Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Luther on Ecclesiastes 7:16-18

     During my preparations and studies for Sunday’s sermon and service, I searched Luther’s Works for what Luther observed from the appointed Gospel reading of Matthew 25:14-30. In so doing I found this wonderful commentary:

Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 (KJV)

16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroyg thyself? 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

16. Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself?

17. Be not wicked overmuch, neither be a fool; why should you die before your time?

     That is, forget about the highest law; measure yourself by your own foot and sing, “Know thyself.”28 Then you will find in your own breast a lengthy catalog of vices, and you will say: “Look, I myself am still unrighteous, and yet I am tolerated by God and am not banished by people. Then why am I so carried away with fury that I harshly require of others what I do not achieve myself?” This is what it means to be “righteous overmuch.” The things of this world cannot bear it. Therefore observe the laws by teaching and preaching, and give thanks to God when your household or your audience acknowledge that the laws and teachings are holy and just, even though they do not observe everything as it is prescribed. In this way you will be truly holy and wise. You will be “overwise” and “righteous overmuch” if in your administration either of public or of private affairs you have good laws but insist on them and want them to be observed in such a way that there is not one iota of transgression. For this is what it means that “the highest law brings the deepest injustice.” A prudent public official or head of a household ought to make a distinction between the goodness of the law and the obedience of his subordinates. It is better to bear with and to endure a moderate amount of rebellion than to let the entire state perish. This is what usually happens to the rigid enforcers of laws. Therefore laws should be enforced and insisted upon as far as the situation allows, but no further. This is also what physicians do. They do not diagnose and cure diseases only on the basis of books or of what is prescribed but are often obliged to make adjustments in keeping with the state of the body. Thus also the minds of men are influenced in the most diverse possible ways, so that it is often necessary to modify the laws themselves. This calls for extremely wise men, of whom there are few in the world. Therefore all those chosen as heads of households or as public officials should be men like David, Abraham, Solomon, and Joshua, if they were available, men who could administer the laws properly. For this is how important it is to administer the state well.

Be not wicked overmuch.

     This is the second part of the conclusion. See to it that just as you are not righteous overmuch, you are not wicked overmuch either. That is, do not despise and neglect all the duties of government committed to your charge, and do not permit everything to fall apart. It is good to overlook some things, but not to neglect all things. If wisdom does not succeed, that is no reason to go crazy with anger and revenge. Finally, do not give in to idleness, so that you do not want to care about anything. Do not behave like that wicked servant who buried his talent and did not want to trade with it at all (Matt. 25:24–30). Well then, be just and let others be just with you; demand uprightness; persevere, regardless of the outcome. Why? “Why should you destroy yourself, or die before your time?” There is reason to fear that He may come suddenly and call you to judgment, as He took away the soul of the rich man at night when the rich man was not thinking about it (Luke 12:20). If this life were heavenly and angelic, nothing would happen unjustly; but our sinful nature cannot do anything but sin and be foolish. Anyone who does not know this has not yet learned about the world. We should think that here we are as though we were in a shipwreck or a fire, where one must labor to snatch at least some brand from the fire when one cannot control or extinguish the whole fire. Therefore if you are in a household, be content to snatch even one person from the public fire of wicked people. If you are a teacher of children, labor to educate at least one of them and to bring him up properly. If you are a preacher of the Gospel, do not preach as though you could gain all men for Christ, for not all heed the Gospel (cf. Rom. 10:16); but if you convert three or four souls and lead them to Christ, like the tips of burning brands (cf. Amos 4:11), give thanks. For one should not quit simply because so few are changed for the better to hear the preaching of the Gospel. But do what Christ did: He rescued the elect and left the rest behind. This is what the apostles did also. It will not be better for you. You are foolish if you either presume that you alone can accomplish everything or despair of everything when it does not go your way.

18. It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand; for he who fears God shall come forth from them all.

     Christ makes a similar statement in Matt. 23:23 when He says: “These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.” Thus here, too, he demands both: justice and yet not the highest justice, so that you are neither too remiss nor too exacting. Sometimes you must overlook the laws and judge as though you were wicked, and sometimes you must take hold of the laws and become just once more. But remember, as has also been said earlier, that he is here speaking not of personal righteousness but of communal or political justice, not of righteousness before God but of justice in governing others and before the world. For in personal righteousness there cannot be too much righteousness.

He who fears God shall come forth from them all.

     That is, the fear of the Lord will easily judge both. If I fear the Lord, my heart says: “I have often lived this way, and I still live shamefully. Therefore I will have compassion on those delinquents. If I can restrain them by moderating my discipline, I will do so. If not, I will let them continue until they collide with the law of the sword. If they escape all of this, they still will not escape the judgment of God.” Thus he who fears God proceeds correctly in these matters; when he sees that he cannot prevail, he calls upon the Lord. Therefore do your duty, warn, exhort, and never stop. He who does not hear you will bring on his own punishment, even though not through your punishing him; for there is One who will punish. This is what happened recently to our peasants. When they did not accept our rebuke, they were thoroughly punished by others.29 30


     gdestroy...: Heb. be desolate?

     28 This injunction, quoted here in Greek, was attributed to Thales of Miletus.

     29 Once again, as on p. 90 above, a reference to the Peasants’ War of 1525

     30 Luther, M. (1999, c1972). Vol. 15: Luther's works, vol. 15 : Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Last Words of David, 2 Samuel 23:1-7 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (15:122). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Facebook Fraudulent E-mail

A few moments ago I received this in my e-mail inbox:

Since I have been desirous of deactivating my account I wondered how it happened all by itself.  Of course I did not wonder for very long as I KNEW that Facebook would NEVER do this automatically.  After all, Facebook is continually trying to seduce me into giving them even more access to my personal information and life.

Such unsolicited e-mails should never be opened and most especially, the attached files should absolutely NEVER be opened.  The links are usually just spam attempts but they should not be clicked either, as they could activate a script that executes a hidden file such as a virus or trojan.

Rather, a good practice is simply to let the mouse pointer hover over any such link so as to observe the link URL that displays in the information bar at the bottom of the screen.  For example, in this e-mail, the URL that displays when the mouse pointer hovers over the link is:


This very obviously is NOT a normal Facebook URL.

Therefore it is clear that this is a fraudulently sent e-mail that should be deleted from the computer.

This is actually a very easily identifiable fraud.

If only all such frauds were this easy to detect.

Well, actually, they are, if a person knows the truth with sufficient familiarity that everything else is sensed as foreign.  This is the best way to be safe.  If a person is fully immersed daily in the Truth, all that is not of the Truth leaves the observer with an uncomfortable sense.  This sense should not be ignored.

It is like if a person is standing outside and suddenly feels the hairs on the neck stand up.  Such a sense should not be ignored.  The person should immediately fall flat on the ground becauase this is the sense that precedes a lightning strike.  Now of course, if the person is standing near a fallen power line, the appropriate response would not be to fall flat on the ground, but to retreat very carefully from the downed line.  In both scenarios, however, the sense of standing hair should not be ignored.

