1. I just passed a church site that, over the past year, has periodically featured small white yard signs, each with a single word on them. Some of the signs are still there and say "Love," "Peace," and "Kindness."

Honestly, every time I see them, I cringe. It's not...
2. ...that, as a Christian, I don't recognize these things as laudable virtues. Of course, I do.

But these little signs seem to say that pursuing such virtues is what the Christian faith is about. It's not.
3. Christian faith is about a loving, righteous God taking on human flesh in Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins precisely because our lack of virtue--in thought, word, and deed--merited the punishment Jesus took for us.
4. The congregation in front of whose building these virtue signs are posted is part of a denomination that pats itself on the back for being "open" and "loving." It loves to toss out the parts of God's moral law, which Jesus says He didn't come to abolish but...
5. ...fulfill, it believes it and the world have grown beyond. They mete out cheap grace to those whose sins they justify, but yell, "Virtue! Virtue!" to those whose particular sins they find objectionable.

In the end, there's no difference between a fundamentalist...
6. ...denomination that burdens people with laws like no dancing, no alcohol consumption, and you must tithe for Jesus to love you and a cheap-grace Church that tells you that Christianity is about pursuing virtues.
7. In both instances, you end up with a self-referential, self-righteous, and self-reverencing belief system rather than faith in Jesus and the freedom from the condemnation of sin and death we otherwise deserve.
8. The virtues that, with minor variations, the whole human race finds commendable (because God has written His moral law on our hearts), cannot be attained by human effort...
9. As the apostle Paul says, "I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:19)
10. That's what I remember whenever either the legalist or the antinomian starts barking about virtues. I'm a sinful lout and I know it. And I know what good is. But because I'm a sinful lout, I can't talk or work myself into being a good person acceptable to...
11. ...God, others, or myself, for that matter. (Although I may sometimes bamboozle others and myself.) That's the sorry state I would be in (and your would-be too) if it weren't for the fact that God has refused to give up on me (or you).
12. That's why Paul writes later in the same chapter of Romans I just mentioned: "Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)
13. It's hard to tell the whole truth on a small yard sign...or a tweet...or fat volumes of books. But maybe the signs should say something like, "In Christ, God forgives the unkind" or "In Christ, God forgives the unjust, the sexually immoral, the thief," and so on.
14. Ironically, by posting those virtue signs, the supposedly open and gracious church is only preaching the same old Law. They either encourage people to think that their "salvation" (or the congregation's version of salvation) rests on my being virtuous, yielding hopelessness..
15. Or self-righteousness as people deludedly decide that because they agree with the virtues lifted up by those yard signs that they've got it together and are better than their less-enlightened neighbors.
16. But what we really need is Christ. We need the truth that I am a sinner who falls short of God's minimal expectations for human behavior and that God loves me and covers me with Christ's perfect righteousness despite my sins.
17. It's that Word that creates faith in Jesus in me and, as I turn to Jesus in daily repentance and renewal, He begins to evidence His virtues within me. If I pursue virtue, I will never be virtuous; if I pursue Christ, He will build virtue within me.
18. But if you follow Jesus, don't ever expect to perceive the work of building virtue that He does within you. In fact, the moment, you begin to think that you have a handle on some godly virtue, an alarm bell should go off in your head, telling you to repent...
19. ...for entertaining the idea that you've made yourself a saintly person. There are no self-made people in the Kingdom of God over which Jesus reigns; just beggars who live in the grace and freedom of being God's children through faith in Jesus.
20. The sheep in Jesus' portrayal of the final judgment are applauded by Jesus the King for caring for the stranger, the naked, the hungry, the imprisoned, and so on. But the sheep, those who have followed Jesus and undergone His transforming Word's work, say...
21. ...they don't remember doing any of those virtuous things. The virtues, like eternal life, forgiven sin, and peace with God, come to us by faith in Jesus. Period.

