28 February 2011

The 2010 Grumpies: An Appendicitis

Some ‘dis-stink-shuns from the tail end of the 2010 Grampies

(For those who might otherwise have missed 'em)


-10. Lady Gaga

put some proper clothes on, and dress like a real lady, Lady

-9. Kate Perry

you, too, girlie; when I refer to “the bottom ten,” that’s not what I mean!

-8. Ke$ha

this spawn of Gaga is even more ghastly and ridiculous; give us a break

-7. The Black-Eyed Peas

wear whatever you want, people, but just go away, wherever

-6. Kanye West

even if he is the biggest, baddest, bestest twit in the entire music world

-5. Cee Lo Green

forget you, Cee Lo, and your vulgar display of profanity, too

-4. Miley Cyrus

does she sing anymore, or just pose and smile for the paparizzi?

-3. Britney Spears

hasn’t done anything worthwhile since that Pepsi commercial in the 90s

-2. Justin Bieber

nothing against him; just tired of seeing his picture and hearing about him

-1. Glee

same complaint as Justin Bieber, above, but multiplied exponentially

27 February 2011

The 2010 Grampies

My favorite new release of 2010, hands-down, was my granddaughter Emma Alethea (6 April). Her parents are thus to be congratulated on having a top release two years in a row, since Emma's big sister Sarena shared that spotlight with their Aunt Katharina in 2009. Kudos to Sam & DoRena for such creative productivity, with my personal encouragement for many more good years to come.

Now, then, in my dear Emma’s honor, though following far behind her in my esteem, I here set forth a list of my favorite music albums of this past year. Of course these are matters of my personal opinions, which is obviously the point when it comes to the music that I listen to for fun.

I am especially grateful to MySpace and my local library, to Grooveshark, YouTube, Pandora, and even Amazon (not only for their listening samples, but for their marvelous used and new marketplace, and for their simple MP3 downloads), for enabling me to discover and enjoy new music, even without having to pay for it; else I would have no idea about many of the albums included on this last, and that would be a shame. It’s not the living bread and waters of the New Jerusalem, but the free part is comparable, and that much is rock solid awesome. A tip of the hat to Lala, also, gone but not forgotten. Alas, I loved thee well! Personal thanks to my number one music buddy, my son Zachary, who makes my enjoyment of music that much more interesting and invigorating.

I had hoped to give a fair and honest listen to a number of other albums which have been receiving praise from hither and yon, but, as my lovely lady LaRena has fairly pointed out, if an album hasn’t captured my attention on its own by now, it shouldn’t be a contender for this list.

The 2010 Grampies include only regular albums of new material released in the course of the year. No special editions or greatest hits collections. I've listed my top thirty favorite albums across all genres, as well as my top fifteen favorite albums in each of the five broad categories of music I tend to enjoy. Trying to identify albums according to this or that genre seems to have gotten harder in recent years, for me at any rate, but I’ve made such decisions as best I can.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here’s my list for the Year of Our Lord 2010. Comments from the peanut gallery are welcome, preferably polite.


COUNTRY (Traditional & Modern, whether Folk- Pop- or Rock-oriented)

1. Lady Antebellum - Need You Now

2. Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song

3. James Otto - Shake What God Gave Ya

4. Zac Brown Band - You Get What You Give

5. The Band Perry - The Band Perry

6. Easton Corbin - Easton Corbin

7. Jason Aldean - My Kinda Party

8. Alan Jackson - Freight Train

9. Sarah Buxton - Sarah Buxton

10. Dierks Bentley - Up on the Ridge

11. Ray LaMontagne & Pariah Dogs - God Willin’ & Creek Don’t Rise

12. Secret Sisters - The Secret Sisters

13. Lee Brice - Love Like Crazy

14. Kenny Chesney - Hemingway’s Whiskey

15. Christian Kane - The House Rules

POP (Acoustic, Blues, Country, Folk, Rock, and Soul)

1. Sara Bareilles - Kaleidoscope Heart

2. Crystal Bowersox - Farmer’s Daughter

3. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

4. Taylor Swift - Speak Now

5. Jaron & the Long Road to Love - Getting Dressed in the Dark

6. Plain White T’s - Wonders of the Younger

7. Sugarland - The Incredible Machine

8. Ryan Star - 11:59

9. Lee Ritenour - 6 String Theory

10. Eric Clapton - Clapton

11. Sheryl Crow - 100 Miles from Memphis

12. Imelda May - Mayhem

13. Ingram Hill - Look Your Best

14. Court Yard Hounds - Court Yard Hounds

15. Jewel - Sweet & Wild

ROCK & ROLL (Classic, Blues-Based, Garage-Band, Guitar-Driven & Retro)

