Thoughts that draw me closer to Jesus, and His cross.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. Your name will now be Israel, because you have wrestled with God and with people, and you have won.”29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But the man said, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed Jacob there.
30 So Jacob named that place Peniel, saying, “I have seen God face to face, but my life was saved.”…
3 Jacob himself went out in front of them and bowed down flat on the ground seven times as he was walking toward his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and put his arms around him and hugged him. Then Esau kissed him, and they both cried. 5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Genesis 32:28-30, 33:3-5, NCV
For the minds of these people have become stubborn. They do not hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might really understand what they see with their eyes and hear with their ears. They might really understand in their minds and come back to me and be healed.’ Matt 13:15, quoting Is. 6:9-10 NCV (emphasis mine)
The culture of individualism, consumerism, and quick fixes continues to creep into the work of the counselor whenever performance and quick results are the primary motivations. Often we get so extremely busy and preoccupied by our compulsion to quickly remedy “problems” that in reality require an unhurried transformation not only of the head but of the heart, that we grasp for the next best treatment available or hold onto tried and tested modes of intervention. Yet at the end of our therapeutic work we somehow get the sense that something is amiss and unfinished, that somehow all these theories and techniques have fallen short of responding to the soul ache that comes from a deeper, more primal place.
It is taught among us that the sacraments were instituted not only to be signs by which people might be identified outwardly as Christians, but that they are signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us for the purpose of awakening and strengthening our faith.
2 For this reason they require faith, and they are rightly used when they are received in faith and for the purpose of strengthening faith.
I do a bit of counseling now and then, sometimes in groups, and sometimes with individuals. Almost always, it is because of conflicts and strife, even if that is because of an internal conflict.
Having that occur more often as the holidays come near – I saw something in this morning’s devotion that I’ve overlooked before. Jacob/Israel’s dramatic change in dealing with his older brother Esau. Jacob left his homeland, fearing for his life, as he scammed his borther out of everything – his birthright, his blessing as older (and therefore chief of the tribe) son. His fear was obvious, as he sought to buy forgiveness, sending gifts on a head.
But his encounter with Jesus changed all that…he was drawn back to God, even fighting him–as stubborn as ever–refusing to submit. But that fight and blessing changed him, even as he “triumphed,” and was saved. For it was only by engaging God that this could happen, it was only then that reconciliation, true reconciliation was possible for Jacob/Israel.
That is what Jesus points to, in quoting Isaiah’s ordination warning. Only by engaging God can sin be dealt with, and the person healed. Just as the Lutheran Confessions talk of the sacraments being the place where we are healed as our trust/dependence on God is strengthened and made our foundation of life.
That is the primal place where Nolasco notes the soul’s ache originates. The healing necessary to pursue healing with others can only be seen when God’s peace is known, when He is depended upon for a deeper healing. It is there the transformation takes place – even if the transformation takes 20 years. (some of us wrestle with God longer than others!) That of course means that pastoral counselors and shepherds, and regular counselors as well as we need to be patient, and let God draw us to himself. It means trusting in the promisess given to us through His word, and through the sacraments He instituted and blesses us through.
It is not a quick fix, even though the road starts with a dramatic change of heart. That change was being caused by God for a lot longer period of time than we can see, for it was planned for from before the cross, from even before time.
But God will make it happen – He will complete the work He began in us, showing us miracles of reconciliation, miracles of healing, even as we wrestle with Him through it.
So hang on, and let the Spirit cut open your heart (see Ezekiel 36:25 and Acts 2:36-37) and bring healing…and then, rejoice for you well in a peace beyond comprehension… even though you may not always see/feel/know it.
Rolf Nolasco Jr., The Contemplative Counselor: A Way of Being (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011), 7.
Augsburg Confession – XIII The USE of the Sacraments; (emphasis mine) Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 35.
† Iesou, Huios, Soter †
Deacon Charles Zetzman from the Concordia was laid to rest on September 17. Despite battling type 1 Diabetes for over 70 years and dementia for at least 15, he went through the deacon program in order to help his crazy pastor. This was while he was fighting health problems and dementia. Miraculously, he could handle the courses… struggled with them, but he handled them
He became a spectacular practical theologian; he boiled down everything to two simple thoughts. He thought if we “got these things” we would find that God has and is restoring, supporting, and strengthening you, as our key verse said He would.
Sing Chuck’s first profound theological statement with me.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”
Hey, wait, you guys kept going—and those words weren’t on the slide! Sigh… just like Monday night—where you all were on autopilot during confession and absolution! I did that, by the way—so you would think through the rest of the service before assuming what would be said!