The same is true regarding the uneasy feelings that we observe in every other aspect of our lives.  If we know what is right and true so that everything else leaves us feeling leery, then we can be alert to whatever false or bad thing has come near to us and act with the appropriate measures.

Beware of unsolicited e-mails.  Beware of bad or corrupted theology.  Learn to know what is right and true and beware of all else.

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From “Our Father”

      As we prayed the Our Father in yesterday’s service, I was stricken by a very powerful observation concerning what the Lord Jesus has directed us to pray.

      In earlier occasions I have also observed that the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray differently than He prayed and prays. Whenever Jesus prays, He prays: “My Father.” But He teaches us to pray: “Our Father.” This is because Jesus is the only-begotten of the Father, even from eternity. Jesus is truly one with the Father. We are made to be brothers of Jesus, created in His image, for Jesus is the very image of God.

      In His prayer for His disciples Jesus prayed that they would be made one even as He and the Father are one. He did not in any way imply that we would be one with Father, except that we are made to be one in Jesus. In Jesus we are made to be one, even as in the Godhead the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one. In Jesus, in His body, we are married to God, as St. Paul declares this mystery in Ephesians 5. We are not married to God as individuals, but together as the bride of Christ. Thus we pray, “Our Father.”

      In this connection, as we pray the Our Father, I observed yesterday another affirmation that this prayer is really very simply an extended “Amen!” to all that God teaches us in the Holy Scriptures. I observed that the Fourth Petition begins a reiteration and explanation of what we prayed in the first three petitions. In the first three petitions we affirm that as our Heavenly Father, God proclaims His holy will to be that His kingdom comes to us even now as we live our earthly lives and that His good and gracious will be worked to us and in us so that we live in accord with His good and gracious will within His Holy Church and in our daily lives. Having prayed this as what God’s will is for His beloved children, we then affirm this as our Daily Bread, our daily need fully supplied by our loving Father. Then we affirm that God’s kingdom coming to us through our baptism and being renewed among us in the Holy Supper, we receive God’s promise to forgive us freely of all of our sins so that we eagerly will also freely forgive all others for whom Jesus has won this forgiveness. We then further acknowledge that this is the very means by which God delivers us from the evil one and all of the evil in the world so that we live in the safety of His household all our days. We then conclude, praying an extended doxological Amen.

      Truly the Lord is our Shepherd and as His beloved sheep we shall have no want.

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Is this a Powerful Sermon?

      This morning I noticed the following at Against Death and For Life!:

This is an incredibly powerful sermon delivered by Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, on the subject of our society’s attitude toward life deemed not worthy of being lived. Powerful, powerful stuff here folks. You owe it to yourself to gather your family and watch this together.

      So I viewed it and listened carefully, twice. Then I reviewed several portions a few additional times.

      Is this truly a powerful sermon? Does Pr. Harrison hold to the preaching that his professed quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions define as a truly powerful sermon? Is this a sermon that rightly distinguishes between the Law and the Gospel and applies each to the hearers so as to move them to be cut to their own hearts and turned to true faith in the Gospel?

      Having viewed it and listened carefully I do not find this to be what this sermon does. I do not hear Pr. Harrison holding me and the other hearers accountable for our own sinfulness. Rather, it sounds to me like a highschool pep rally to inspire school spirit and to pit one school and team against another. “Rah! Rah! Rah! Go Team!! Yes! Our team is the best, to H with the rest! Yea.............Team!”

      In this sermon I only found one very weak attempt at applying God’s Law to the hearers. At 10:20 on the time line Pr. Harrison says:

     Then Jesus began inviting the dregs of society to be His friends, like Levi, the tax collector, Luke 5:27. And He still invites the dregs like YOU, even you in the back. (Audience chuckles.)
     I asked them before this sermon if I could mention a few of their sins up here publically, but nobody was forthcoming. (Audience chuckles.)

      This is the only attempt at application of the Law to the actual hearers. And this was making very light of their own sinful condition, actually making a joke of it. Not one person hearing this would be cut to the heart concerning one’s need for God’s forgiveness and healing. I certainly did not hear myself being confronted with my sinfulness.

      What I did hear was a condemnation of OTHERS! Over and over the Nazis were condemned. There also was a connection made to those who have promoted and performed the more than 53 million abortions in America.

      But no condemning statement was made concerning the hearers and their refusal to love their neighbors. No call to acknowledge any of our own sins and rebellion against God’s holiness was preached at all. Rather, the LC-MS and its membership were praised for their good works and urged to take pride in doing more good works. The presumed good works of fighting abortion from a “loving” and “joyful” disposition were praised and urged. “Go Team!”

      Just as the Law was not applied to the hearers, neither was the Gospel applied. No one hearing this sermon would respond with a broken and contrite heart saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Even a Nazi would laugh at this sermon, without any sense of wanting to turn to God to hear His gracious absolution. Even if a Nazi heard that the millions of murders were wrong, that Nazi would think that at least the six million plus murders are not as bad as the 53 million abortions of the Americans. Both the Nazis and the LC-MS membership hear an excuse to say: “At least we are not as bad as certain others. Besides, Pr. Harrison says that Jesus invites the dregs to be His friends.

      Indeed. Where did Pr. Harrison say anything about members of the LC-MS being in need of repentance? Was it somewhere in this sermon mentioned so subtly that even with several viewings that I did not perceive it?

      On that, what about the many blatant denials of the pure Gospel and Sacraments that the pastors and congregations of the LC-MS have committed for many decades, and with increasing boldness in recent years? The Lutheran Confessions speak of these compromises as the very worst of sins, even calling them soul-murder. Do we Lutherans, regardless of whichever synodical team or congregation we belong, do we not need to hear the call to acknowledge the First Three Commandments and our many sins against them? Do we not need to hear that we daily worship at the feet of the idol of the media and movie industry and the Internet? Do we not need to hear how we have taken the Lord’s name in vain and misused it in connection with false worship practices? Do we not need to hear how nonchalantly we treat daily prayer and devotion? Do we not need to hear how we give “half-cast” prayers toward God? Do we not need to hear, especially those who are of the LC-MS, how unionism has been openly practiced without even a hint of contrition over this violation of the Third Commandment?

      How can Pr. Harrison or any other pastor imagine that anyone from outside their “fellowship” will take their preaching seriously? Why would any nonbeliever be moved to listen to this kind of pep rally drivel? This is not even honest evaluation of their own membership. Why would someone like myself, someone who counts himself as a very desperate and poor, miserable sinner turn to such a works-righteous preacher and church body? I need to hear God’s Law and Gospel carefully and accurately preached to me so that I know that my need for the remission of my sins has been genuinely addressed. I need to know that the merits of Christ crucified are imparted to me through the ordained means of grace. I need to know that my miserable attempts at righteousness are not the basis of my judgment. I need to know that the perfect righteousness of Jesus has been poured out to me so that by His righteousness I am judged.

