Author Archives: originalevangelical

Quote of the Day

“How many of you say: ‘I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes’? You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.”

— John Chrysostom

 

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God in Control, or a God who is Committed?

1332 (2)A friend is having health struggles and is dealing with doubts creeping in about God’s sovereignty. Her words, not mine.

I suppose a Lutheran in the same position would likely have questions about God’s love. It’s all about where you look for mercy to come from, I think.

The problem is that there’s not much joy in a philosophical claim, no matter how true it happens to be. And sovereignty is true, but what of the fact? Is putting mind over matter going to get you through the broken glass of life? Nuh-uh.

Protestant and Reformed Christians are about the love of God’s glory, and a Lutheran says it’s about the glory of God’s love.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…? That’s a start, so go all the way with it: You belong to Jesus.

He is sovereign over all, of course, but Love says he is FOR you. And that’s the difference, isn’t it? Lutheran doctrine brings it all the way home, because even the demons fall under Christ’s sovereignty… but only we are plucked out of the mire and saved by His love. His rule is great and power is omnipotent, but the way He sees us is through eyes of life, of Jesus. His authority is unquestionable but His compassion demonstrated it – to take every twisted end in life and unwind it to find its fulfillment in Jesus, who restored our 1330 (2)identity and made us whole.

God is in control but try telling that to a grieving spouse or heartbroken child. The cold and distant God that could have done something about this. Why didn’t he? Love answers in the tentatio, “He did. He is with you now, and will not leave you. Abandonment isn’t in His vocabulary. He has already adopted you, and his promises are more sure than anything, even death. By his Son, you have been delivered and reconciled in the only way that matters. Your death has been averted, and your catastrophe has met its catastrophe in Him. Give him your sorrows, for He cares for you.”

A new month, a new song

IMG_6030What season is it? Summer, of course!

And as the Christian church marks time, the liturgical season is Trinity. The color you’ll see around us is green, representative of flourishing life. This time focuses Christians on the life of the Church, right on down to each one of us, and the one holy faith to which we belong. (The flip side of the church calendar directs us to the life of Christ, which we’ll talk about in another post.)

Our family’s kernlieder – the “seed songs” — that we want to plant in our children for future years are turning another page, too. With a new month comes the time to learn a new hymn. For June, we’ve selected “Come, My Soul, with Every Care,” Lutheran Service Book #779. It’s definitely one of the simpler ones, but will teach our girls to remember the truth about prayer. We may only make it a couple verses in, but hear it preach:

Come, my soul, with ev’ry care,
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not turn away.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and pow’r are such
None can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let Thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, Thy rest to me impart,
Take possession of my heart;
There Thy blood-bought right maintain
And without a rival reign.

While I am a pilgrim here,
Let Thy love my spirit cheer;
As my guide, my guard, my friend,
Lead me to my journey’s end.

Show me what is mine to do;
Ev’ry hour my strength renew.
Let me live a life of faith;
Let me die Thy people’s death.

Not yet familiar with it? Learn it! Here’s a clip of the Good Shepherd Institute singing a few verses of this gem.

How about you? What hymn are you picking to memorize this month? Words teach and set to music, can help your littles learn by heart. That’s our aim, as parents, much as our parents did for us. Share your answers in the comments.

It finally hit me this last Sunday

The way our pastor looks at us in the pews as he beholds us or hears us bless him at points during the liturgy reminds me of how a groom looks when he sees his bride. Yes, that joyful. I sometimes wonder what he sees, or if he’s just being pleasant. But this past Sunday, it occurred to me that he might be looking with love upon his flock for whom he is assigned to be the undershepherd.

Our imperfections might make it difficult, but we behold one another in spite of that, don’t we? In fact, it actually shows that it’s God gift in view and not one of our own construction: the pastor to the parish and congregation to the pastor. Now, we can’t bend toward sacerdotalism nor any other confusion here, but it’s nice to see that we love each other because in it, we see Christ in our neighbor and brother, beside us and before us.

More than a feeling

1003 (2)I just lost a 75% written blog post that convincingly argued — in my opinion — that familiarity and rich architecture and beautiful music notwithstanding, the important thing is Jesus being present for you. You’d be a fool to miss out on being where the King is just because the surroundings are different.

Yes, the nave has fallen silent for now. The floor’s chewed up into concrete pieces, the pews gone off to the shop for repair and refurbishment, and the doors sealed closed so dust doesn’t spread. What about the resounding pipe organ? The soaring ceilings? The brilliant array of stained glass images? The tall, solemn candles and large crucifix depicting Christ crucified? All hidden away for the next several weeks for a major reconstruction and repair project.

The environment is good and even important, because its very elements and characteristics infuse holy meaning into a space about what happens in it. Of course that matters. The beauty and architecture teach and confess and set forth what is important. They focus and bless us. And, in a 100-year-old church, we’re accustomed to that.

But when you’re displaced for a time, you can choose to wait until what you have come to expect is restored. Or, come to realize that your expectations are too small, and that all support and spotlight aside for a minute — as good and necessary as a church building is — it’s Jesus that is your true expectation. He is present, in His Word proclaimed into your ears and placed on your tongue, tangible and personal and immediate and mind-bendingly real. This mercifully closes our gaps of understanding by allowing an encounter that we could not muster on our own, but is conveyed through plain, ordinary means… because of the Word. That’s Jesus, fed into your sinful body and uniting you with the perfectly divine, and giving you — you dying mortal — his life, forgiveness, and salvation.

Jesus is the host. We call it the Divine Service for a reason. The King’s rich feast is underneath such ordinary things, but the eyes of faith may see. If the location looks a bit like a gymnasium, a parish hall, or even a manger or cross, don’t opt out because of appearances. You need Jesus, big time.

“What I am saying is that you are to concentrate on the Word, on the Absolution, to regard it as a great and precious and magnificently splendid treasure, and to accept it with all praise and thanksgiving to God. If this were explained in detail and if the need that ought to move and lead us to make confession were pointed out, then one would need little urging or coercion. For everyone’s own conscience would so drive and disturb him that he would be glad to do what a poor and miserable beggar does when he hears that a rich gift of money or clothing is being handed out at a certain place. So as not to miss it, he would run there as fast as he can and would need no bailiff to beat and drive him on.”

See ya there, fellow beggar.