1. Kid Rock - Born Free

2. The Gracious Few - The Gracious Few

3. Joe Bonamassa - Black Rock

4. Paul Gilbert - Fuzz Universe

5. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

6. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

7. Robert Plant - Band of Joy

8. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Mojo

9. Taddy Porter - Taddy Porter

10. Saint Jude - Diary of a Soul Fiend

11. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown

12. The Doobie Brothers - World Gone Crazy

13. Black Country Communion - Black Country

14. Unruly Child - World’s Collide

15. First Signal - First Signal


1. Black Label Society - Order of the Black

2. Disturbed - Asylum

3. Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

4. Ozzy Osbourne - Scream

5. Alter Bridge - ABIII

6. Volbeat - Beyond Hell / Above Heaven

7. Bullet for My Valentine - Fever

8. We Are the Fallen - Tear the World Down

9. All That Remains - For We Are Many

10. Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue

11. Chiodos - Illuminaudio

12. Halford - Made of Metal

13. Stone Sour - Audio Secrecy

14. Firewind - Days of Defiance

15. Apocalyptica - 7th Symphony


1. Alkaline Trio - This Addiction

2. Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love

3. Day of Fire - Losing All

4. My Chemical Romance - Danger Days

5. The Black Keys - Brothers

6. John 5 - The Art of Malice

7. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

8. Against Me! - White Crosses

9. Goo Goo Dolls - Something for the Rest of Us

10. Framing Hanley - Promise to Burn

11. Valencia - Dancing with a Ghost

12. Neon Trees - Habits

13. Dommin - Love Is Gone

14. The Script - Science & Faith

15. Thriving Ivory - Through Yourself and Back Again

Of special distinction: The MVGs


1. Gus G (Ozzy, Firewind, and Rock House Method DVD)

2. Joe Bonamassa (Black Rock, and Black Country Communion)

3. Jeff Beck (Emotion & Commotion, and Les Paul Tribute)

4. Slash (the ubiquitous new poster boy for rock ‘n’ roll guitar)

5. Jimi Hendrix (seriously the best year he’s had in decades!)

6. Paul Gilbert (Fuzz Universe, and Shred Alert DVD)

7. Eric Clapton (Clapton, and Crossroads Guitar Festival)

8. Gary Hoey (Utopia, and Rock House Method DVD)

9. Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, and Rock House Method DVD)

10. Mark Tremonti (Altar Bridge: ABIII, and Live from Amsterdam)

11. Jack White (White Stripes, Dead Weather, and Raconteurs)

12. Keith Urban (Get Closer, and numerous magazine covers)

13. Zakk Wylde (The Order of the Black, and the new godfather of rock)

14. Steve Lukathar (All’s Well that Ends Well, and guest appearances)

15. Lee Ritenour (6 String Theory)

16. Ron Wood (I Feel Like Playing)

17. Joe Satriani (Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards)

18. Zac Brown (You Get What You Give, and various guest appearances)

19. Andy McKee (Joyland album and documentary)

20. Eric Johnson (Up Close)

And then some ‘dis-stink-shuns: (a.k.a.The Grumpies”)


-10. Lady Gaga

put some proper clothes on, and dress like a real lady, Lady

-9. Kate Perry

you, too, girlie; when I refer to “the bottom ten,” that’s not what I mean!

-8. Ke$ha

this spawn of Gaga is even more ghastly and ridiculous; give us a break

-7. The Black-Eyed Peas

wear whatever you want, people, but just go away, wherever

-6. Kanye West

even if he is the biggest, baddest, bestest twit in the entire music world

-5. Cee Lo Green

forget you, Cee Lo, and your vulgar display of profanity, too

-4. Miley Cyrus

does she sing anymore, or just pose and smile for the paparizzi?

-3. Britney Spears

hasn’t done anything worthwhile since that Pepsi commercial in the 90s

-2. Justin Bieber

nothing against him; just tired of seeing his picture and hearing about him

-1. Glee

same complaint as Justin Bieber, above, but multiplied exponentially

26 February 2011

Content with Food & Drink and Clothing of Christ

The two masters of which the Lord Jesus speaks are two gods, mutually exclusive, but not equally viable options.

The one true God, the Lord, gives you life and all that pertains to it, in both body and soul, here in time and hereafter in eternity.

