Bible Study Fragment…

Our Thursday morning bible study is a great group. For an idea of the maturity they have, when I said I was doing a small catechism class for new members, they said “why don’t we do that as well”. Paraphrasing Luther, always returning to the basics or the seeds of faith, is fruitful, because we have not mastered even such trifles.

We are on the 10 commandments. We spent the last couple of classes on some basic theology – law & gospel, revelation, scripture (and those tougher words authority and inspiration). The point is to make clear how we read the bible and how we make the claims that we do based upon it. But today we got to the commandments themselves. And Luther’s explanation to the first commandment is a tiny treasure. “We should fear, love and trust God above all things.”

All sins are ultimately a trespass of the first, but Luther in the Larger Catechism expands on his explanation. In that expansion he writes, “the heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God an idol…so it is with all idolatry. For it happens not merely by erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather it happens in the heart. For the heart stands gaping at something else…” We all worship something. We all have something, maybe multiple things, which we fear, love and trust above other things. Even the atheist. The atheist fears the idea of God more than God himself. Our age, as the older song says, “has fallen in love with love” without hearing the next line “is playing the fool.” The list of idols of the heart is endless. Cranmer gets at the same thing when he writes, “what the heart wants, the will chooses and the mind justifies.”

God’s Word succinctly captured in Luther’s simple catechism, is a great tool to knock down those idols. Examine yourself (2 Cor 3:15). What do we fear, love and trust above God? Then look to the cross. Look at Jesus there. Is there anything more precious? The judgement and love and trust of God rolled into one man. Judgement of sin brought our release. Love willing took that judgement while we wandered. Jesus trusted his Father that injustice would not stand, and he was raised first to new life and now to the right hand of God. Fear, Love and trust God above all things.

Links (tithing, parenting and being relevant), that should get some attention

Is that a tithe deductible expense is a common thought expressed in regards to church giving. In that ledger book in our heads we have a category labeled charity. We mentally fulfill or drain this over the week or month, and then whatever is left is given to church. And pastors like me are hopelessly conflicted. In most of our churches the pastor’s compensation is over 50% of the budget. Even if your pastor is a saint, the sermon on giving can seem a little tainted. But it probably falls under the category of ‘things that make you go hmmm…’ that tithe is the one word in this culture that brings out the biblical expert in everyone (just read the comment thread).

Elizabeth Scalia (AKA The Anchoress) takes comfort while watching her kids. For everyone whose seen one stray.

And Elizabeth Drescher looks at the religion of the next generation and sees relevancy not in gadgets but in what the church would call the priesthood of all believers.