Monday, January 31, 2011

receiving from Christ's hand

St. Augustine

"I know, dearly beloved, that some may be moved, as the godly to inquire into the meaning of, and the ungodly to find fault with, the statement, that it was after the Lord had given the bread, that had been dipped, to His betrayer that Satan entered into him. For so it is written: 'And when He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the Son of Simon. And after the bread, then entered Satan into him' (Jn 13:26-31). For they say, Was this the worth of Christ's bread, given from Christ's own table, that after it Satan should enter into His disciple? And the answer we give them is, that thereby we are taught rather how much we need to beware of receiving. what is good in a sinful spirit.

Luther on "Never Murder"

"Secondly, under this commandment not only he is guilty who does evil to his neighbor, but he also who can do him good, prevent, resist evil, defend and save him, so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him, and yet does not do it. If, therefore, you send away one that is naked when you could clothe him, you have caused him to freeze to death; if you see one suffer hunger and do not give him food, you have caused him to starve. So also, if you see any one innocently sentenced to death or in like distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. And it will not avail you to make the pretext that you did not afford any help, counsel, or aid thereto, for you have withheld your love from him and deprived him of the benefit whereby his life would have been saved."
Everyone has sinned and violated this commandment at the very least by our sins of omission, as Luther's phrase "and yet does not do it" clearly indicates. No room for spiritual pride (all these I have kept since my yourth!) among the members of the body of Christ. How desperately we need to turn to God and change the way we think and act. Lord, have mercy upon us!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

meekness of Moses

By Nikolai Velimirovich

For all the others considered themselves as being something, trusted themselves as being something, but he – nothing. He was completely absorbed in God, completely humbled before God. If the people needed to be fed and given drink, he turned to God; if it was necessary to do battle with his enemies, he raised his hands to heaven; if it was necessary to calm an uprising among the people, he cried to God. The meek, the all-meek Moses! And God rewarded his faithful servant with great glory and made him worthy to appear on Mount Tabor with Elias alongside the Lord Savior.

O Lord, the God of the meek, the Good Shepherd, make us also meek like Moses and the apostles. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Luther on Confessing Christ

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battlefields besides is merely flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Timothy and Titus

Heavenly Father,
who sent your apostle Paul to preach the gospel,
and gave him Timothy and Titus
to be his companions in faith:
grant that our fellowship in the Holy Spirit
may bear witness to the name of Jesus,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

To reach its result, the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment. As early as 1821, the first state law dealing directly with abortion was enacted by the Connecticut Legislature. Conn. Stat., Tit. 22, 14, 16. By the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth [410 U.S. 113, 175] Amendment in 1868, there were at least 36 laws enacted by state or territorial legislatures limiting abortion. 1 While many States have amended or updated [410 U.S. 113, 176] their laws, 21 of the laws on the books in 1868 remain in effect today. 2 Indeed, the Texas statute struck down today was, as the majority notes, first enacted in 1857 [410 U.S. 113, 177] and "has remained substantially unchanged to the present time." Ante, at 119.

--Justice Rehnquist, dissenting from the majority decision (7-2)

Friday, January 21, 2011

exercise in God's Word

On the other hand, such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words. And even though no other interest or necessity impel us, yet this ought to urge every one thereunto, because thereby the devil is put to Right and driven away, and, besides, this commandment is fulfilled, and [this exercise in the Word] is more pleasing to God than any work of hypocrisy, however brilliant.
-- Martin Luther, Large Catechism

Planned Parenthood?

• Fifty-four percent of women who have
abortions had used a contraceptive
method (usually the condom or the pill)
during the month they became pregnant.
Among those women, 76% of pill users
and 49% of condom users report having
used their method inconsistently, while
13% of pill users and 14% of condom
users report correct use. -- Guttmacher Institute

Thursday, January 20, 2011

advice on child raising

Moreover, this would be the true way to bring up children well as long as they can become trained with kindness and delight. For what must be enforced with rods and blows only will not develop into a good breed, and at best they will remain godly under such treatment no longer than while the rod is upon their back.

77] But this [manner of training] so spreads its roots in the heart that they fear God more than rods and clubs.
Martin Luther, Large Catechism

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jesus on our lips

This is also a blessed and useful habit and very effectual against the devil, who is ever about us, and lies in wait to bring us into sin and shame, calamity and trouble, but who is very loath to hear God's name, and cannot remain long where it is uttered and called upon from the heart. And, indeed, many a terrible and shocking calamity would befall us if, by our calling upon His name, God did not preserve us. 72] I have myself tried it, and learned by experience that often sudden great calamity was immediately averted and removed during such invocation. To vex the devil, I say, we should always have this holy name in our mouth, so that he may not be able to injure us as he wishes.