      Then and only then do I recognize myself as one among those who rejoices to count myself among those “who like Jesus are people of joy over life.” Pr. Harrison proclaims this as a catch phrase, but it is inestimably more. When a person hears this as what God works for us, then the person truly is made to be a person of joy over life. Then a person does not need to be urged to stand up for others, for that is the regenerated motive of the person’s heart. This is what the Holy Spirit produces. It is not something that a person must generate within oneself. The preaching of the necessity of good works in the life of Christians takes true form when preached as St. James says:

     What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:14-20)

      St. Paul proclaims the same, saying:

     So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:15-17)

      A living faith causes a person to live from that faith. A living faith is not idle. It is like turning the key in a car and hearing no sound of the engine being turned. A person observing this says that the battery is dead. It has no life in it. Thus it produces no action.

      On the other hand no one imagines that a battery is made to be a good battery by turning over the engine. No. Rather, a person observes the innate goodness of the battery when it produces the work of turning over of the engine. Because the battery has life in it, the engine is turned over. The life has already been given to the battery by another source of life or energy. Then, because the battery has been made to be a good battery that is full of life, it then produces that which flows from the life that has been generated within it. Because of the life generated in it, the battery is declared to be a good battery that produces the good work that a live battery produces. If the battery dies and produces no work, it is then declared to be a bad battery and is cast into the pit.

      People in whom the true faith is alive do the works that this living faith produces. This living faith is generated in the person through the pure means of grace, that is, the pure Gospel and Sacraments. Oh that the preachers would preach and administer the pure and unadulterated Word and Sacraments rather than preaching that people should be good Lutherans or good Christians or good Whatevers. For as St. Paul masterfully proclaims, it is the Gospel that is the power of God into salvation. It is the Gospel that is the power that generates the true faith that changes people’s hearts and minds so that they live by faith and live the life of joy that produces the good works of that joy.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

CDC Admits Flu Vaccine’s Ineffectiveness

The worst case of the flu that I ever suffered was the one and only time that I allowed myself to be infected by the flu vaccine.  Afterward, the doctor informed me that he did not recommend vaccination for this very reason, as in his experience more than 65% of those vaccinated contracted the flu from the vaccine.

At CDC Admits Flu Vaccine’s Ineffectiveness as Huge Influx of Flu Victims Fill US Hospitals the report shares that even the CDC admits that the flu vaccine is ineffective.

Good nutrition, sufficient sleep, consumption of proper amounts of clean water, and faith that overpowers stress are the truly effective flu fighters.

But no one makes billions of dollars preaching this.

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Unlocking Cellphones Becomes Illegal

The article Unlocking Cellphones Becomes Illegal Saturday reports that today, January 26, 2013, the government has declared that it is illegal to unlock a new cell phone.

Myself, I did not even consider the issue as this seems to me to be clearly stated in the contract that people sign with the big mobile carriers.

However, it is amazing that the government will prosecute people for breaking private contracts, using Copyrights as the excuse.  Big corporations that are overcharging people for phones and for mobile services now have the US Government to enforce their contracts.

Sadly it is no longer ironic that the US Government does not take interest in prosecuting the big corporations for violating the contracts with their customers.  The US Government has absolutely no concern for the fact that these corporations promise good service but do not supply good service.  The government takes no action regarding the abuses of these corporations with poor reception, dropped calls, bad connections, and a host of other issues.

Instead, the government helps the corporations to enforce the contract in a one-sided action against the little people.  Suing these companies is restricted to class action law suites because of the cost factors.  These suits are a joke as they never actually punish the corporate thieves and most customers never even see any substantial refunds.

Moreover, the corporations are allowed to track the customers’ activities without restriction and without customer consent.  “Minority Report” type selling of the customers’ activities and even location is now common.  People are even being conned into accepting retinal scanning “for their protection.”

In the end, it is the willful gullibility of the customers that allows this.  Greed, a.k.a. “envy” and “idolatry,” lusting after every new technological gimmickry.  If people did not buy the overpriced phones and plans, and if they demanded proper service or stopped using the phones, and if they voted for officials who actually cared about people rather than enslaving them through economics and promotion of lust, things would be different.

But that requires an otherworldly mindset.

Philippians 3:20

Colossians 3

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Friday, January 25, 2013

The Global Future - Sustainable Development

Do you have plans for your future?

Do you have a vision and a planned agenda for your life and the life of your family?

The globalists of the world do.  They have been planning your future and the future of your family and the future of the people of the world for many decades already.  They have an actual agenda:  Agenda 21, UNCED

At Agenda 21, UNCED the agenda is currently available as PDF or HTML.  But the UN keeps changing their site, making it hard to link to this information.

The global agenda planners call their planning “Sustainable Development” and “Sustainable Living.”  These terms have been circulated through the media and the government schools.  They are being used throughout the Green Movement at every level of government, from the local county and city planners to the national governments of the world.

During the 1990s, the terms were being inculcated but the source was kept more or less secret.  The people of the world were not told openly that this terminology and planning was a global scheme planned by the powerful elite of the world.

The terms were carefully chosen to sound innocuous.  But if a person reads carefully and with discernment, one begins to realize what is really enshrined in the terminology and agenda.

What does Sustainable Development really mean?  To the innocent observer it sounds as though wise use of natural resources in ways that promote clean and efficient usage that coincides with natural renewability is the agenda.  But as one reads with discernment and wariness, one soon perceives that the actual sustainable development of this agenda is the development of sustainability of power and control for the elite over the rest of the people of the world.

This agenda has been propagated through the media and every social network for decades, since long before social networking was a term in common parlance.  The result is that most people are oblivious to the changes in power structuring that have been implemented.

The agenda reaches even farther back into history, if one accounts the secret societies and their centuries of activities. For example, most people have been conditioned to think of the Masonic Lodge in connection with the Shriners, without even considering what it means to be a Shrine-er.  In times past, the Shriners shrined and shrouded the covert activities of the lodges, presenting a facade of foolishness and innocent childish enactments as a cover for the real workings of their lodges.

An organization that few people know about is the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA).  In earlier years this was a very secretive group.  In the 1990s only a few knew of it and stepped forward to expose the group and its agenda.  Since then the WCPA has gone public, but not openly so.  Have you ever heard of this organization?  Has it been reported in the media?

The purpose of this organization is the implementation of a One World Order, a one world government.  This organization has been responsible for drafting The Constitution for the Federation of Earth — "The Earth Constitution".

Here is the WCPA web page.

"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair."

That sounds wonderful!  Doesn’t it?

It does indeed, at least until one considers what it really says.  It says that a single standard or flag or banner will replace all national standards.  Is this really what the people want?  Are the people of the world really clamoring for a new world order in they which will no longer have any options?  Are the people of the world really desiring to have their every movement monitored and regulated by a far away group of elite controllers?  Do the people really want to have their national uniqueness stripped away from them with a new unilateral way imposed upon them?

The newer WCPA web page presents an even lovelier picture of the new One World Order:

Here is a closer view of the very lovely sentiment expressed on this page:

Thank you Glen T. Martin for this picture of the New World Order.

A little lower on the same web page Glenn offers this photograph, with the caption: “Democratic World Law is the twenty-first century form of love”.

What does this look like to you?  Does this look like a gathering for a religious conference?  Is that not what the slogan “Democratic World Law is the twenty-first century form of love” suggests?

What about this photograph?

In case you cannot read the banner on the side of the van:

How about this one?

