Law & Gospel

I Am The Reason For The Season

BY DOMINICK SANTORE

I apologize to you, all the people of the world. I apologize for my part in making Christmas necessary. I have learned that Christ is NOT the reason for the season, I am. It's true. All the sin and shame I bear for all my wrongdoings have made it a necessity for Christ to come in the form of a man, being born of a virgin.

I Am The Reason For The Season

Grace & Mercy? Who Needs It!

BY DONAVON RILEY

God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ calls all sinners to a celebration. A "those who sat in darkness have seen a great light" kind of celebration. A "come to Bethlehem and see the new-born Savior" revelry. Like two divine sheepdogs, God's grace and mercy hound every person in the world to join the festivities.

Grace & Mercy? Who Needs It!

Who Gets the Gifts?

BY BONNIE PETROSCHUK

At this time of year a lot of emphasis is placed on being good. Elves on Shelves everywhere are watching our behavior and snitching to Santa, who is making up his all important list of those who have been naughty and those who have been nice. The parable above, however, sets forth something so counter to that way of thinking that we all have a very difficult time wrapping our minds around it.

Who Gets the Gifts?

Are We Reading The Old Testament The Wrong Way?

BY DONAVON RILEY

Often, when we talk about the Old Testament, we talk about God's promises and work for his chosen people, Israel. We talk about God's redeeming promise to Adam and Eve. God calls Abraham out of the Haran into Canaan. God sends Moses to Pharaoh with a message of liberation.

Are We Reading The Old Testament The Wrong Way?

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

BY KATHY STRAUCH

He was a beggar on the streets. And, he was as good as dead if he didn't receive a blessing. The words, "you're cursed" haunted his mind. He was cursed and it was his own fault. He took what wasn't his to take; he stole from the dead and, in doing so, he became eerily acquainted with the dead. 

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Christianity: The End of Religion

BY DONAVON RILEY

In the beginning, we read about the invention of religion. It begins simply enough in Genesis 3 [6-13]: The woman saw that the tree had fruit that was good to eat, nice to look at, and desirable for making someone wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it.

Christianity: The End of Religion

Christ Is Enough

BY JESSICA THOMPSON

There are mornings I wake up beleaguered by my past sins. It is almost as though my conscience waits until I am too tired to fight it, and then it wages its war against me. Concerning the battle of the ever-accusing conscience, Horatius Bonar says…

Christ Is Enough

Of Works And Grace

BY MARTIN LUTHER

“Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven." These words show and contain in brief what the kingdom of Christ is, namely, this sweet voice, these motherly and fatherly words penetrating our inmost soul: "Thy sins are forgiven." In no other sense are we to view the kingdom of Christ

Of Works And Grace

How Luther Pointed Me to Christ in the Old Testament

BY DONAVON RILEY

Jesus is the Word of God. God’s Word—on two legs. I’d read it in the first chapter of John’s Gospel many, many times. God’s Word was born, suffered, bled, and died for the sins of the whole world. It was all there in the Gospels. It was testified to in the New Testament Epistles.

How Luther Pointed Me to Christ in the Old Testament

Self-Esteem?

BY ERICK SORENSEN

What do you think of when you hear the term “self-esteem”? I tend to think of two different caricatures: On the one hand I think of Stuart Smalley. He was an old Saturday Night Live character that was supposed to be a motivational speaker type.

Self-Esteem?

A Christian’s Satanic Comfort

BY DONAVON RILEY 

The devil isn’t a popular subject nowadays. The argument is made that we’ve progressed as a culture. We’ve evolved as a society. Primitive superstitions don’t help anybody. It’s not healthy for people to believe that God kicked one of his angels out of heaven, who now works behind the scenes to ruin and destroy us and all our plans.

