Monday, May 27, 2013

Luther's Link Letter

"...confirming the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

In a letter dated September 8, 1541, Luther explained to a friend named Link about the three trials experienced by the church: persecution, false teaching, and worldly-mindedness.  The key is to understand that the second is worse than the first, and the third is worst of all.

Luther wrote:

"The first trial of the church (from the beginning of the world) always comes from the tyrants, who shed our blood.  When the tyrants are almost at an end, the far more harmful trial brought on by heretics follows, reinforcing the violence of the tyrants.  After the heretics have been somewhat suppressed, there follows the most harmful trial of all in the time of peace, namely, license and worldly-mindedness in living, life without the Law, without the Word, since we are satiated and surfeited with the Word, which is no longer necessary 'because the enemies are defeated.'  So the worst enemies of a man are those of his own household."

My observation would be that today the church faces all three.  The perfect storm!  Still, worldly-mindedness is the worst.  And that is because persecution purifies the church and leads to blessing (Matt. 5:10).  False teaching, when met with the Word of God, results in a stronger confession of faith (i.e., more clear, confident, and comforting).  But worldly-mindedness, unless reversed, leads only to a church no longer worthy of the name.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gosnell and the Gospel

"For all things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27).

Abortionist Kermit Gosnell will spend the rest of his life in prison, a convicted murderer.  Where will he spend eternity?  We must pray now for his conversion.  It is possible with God.

The words "Gosnell" and "Gospel" are not so far apart - a fact that has often struck me.  But how far apart are they really?  Two answers may be given.

On the one hand, they could not be more different.  Gosnell is a man who took innocent lives, mercilessly, and has been found guilty.  The Gospel is about an Innocent who gave His life, mercifully, for the guilty.

On the other hand, Gosnell and the Gospel are separated only by repentance.  That is spitting distance.  Members of the Sanhedrin and then soldiers were close enough to Jesus to spit on Him.  He loved them and desired to save them from their sin.  He was crucified along with two thieves who were close enough by to insult Him - until the one thief closed the gap by repentance.  The Savior is close to "the vilest offender."  Gosnell is not alone in his cell.  Let us pray!

Think of a converted Kermit Gosnell.  By speaking out boldly from prison, he could yet save more lives than he has taken.  He could do more to turn America from abortion than any other person.  Let us hope!

Gosnell and the Gospel.  Could not be more different!  Yet, in the mystery of grace, they are right next to each other, waiting to become one.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pick-6

In football, the term "pick-6" refers to an interception (a "pick") returned for a touchdown (6 points).  I noticed that there are 66 devotions now in the archive of this website.  I thought to myself, "What if I had to pick 6 that would in some sense speak for all of them or maybe be worth a second look?"  So with the help of feedback I've gotten, here are the 6.  And thank you for the encouragement along the way!  With God's help, I'll get going on the next 66!

6. Faith Is a Candle (September 2012)

5. Two Weeks' Notice (March 2013)

4. Home Is My Heaven (November 2012)

3. A Misunderstood Word (August 2012)

2. But a Slumber (July 2012)

1. Spiritual Day-Timer (February 2013)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lydia

The verse below is a prayer based on the story of Lydia (Acts 16:9-15, 40).  The geography involved makes Lydia the first European convert to Christianity.

We praise You, Lord, for Lydia,
Who dealt in purple cloth,
And was the first in Europe
To be clothed with the cross.
Convert our hearts to love You,
Convert our families;
Then turn us into givers
Of hospitality!

For those familiar with Lutheran Service Book, this verse may be sung as part of Hymn 855.