Doesn’t this group make you feel good about having them determining how you must live your life? Are you not filled with confidence for the future as you think of those who call themselves the “World Thinkers and Poets” drafting the laws by which you will be governed?

“Democratic World Law is the twenty-first century form of love”, does this not bring to memory how George W. Bush spoke of “Spreading Democracy” to nations that he and his advisors determined to be in need of being invaded and conquered and occupied by U.S. military forces?  Is this not the same rhetoric of Barack Hussein Obama, or Barack H. Obama, as he was sworn in for the second time, as he expands this concept of World Love through the drone attacks in addition to other bombings, assassinations, manhunts, and military force?

Many Americans have accepted this rhetoric.  They gather behind their political party and cheer.  They especially cheer when their favorite leader says: “And God bless America” or “Thank you.  God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.”

Is a world-wide religion being promoted by the slogan:  “Democratic World Law is the twenty-first century form of love”?  On this you may find Gary Kah’s Historical Summary from his book, “The New World Religion,” an informative read.

Furthermore, even without the new world religious considerations, the means of enforcement and implementation of this new world government and constitution is eye opening.  Consider what the WCPA The Constitution for the Federation of Earth — "The Earth Constitution" says especially in “Article 10 • The Enforcement System” and “Article 17 • Ratification and Implementation.”

Read these with the language of Agenda 21 in mind.  Then observe the changes already being forcibly imposed upon your own locality.  Observe the many increases in taxes, fees, and regulations.  Observe how often the term “sustainable” and “green” are the motivational control words.  Observe how often financial institutions are using these terms to manipulate you into surrendering personal control to them.  Observe how often the concept of “world peace” has been and continues to be used to reform people’s thinking to willing acceptance of more and more regulation and control by the governing entities.

This is a great and enormous load for a person to carry.  Such knowledge can be overwhelming.

For those who desire to have this and other burdens lessened and even removed, I offer the reminder that such is available through the one true religion of the one true God, the Lord, Yahweh, Jesus.

Psalm 23

     The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

     Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

For those who are willing to consider it, there is an historical fact that is really quite marvelous to ponder.  In the history of the world there was one nation, one people, who needed no government to be imposed upon them.  Those who trusted in the Lord had only His divinely ordained order for family.  No other government was needed, for the Lord was their true Shepherd and they trusted in Him and walked in His ways.  Even when the Lord delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt, they had no external government.  As long as they continued in the true fear and love of the Lord their God, they had peace, both amongst themselves as well as peace from attack by foreign kingdoms.

But they kept turning away to trusting in their own desires and reason and in the ways that they observed amongst other peoples.  Each time they suffered as the Lord and His holy life were pushed aside and out of their lives.  Eventually they demanded that Samuel give them a king like that of the other nations.  Samuel warned them of what such a demand would bring upon them and how they would lose the freedom that exists only in the blessed communion of the Lord.  But they insisted and then they had to endure harsh treatment and regulations and taxation and conflicts.

Yet the Lord promised that He would raise one up from among them through whom He would restore His divine rule so that they would again enjoy His peace, His rest or Sabbath.

We all long for this deep in our souls.  This is why Glen T. Martin chose the phrase: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.”  This is an appeal to the conscience in which God has written His eternal Law.  “Repair” is a term for rest, or Sabbath.  The Lord established this from the Seventh Day.  Mankind has a deep yearning for this to be restored, even though mankind also resists it continually.

This blessed Sabbath Rest is the rule of peace that the Lord promised with the promise of the Messiah or Christ.  This peace is superior to the peace that people imagine and strive to achieve for themselves.  This peace can and does exist and even prevails in the midst of the most extreme crises.  For those who are baptized into the body of Christ, into God’s kingdom on earth, this peace now rules and guards their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as St. Paul assures us in Philippians 4:7.

There are many religions and even many Christian religions that offer a path to peace.  But the peace of God is not found through following a path.  Rather, the peace of God in Christ IS the path.  It is the path upon which, or more precisely, into which we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit through the water of Baptism.  Jesus Himself is the path or the way or the hodos.  For those in whom the faith to believe this has been generated from above, they continually abide in this peace, this way of life.  They continually come to the Sacrament where Jesus is received again and again along with all that He promises to give to His beloved disciples.  They go forth renewed in Christ and His grace, mercy, and peace to face the daily lack of peace in the world.  This peace of God empowers them to continue in His peace even in the most extreme circumstances and trials.  This peace carries them through in the victory that has already been won for them on the cross and imparted to them in their baptism.

For those who seek to find peace through their own efforts, rejecting the means of grace through which this peace of God is given freely, they continue to seek and struggle and strive to obtain what they only imagine for themselves.  They obtain momentary sensations of peace, but never the enduring peace that overcomes all things.

After Joshua had led the people of Israel into the new land and established them in it by the hand of the Lord, he gathered them together at Shechem and said to them:

     And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  (Joshua 24:15)

Notice that Joshua does not imply that abiding in God’s grace and peace and commandments is a choice that believers make.  He actually declares exactly the opposite.  He says that those who consider it evil to serve/worship the Lord are those who make a choice.  Those who know the Lord as the Almighty and the Most High God who hears their prayers and delivers them from all of their enemies, even sin and death and the devil, those who fear Him so as to acknowledge Him as their omnipotent Savior and Redeemer so that they look to Him in every need in true trust as their heavenly Father, such serve/worship Him in accord with what He has ordained rather than seeking and choosing for themselves how best to live or to define and approach God.  Such Godfearing people do not struggle to find peace.  They abide in the peace that has been won for them through the struggles and strife of the One who did so in their stead.  They do not seek to find this peace, neither do they strive to obtain it, neither do they fabricate ways to peace, for this peace possesses them, heart, mind, body, and soul.  This peace guards and keeps them forevermore in their Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.

Those who reject this way, who deny Jesus outrightly, they seek to obtain peace through various means of force.  They try to regulate people to maintain peace.  They try to “spread democracy” with guns and tanks and planes and ships and missiles and bombs.  They try to coerce people into ways of peaceful control through World Constitutions and United Nations’ agendas.

What is worse yet is the way in which those who create a Jesus in their own image and so they seek to obtain peace through their own religions that they present as of Christ.  Such “Christians” have rejected the express declarations of Jesus that His kingdom is not of this world and that His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and that the kingdom of God does not come by observation and that it especially does not come through worldly government by the power of the sword or gun.  And so such things as Christian Crusades and Inquisitions have been promoted and exercised.  Less overt methods are pursued, too, such as the Church Growth Movement, the Ecumenical Movement, Evangelism Programs, Revivals, Evangelism Crusades, Altar Calls, and TV/Radio Evangelism.  When each of these are examined for what they really are they are exposed as more subtle ways of coercion and methodology.  And so people are told to make decisions and choices and commitments that they do not have the power to fulfill.  People are told to make Christ the center of their life and they struggle ever after to try to convince themselves that they have done so sufficiently.  On and on the struggles arise.

The peace that the Scriptures of the Holy Spirit teach is the peace that is received purely as a gift, through means ordained by the Giver of this peace.  His ordained means require nothing of those who receive them.  The power and efficaciousness of these means are entirely independent of those who receive them.  The Giver is the one who acts.  He gives freely by grace through faith, and even this faith is His work and gift.

