Showing posts from 2010

What do you mean by “firstfruits”?

Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing.”

When we talk about giving, we often use the word “firstfruits,” but many people may not fully understand what it means. In a farming society (like that of Bible times), people depended heavily on the harvest. If the harvest was poor, the year would be a hungry one. If the harvest was good, they might be able to put some away for a bad year. How would you react if your very life depended on the harvest?

I suspect we might be reluctant to give any of it away. After all, what if there isn’t enough? What if next year is worse? Especially, if I give away the very first part that I bring in, what if something happens (hail, flood, pillage) to the rest before I can gather it? We would want to save everything we could until we were certain that we were safe.

God knew that, but He commanded the Israelites to demonstrate their trust in Him. After all, if He c…

The signs of Christmas

Luke 2:10-12 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Back in the early 1700s, when the United States wasn't, and what was, was known as "the colonies," the settlers in Williamsburg, Virginia, celebrated Christmas. But they did their festivities without many of the customs you and I take for granted. So, what were some of the things they were missing?

First, there was no Santa, sleigh, reindeer, or elves. That's because Santa was primarily and, note I say, primarily, a Dutch tradition.

The settlers didn't decorate their Christmas trees because they didn't have them. Christmas trees, a German custom, hadn't yet shown up in that community.

The colonists set out no nativity manger scene -- a traditio…

“Merry Christmas?”

Matthew 2:13-23 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." 19 After Herod died, an angel of …

“Thank you, Baby Jesus.”

Matthew 20:28 The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

What do you do with Jesus? What do you do with this little baby born on Christmas day?

Larry Bourbannias knew what he would do. After the Columbine massacre in April, 1999, 59-year-old Vietnam veteran Bourbonnias asked himself, “What will I do if I am ever placed in a similar situation?” He concluded, and told his four daughters: “If something like that ever happened and I was there, I would go after the shooter, because you want to protect people.”

On December 9, 2007, Bourbannias’ words were turned into action. Christian-hater Matthew Murray opened fire on the people at Colorado Springs’ New Life Church. There were about 7,000 in and around the church at the time of the shooting. While others were running away, Bourbannais made his way toward the gunshots. As he went, he asked, “Where’s the shooter? Where’s the shooter?”

Without a gun, Bourbannais did all he could. Stepping o…

The Christmas Story

The Nativity Story Today?

The angel Gabriel. The heavenly host of angels. Shepherds. A star. Magi from the East.

How different all this might be if this happened in 2010. Email. Facebook. Twitter. Google Earth. GPS.

Check out the video and let me know what you think.

Was it worth it?

Jesus said) . . . "even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

Jennifer Lee and her husband, Keith, went into the mountains of Oregon to cut down a Christmas tree for their family.

They went prepared. They had a GPS, an all-wheel drive Subaru, and they had their phones.

They were prepared for almost anything … except for running into a snowdrift that just about buried their vehicle. When Keith tried to rock the car out of the ditch, he failed. Every time he rocked the vehicle, it moved closer to a cliff.

Out of cell phone range and not being able to get their car free, Jennifer and Keith became concerned. Nobody knew exactly where to find them. Nobody knew where to begin looking.

For days, Keith and Jennifer Lee waited and hoped for rescue. Finally, Keith had a new idea and freed the vehicle. In a short time, he and his wife were reunited with the kids. Speaking about her ordeal, Jennifer said, "…

The deficiency of Joseph?