73] For this end it is also of service that we form the habit of daily commending ourselves to God, with soul and body, wife, children, servants, and all that we have, against every need that may occur; whence also the blessing and thanksgiving at meals, and other prayers, morning and evening, have originated and remain in use. 74] Likewise the practice of children to cross themselves when anything monstrous or terrible is seen or heard, and to exclaim: "Lord God, protect us!" "Help, dear Lord Jesus!" etc. Thus, too, if any one meets with unexpected good fortune, however trivial, that he say: "God be praised and thanked; this God has bestowed on me!" etc.,
Martin Luther, Large Catechism

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

black genocide

According to just released data from the Guttmacher Institute, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the United States in 2008. Some 30 percent of these abortions were performed on black women. With blacks accounting for about 12 percent of the U.S. population, the tragic disproportionate rate of abortion in this community is clear.

Seventy billboards will be posted around Los Angeles, with focus on neighborhoods with high percentage black population. The billboards show the face of a beautiful black child with a headline that says: "Black Children are an Endangered Species."

The campaign is timed to coincide with March for Life, which notes the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and with black history month in February.

Abortion, of course, is a plague on the whole nation. But, as with all problems, the most vulnerable communities get hit the hardest.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Come, and you will see

+ Second Sunday after the Epiphany +
January 16, 2011
“Come and you will see!” John 1:39
By virtue of His coming to us, God makes it possible for us to experience His real love and presence in our lives and thus extend His invitation and promise to every generation. It is true: Come, and you will see!
1. Come and you will see where Jesus is staying
a. In the life-giving Word and holy Sacraments
b. In the communion of saints, mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren, life together in the church year, liturgy and hymns
Come and see - If those who know not the salvation of God would come at the command of Christ, they should soon see that with him is the fountain of life, and in his light they should see light. Reader, if thou art seriously inquiring where Christ dwelleth, take the following for answer: He dwells not in the tumult of worldly affairs, nor in profane assemblies, nor in worldly pleasures, nor in the place where drunkards proclaim their shame, nor in carelessness and indolence. But he is found in his temple, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, in secret prayer, in self-denial, in fasting, in self-examination. He also dwells in the humble, contrite spirit, in the spirit of faith, of love, of forgiveness, of universal obedience; in a word, he dwells in the heaven of heavens, whither he graciously purposes to bring thee, if thou wilt come and learn of him, and receive the salvation which he has bought for thee by his own blood. (Clarke)

2. Come and you will see Jesus’ life and ministry
a. Fellowship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – shows us the meaning of suffering and death, ultimate realities.
b. Teaching, absolving/healing – people won’t care about what you know until they know how much you care! “loving God and loving our community through simple acts of service”
But if it truly seems difficult and impossible to us that we can ever be converted from such a great multitude of sins because we are caught in their grasp, a temptation, as we described above, of evil and a sure obstacle to our salvation, let us recall and seriously consider how our Lord, while on this earth, restored sight to the blind, cured the paralytics, healed every sickness. He raised the dead, already decaying and disintegrating. He made the deaf to hear and drove out a legion of devils from one man and restored him to full mental health after such madness. How much more, therefore, will he not convert a soul that turns back to him, seeking from him mercy and in need of his help?
(Macarius ca. 390)
O divine fruit of the Virgin’s womb, may I love you in union with the holy mother of God. Fill my life with the obedience of St. Joseph and the missionary fervor of the shepherds so that the witness of my life may shine like the star that led the Magi to your manger.

founding fathers

"...acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government...
Thomas Jefferson's first inaugural address.

Friday, January 14, 2011

the true God

Let every one, then, see to it that he esteem this commandment great and high above all things, and do not regard it as a joke. Ask and examine your heart diligently, and you will find whether it cleaves to God alone or not. If you have a heart that can expect of Him nothing but what is good, especially in want and distress, and that, moreover, renounces and forsakes everything that is not God, then you have the only true God. If, on the contrary, it cleaves to anything else, of which it expects more good and help than of God, and does not take refuge in Him, but in adversity flees from Him, then you have an idol, another god.
Martin Luther's Large Catechism