As for me, I will stand with Joshua in saying, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  After all, of what does serving the Lord consist beyond the “Amen” that faith produces?

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Green Or Else

At 2 meter opponents arrested in Naperville: 'A society of violating one another' the article reports that two residents of Naperville were arrested for saying “No” to the forced invasion of their property to forcibly install spy equipment known as Smart Meters.  Two ladies were arrested for crying out against this rape.

The Tribune video can be viewed here.

At the end of the video interview City Manager Doug Krieger says: “Uh, we absolutely are not bullies.  I...I believe that we bent over backwards to accommodate them.”

Apparently arresting women in their own yards is accommodating them.  Apparently forcibly installing electronic equipment in people’s homes against their protests is accommodating them.

A clear message is being sent to the citizenry. “Shut up and let us do whatever we choose to do to you, Or ELSE!”


“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics - By Francis Scott Key 1814

^ ^ ^

Naperville Community Television, Channel 17 reports further on these arrests and includes this video:

^ ^ ^

More is available at
Stop Smart Meters!

A few still cry out in the name of liberty, expecting to be protected by the Constitution.  But the Constitution has no power in a land where people elect officials who do not honor it and who appoint judges who overturn it.  And where the rights of the helpless and those who have no voice nor vote are allowed to be trampled, the power-hungry become voracious.

The Old Testament prophets cried out with strong warnings concerning the wolves who feed on the widows and fatherless, the poor and the homeless, the downtrodden and the wandering foreigners.  When the people abide in the way of the Lord, the widows and orphans receive care and help, and the poor and homeless are clothed and fed, and the downtrodden and wandering strangers are lifted up by those whose love flows from their own knowledge of being loved.  This never is enacted by government programs, but always through those made merciful through receiving the Lord’s limitless mercies.

Sadly, the saints have always been outnumbered in this world.  Yet throughout history their lives have made a difference for many and God’s grace has shown even in the shadow of the powerful and uncaring.

Green or Else has come upon the land.  It is no longer a future threat.  But God’s grace is greater and will most surely carry those who trust Him through every dark time until the fullness of the glory of His coming leaves no more shadows.

     Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them,
     Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?   Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
     A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
     And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.   And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give   it   you.   Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.   These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.   At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:   For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
     I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
  (John 16:19-28)

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Fascinating Videos

Tuesday was the Fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that the privacy of the womb belongs only to the woman, and not to its occupant, not to the unborn baby.

Yesterday I found some fascinating videos that were produced regarding this issue.  They are quite effective in evoking deeper thought concerning the issues of the reality that babies are people with hearts and souls and minds and are part of our society, part of the human race.

I don’t particularly like the notion of “potential” as the view towards a baby or any other human being.  But these videos do demonstrate that something very important is being ignored by our society in the matter of abortion and the value human life in general.

In Roe v. Wade and Roe v. Wade - 410 U.S. 113 (1973) it is reported that the woman’s constitutional right to privacy as guaranteed in several amendments and particularly the Fourteenth and Ninth amendments was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decision against the unborn baby in favor of the woman’s right for no one to know.  It seems ironic that the strongest arguments were based upon the right for privacy regarding Due Process.  And so a woman and abortionist are protected under due process while the baby is not.

It is even more powerfully ironic that in his recent inaugural address Obama spoke of reasons to ignore people’s rights to privacy in various matters.  The right to self-defense amendment is particularly under attack by a former Senator and now President who openly supports abortion as a right of women and especially of the abortion industrialists.  Is it not ironic that a woman’s so-called right to privacy has now become a right to have the rest of society pay for the termination of her baby?  Is it not ironic that the people who object to abortions on the basis of their belief that killing babies is ungodly no longer have any First Amendment rights whatsoever, even in many cases being denied the right of free speech?

The extent of the irony reaches into another area as well, as is reported at Ex-SEAL Zinke: 'Nearly Certain' Women in Combat Will Cost Lives.

It does not seem to be accidental that with the Roe v. Wade decision that the views of many women began to change significantly.  In the past it was extremely uncommon for women to think of military service as a “right” of women.  With the dehumanizing of babies and the devaluing of life in general, our society is more and more inclined to glorify warriors as role models.  Killing and fighting are predominant themes in movies.  Survival games are promoted as entertainment on TV.  Sending troops overseas to invade other countries under the guise of National Security and the War against Terrorism has become accepted. Assassinations via drones has become accepted.  Even the so-called collateral damage is hardly even counted anymore.

Are these issues divorced of one another?  Is there no common link between them?

Should we not consider seriously how far we have wandered in our thinking and values as a society?  Should we not also consider the things that have promoted this erosion and degradation and devolution of human decency?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Painful Reality of Going Green

This week I had the pleasure of meeting a very sweet gentleman of a few more years than myself.  We worked together for a couple of days on the same property where a couple of large trees, one damaged and one dead, needed to be removed.

We had many opportunities to converse.  In the sharing he told me of many hardships that he has faced in his life.  One of these was the terrible tornado that devastated the town of Greensburg, Kansas in May of 2007.  Before and after Aerial Photographs can be viewed at Greensburg, Kansas - Two Aerial Photographs - Before and After the May 2007 Tornado.  Here they are for a smaller viewing:

This gentleman had just re-roofed his house.  In the roofing process he decided to storm proof the house.  He ran 3/8 inch logger chain up the studs and over the rafters, anchoring the entire house to the ground.  His house was the only house standing in his block after the storm.  The only damage to his house was from the roof of another house striking the peak of his roof and from a two by four that was driven through one of the walls.  Otherwise his house was in perfect condition.

However, when he applied for a permit to repair the very minor damage, the city would not give him a permit and made him tear down his house.  They were Going Green and were not allowing any homes to be left standing.  They had to be rebuilt with the new GREEN regulations.

So this man lost his home to the Green movement.  His house and property were stolen from him by the government through the false claims of eminent domain.

Furthermore, the people were not allowed back into the town to salvage their belongings.  This man had a couple of Snap-on rolling tool chests full of tools in his shed.  The shed and tools were bulldozed into the street and stolen from him.  Also all of his appliances and supplies were stolen from him by FEMA and the EPA.

He lost everything.

How does destroying a home so that a new home with all new lumber and concrete and steel and appliances equate to being conservation minded and environmentally friendly?

How is it just to take a man’s belongings from him without any compensation whatsoever?

Wikipedia’s reporting at Greensburg, Kansas shows that in 2000 there were 1,574 people, 730 households, and 453 families residing in the city.  According to the 2010 census there were 777 people, 355 households, and 212 families residing in the city.

How many businesses would have rebuilt and how many homes would have been rebuilt without the new Green requirements?  Since the people were not given the choice, we will never know.  However, the town is now less than half the size.

According to Five Years after Being Destroyed by Tornado, Greensburg, Kan. Rebuilds - Greener and Better, the town’s population was 1,400 in 2007 before the tornado (obviously an estimate).  This report also estimates about 900 currently, a little better than half.