Matthew 1:18-25 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded …

Luther on Scripture

"I want to see whether any doctrine concurs with Christ. I dare not forget the clear rule which St. Paul gives us Christians: to pay attention to what conforms to the doctrine of Christ and to the faith. In Rom. 12:7 he says: “Let it be in conformity with the faith”; that is, it must be in harmony and conformity with Christ. And St. Peter declares: “Whoever speaks, let him speak as the Word of God” (1 Peter 4:11). You must not go only to St. Bernard and St. Ambrose, but it is imperative that you take them with you to Christ and see whether they agree with His teaching. If they do not, but have added something to that which Christ has taught, or have evolved something from their own piety and taught this, I shall let them answer for that. But I must not convert it into an article of faith; nor am I to believe it, since they do not entirely agree with Christ. For I am to adhere to Christ alone; He has taught neither too much nor too little. He has taught me to know God the Father, …

Martin Luther Rap

It's not that I'm a big fan of rap music. Just proud to be a Lutheran. Enjoy.

Baptism Saves

The other day in my Bible Inquirer's Class, I had a long discussion with some of the class members on the power and efficacy of Baptism. One participant kept saying over and over again, "Baptism does not save. You can't show me anywhere in the Bible where it says that 'Baptism saves.' It is faith that saves. Baptism may create and strengthen faith, I'll give you that, but Baptism does not save."

I told him I understood what he was trying to get at, that faith in Jesus Christ saves and that we can be saved through faith without Baptism or lose our baptismal faith and lose our salvation. But I told him that a Lutheran will always say, "Baptism saves."

He still disagreed with me. So after discussing it for a few minutes, I reminded him of one of the Bible verses we had looked at earlier in the class. Titus 3:5 says, "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." Paul is teaching Titus and us that Christ save…

Working together as a Church

Acts 2:37-47 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and g…

Old Lutheran

Check out Old Lutheran. The center for Lutheran pride (but not too proud). It is a great site for lots of fun Lutheran related items. Martin and Katy bobbleheads, Reformation t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatbands, baby clothing, coffee mugs, Luther's seal napkins and much more.

This is from their humor section.

A Lutheran Primer

by Les "Gutenberg" Stahlke
In the Lutheran Comedy Classic: "Martin Luther's Last Surviving Classmate"

Look and see!
See Luther run!
Run, Luther, run!
Luther ran!
Oh, oh!
It is raining!
It is pouring!
See the lightning!
Hear the thunder!
See Luther get scared!
See Luther hide under that big tree!
See Luther pray to St. Anne.
"If you save me," prayed Luther, "I will become a monk, okay?"
"That's okay with me," said St. Anne, "but if you don't get out from under that tree, you will be a friar!"

Oh, oh!
See the lightning hit the tree!
See the tree get rent asunder!
"Ach! Yammer!&…

Thoughts from Luther (A “Do-It-Yourself” Devotion)

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

Since we have just celebrated the Lutheran Reformation, who better to listen to and learn from than Dr. Martin Luther himself. Everybody has their favorite Luther quotes and some of mine follow. Poignant and powerful, his words, almost 500-years-old, are still, by God's grace, most pertinent. Please read, meditate, and enjoy:

”Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.”

“If we are correct and right in our Christian life at every point, but refuse to stand for the truth at a particular point where the battle rages – then we are traitors to Christ.”

“Some of us ... think to ourselves, ‘If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the baby. I would have washed his linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!’ Yes, we would! We say that beca…

The Lutherans Song

Why are we called Lutherans?

It is not we who call ourselves Lutherans. Rather, our adversaries call us that. We allow this to the extent that this title is an indication of the consensus that our churches have with the orthodox and catholic doctrine that Luther set forth from Holy Writ. Therefore we allow ourselves to be named after Luther, not as the inventor of a new faith but as the asserter of the old faith and the cleanser of the church from the stains of Papist dogmas. Consequently, we also do not reject the names “Christian” and “catholic,” nor do we render ourselves unworthy of them by the approval of any heretical dogma, as did the Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, etc. Rather, we are called “Christians” from Christ as the only Author and Teacher of our faith. We are called “catholics” from our consensus with the catholic faith. We are called “Lutherans” from Luther as the asserter and defender of that faith, but especially as the reformer whom God raised up.