The false gods of this world and all its wealth and power (which are legion) cannot give life nor preserve it, but bring death and despair.

You serve those false gods of wealth with much work and weariness, worry and fear, anxiety, anger and impatience. Your own hunger consumes you. You have no peace or rest. Whatever you do have (for this brief here and now) perishes — and you along with it.

To serve the one true God is quite different. To serve Him as your Master, your gracious and life-giving Lord, is to worship Him by faith and with thanksgiving. It is the prayer and confession of His Word, and the loving care of your neighbor within your own place in life.

This Lord God provides all that is needed for that which He has given you to do, and He provides you, by His grace, with far more than you deserve, need, or could ever imagine or hope for.

He does in fact provide for His whole creation — for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field; for sparrows and lilies, grass and trees and plants, animals big and small — the lions and the young ravens which do cry. He feeds them all and clothes them, and so He does for you, who are far more valuable and precious to Him. (Has He not purchased you with His own lifeblood?)

Indeed, He creates and preserves all of these things in His love for you, even as He feeds and clothes you with the plants and animals.

And yet, all of these things perish, whether for your clothing and food or otherwise.

Everything dies and wastes away. Birds fall from the sky. The grass withers and is burned up.

And you, O mortal man, O mortal woman, are like that grass.

The Lord your God gives and provides for your life in this world, but this life on earth is fleeting.

Why? Why bother?

He bothers for the sake of His love, because He is gracious and He delights to give good gifts.

He places the whole creation under the curse of death — on account of man’s sin — not to be vindictive, far less as a retaliation of “revenge,” nor as though He did not daily and richly forgive all sins; for He has, indeed, reconciled the world to Himself by His Cross and Resurrection, and, behold, He makes all things new.

But He teaches you His grace by His providential care, even as He calls you to repentance by punishing sin with death. He calls you away from the idolatry of this world, unto that life everlasting which is in and with Him in both body and soul.

You learn to know His care and loving-kindness in all His gifts of daily bread, but you also learn to look beyond those gifts to the Giver Himself, for the gifts come and go while He yet remains.

Dear child of God, dear brother and sister of Christ Jesus, your life is more than food, your body more than clothing. Your true body and eternal life are in and with Him, your Lord and Master.

See, not only does He clothe and feed your body and life here in time, for this little span awhile, but He Himself has become and is your Clothing, your Food and Drink, for both body and soul, both now and forever.

For He has perished in your place, bearing your sin and the curse of death in His Body of flesh and blood upon the Cross. There He was hungry and thirsty, naked and put to shame.

But God has raised Him from the dead and clothed Him with glory and honor.

This is the Mystery of God, which He gives to you by His ministers, the servants of His Word and stewards of His Gospel, who are fathers to you in His Name and stead.

Thus are you clothed with a garment that does not wear out; so that, even in death, you are not found naked, but are covered with Christ and all-glorious by His grace.

And thus are you fed with the Bread of Life, by which you live and shall not die forever. And you are given to drink the Blood of Christ from His Chalice at His Table in His Kingdom; so that you shall never thirst nor want for anything.

This Beauty of Christ is yours, and this Banquet of His bounty is already His Feast set before you, though it is given and received in the Mystery of the Cross, for now hidden in the midst of the darkness of death.

But by these gifts of His Righteousness — the Ministry of His Gospel of forgiveness — you have peace and contentment, refreshment and rest, and the Kingdom of God is yours in Christ Jesus, your Savior, in whom you have all things forever and ever.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

25 February 2011

Young Guns II at the Dawning of a New Decade

Last year about this time, I posted a list of my favorite guitarists. Since then, as I've been working on learning to play the guitar myself, I've also been listening more carefully than ever to lots of different guitarists, and doing so more attentively and perceptively than I have in the past. I've noticed that the more time I spend practicing the instrument and getting to know it, the more attuned my ears have become to the sounds of the guitar, whether the music I'm listening to at any given time is already familiar or brand new to me. Consequently, I've discovered and developed an appreciation for players I didn't even know a year ago.

Up front, I have to say that my two favorite guitarists are Ariksander and Oly'anna Stuckwisch, my son and daughter who are learning to play the guitar along with me. Playing and practicing with them, and listening to them play, brings a level of joy to my heart that no one else can touch. With time and continued perseverance, I am sure, their skills and abilities will vastly improve, but I doubt that I will ever enjoy their playing any more than I do already now. Yet, that appreciation involves personal biases and subjective criteria that none of my readers can share, so it would be somewhat unfair to put Ariksander and Oly'anna at the top of a list I am posting for public perusal. Instead of that, I'm putting them in a category all by themselves.