The article declares:

“When we first started talking to people about rebuilding and going green, nine out of 10 people came right back to us with, ‘I’m no tree hugger!’” according to Daniel Wallach, a Kansas businessman and one of the major driving forces in Greensburg’s return. “And now look at us. It’s just incredible.”

To whom does he refer when he says: “And now look at us.”?
“Only thing we had left was each other,” said Bob Dixson, who would become mayor of Greensburg one year after the storm. “You see everything wiped out, and you just pull together.”

Really?  What about those who did not want to be forced into new debt and merely wanted to rebuild the town as it had been?  What about those who did not want their town taken over by FEMA and out of town big money?  What about those who were forced out and lost their property, not because of the tornadic destruction but because of eminent domain usurpation?

In the days and weeks after the storm, with the much-maligned Federal Emergency Management Team in town and offering aid, there were a few discussions about how best to rebuild Greensburg. But at the time, not many people wanted to hear it.

And what of those who did not want to hear it?  What of their voices?  What of their vote?  What of their right to rebuild according to their own plans?

Whose town did Greensburg become?

Who pressed the new Green life upon Greensburg?  What does Green really mean?

For those who own construction interests and the new Green technology, Green means mega $$$.

For lovers of liberty and justice for all, it means that the United Nations Agenda 21 is being implemented in full force.  It means that the freedom to own property and use it according to one’s own best interest and goals is obliterated by those who use government to control others.

How many times have tyrants used this same kind of rhetoric to wrest control from the people?  How many times have the people been persuaded to surrender their liberty and freedom and rights in the name of progress and rebuilding?  Is this not the exact manner in which Hitler and those like him have risen to power?

This pattern begins small, like with a tiny town of 1,400, way out in the middle of what is counted as nowhere.

Here is Greensburg:

My new friend had a home there.  He worked hard and invested to make his home lovely, strong, and safe.  His work and investment paid off.  His house survived the storm.  But it could not survive the government.

Now he lives in Wichita where he had to purchase another house of lesser value than the one that he had.  His home in Greensburg was wiped out by the Green agenda.  How long till this spreads to Wichita?  How long will his home, and mine, be safe from the Green agenda here in Wichita?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Annoying vs the Annoyed

In a recent conversation with a very dear friend, he shared as he has several previous times, that he enjoys cold weather.

I responded, jokingly saying, “People like you are annoying.”

Later I reflected upon this realizing that I had spoken thoughtlessly and unlovingly.  As I continued reflecting upon this as I worked in the cold yesterday, I thought that he would have been entirely justified in saying, “Perhaps, but maybe you are just annoyed.”

And that is the absolute truth.  He was not annoying.  I was just annoyed.

Why should I be annoyed by another person’s statement of enjoying something that God gives in His gracious and loving providence?  Why should I be annoyed by another person’s healthy outlook concerning the weather?  What kind of a friend would act thus?

Thankfully, my friend is a true friend who does not easily become offended.  He responds with loving laughter to my thoughtless remark.  It is extremely unlikely that he even thought of it as thoughtless on my part.  In fact, he very likely examined himself in his own heart concerning whether he may have been careless himself.

Thanks be to God that He has redeemed us with His own salvific sacrifice so that He freely remits all of our sinfulness.  Thanks be to God that this forgiveness that freely flows from His heart of love also fills His children with the same so that we eagerly forgive one another. Thanks be to God for His baptismal gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who tirelessly works in the hearts of God’s baptismally adopted children to confront these many faults and to bring us to metanoia, often translated as repentance, but is much, much more.  Metanoia is a change or overturn or reversal of the mind.  Such a change turns selfishness to thoughtfulness and consideration of others.

In this instance, the Holy Spirit has turned my heart and mind to realize that when my friend expresses appreciation, thankfulness, and joy concerning God’s gift of cold weather, that my heart should surely join him in this.  After all, God surely does work some very good things through the cold weather.

For example, after Jack Frost first appears, how many mosquitoes and flies remain to bite us?  The frost also kills many of the insects that attack our garden and lawn plants.  The cold air tends to be crisp and clear and invigorating.  Many such examples can be quoted regarding blessings that the Lord provides along with and through the cold.

The ones who truly are annoying are those who like me tend to focus upon the perceived negative affects of the cold so that we mumble and complain against the Lord, not accounting His goodness that is displayed in all things.  By complaining against the Lord, I am the annoying one, who tempts others to ignore His plainly displayed goodness and mercy.

A person can very easily fall into the trap of imagining that such complaining is not serious.  Especially when presented in a joking manner, it is easy to ignore the deleterious nature of such comments.

I realized this regarding another dear friend from my teenage and early manhood years.  Having grown up in a family where teasing was a form of showing affection, I did not realize how powerfully damaging such teasing can be.  This is the sad fact even among those who accept teasing as a showing of affection.

One of my friends had very low self-confidence.  He had many life experiences in his childhood that left him unable to see himself clearly as the wonderful person God had made him to be.  Because of his low view of himself, he often acted without good sense.  He often viewed himself only from the weakness of his sinful and incompetent nature, not truly counting himself as the forgiven and richly blessed child that God had declared him to be.  And so he had many accidents.  He made many foolish mistakes and blunders.  We, his friends, sometimes teased him about these.  He would laugh and even tease himself.

One day I realized that I was hurting my friend with my teasing.  He never said so, but I realized that my teasing was enforcing his low view of himself and was actually robbing him of the hope of doing better and of enjoying himself for the person that God had made him to be.  When I realized this, I apologized to him and asked his forgiveness.  He did not really perceive that I had done anything wrong but gladly forgave me.  In my heart I knew and I wanted the friend whom I loved to know that I would no longer show such thoughtlessness toward him.  I also confessed this to our other friends and urged them to seek to build one another up rather than tearing one another down through teasing.

This is what our loving God does for us.  He moves us to see beyond what we imagine to be harmless and innocent so that we are turned from these things in our hearts and minds to what truly is innocent and even loving and merciful and good.  The more that we behold God’s goodness in all things, the more that we are moved to demonstrate His goodness in our own actions.

This, of course, is made possible through the ultimate display of His goodness, mercy, and love in the voluntary and loving sacrifice of Jesus, who from His eternal love for us gave Himself as our redemption price.  Moreover, He continues to give Himself to us and for us through the means of grace.  When we receive these in accord with the faith that He generates in us, we truly do begin to see ourselves as totally regenerated through water and Spirit to abide as true communicants of His Holy Communion.

What better response is there besides, “Hosanna in the Highest.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  Kyrie eleison.  Hallelujah!  Amen!”

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Hosanna = save now
Kyrie eleison = Lord have mercy
Hallelujah = Praise Yahweh (the Lord)

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Matryoshka Doll

If my gaze out of the window is well timed, I can see my wife returning from her morning walk.  In the winter she bundles herself with layers of clothing so that she looks like a matryoshka trudging through the streets.  When she returns to the house she removes layer after layer until finally my sweet and tiny little wife lady appears.

Wikipedia has an article entitled Matryoshka doll, with an explanation and various varieties of the matryoshkas displayed.

In times past I always had heard these called Babushka dolls.  Their correct name, however, is said to be matryoshka.