—Johann Gerhard, …

Martin Luther (Manic Monday)

Biblical Principles for the Ballot Box

Maxims of Christ’s Servant Standing Before the Political Parties of America

by Douglas W. Phillips, Esq., November 4, 2008

I am a Christian. I am the servant of Christ and His representative. All loyalty, fealty, and duty is owed to Him above all other relationships and associations. This means that my political loyalty and allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ when I walk into the ballot box, when I evaluate the action of political leaders, or when I exercise my God-given duty as an American to hold such leaders accountable for their actions. My principles and my practice are bound by an objective and transcendent standard established by my Master, not by the political objectives of a party.

Though political parties may be useful vehicles for advancing the Crown rights of Christ, they are only vehicles. They are never an end. At the moment that any political party or any representative of a party ceases to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through practice or principle, I must stand in f…

Martin Luther: Here I Stand

A classic clip for your viewing pleasure on Reformation.

Happy Reformation Day!

Battle Hymn of the Reformation

In celebration of the 493rd Commemoration of the Lutheran Reformation of the Church, you will find a video of the Battle Hymn of the Lutheran Reformation – “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Christian Worship: Handbook explains about the hymn: It was a hymn of great comfort to Luther and his followers because when he was discouraged he would often invite his friends to sing it for courage and strength and he apparently sang it regularly while being sheltered at the Coburg castle. Called the “Marseillaise Hymn of the Reformation” by the 19th-century literary figure Heinrich Heine, the hymn spread rapidly throughout Germany. Philipp Melanchthon, Justus Jonas, and Casper Cruciger, during their banishment in 1547, were comforted by hearing a young girl sing it in Weimar. It was sung at the Diet of Augsburg. Gustavus Adolphus caused it to be sung by his army before the battle of Leipzig in 1631. It has been translated into a host of other languages, with over one hundred English translations…

Reformation Polka

The Reformation Polka
by Robert Gebel

When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian! Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

They …

95 Theses Rap

Four hundred and ninety-three years ago, on October 31, the eve of All Saints Day, with roll of parchment, hammer and nails in hand, an Augustinian monk and faithful shepherd named Martin Luther made his way to the door of All Saints Church, in Wittenberg, Germany.

There he posted his 95 theses (statements of debate) against the practice of indulgences (of the Roman Catholic Church selling forgiveness). He went out of pastoral concern for the flock which God had placed under his care. He went as a watchman of the Lord standing high on Zion’s wall and sounding the warning to God’s people, as every shepherd of God’s flock is called to do (Ezekiel 33:7ff). Little did the shepherd realize, but the Lord would reform his Church (using this humble German pastor) and change the world as the Gospel was given free reign once again in the years that followed. For this, we give thanks to the Lord and praise His holy name!

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the followi…

Lutheran Airlines

Emperor Charles, V, suffered unprecedented rage when Martin Luther boldly testified before king, council and world, "My conscience is bound to the Word of God. I neither can nor will recant anything, for to act against my conscience is wrong and dangerous. Here I stand! I cannot do otherwise. God help me."

No one cried, "Revolution." No terrorist group surfaced. Luther stood alone ready to suffer the punishment of church and government rather than God's wrath. He would not compromise his conscience or God's Word. Luther believed that God's Word was the Greater Authority. The church did not die for him. The emperor did not die for him. Only Jesus Christ went to the cross carrying his sins. God was Luther's Fortress and salvation.

He who fears the LORD has "a mighty fortress." If you admit and confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you can be confident that you will be under attack. Be bold in Christ. Heaven is not for cowards.


Prayer changes things

Our passionate prayers move the heart of God. “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective” (James 5:16). I once had a college student ask me why we should pray if God knows everything already. I answered, “God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. However, prayer can move us closer to God’s will. Prayer changes us.

As we change, our prayers come closer and closer to God's will. As we change, God may ‘change His mind’ to shower His kingdom with blessing.

Since God is the One who knows the future and controls the future, He can then change the future. God has wired His kingdom for power, but He calls on us to pull the switch in prayer.”