A Christian’s Satanic Comfort

Enemies Of The Cross

BY MARTIN LUTHER

The thing seems incredible, and I would not have believed it myself, nor have understood Paul’s words here, had I not witnessed it with my own eyes and experienced it. Were the apostle to repeat the charge today, who could conceive that our first, noblest, most respectable, godly and holy people, those whom we might expect, above all others, to accept the Word of God…

Enemies Of The Cross

Whose Bones are Buried Beneath the Cross?

BY CHAD BIRD

Let’s take a walk together. And as we do, I’ll tell you a mystery. We’re heading to a cemetery; I hope you don’t mind. It’s of a different variety, this cemetery, for it consists of a single grave. But a vast grave it is. It had to be. See it there?

Whose Bones are Buried Beneath the Cross?

Ordinary Joy

BY DONAVON RILEY

She said, “Keep coming back, and you’ll know joy.” He wanted to vomit a rainbow of resentment, bitterness, and loathing all over her faux-leather boots. He already knew about joy. It was horrible stuff. Christians kept trying to rip it out of their hearts to share with him.

Ordinary Joy

What's Love Got to Do with It?

BY DONAVON RILEY

Love is the sum of the law. Love God with all your heart, spirit, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. That means that if love can't be done when it needs to be done then get rid of the law, because it's not lawful. Being lawful isn't the purpose and goal of the law.

What's Love Got to Do with It?

Christ’s Gifts For Ingrates

BY RYAN COUCH

Have you ever received a gift for which you were less than thrilled, but you had to pretend you really liked it so as not to offend the giver? It is an awkward feeling, but despite your ambivalence, it is the right thing to do. When Christ gives us his gifts he is not as interested in our response as our human counterparts.

Christ’s Gifts For Ingrates

I May Not Be A Smart Man, But I Know What The Gospel Is

BY TATE BARBER

I am not a good Lutheran. I have only been around reformation theology for a few years. I have trouble articulating why my son was baptized in a Lutheran church. I am terrible at exegesis. I fumble through discussions about the third use of the law, trying my hardest not to sound like an antinomian.

I May Not Be A Smart Man, But I Know What The Gospel Is

The Joy of Obedience

BY BRUCE HILLMAN

Can there be joy in obedience? That depends on if obedience if a free choice or the result of threats. When obedience is coercive, it dominates and subjugates our wills, or at least attempts to do so, and no one wants to be ruled by another.

The Joy of Obedience

Seeing Samson's Cross-Eyed Reflection

BY DONAVON RILEY

For the past twenty years that I've been a Christian, I've not found any evidence in my reading of Judges 13-16 that qualifies Samson for the "book of faith" (Hebrews 11). Selfish, manipulative, short-tempered, and homicidally violent, Samson's a borderline-psychotic personality.

Seeing Samson's Cross-Eyed Reflection

The Radical Gospel

BY GERHARD FORDE

The radical gospel of justification by faith alone simply does not fit, cannot be accepted by, and will not work with an anthropology which sees the human being as a continuously existing subject possessing ‘‘free choice of will’’ over against God and/or other religious goals.

The Radical Gospel

NOT The Gospel

BY ZACK JAMES COLE

There was a TV show back in the ‘90s called “Dinosaurs” that I used to sneak into the living room at night to watch. The reason I had to sneak-watch this show was that my loving and protective parents had a problem with the Baby in the show who was very disrespectful (albeit hilarious).

NOT The Gospel

When God Gets Ahold of Us

BY DONAVON RILEY

We all do it. It comes naturally to every human being. Since the Fall, every man and woman, every child, everyone imagines he can use experience and knowledge to figure out God. Specifically, to be God in God's place.

When God Gets Ahold of Us

Failed Saint, Faithful Savior

BY DONAVON RILEY

Christians have long enjoyed an absurd love affair with white-washing biblical saints. Since the earliest days of the Church, saints have been held up as role models for great faith and godly behavior. From the Old Testament, for example, Abraham is often held up by Sunday School teachers and adult bible study leaders as a role-model.

Failed Saint, Faithful Savior