I suppose that we could say that in a way we all are matryoshkas.  We all have layers that we build up around ourselves so that the person deep within cannot be seen without peeling away the layers.  This can actually be understood from two perspectives.

From the one perspective we tend to cover up the person that we don’t want to face.  That person is the Old Adam of the sinful nature.  We try to cover that person with attempts at good works and pretense.  We try to cover our failures at being good with layers of prayers and devotions and offerings and tithes and other forms of worship.  Some people try to escape their awareness of self through drugs and alcohol or through food or sexual activities or pornography.  Some become workaholics, trying to stay too busy to take notice of the person underneath, striving for the sense of success that evades them no matter how much they achieve or acquire.  Some turn to psychology and psychiatry for help.  And some turn directly to the influences of the devil and the world and just let the monster loose.

The other perspective is one that a person cannot find for oneself.  It is a gift.  It is poured out from heaven through the waters of Baptism.  St. Paul calls this the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.  He also refers to it as the adoption of sons into God’s kingdom as those who have been crucified with Christ to sin and raised with Christ as a new creation in the new life in God’s Holy Communion.  St. Peter calls it the answer of a good conscience through the power of the resurrection. 

In this wondrous heavenly activity enacted on earth through His Church, God drowns out the old sinful nature and brings forth a new and beautiful person who is regenerated with the faith of Jesus so that the person is restored in the image of God that sin corrupted and caused to be lost.  From this perspective the person comes to God with a very different approach.  Now the person peels off the layers of pretense.  This is done through honest confrontation and confession of one’s sins.  The power to face these honestly is this “good conscience” that St. Peter says is generated in us through the power of the resurrection applied to us in our baptism.  Having heard the sweet words of the Gospel we know that in Christ our sins are forgiven us.  This knowledge empowers us to come to God honestly confessing the sins that weigh upon our hearts so that we may hear Him assure us that for Christ’s sake our sins are forgiven us.  In Baptism God makes this declaration and imputation to us once and for all.  But since we need to hear it again and again on account of the sinful nature that still inheres in us, God commands us to come to Him continually with our confession so that we may hear His absolution.  Furthermore, He has given us His called servants within the public office of the ministry.  He has authorized them to speak for Him concerning His Gospel within this holy public office.  This way we can hear from a man standing before us that God does indeed forgive even the sins over which we still struggle in our hearts and minds and spirits.

In the divine service a corporate liturgical confession of sins precedes all else that follows the invocation.  In this way we confess our sinfulness and hear God’s blessed absolution and are empowered to come all the way to His Table of His Holy Communion without fear or doubt.  There He gives us the very body of Christ into which we are made to be one with Him and with one another.  There He also gives us the very blood that is shed even from eternity for the remission of our sins.  He gives us His blood over and over so that we are renewed in this life of forgiveness and renewal into His Communion to live freely by grace through faith.

When this is the way in which we walk and live, then we see through all of the layers of our pretense, all of the layers of guilt and iniquity, so that we then see the beautiful child of God that exists purely by God’s gracious decree in our baptism.  Then we live in the freedom that God declares for us, the freedom of our declared righteousness or justification by grace through faith.  Since this is ours purely by God’s work for us and in us through His own ordained means of grace, all cause for doubting is eliminated.  Then we live in the freedom of God’s grace through faith.

For this reason especially I find the little matryoshkas to be joyous little figures.  I also have this special reminder each time that I see my sweet matryoshka wife return home and peel away her layers of winter protection.

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This Guy Has Some Serious Skills

This Guy Has Some Serious Skills : Video Clips From The Coolest One

Wow!    For full screen viewing, click at the corner - - - - - - - - ^


After watching this a number of times and admiring his dexterity, flexibility, and strength, as well as marveling at the amount of practice that he must have done, I also noticed a very clever safety point.  I wonder how many attempts with the skateboard on the stone bench he made before he learned this safety precaution.

Do you see it at 26 seconds?

He places the wheels of the skateboard over the front edge of the seat of the bench so that when he jumps back to the skateboard that it does not slide out from under his feet.

Anyone watching stunts like these should beware of imagining that these can be safely performed without careful planning and practice.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weak = Strong

When things seem to be going well and we imagine ourselves to be standing on our own two feet then we are inclined to feel strong.  However, when things seem to be going poorly and we have been knocked down, then we feel weak.

Bodily infirmities can be ignored sometimes.  Other times a person can rise above the limitations or pain, perhaps even putting them out of mind, coping with whatever the person faces.  A person can feel as though anything can be overcome.  A person feels as though one can stand against anything.

This can apply to other areas of life, too.  A person can often overcome serious adversities.  Overcoming life’s difficulties can lead a person to begin to count oneself as strong and able to stand against whatever may come.

But this only lasts for as long as the person’s own strength does not fail.  Eventually one cannot ignore one’s own limitations and frailty.  This is true physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

St. Paul wrote warning against trusting in one’s own strength, especially in spiritual matters. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”  (1 Corinthians 10:12)

St. Paul was one who knew.  He had been a Pharisee, named Saul.  He had studied the Scriptures intensely.  He had devoted himself to the most stringent adherence to the Law of God as given through Moses.  He counted himself to be exemplary among the people of God.  He was influential to the point of being intrusted with letters to pursue and take prisoner those who were following in the way, the faith of Jesus.

On the way to carry out this mission, the Lord Jesus stopped Saul in his tracks and confronted him.

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
  (Acts 9:1-8)

    The rest of this account tells how weak Saul suddenly realized himself to be.  Not only was he now unable to see, but he had just learned that his entire life had been in vain.  All of his efforts were worthless, even worse than worthless.  All of his efforts to serve God were actually damned!  All of his pride was shown to be idolatry.  All of his devotion was shown to be false worship.  He had actually been an enemy of God rather than God’s friend!

    After this Saul (asked for or desired) began to be known as Paul (little or small).  With his conversion and baptism and ordination as the apostle of Jesus to the Gentiles, Paul was now very small in his own eyes and his own efforts and devotion were counted as skubalon (crap).  Thus he writes:

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
  (1 Corinthians 10:12-15)

First is the warning against relying upon one’s own reason and strength.  Then is the promise that God is faithful and will limit one’s encounters with temptations to the strength that He Himself gives to the beloved believer.

In the verses that follow, he explains this further, pointing to the means through which this strength is given to the believer.

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
  (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

This is the means through which God strengthens His saints for all that they encounter in their daily lives.  This begins with being baptized into the body of Christ.  It extends into the life of worship that flows from this regeneration into God’s kingdom.  As a living member of Christ’s body, this holy supper is the means through which God renews His saints in the faith in which they stand and live.

This is why we dare not compromise it through any form of idolatry.  For this meal is the Communion with God that Christ restored for us and to which we are regenerated and reconciled through Baptism.

This is why it is so sad, even heart breaking, to observe the many ways that those professing to be Christians continue to turn back to ways of seeking to be strong through their own reason and strength.  Even the Holy Supper itself they turn into a work of their own rather than the means through which the merits of Christ are given to us by God.  Worship and devotion and prayer are turned into the idolatry of imagining that these are somehow worthy of merit in themselves.  And so these become means of making oneself better and stronger through one’s own efforts rather than being God’s gifts through which He Himself regenerates us and renews us and strengthens us and keeps us in the one true faith of Jesus.

