Monday, February 28, 2011

moved to pray

Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations which every Christian must bear, even though each one were alone by himself, so that every hour that we are in this vile life where we are attacked on all sides, chased and hunted down, we are moved to cry out and to pray that God would not suffer us to become weary and faint and to relapse into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible to overcome even the least temptation.
Luther's Large Catechism

Thursday, February 24, 2011

God and human reason

"Let us never call God to account for what is done. Whatever He may lay upon us, let us take that, and let us not inquire into details with curious questions, even though the thing commanded even appears amiss to human reason." -- John Chrysostom

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kingdom-sized prayers!

For the coming of God's Kingdom to us occurs in two ways; first, here in time through the Word and faith; and secondly, in eternity forever through revelation. Now we pray for both these things, that it may come to those who are not yet in it, and, by daily increase, to us who have received the same, and hereafter in eternal life. 54] All this is nothing else than saying: Dear Father, we pray, give us first Thy Word, that the Gospel be preached properly throughout the world; and secondly, that it be received in faith, and work and live in us, so that through the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost Thy kingdom may prevail among us, and the kingdom of the devil be put down, that he may have no right or power over us, until at last it shall be utterly destroyed, and sin, death, and hell shall be exterminated, that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.
Luther's Large Catechism

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let Your Kingdom Come -- our "evangelization" prayer

But what is the kingdom of God? Answer: Nothing else than what we learned in the Creed, that God sent His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life, and salvation against sin, death, and an evil conscience, for which end He has also bestowed His Holy Ghost, who is to bring these things home to us by His holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power.

52] Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us, and that His name be so praised through the holy Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted it may abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun.

Luther's Large Catechism

Monday, February 21, 2011

love others in Christ

+ Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany +
February 20, 2011
“Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.” Matthew 5:48
1. We are made complete by loving our neighbor
a. We are plagued with oppression, injustice, partiality, slander, putting stumbling blocks, hating, taking vengeance, bearing grudges, getting even, etc.
b. Only possible in Christ! “He is the universal Man who bears all of humanity in his life, who sums up all of history in his own story, who is the counterweight of love which counterpoises all human sins. Because of that, our Lord can only perceive all of humanity at the same time, and assume all human beings in this humanity, without excluding anyone. And if we want to be his disciples, we must enter into the catholicity of Jesus Christ…We can reach the true Christ open to all of humanity, who bears all of history, only if we open our hearts to all humanity, if we remove all barriers and all limitations. (Fr. Maurice Zundel + 1975).
2. We are made complete by loving even our enemies
a. We were all enemies of God Colossians 1:21 This includes you who
were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Romans 5:10; 8:7 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.

b. Only in Christ can we say with our heart: Father, forgive them.
Ephesians 4:7, 12-13 Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us…so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.

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.

Luther on Prayer

For this we must know, that all our shelter and protection rest in prayer alone. For we are far too feeble to cope with the devil and all his power and adherents that set themselves against us, and they might easily crush us under their feet. Therefore we must consider and take up those weapons with which 31] Christians must be armed in order to stand against the devil. For what do you think has hitherto accomplished such great things, has checked or quelled the counsels, purposes, murder, and riot of our enemies, whereby the devil thought to crush us, together with the Gospel, except that the prayer of a few godly men intervened like a wall of iron on our side? They should else have witnessed a far different tragedy, namely, how the devil would have destroyed all Germany in its own blood. But now they may confidently deride it and make a mock of it; however, we shall nevertheless be a match both for themselves and the devil by prayer alone, if we only persevere diligently and not become slack. 32] For whenever a godly Christian prays: Dear Father, let Thy will be done, God speaks from on high and says: Yes, dear child, it shall be so, in spite of the devil and all the world.
Large Catechism

Thursday, February 17, 2011

preparing pastors and people of God

We must prepare and educate neither slaves nor rebels, but free and, at the same time, responsible people. Freedom does not mean a lack of discipline. Freedom must primarily be an internal freedom, a freedom in Christ. We must be convinced that all restrictions and burdens placed by sacred ministers are accepted by them consciously and voluntarily. This recognition of the voluntary acceptance of the burden of the Cross must be a characteristic of every priest since, the taking up of the Cross is inherent in the very desire to be a priest.

