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faith in faith or faith in Christ

Living in Texas, Christianity here is highly influenced by revivalism and its decision-theology. Even traditions and denominations that reject this belief and practice can't help but be influenced by it, even if only to interact with other Christians around them. Yesterday some life-long Christians were asking about conversion experiences and…

who works in worship

and why you should care Every time a Barna survey comes out describing church attendance in America the numbers show a small but steady decline. There is no denying the trend. And, to be honest, I think this phenomenon is one we church leaders have created. Specifically, over the last…

begging for Christ's righteousness

Because of the presence and participation of the body of Christ, the Holy Supper is a meal of the most intimate fellowship and, therefore, at the same time, the highest love-meal. Just as fervent love is demanded, so fervent love is delivered. We all come together, as children of the…

when "Lord, have mercy" is my only prayer

Sometimes the prayers won't come. Sometimes the Psalter doesn't resonate. Sometimes the pain is too great, the world is too loud, the silence is too deafening. Sometimes the only prayer I can pray is "Lord, have mercy," and the Holy Spirit intercedes for me, and the Son prays for me,…

repentance and a clear conscience

You cast your sins from yourself and onto Christ when you firmly believe that his wounds and sufferings are your sins, to be borne and paid for by him, as we read in Isaiah 53 [:6], "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." St. Peter says,…

on prayer after sin

Many of us, after falling into sin, feel as though we must somehow cleanse ourselves or make amends with God before we can return to him in prayer. While this type of thinking appeals to our universal, innate understanding of sin and guilt, it is patently unchristian. Instead, as Luther…

deeds, creeds, and true Christianity

Through the years I have spent time worshipping in various denominations spanning the theological spectrum from 'conservative' to 'liberal.' Toward either of these poles, congregations, pastors, and church leaders tend to gravitate toward an emphasis on right doctrine (creeds) or right practice (deeds). Some conservative congregations I've been a…

hopeful penitence

While we mourn our sin during this time of Lent and focus on our sinfulness in light of God's Law, we must not let mourning turn to brooding or hopelessness. Lent is not a time of self-deprecation, a time to 'beat ourselves up,' or a time to resolve to…

Lent: on sin, hopelessness, and faith

Pow! Right between the eyes. The readings appointed for Ash Wednesday hit us hard with our sinfulness, harder than probably any other readings during the Church Year. The deliberately examined life cannot help but lead us to despair for lack of our own goodness and merit. In the mirror of…

prayer on the eve of Lent

O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee: Grant this…