While I'm at it, major mojo kudos to our instructor, Steve Krenz, of the Learn & Master Guitar curriculum (by Legacy Learning Systems). The man is not only a genius on the guitar, but an outstanding pedagogue of the instrument. Ariksander, Oly'anna and I hope to meet him in person someday, especially since we owe him such a debt of gratitude for his fine teaching, and because he comes across as such a likable gentleman. Here's to you, Steve, with our thanks!

Now then, Ariksander, Oly'anna and Steve aside, here are my 75 favorite guitarists as we have now entered upon this new decade of life on earth.

1. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)

2. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)

3. Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big)

4. Joe Satriani

5. Joe Bonamassa (Black Country Communion)

6. Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi)

7. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

8. Steffen Schackinger

9. Slash (Guns 'n' Roses, Velvet Revolver)

10. Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society)

11. Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne, Dream Evil)

12. Michael Angelo Batio

13. Joe Stump

14. Gary Hoey

15. Orianthi

16. Dave Martone

17. Synyster Gates & Zacky Vengeance (Avenged Sevenfold)

18. Dan Donegan (Disturbed)

19. Malcom & Angus Young (AC/DC)

20. Steve Clark & Phil Collen (Def Leppard)

21. Glenn Tipton & K.K. Downing (Judas Priest)

22. Matt Tuck & Mike Paget (Bullet for My Valentine)

23. Chris Robertson & Ben Wells (Black Stone Cherry)

24. Rudolf & Michael Schenker (The Scorpions)

25. Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge, Creed)

26. Jeff Loomis (Nevermore)

27. Kirk Hammett & James Hetfield (Metallica)

28. Zac Brown

29. John 5 (quite apart from Marilyn Manson; as far apart as possible)

30. Cameron Muncey & Nic Cester (Jet)

31. Sean Hennesy (The Gracious Few)

32. Yngwie Malmsteen

33. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)

34. Joe Walsh (The Eagles)

35. Eric Clapton

36. Andy McKee

37. Keith Urban

38. Marty Friedman

39. John Petrucci (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment)

40. Thomas Bredahl & Michael Poulsen (Volbeat)

41. Vivian Campbell (Dio, Whitesnake, Def Leppard)

42. The Brothers Van Zant (Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38-Special, Van Zant)

43. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Blackmore's Night)

44. Jimi Hendrix

45. Jeff Beck

46. Steve Vai

47. Brad Paisley

48. Andy James

49. Santana

50. Antoine Dufour

51. George Harrison (The Beatles)

52. Steve Lukathar (Toto)

53. Ray Toro & Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance)

54. Oli Herbert & Mike Martin (All That Remains)

55. Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)

56. Ethan Brosh

57. Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones, etc.)

58. Jack White (White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs)

59. Sébastien Cloutier

60. Joe Perry (Aerosmith)

61. George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob)

62. Brian May (Queen)

63. Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)

64. Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage)

65. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)

66. Jay Jesse Johnson

67. The Edge (U2)

68. Alex Rosamilia & Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem)

69. Phil Sgrosso & Nick Hipa (As I Lay Dying)

70. Jason Becker

71. B.B. King

72. Prince

73. Joe Selby & Andy Brewer (Taddy Porter)

74. John Mayer

75. Lee Ritenour

20 February 2011

Holy and Perfect Like Your God and Father

Holiness and perfection are not means to some other end or purpose, but are the character and content of life with God. For the one true God is Holy and Perfect in Himself, in the eternal Love of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. He is Holiness and Perfection, for He exists and lives in Himself, not in selfishness or isolation, but in a relationship of mutual love.

The perfection and holiness of this one true God proceeds—from within His inner Triune Being of Love—in His free outward action of love toward those whom He has created by His grace for the sake of giving them life with Himself. Thus, the perfect holiness of God is manifested in His Self-giving, to the extent of His Self-sacrifice upon the Cross for the salvation of sinners; in His compassion for you and His mercy upon you; in His forgiveness of all your sins and His free gift of life; and in His providential care of all creatures, including those who are at enmity with Him.

He has not only called you to be His child—something you could not choose to be, nor could you accomplish for yourself—but He has made you His own dear child, and He has become your own dear Father, by His gracious adoption, and by the new birth and new creation of Holy Baptism.

Therefore, you are a son of God in Christ Jesus—by His grace, through faith in His Gospel.

You are a member of His Body and Bride, and the Lord Jesus Christ is your Husband and Head.