-- Patriarch Kirill

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The work of the Spirit

For as the Father is called Creator, the Son Redeemer, so the Holy Ghost, from His work, must be called Sanctifier, or One that makes holy. 37] But how is such sanctifying done? Answer: Just as the Son obtains dominion, whereby He wins us, through His birth, death, resurrection, etc., so also the Holy Ghost effects our sanctification by the following parts, namely, by the communion of saints or the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting; that is, He first leads us into His holy congregation, and places us in the bosom of the Church, whereby He preaches to us and brings us to Christ.
Large Catechism, Martin Luther

Monday, February 14, 2011

How few believe!

Here we could say much if we were to expatiate, how few there are that believe this article. For we all pass over it, hear it and say it, but neither see nor consider what the words teach us. 21] For if we believed it with the heart, we would also act accordingly, and not stalk about proudly, act defiantly, and boast as though we had life, riches, power, and honor, etc., of ourselves, so that others must fear and serve us, as is the practise of the wretched, perverse world, which is drowned in blindness, and abuses all the good things and gifts of God only for its own pride, avarice, lust, and luxury, and never once regards God, so as to thank Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator.
Luther's Large Catechism

Happy Valentine's Day

O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of Your love. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary, and a foretaste of our eternal home with You; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Collect from the Rite of Holy Matrimony)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What are the 10 Commandments worth to you?

"From this it again appears how highly these Ten Commandments are to be exalted and extolled above all estates, commandments, and works which are taught and practised aside from them. ... Therefore they should be taught above all others, and be esteemed precious and dear, as the highest treasure given by God." -- Martin Luther

How much we treasure the 10 Commandments will be seen in how frequently we reflect, pray and meditate upon them, thank God for them, and tell others about the wonderful blessings that we have experienced by walking in the way of His commandments. They are summarized by our Lord Jesus as follows: Love the Lord your God; and love your neighbor as yourself. Only by living in the Crucified One and His love for us can we begin to walk in newsness of life.

Monday, February 7, 2011

this prayer came back to me...

Father, grant that what we have heard with our ears we may believe in our hearts, and what we have believed in our hearts we may confess with our lips and what we have confessed with our lips we may show forth in our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

Why "Josiah" was so named

In honor of our son Josiah Paul Becker, born 4/4/91.

this is the Epistle for the Beheading of St. John the Baptist:

Sirach 49
1 The memory of Josiah is as sweet as the fragrance of expertly blended incense, sweet as honey to the taste, like music with wine at a banquet.2 He followed the correct policy of reforming the nation and removed the horrors of idolatry.3 He was completely loyal to the Lord and strengthened true religion in those wicked times. 4 All the kings, except David, Hezekiah, and Josiah, were terrible sinners, because they abandoned the Law of the Most High to the very end of the kingdom.[b]5 They surrendered their power and honor to foreigners,6 who set fire to the holy city and left its streets deserted, just as Jeremiah had predicted.