Chuck’s second theological statement, which would change the world, is on the next slide.
The Lord is with you!
Just curious. Did anyone notice the difference between my version?
Instead of the Lord BE with you, I have there the LORD Is with you and periods are replaced with proper exclamation points! Think on that later.
For Chuck, Jesus is the answer. Simple
Jesus loved Chuck and spent a lot of time with Chuck.
He got that—through all the darkness of dementia, through all the challenges… and he wanted to help me tell others about it.
I want you to this to these words from Tozer,
In what I have to say I may not be joined by any ground swell of public opinion, but I have a charge to make against the church. We are not consciously aware of God in our midst. We do not seem to sense the tragedy of having almost completely lost the awareness of His presence.…
Those words come from 1986, but are still relevant today.
Sorry guys, our worship isn’t doing what its supposed to do…
WORSHIP MUST REVEAL CHRIST’S PRESENCE!
And if we are going to care for the souls of our church, then we must change how we do what we do–we have to help our people to realize that they live in the presence of God.
Helping them experience the loving presence of God begins on Sunday morning, or Saturday night when your people gather to hear you…and maybe sing some songs or listen to them, and maybe suffer through the liturgy.
You want to make their lives easier, reveal Jesus to them in those 75 minutes. You have a portion of their attention, and realize everything you do in that service reveals Jesus in an incarnation way in your life first, and then you can help them see Him in theirs
Worship needs to reveal this – every part of it.
I don’t care if you wear robes and do DS4 from LSB or page 15 from TLH ( I might have a problem if you do page 5 – your people need the Lord’s Supper!) I don’t care if you do contemporary music wrapped around baptism, absolution, the reading of the Word and the Lord’s Supper.
What I care about is this – did you realize that every part of worship is a revelation of the presence of Jesus. Everything!
Those words you say… you need to know they reveal Christ, His presence and His love.
In the stead and by the command – you are forgiven!
The Lord is with you!
Some of you may notice I replaced the Period there with an exclamation point, If you read that… blah… proclaim it!
Your reading of the gospel
The Lord is with you!
The peace of the Lord is with you!
What have you said to them?
That’s why I moved the Lord’s prayer in our service – to end the general prayer with it. With words like these:
And for all the things we don’t know how to pray for, for those things that burden us, stress us out, and keep us awake all night; for the prayers where we don’t even have the words to say, hear those prayers as we pray as the Lord Jesus taught us…
How does that change how we say/sing the Lord’s prayer?
What about the things you do?
For example–what is in your hand on Sunday mornings?
Is it just water, or bread and wine? Or “just” the theological body and blood.
Or is it really Christ, broken and given for them?
It all reveals Jesus, and therefore, it needs to be savored and said with the weight and joy of what you are giving them! Believe those words you are saying, be confident in what you are doing and the sacraments you administer!
If the church is to revive—it must be because we realize our lives are lived on ground as holy as that Moses stood upon.
By the way, this has always been the purpose of every part of the Liturgy – going back to the patristic age, through Luther’s reformation, an Walther’s time. The purpose after all – of all worship is to teach people what they need to know about Jesus Christ.
Every era of the church saw worship as this, if you don’t believe me – there is a dissertation about Liturgical Worship and Soul Care presently be written with 180 quotes out of those time periods to this very concept of worship being the foundation of soul care.
Quotes like this:
“The people are also reminded about the dignity and use of the sacrament—how it offers great consolation to anxious consciences—so that they may learn to believe in God and expect and ask for all that is good from God.” (article XXIV, Augsburg Confession
Change consolation to comfort.
But we’ve forgotten it – and we’ve forgotten the tie between what we do on Sunday morning, and what happens at the dying person’s bedside, or with the couple working toward divorce, or the youth struggling with the gender issues, or the person wanting to grow in their faith – and they are looking for somewhere to “start?”
Dr. Meier started this week by stating that he had some dissonance with the Easter Acclimation You know it well
Alleluia! He is Risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Let me share what the real Concordia adds to this liturgical gem.
Alleluia! He is Risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
WE are risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Lord, who reigns over the world and the church, has drawn us into His death, and we have been raised with Him.
That fact is where all healing of the soul begins, it nurtured as we pour water over heads, as we proclaim forgiveness
Since we are talking about Petrine literature – I would say this – The reason, the apologia that you have hope, the reason you are supposed to be always ready to share is this…
The Lord is with you!