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Archive for October, 2013

Luther

496 years ago today on 10-31-17 (1517, that is), a young monk wrestled with the book of Romans, and got pinned down by Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith.”  After much anguish and study he carefully outlined 95 discrepancies he noted between the teachings of his church, the Roman Catholic church, and that of the Bible.  This young priest, Martin Luther, posted these 95 theses on the community bulletin board of his day, namely, the very publicly visible doors to the chapel in Wittenberg, Germany.  His intent was to spark a conversation or debate which might spur the church to return to biblically-sound doctrine.

Instead, he created a firestorm.  Among other issues, Luther questioned the church’s practice of selling indulgences, the church’s “Christ + works” teachings, and its adherence to tradition and to the edicts of the Pope as equal in authority to the written Word.

It was demanded of Luther as he stood before the religious council (or Diet as it was known) of Worms (Germany) that he take back what he had written.  His famous reply, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other, so help me God. Amen caused the Roman church to declare Luther a heretic for his religious beliefs and would eventually excommunicate him.

That God raised up Luther for such a time as his becomes even more obvious when one realizes Guttenberg’s printing press was developed about 70 years prior in the 1450’s.  After Luther’s bold stand, his writings spread like wildfire as they were easily printed and distributed across Europe where others sounded the clarion call to return to biblical foundations.  Thus, the Protestant Reformation was born.  These other reformers included men like John Calvin (to whom I’m particularly indebted), John Knox, and Ulrich Zwingli.  The Reformation’s influence would someday extend to a band of Englanders who would choose to seperate from their own Church of England, rather than go against conscience.  These pilgrims would eventually make their way to the shores of the New World in hopes of establishing their shining city on a hill.

The war cry of the Reformation comes from a compilation of reformed teachings now known as the Five Solae (meaning alone or only):

Sola scriptura (Scripture alone… no added texts or traditions);
Sola fida (faith alone… salvation is through faith, not by works);
Sola gratia (grace alone… it comes to me as favor, as a gift, which I cannot earn);
Sola Christus (Christ alone… Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, denying the office of priest as mediator under the New Covenant);
and lastly,
Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone… glory is not to be shared with any substance or creature, not the Pope, not the Virgin Mary, not canonized priests).

On this day of remembrance, I recall my own reformation some 30 years ago which came from the same God and changed my life every bit as dramatically as it did Luther in his priestly cell almost 500 years ago.   I am humbly and gratefully reformed… Soli Deo Gloria!

”So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John8:36).

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Prodigal Daughter

What a blessed day of worship today!

”I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:1).

 

Come, Ye Sinners

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.


Words: Joseph Hart, 1759
Painting: Prodigal Daughter by Charlie Mackesy
(used by artist’s permission)

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Jesus in glory
I have a dear aunt who may well not see the end of the year.  Of course, her days, like ours, are on the Lord’s timetable, not our own (or the doctor’s), but my heart grieves already for the loss of this good saint (small s) in my life, whenever that might be.  Oh, I’m sure there might be those who could share her faults and her shortcomings, she is, after all, a sinner like the rest of us.  But in my life she has always been a ray of sunshine and good cheer.

I could speak of her beautiful vegetable gardens, her good taste and moderation, and the sensible conversations I’m always assured when I’m with her.  I could share my awe and admiration for this former technical college math teacher who substitute taught in the middle school into her late 70’s.  I could also speak gratefully of her thoughtfulness to her nieces.  Having only one son, she endeavored to set up each of her many nieces with a set of collectable dishes, enough at least for dessert and coffee.  Mine? the Orchard pattern from the Bavarian German company, Golden Crown E & R.  All of these things remind me of her, but mostly, when Auntie Bev is brought to mind my heart sings, since whenever we are together (as with most members of my dad’s family), I know that we will laugh often and speak well of the Lord’s goodnesses in our lives.

Her heart, which I know belongs to Jesus, shines equally through the years of intercession she has made on behalf of her family members, as well as the many charitable works she performs.  In her senior years, her heart-ministry has been the Orphan Grain Train.  Throughout the summer months she rummage sales in the name of the Lord.  She spends hours and hours mixing fun with service as she scours sale upon sale looking for any needed items: baby clothes, health kits, sporting equipment, Christian reading material, and her favorites–boys’ clothing (“since they wear out so quickly”) and shoes and shoes (which she carefully cleans before packing).

She’ll spend her own modest earnings, but she is not above asking for donations wherever she’s shopping. She’s fairly picky about the items she’ll receive and when someone wants to give things well past their prime and says the poor should be happy to get these, Auntie Bev always tells them, “They should get the best we have, because maybe it’s the only good thing they’ll ever get.” She’s persuaded her Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation to free up a room for her Grain Train storage as it awaits shipment to the poor of this world, whether on the Native reservations of our own state and beyond; to those across our country following a natural disaster; or shipped to the poor overseas in such places as Liberia, Kenya, and Monrovia. Auntie Bev certainly has given cups of cold water to the little ones of the world (Matthew 10:42) as she awaits her own transport to the heavenly country.

This devotional from Charles H. Spurgeon today made me think more of those whom the Lord has “freely given to live upon His grace.” To him who has received such grace, truly as Spurgeon says, “The Lord will never deny” glory to that soul.  It is too wonderful to be true… we get both from him… grace and glory!

He will give grace and glory.”  ~ Psalm 84:11

Bounteous is Jehovah in His nature; to give is His delight. His gifts are beyond measure precious, and are as freely given as the light of the sun. He gives grace to His elect because He wills it, to His redeemed because of His covenant, to the called because of His promise, to believers because they seek it, to sinners because they need it. He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; doubly enhancing the value of the boon by the manner of its bestowal. Grace in all its forms He freely renders to His people: comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing, assisting grace, He generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and He always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, “The Lord will give grace.”

The little conjunction “and” in this verse is a diamond rivet binding the present with the future: grace and glory always go together. God has married them, and none can divorce them. The Lord will never deny a soul glory to whom He has freely given to live upon His grace; indeed, glory is nothing more than grace in its Sabbath dress, grace in full bloom, grace like autumn fruit, mellow and perfected. How soon we may have glory none can tell! It may be before this month of October has run out we shall see the Holy City; but be the interval longer or shorter, we shall be glorified ere long. Glory, the glory of heaven, the glory of eternity, the glory of Jesus, the glory of the Father, the Lord will surely give to His chosen. Oh, rare promise of a faithful God!

Two golden links of one celestial chain: Who owneth grace shall surely glory gain.

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