Epiphany V

+ Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany +
February 6, 2011
“Commandments of the Kingdom” Matthew 5:19-20
Even as we rejoice in the free gift of forgiveness, Jesus reveals the Commandments of the Kingdom that lead us safely through this vale of tears to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
“What if I told you there was a well-researched and statistically proven program that can:
• increase the average life expectancy of your children by 8 years
• significantly reduce their use and risk from Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs
• dramatically lower their risk of suicide
• help them rebound from depression 70% faster
• dramatically reduce their risk for committing a crime
• improve their attitude at school and increase their school participation
• reduce their risk for rebelliousness
• reduce the likelihood that they would binge drink in college
• improve their odds for a "very happy" life
• provide them with a life-long moral compass
• and get them to wear their seatbelts more often
“Is there such a program? Yes, there is.
“And it is supported by research from Duke University, Indiana University, The University of Michigan, The Center for Disease Control, Barna Research Group, and the National Institute for Healthcare Research. “How much would a program like this be worth to you? What if I told you it was free, and only took about 2 hours a week. Take a look at the list again.
It's not a dream. The program is called "active church participation."
“In study, after study, after study, children who actively engage in a faith community on a regular basis are rewarded with SIGNIFICANTLY reduced likelihood of problems and risks, and significantly improved odds of a happier, healthier, longer life. These studies show the same results for adults as well.
“To increase the odds of receiving these results, you can't wait. According to a Barna Research Group study, adults who attended church regularly as children are nearly three times as likely to be attending a church today as their peers who avoided church during childhood (61% to 22%, respectively). In other words, parents who truly want the best for their children should get their children involved at church now and regularly.”
1. Don’t RELAX them
a. Take God’s Word seriously! Wedding band illustration: I’ll marry you and wear this band on three (3) conditions: 1. I will keep my old boy/girl friends; 2. I will see you only once a week, and 3. I will keep our relationship a secret. How many would enter holy matrimony under such condition? How many would treat God with such contempt and expect to be taken seriously by God?
b. Personal responsibility or self-government = peace and prosperity.
2. DO them
a. In daily prayer and meditation
b. In daily action toward God and your neighbor: Love and respect, honor and obey our parents; respect and protect all human life from conception to natural death; all married persons love and honor their husband or wife and each of be sexually pure in all that we think, say or do; respect and protect the property of others; help protect and defend our neighbor’s good name and reputation and explain everything in the kindest possible way.

3. TEACH them
a. Signs in the yard/billboards are better than county courthouse
b. chiasms
4. EXCEED them
a. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
b. By putting on Christ crucified in Baptism and abiding in Christ risen in the Supper.
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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hermann Sasse, 1936

"If Christianity cannot comprehend that in this Sacrament the most magnificent thing that can ever happen on earth is taking place, that is, in this Sacrament, which in its outwardly unpretentious form, Jesus, the Lord of all majesty is Himself present, then that Christianity no longer takes the actual presence of Christ seriously and has apostatized from the faith." (Thanks to Rev. Matthew C. Harrison for posting Sasse's letters on his blog!)
With what reverence, honor, and respect will we then approach the awe-full mystery? How can we do better than to sing and pray with Philipp Melanchthon (LSB 585): In these last days of great distress grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness that we keep pure till life is spent Your holy Word and Sacrament.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What is preaching the Gospel?

Now what can we conclude? This, that this can, yes, must, be preached to all men. Preaching the Gospel is merely saying to all men: Sinners, rejoice! Christ has already blotted out your sins; Christ has already reconciled you with God; Christ has already earned God’s grace for you; Christ has already fulfilled the Law; Christ has already procured a righteousness for you which avails before God; Christ has already conquered death, hell, and the devil; Christ has already earned the necessary worthiness for your entrance into heaven; in short, Christ has already completed the work of our salvation! -- C.F.W. Walther
Receive it daily, treasure, thank and tell what God has done for us in His Son and through the Spirit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Luther on Marriage

"Therefore God has also most richly blessed this estate above all others, and, in addition, has bestowed on it and wrapped up in it everything in the world, to the end that this estate might be well and richly provided for. Married life is therefore no jest or presumption; but it is an excellent thing and a matter of divine seriousness. For it is of the highest importance to Him that persons be raised who may serve the world and promote the knowledge of God, godly living, and all virtues, to fight against wickedness and the devil."
How many believers today see their call to marriage as a call to "fight against wickedness and the devil"? NOT ENOUGH! What a high honor all married persons have to promote the knowledge of God, godly living and all virtues simply by being faithful and loving to each other as long as they both shall live.