You are a Temple of God, and His Holy Spirit dwells in you and with you, resting upon you and abiding within you, as He is in and with Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son and the Lord’s Anointed.

Therefore, you are holy, and you shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is holy and perfect, merciful and just.

Not in lonely isolation, nor self-contained within yourself (which would be sinful self-idolatry), but in a relationship of faith and love with the Holy Triune God in Jesus Christ, your Savior and your Lord, and so also in the Holy Communion of His Church, in love for all His brothers and sisters, who are the many sons of daughters of your own true God and Father.

And yet again, in love for all your neighbors in the world—not only your friends and friendly acquaintances, but so also your enemies and persecutors, your nemeses and thorns in the flesh.

This is your holiness and perfection as a Christian, which you share with God by grace through faith in Christ. It is not your own by nature, but it is truly yours by His grace. It is derivative and always being received from the Lord your God. This is what He does for you, freely, according to His own natural holiness—in His mercy and compassion upon you; in His daily forgiveness of all your sins (no matter how many or how great); and in the gifts of Himself and His Life, which He bestows upon you in body and soul, in Christ Jesus, in His Word and Spirit, flesh and blood.

He who gives Himself to you—whom the Father gives to you from heaven, and the Holy Spirit lays upon your heart and mind, body and soul through the Gospel—He is your holiness and righteousness, your innocence and blessedness. All of this has been perfected in Him for you, in His Body of flesh and blood, in His Cross and Passion, in His Resurrection from the dead and His Ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven.

And it is all given to you in Holy Baptism; which is not a private affair, but your incorporation into Christ and His Church.

It is precisely in and with Christ Jesus, in His Body, as a member of His Bride the Church, that God is now your true Father, and that His Holy Spirit rests upon you and dwells within you.

Your holiness and righteousness as a Christian are found and perfected within the fellowship of the Church—in the fellowship of the means of grace—and not otherwise. Both in the receiving of faith through the Ministry of the Gospel of Christ, and in the living of love with one another: in real time, flesh and blood, body and soul, words and actions.

Your holiness and righteousness daily flow from the forgiveness of sins, and in this life on earth they are always returning to the forgiveness of sins. With such forgiveness, there is also mercy and compassion, and the giving and receiving of life through the feeding and care of the body.

That life of love—which is received and shared and lived within the Body of Christ—is likewise extended to the world outside of the Church in patience and kindness, mercy and compassion, in the forgiveness of trespasses, and in self-sacrificing service.

This holy and perfect love will never compromise the Word of God, nor violate sound doctrine, which is the preaching and teaching of Jesus, nor deny and contradict the Gospel, which is our life and holiness. But whatever else we may possess on earth, we willingly lay aside in love.

Therefore, what it looks like for you to be holy and perfect—a son or daughter of God in Christ, a member of His Body the Church, in whom the Holy Spirit abides in peace—what that looks like, is that you are slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. You do not lose your temper; you do not retaliate or seek revenge against those who hurt you or speak ill of you; nor do you harbor bitterness or resentment in your heart and mind against anyone else. You do not hide or withhold your possessions from those in need, but you gladly do good, even to those who sin against you.

You show no partiality, but you are kind and good and merciful and generous with each and all of your neighbors alike; though the particularities may differ according to each unique situation.

Not only do you love and serve each other, your family and friends, your neighbors and enemies, with your money and stuff, your time and talents, but also with your words, as the oracles of God. So do you speak the Gospel to your neighbor, and you pray for your neighbor.

It comes down to loving your neighbor, doing no harm but doing all manner of good. In faith before God—from whom you have all good things by His grace—you actually love your neighbor as yourself.

You serve and care for your neighbor, as you yourself desire and need to be cared for and served. Not tit for tat, “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” but for Jesus’ sake, in the holiness of God. You simply do whatever good you can without counting the cost or keeping score, knowing that your real reward is your life in Christ Jesus, which is safely hidden with your Father in heaven.

With what sort of materials, then, are you building on this one Foundation of the Lord’s Church, the house and home of His family? With gold and silver, with precious stones and fine jewels? Or with sticks and stubble, straw and hay, which are easily blown away and burned up?

Are you building up the Body of Christ in faith and love, or do you tear down and destroy the Temple of God with harsh and hurtful thoughts, words and deeds?

That which abides unto the end and remains forever is Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, and the preaching of His holy Gospel. For He Himself is divine and holy Love, and He Himself is the perfect Righteousness of God, Personal and in the Flesh.

