter, that He goes before you to Galilee, there you will see Him as He told you.”

That a man rose from the dead is big news indeed, but it is not yet the good news. After all, people had risen from the dead before: Lazarus of Bethany, Jairus’s daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and even a few in the Old Testament. Big news each time, to be sure – but only temporarily good news to them and their families. For the simple fact is that they were one and all raised only to die again.

So what is the good news of Easter, if it is not that the tomb is empty or that a man rose from the dead?

It is this: that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, is risen! The One who had lifted onto his back the burden of this world’s sin and carried it to Calvary and there owned it as His very own, so that all that is ours might become His that all that is His might become ours! The One who stood under the divine wrath in your place and mine, that One is now risen. The One who bore what we could not bear without it destroying us, has proven stronger and come out alive! Death could not hold Him because He had no sin of His own and His sufferings have completely answered for the sin of the rest of us. His resurrection is then the Father’s absolution, wiping out the sin of all. That’s how Paul says it: He was put to death for our sins, and raised for our justification! And that, my friends, is good news indeed.

For it means that before God, there is no remembrance of our sins! And that means that death itself has lost its ultimate claim on us. Oh, we may indeed die – certainly we will, unless our Lord returns first. But death itself has been utterly transformed by Christ’s resurrection. Our corruptible bodies (bodies that fall apart) need to be changed into incorruptible ones (bodies that never fall apart). Not that God gives us different bodies, he simply repairs these bodies to be all that He meant them to be from the beginning. God usually works this change through death. Picture physical death, then, as being put under anesthesia before undergoing that transforming surgery by our Great Physician. Only we wake up from this anesthesia with no ill-side effects and with our bodies repaired and restored, never to be sick or frail or subject to death ever again. All this is promised to you who are baptized into Christ by the Resurrection of Jesus: sins forgiven and so death defeated.

Now, that is indeed incredibly great good news. But there is even more. The Lord’s messenger reminds the women of the Lord’s own words of promise about where He would be to meet the disciples, and Peter is singled out. “Go, tell His disciples and Peter.”

Peter, who had boasted that even if all the others fell away, he would stand faithful to the Lord. Peter, who had tried to protect our Lord with a sword. Peter, who had denied that he knew his Lord three times – out of fear of suffering and death. Peter, to whom the Lord Jesus had looked after the crowing of the cock. Peter, who then burst into tears and ran away ashamed. Peter, who is so much a picture of you and me and all our good intentions ending in continual failures, all our boasting coming to nothing, all our human will power evaporating just when we need it. Peter, who is a picture of us.

It’s as though the Lord were saying through the angel: “O you who have failed me and even denied me by words and deeds, you I call too, to come and meet me where I will be. There I will receive you, pardon you, restore you.” That’s incredibly great news!

We know where He promised to meet the disciples and Peter: “In Galilee.” We also know that He met them before they could even get there. Seems they were having a bit of hard time believing the good news the women brought them, so Jesus himself had to show up and put their fears and doubts to flight – but we’re getting ahead of the story. That is next week’s Gospel. If Galilee is where His own words directed them to meet the Risen One, what about you and me? His words direct us to our own Galilee, to the Holy Supper, to this Table. There the Risen One presides, offering to you the sacrifice He once carried on your behalf into the Most Holy Place. He gives it to you that your fears might be put to flight. That you might come to believe and know that your sins – however great, however often repeated – have all been answered for by this Body and Blood, and therefore your death will be no more than going under the anesthesia and waking up alive like you’ve never been alive before. After all, into you has gone the Body and Blood of the Son of God who, though He was once dead, is alive forevermore. His body and blood in you is the pledge of His forgiveness and the guarantee of your resurrection.

“Go, tell!” the angel told the women. But they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. We know from the rest of the Gospels that in the end their joy overcame their fear, and they began to spread the Good News. Now you too have been given Good News to spread: Christ is risen and the sin of this entire world has been forgiven! Christ is risen, and death has been defeated, transformed from the fearful monster that eats us all into God’s divine surgery! Christ is risen and He stands ready to meet you in His Holy Supper!

Alleluia, alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Easter Matins

Mary's great anxiety on Easter morning is "they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." That's her message to the apostles and so Peter and John race to the tomb, only to find that Mary was right. The tomb is empty.

That the tomb is empty is not yet good news. Indeed, an empty tomb may mean nothing more than Mary supposed: that someone had come and taken him away. The good news of Easter is NEVER that the tomb is empty. Such a message still leaves Peter puzzled, John in half-belief, and Mary weeping.

The angels in the tomb ask her "why?" Again her answer: "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Even the appearance of angels is not enough to drive away the sorrow from Mary's heart, if she doesn't know where she may find her Lord.

Mary is asked one more time: "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, thinking she was talking to the man in charge of the garden, says: "Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."

Mary was desperate on Easter morning to know where she could find the dead body of her beloved Lord. And the answer was nowhere. She'd never find that dead body again. Instead she'd find the body that had been dead alive and never dying again. Her desperation blinded her to who was standing right in front of her. Her eyes did not reveal Him to her. It was her ears that did the job. "Mary," he said.

And in a blinding flash she knew. Only one so spoke her name. She knew who was standing in front of her. She knew where her Lord was. And joy came flooding over her soul. Relief and with that a sudden rising fear, fear that He might get away from her again. So she lunges and tries to grab hold. To hold him so tight that He'd never be able to leave her grasp again. "I've got you, Rabboni! I've got you forever!"

"Do not cling to Me," says the Crucified and now Risen Lord. "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father."