This faulty and idolatrous mindset is demonstrated in the way that Philippians 4:13 is usually translated.  The KJV is representative of this: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

What St. Paul actually writes directs us to a very different mindset: “For all things I am strong in the one empowering me, Christ.”

The mindset that St. Paul teaches is one of what the Lord works for us rather than what we work for ourselves and for God.  St. Paul teaches us to know God as the one doing the work in us rather than looking to find a way to use God like a helpful tool.  St. Paul very specifically avoids this idea that God gets us started and we must continue to work to complete what God begins by saying that we are strong IN the one empowering us.  He very carefully and deliberately avoided using the word THROUGH.  We are IN Christ through His means of grace, through which He works these blessings for us and in us.  We are made to be IN Christ through Baptism.  We are renewed IN Christ through His body and blood administered to us IN the Holy Communion.

When we understand this and believe it even as the Lord and His apostles declare unto us, then we begin to see that indeed God does provide the strength and the means of escape from all temptations.  Then we begin to see that we truly do not need to be strong on our own and that we do not need to stand by our own strength.  Then we begin to enjoy our life in Christ rather than striving to make it real for ourselves.  Then our times of weakness become times of true strength.

It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
  (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

The Lord Jesus declares in response to our prayers and all of our efforts: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  How did He triumph over the powers of the devil, sin, and death?  Not through visions or miracles or even prayers answered as He willed for Himself.  He triumphed through the weakness of subjecting Himself to the Father’s will which carried Him to the cross where He suffered an ignominious death after many hours of injustice, torture, and ridicule.

He continues to work His blessings and to display His victory in the same way.  Not through visions or grandiose miracles or answering our prayers as we present them, but through the means of grace He gives us the victory that He won for us.  Thus St. Paul directs us to rejoice in our weakness, for then we do not try to win the battle for ourselves nor even to glorify God through our own efforts.  Then instead we look to Christ and rely upon His grace in all things.  Then we receive the strength that knows no limits, even as Christ lives and reigns to all eternity.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Strong Will and Faith

Last week I had my regular dental appointment for a cleaning and x-rays.  But I also had a concern over a particular tooth.  Upon examination the tooth has developed decay and needs some additional work.

Additionally the dentist asked whether I had any trouble with my jaw and tendons.  I explained that I did have trouble in the past, but not for many years now.  I explained that I had been told that the cause was that I was grinding my teeth at night, so I trained myself to stop that.  He expressed surprise and remarked that his patients usually find that to be impossible.

I explained that it takes a strong will.

Afterward I wished that I had expressed that more clearly.  While it does require a strong will from a certain perspective, this answer is not really quite accurate.  There is a much better answer.

For a person who believes, “impossible” is a non-word.

This is true even for people who are not of the one true faith.  Even those whose faith is merely believing in their own ability to accomplish something, this is nonetheless true.  For those who have been regenerated in the one true faith in the one true God, truly nothing is impossible.

This is what I wish I had explained rather than pointing merely to the strength of will that such faith produces.  For it is true that the true faith does give such strength that a person can face and endure all things, as St. Paul writes in Philippians 4:13.  But this is much more than a person’s own strength of will.  This is the strength of knowing God’s grace, mercy, and peace in Christ Jesus.  This is a strength that far exceeds a person’s own strength of will.

I don’t know whether the dentist would have understood if I had explained more clearly.  Perhaps it was for the best that I gave the more simple answer.  Perhaps someday he will think on the matter and ask me where one obtains such strength of will.

It is curious that regarding my very sensitive areas the hygienist was being careful to spray water only to one side and then have me swish after the water warmed.  But it was not doing a good job of cleaning so I told her to go ahead and spray the sensitive areas, too.  She commented to the dentist that I showed no pain and that she did not know whether I was not very sensitive or just tough.  After a brief pause the dentist said, “I’ll go with tough.”

That is what makes me sad about my comment, as it reflects upon me rather than the one in whom I am strong, Christ.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Problem with Wheat

How is it that one of the world’s staples has recently become a problem for many people?  How is it that wheat is now a cause of allergic reactions and other physiological problems?

In the January 2013 edition of “tasteforlife” on page 30 is an article entitled
“a closer look at WHEAT: AMBER WAVES OF TROUBLE?”

It addresses the fact that the wheat that we commonly have made available to us has been changed.  It is not the same as the wheat that was available before the selective breeding, and especially cross-breeding and hybridizing, of the last 50 years.  The article is available at The Problem with Wheat, but I have only been able to find the first half of the article, “The bad news,” thus far.   The second half, “The good news,” points to the fact that some of the heritage varieties of wheat are still available.  The heritage varieties listed are einkorn, emmer, red fife, and ladoga.  These varieties are being preserved and promoted by certain groups, including, the Heritage Wheat Conservancy and Canada’s Heritage Wheat Project.

“The bad news” lists three detrimental effects of the newer wheat, effects that do not manifest as affects in the heritage varieties.

Since some groups are growing the heritage varieties and are selling them, we do have a choice.  Such choices are often more costly and involve more effort to acquire, but for those who want to avoid the problems of the modern wheat, we do have a choice available to us.

More and more attempts by mankind to improve upon God’s design continue to produce more and more problems.  Who can even comprehensively list the number of “improvements” that produce more problems than they presume to solve?  Even the “back to nature” movement does not in itself solve problems.  Back to the Lord movement does bring restoration.  But no one can patent that for profit, although Christendom has suffered terrible attempts at usurpation throughout history so that today few even know what Christianity truly is.  It seems that cross-breeding and hybridizing knows no limits.  In fact, as Moses faithfully records, all of our problems began with selective redefinition of the proper use of creation.  Wondrously, the Gospel brings us back to the definition by which all things are restored.

But we are just talking about wheat!  Right?

No.  Not right.  It is that sort of thinking that has led to the problems that we face.  Those who have developed the new toxic strains of grains imagined that the only issues to consider were issues of drought and disease and insect resistance, increased yield per acre, and storability.  The questions of how good these new crops are for those who consume them were ignored.  Perhaps the possibility of these changes being anything but benign was unimaginable.  Regardless, the primary motive was profitability, which always pushes all other issues aside.

True concern for others has another source.  People do have at least some remnant of this as the Law of God is written in their hearts.  But true concern for others flows from the love of God, which is only truly known through the Gospel.

Yet even from more selfish motives, it would behoove mankind to remember that these crops are grown for food for people.  Since the developers and their children and families and friends also are consumers of these grains, even from that perspective concern for the wholesomeness of these grains should prevail.  However, once personal gain takes hold in the heart and mind, destruction is inevitable.

So it is good to see that at least some people are becoming aware and are seeking to preserve healthy and wholesome breeds of wheat.  It would be wise for us all to support this effort.  Of course legislative efforts can be pursued.  But the quickest and surest way is simply to begin purchasing only these heritage wheats.  Those who worship the profit margin (mammon) will surely catch on.

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