So does His love become personal and specific in your faithful loving service to others, according to your station in life, according to the Ten Commandments; as you have heard the Lord spell out for you, specifically and concretely, in Leviticus 19.

You, then, live in love and manifest the mercies of God in concrete and specific ways, wherever the Lord has put you.

Do not horde for yourself what God has graciously given into your possession and stewardship, but share it freely with the poor and needy.

Do not be aloof and distant, but a very present help in trouble.

Do not worry or be afraid that you will be left with nothing, or that you will be deprived of your own needs; for Christ is yours, and you are His, and all good things are yours in Him forever.

But now, beloved, if you have not been holy and righteous; if you have rather been short-tempered and impatient, rude and quarrelsome; if you have caused hurt and harm, and have withheld the help you could have given to others; or, if you have taken instead of giving; if you have loved your own family and friends well enough, but have neglected or been indifferent to your neighbors and have hated your enemies — Repent, and live as a Christian, as a child of God, a member of Christ’s holy Bride.

For the Lord your God—who gives life to all people, who causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the evil and the good, and who gives daily bread, even without your prayer, also to all the wicked—He is holy and righteous, perfect in His mercy and compassion, and He is indeed your God and Father in Christ Jesus. He daily and richly forgives you all your sins, by His grace. He raises you up from death to life, day by day, and His mercies upon you are new every morning. He has cleansed you in the waters of Holy Baptism, and in all your going out and coming in, henceforth unto the life everlasting, He washes your dirty feet with His Word of Holy Absolution.

He leaves behind a grain offering and a drink offering—the pure wheat of His Field, the good grapes of His Vineyard—that you might have Bread to eat, and so live; and that you might have Wine to drink, and so celebrate with great joy and gladness.

With these good gifts, much greater still, your dear Father in heaven gives you the spiritual food and drink of Christ’s own holy Body and precious Blood: to nourish and sustain you; to clothe and cover and consecrate you; to guard and protect you from all harm and danger, from sin and death and every evil of body and soul; and to save you from your enemy, the old wicked foe.

Therefore, you belong to the Body of Christ, because Christ feeds you with His Body.

You abide in Him and with Him, because He abides in and with you in this Sacrament.

So are you a living stone in the Temple of God—and you are holy, as your Father in heaven is holy—because the Son of God, Christ Jesus, dwells in you with His life-giving Holy Spirit.

See here how He loves you, perfectly and completely, with Himself.

Though you have been a stranger to Him and at odds with Him, yet, hear how He greets you, as a beloved Brother and a dear Friend, with grace, mercy and peace.

Consider that He has given Himself for you: His eye for your eye, His teeth for your teeth; His right cheek and His left, His hands and feet and side; His Body of flesh and blood; and His soul and Spirit on the Cross, even unto death.

He has not gone one mile or two, but the whole distance for you.

Have no fear, therefore, but rest here in His perfect Peace.

Does He not give you the shirt off His back? Does He not cover your nakedness and shame with Himself, His honor and His majesty? And does He not clothe you with His own righteousness?

He does not destroy you, but builds you up in His Love, adorning you with that which is far more precious, more lasting and more lovely than gold or silver or jewels, even anointing you with the Holy Spirit and beautifying you from head to foot, inside and out, with His own holy Blood.

This grace of God in Christ Jesus—His free and full forgiveness of all your sins, and His free gift of life and salvation—this is His holiness, with which you are now sanctified; His righteousness, in which you are perfected before God, and shall be perfected in the resurrection of your body at the last; and this is His Glory, by which you are glorified in body and soul, both now and forever.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

10 February 2011

It Is a Cryin' Shame

It says something pretty sad about the pop culture of our land when one of the Grammy nominees for record and song of the year comprises a crude expletive that has to be asterisked out.

But I suppose such profanity will be the next thing that proponents of "contemporary worship" will insist on bringing into their songs, ditties and aspiritual jingles, on the premise of speaking the heart language of the people and connecting to where they are at. "This is the colorful expletive generation, so that is how we have to speak if we want to convey the Gospel appealingly."

Perhaps what is called for, instead, is the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Ya think?

08 February 2011

Free Conference Audio and Video Recordings (on Music & Hymnody)

For those who may be interested in checking it out, there are audio and video recordings from the Faith Lutheran Church, Plano, Texas, Free Conference on Music and Hymnody now available on their website. In addition to my presentation, Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown gave an excellent and edifying paper on the role of hymnody in the 16th Century Lutheran Reformation. Check it out.