Mary's heart must have sunk to her toes. She had thought it was going to be like it was before. Like it had been for the last years on the road in Galilee and Judea: He preaching and teaching, and she being able to be with him and serve him and love him. She thought that His being alive again meant a restoration to the good old days. Jesus has to pry loose and give her new vision, new sight.

No, not like before. Better than before. Bigger than before. Unimaginably more than before. Better than walking around Galilee with the Rabbi is the Risen Lord taking up His abode within you. Bigger than an earthly home is a heavenly one. Unimaginably more than a human companionship with Jesus is the gift of being made a brother or sister of Jesus and so an heir of the heavenly Father. With Jesus, there's always more.

"Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God."

And so Mary was sent as the Lord's chosen Apostle to the Apostles. She was sent to bring to them the word of pardon from the Risen Christ, for He called them His brothers. She was sent to bring the word of hope to the despairing, for Death had not proven victor over Him, and so it will not prove victor over any who belong to Him. She was sent to bring the word of love to the grieving, because Jesus had announced that His Father was now their Father.

Off she ran to tell them that she had seen the Lord and to convey to them "that He had spoken these things to her."

No more anxiety then about where to find the Lord. It is the Lord who does the finding. Only a dead Lord would need you to go in search of Him. But when it is the Risen Christ, He is the one who goes in search of you. He is the one who finds you. He is the one who drives away fear, who pardons sin, who tramples down death, who embraces you with an embrace so secure that He will never let you go until you feast your eyes upon Him whom you have learned to love only with your ears.

For that is how the Lord finds you and me today, in the post-Resurrection church. Through our ear-holes. He finds us by sending out His Word, His message. It's a message from our Brother who lives, whom death could not hold. It's a message from our Brother who gives His own Father to be our Father, and who gives His own God to be our God. It's a message from the One who has gone on ahead of us to prepare a place for us so that He may one day come again and take us to Himself that we may be with Him where He is.

Where is He? He who is in heaven is at the same time He who is in His message, in His words, words which He places in His chosen messengers' mouths to speak for the peace and joy of His people.

Hear them now: Alleluia! Jesus is risen! Trumpets resounding in glorious light! Splendor, the Lamb, Heaven forever! Oh, what a miracle God has in sight! Jesus is risen and we shall arise: Give God the glory! Alleluia!

From My District President - Pr. Herbert Mueller

Statement to the District on Issues Etc

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus:

God’s peace is ours in Christ Jesus, won for us this day as our Lord Jesus died for us. He took our sin and death into Himself that He might give us His life and His righteousness. In the proclamation of His cross and His resurrection, we have life. I pray God’s blessing and peace for you and yours this Good Friday.

As many of you know, this past Tuesday the very popular Lutheran radio show, Issues Etc. was cancelled and the host, Rev. Todd Wilken (a member of the SID) and the show’s producer, Mr. Jeff Schwarz (a member of St. Paul, Hamel) have been dismissed from the employ of the Synod. By way of explanation, this is what David Strand, Director of the Board for Communication Services, sent to the District Presidents:

While this was a programmatic and business decision, it also touches on matters of employment and human resources. Because of this, there is very little that can appropriately be said by way of "explanation" or "reasons" for this decision.

I would respectfully suggest that you direct callers or e-mailers to the Synod's Church Information Center (1-888-THE LCMS, or infocenter@lcms.org), whose staff is equipped to handle such calls. There also is a brief statement on the KFUO-AM website at www.kfuo.org (from an email, received from David Strand March 19, 2008)

In addition, when I first heard of this, I asked President Gerald Kieschnick if he could tell me why the show was cancelled and why Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz were dismissed. Following is his response:
Following is a statement from the Board for Communication Services office regarding this matter, which transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction:
The “Issues, Etc.” radio program on KFUO-AM has been discontinued. Show host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz are no longer with KFUO. We thank these men for their years of service of behalf of the station.
…To my knowledge there is no reason for disciplinary action regarding those affected (From an email, received from President Kieschnick March 18, 2008)
I have received no further information. We much always put the best construction on everything. Yet I do realize this leaves many questions completely unanswered. For instance, why? What are the “programmatic and business reasons” for the decision? No one, least of all Rev. Todd Wilken or Jeff Schwarz, has been given any reason. Please trust that I am diligently seeking more complete answers through personal contacts. I hope that at some time a further explanation can be offered by those responsible. There may be good, understandable reasons for this, but at the very least, I do believe those who appreciated Issues Etc ought be given a credible explanation why this was done.

In the meantime, I would humbly suggest that you let your thoughts be known by contacting the Board for Communication Services through David Strand (David.Strand@lcms.org), or by contacting the President’s Office or the numbers given above. They need to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Please know that I will be doing all I can from my office to help Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz. The most important thing you can do is to pray for them, pray for our Synod, pray for our leaders. Please also, in all your contacts, remember the 8th Commandment, remember that we are dealing with brothers in Christ. Be honest about your thoughts, but remember also our Lord’s Word – “Whatever, you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17).

Yours in the One crucified for us this day,

+ Herb Mueller
Southern Illinois District President

On the Descent

Our Lord Christ did descend into hell, battered hell open, overcame the devil, and delivered those who were held captive by the devil. (Blessed Martin Luther: House Postil I:480)

Christ has crushed hell, opened up heaven, bound and taken captive the devil, and delivered the prisoners. (Blessed Martin Luther: House Postil I:480)

The soul, having obtained union with the Word; descended into hell; but using its divine power and efficacy, it said to the ones in bondage, "Go forth!" (St. Cyril of Alexandria, as cited in Catalog of Testimonies VI)