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11 Jun
Truth #1: I'm a sinner born into a dying human race oriented to getting its own way, no matter what the will of God.

Truth #2: My sinful nature and the sins I commit because of it mean that I'm incapable of doing anything to save myself from death, the result of my sin.
Truth #3: God the Son, Jesus, has done everything needed to save me from myself. He offered His sinless life on a cross, in His death, taking the punishment for sin and I deserve.

Truth #4: Jesus rose from the dead, opening up eternity to all who have faith in Him.
Truth #5: Because having faith in Jesus is so foreign to my sinful nature, God the Holy Spirit works faith in me--gives me the gift of faith in Jesus--through means: the Word of God shared, taught, preached and the Word of God given in Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
Read 10 tweets
18 May
1. “Good evening, Father. How are you?” It was the Kroger clerk manning the self-check lines. I’d forgotten to buy eggs on my visit the previous day. So, I was back again. The clerk, someone I’d never seen before, was a big guy. He spoke with what sounded like a Cajun accent.
2. “I’m doing well, thank you. How are you?”

“Good. Where is your parish?”

I explained that I’m pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church and told him where our buildings are situated.
3. “I’ve seen it. I’m Episcopal myself. There seem to be a lot more Lutheran congregations here than where I’m from.”

I asked where he was from and he explained that he was from Louisiana.

We chatted a bit longer. Then he asked, “What time are your services?”
Read 6 tweets
18 Feb
1. #Prayer update: Members of the congregation our son serves as pastor in #Texas have taken in him, our daughter-in-law, and DiL's mom, who is with them. Their place has had no power, heat, or water since yesterday afternoon. Our daughter-in-law's due date is today.
2. The couple who has taken them all in are also without power or water, but have another source of heat, can cook, and stored drinking water. Our son says that the short drive to the couple's house was treacherous, but they're very grateful.
3. Please #pray for the people of #Texas, who are being subjected to a dangerous circumstance not really caused by the weather but by some questionable public and corporate decision-making. The past year has been hard for the whole country. But this is additional hardship 4 ppl.
Read 4 tweets
17 Feb
1. May God bless you this Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. The word “Lent” originally meant “spring.” It’s a time to reflect on our Baptism and a time of spiritual rebirth and renewal.
2. The season of Lent lasts 40 days, excluding Sundays. In Church history, candidates for Baptism would fast during these 40 days leading to their Baptism at Easter.
3. As to Ash Wednesday itself, ashes, in a Jewish and Christian context, suggest three things: judgment and God’s condemnation of sin; our total dependence upon God for life; and repentance, joyful turning back to God.
Read 6 tweets
16 Feb
1. Here's a #prayer update on Brian, the 37yo who has been hospitalized with COVID-19 & its aftereffects for 17-weeks.

Surgeons were unable to put a wound vac in his back last Friday because the equipment used at the...
2. ...transition hospital where he's been a patient for some time is incompatible with the vac that would have been installed at the major hospital to which he went for the procedure.

However, a wound vac was installed at the transition hospital yesterday...
3. ...Also yesterday, Brian was running a temperature, apparently because of a new case of bacterial pneumonia. However, his temperature is down today.

He remains in the transition hospital ICU following last week's surgical procedure and is 80%-dependent on the ventilator...
Read 4 tweets
16 Feb
Rating our chief executives on #presidentsday2021 (up through 25 years ago).

Greatest: Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower

Worst (worst to less worse): Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce
Most unsavory and impeachable: Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton

Most surprising: Chester Alan Arthur

Most underrated: Eisenhower, Grant, Bush the Elder

Most overrated: Jefferson, Kennedy
Most tragic: All the assassinated presidents of course. But also Garfield (he could have been great), LBJohnson (pursued the Vietnam War although he knew it was unwinnable, undermining his good work)

Best writers: Lincoln, T Roosevelt, Wilson

Most racist: Andrew Johnson, Wilson
Read 4 tweets

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