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hilary of Potiers

Everlasting God,
whose servant Hilary
steadfastly confessed your Son Jesus Christ
to be both human and divine:
grant us his gentle courtesy
to bring to all the message of redemption
in the incarnate Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

new generation of pro-life leaders

• May God forgive us for shedding the innocent blood of millions. May He breathe upon churches across America and revive "hands which hang down," and strengthen "feeble knees." May He enlist a new generation of pro-lifers who will finish the fight their elders began. May God give victory to our pro-life champions in Congress and on the Courts! May He restore Life to our nation! (Dt 21:1-9; 30:19; Ps 106:37-45; Is 58:6-12; Jer 7:6-7; Mal 4:5-6; 12:18-21; Heb 8:1-12)
God's people still have the key to ending abortion in America. If all the pro-life churches in America would rise up, pray and exercise their privileges and rights as American citizens we could turn the tide in a relatively brief period of time. It has not happened yet, but it can and will, as we obey God (Family Research Council)

ancient paths

Rep. Robert Charles Winthrop (1809-1894), Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1849, warned:
Men may as well build their houses upon the sand and expect to see them to found free institutions upon any other basis than that of morality and virtue, of which the Word of God is the only authoritative rule...
Societies...must be governed... The less they have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint.
Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them, or a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet (Bill Federer, American Quotations, 2001).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

australian flooding

All of this can only lead a believer to reflect deeply on how much our lives, and our plans, are in God's hands. Hopefully, this will lead Christians here to commend themselves anew into God's care, cry out to him for help in their time of need, and plead (and work) also for our neighbours' safety and welfare. It might also lead people generally to contemplate the transcience of life in this world and where ultimate security is to be found.

Whoever lives under the shelter of the Most High
will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Ps 91: 1-2, (God's Word Translation).

-- Mark Henderson

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ancient orthodox church

Ignatius of Antioch

Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baptism of our Lord 2011

+ First Sunday after Epiphany +
The Baptism of our Lord
January 9, 2011
“He will bring forth justice to the nations!” Mishpat l'goyim yotzi! Isaiah 42:1
Why do people behave as they do? What determines their choices? We are subject to so many influences: amateur and professional sports, mass-media lies and propaganda, advertising, television programs and commercials, demands of family, expectations of friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. I have one more question today:
Does the Word of God, the Word made Flesh, and the Body of Christ created by that Word have any place among the answers to this question?
Why do people behave as they do? What determines their choices? If anything we heard in today’s lessons is true, and we still believe in truth, I certainly hope so! Luther thought so when he concluded his explanations of the Apostles’ Creed by saying: This is most certainly true. The Church thinks so when it invites us to proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. The Church thinks so when it invites us to celebrate the annual commemoration of the Baptism of our Lord and our own Holy Baptism. Jesus’ Baptism certainly set the course for His behavior and His choices, His life and ministry. As we listen to what God says about the servant in whom He delights, we receive a supernatural vision for Christian life and ministry.
1. In Baptism, God says, “I will take you by the hand and keep you”
a. Father, Son and Spirit are in this thing together
b. We don’t make this up as we go along, unless we are now in the driver’s seat – God forbid!

2. I will give you as a covenant for the people
a. I will be your God and you will be my people – the Ark of the Covenant = Jesus!
b. The new covenant in My blood for the forgiveness of sins = Eucharist
3. A light to the nations
a. To open eyes that are blind – only in Jesus Christ can we see the truth about God and ourselves.
b. To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness – looks like freedom from debt, freedom from sexual addictions, freedom from hatred and oppression of others, freedom from lies about what constitutes happiness, freedom from fear of death.
O divine fruit of the Virgin’s womb, may I love you in union with the holy mother of God. Fill my life with the obedience of St. Joseph and the missionary fervor of the shepherds so that the witness of my life may shine like the star that led the Magi to your manger.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Abolition of "want"

When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want,” to be accomplished by “cooperation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from the vicissitudes of fate, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams: Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity. -- Mark Steyn

Introduction to the Small Catechism

Now, whoever does not highly value the Sacrament thereby shows that he has no sin, no flesh, no devil, no world, no death, no danger, no hell; that is, he does not believe any such things, although he is in them over head and ears and is doubly the devil's own. On the other hand, he needs no grace, life, Paradise, heaven, Christ, God, nor anything good. For if he believed that he had so much that is evil, and needed so much that is good, he would not thus neglect the Sacrament, by which such evil is remedied and so much good is bestowed. Neither will it be necessary to force him to the Sacrament by any law, but he will come running and racing of his own accord, will force himself and urge you that you must give him the Sacrament.

-- Martin Luther

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas in the Creed

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. -- Athanasian Creed