Friday, February 26, 2016

God's People Sing

A beautiful hymn written over 518 years ago. Just as relevant now as then. Faith is passed down from generation to generation. Occasionally reformed, but it should never be reinvented.

Jesus, Refuge of the Weary

Jesus, refuge of the weary,
Blest redeemer, whom we love,
Fountain in life’s desert dreary,
Savior from the world above:
Often have your eyes, offended,
Gazed upon the sinner’s fall;
Yet upon the cross extended,
You have borne the pain of all.

Do we pass that cross unheeding,
Breathing no repentant vow,
Though we see you wounded, bleeding,
See your thorn encircled brow?
Yet your sinless death has brought us 
Life eternal, peace, and rest;
Only what your grace has taught us
Calms the sinner’s deep distress.

Jesus, may our hearts be burning
With more fervent love for you;
May our eyes be ever turning 
To behold your cross anew
Till in glory, parted never
From the blessed Savior’s side,
Graven in our hearts forever,
Dwell the cross, the Crucified.

By: Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498)

A Musical Interlude

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Orthodox - conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved

St. Cyprian of Carthage
250 AD
The Lapsed 15:1-3; 28

The Apostle likewise bears witness and says: ….”Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” [1 Cor 11:27]. But [the impenitent] spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest…they do violence to his body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him.

….Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who…confess their sins to the priests of God in a straight forward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. God cannot be mocked or outwitted, nor can he be deceived by any clever cunning….Indeed, he but sins the more if, thinking that God is like man, he believes that he can escape the punishment of his crime by not openly admitting his crime….I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons
180 AD
Against Heresies 1:22

[The gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women…Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron [cf. 1 Tim 4:1ff]. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses.

- From The Early Church Fathers on Confession

Monday, February 22, 2016

Prayers of God's People

ALMIGHTYE and everlastyng God, whiche hatest nothyng that thou haste made, and doest forgeve the sinnes of all them that be penitente; Creat and make in us newe and contrite heartes, that wee worthely lamentyng oure synnes, and knowlegyng our wretchednes, maye obtaine of thee, the God of all mercye, perfect remission and forgevenes; thorough Jesus Christ. 

-- The collect for the "Fyrst Day of Lent" from the Book of Common Prayer, 1549 - the first prayer book published in English.

A Book You Can Finish In A Day

It was a busy, busy weekend that has spilled into a busy, busy Monday, but I found time to read a book. For the "a book you can finish in a day" challenge I read The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

It could also fall under "a book you've been meaning to read" or "a book you should have read in school" or "a book published before you were born."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reading Goals 2016

My daughter sent this to me at the beginning of the year. I accept the challenge, after all it is only 12 books. But here it is mid-February and I haven't started yet. I have a pretty clear idea what book to read for challenges 2, 3, 5,  and 7-12. The other 3 will be surprises. I'm starting tonight - not going to read them in order.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I Can't Say it Any Better

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

   --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Another Angle I Hadn't Considered

Someone calling himself "Anon" chimed in on the repentance issue. I promise, Anon is not me. This is the exchange:
Anon: How do you explain Jesus telling the churches to repent after examining their works? 
Lori: You will have to tell me what verse you refer to. If it is to the churches in Revelation, He was calling some of them to the repentance that leads to everlasting life.
Anon: Then you are basing salvation on works. Each church that Jesus told to repent had to repent of specific works. Also, 1 John is written to believers. We have a sin nature. Pride is a sin that sometimes only God can see. "Take heed lest ye fall."
Lori: In Revelation, God is telling the churches to repent of specific things they were doing wrong meaning He wanted them to stop doing those things and do the right thing. It has nothing to do with confessing their sin and asking for forgiveness. The issue is "What will you do with Christ?" Not, "What will you do with your sin?" Christ has already dealt with our sin. Now we need to stop sinning and do the right thing that God has called us to do. Repent of our pride means we stop being prideful! God dealt with our flesh at the cross; He killed it and we are now new creatures in Christ!
Anon: You said some needed "repentance that leads to everlasting life", which would mean Jesus was basing their salvation on their works. Jesus did not say, "What will you do with me?", but told them to repent of those "specific things they were doing wrong", which is the issue of sin that would bring His chastening. Jesus warns these churches to repent. It sounds like you are contradicting yourself.
Lori: Some churches were not saved therefore they needed to repent and believe in Jesus as their Savior. This is not a work. It is believing in the finished work of Christ. Others were involved in some type of sin and God was telling them to repent which means to go and sin no more, stop sinning.

I forgot about the churches in Revelation! They were called to repent! Good catch, Anon!
To the highlighted (unsaved churches?!?) from Revelation 2:
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
There is more, but you get the point. It is clear the churches are still churches, because if they are "unsaved" they cease to be churches. They are lampstands and Jesus stands and walks among them. They are not "unsaved." They are saved and yet they are called to repent of their sins because they are in the world and will be led astray but also will be led to confess and repent. Just like all of us. Just like Scripture teaches.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Rev. 3:19)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

There is only One who is good

I am unrighteous. Never have been righteous, never will be in this life. I believe that Jesus is my righteousness and His righteousness is imputed to me through faith. My good works and faith are a mere drop in the ocean compared to Jesus'. This doesn't mean I despair, not at all! It assures me of salvation because I know God has done it all for me. I can recognize that I am a sinner and saved at the same time. Simul Iustus et Peccator.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:8-10 ESV)

My call is to recognize my sins and my need of a savior, through faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit I am led to do so. Then HE will exalt ME. To declare me righteous is God's decision and I am assured by His Word that He will declare me righteous for the sake of His Son.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Piety Virus

I am sorry but I have come down with a bad case of piety. Please forgive me. I assure you I am NOT holier than thou.

I when I hear Philippians 2:12-13 (Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and tremblingfor it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.) I visualize a jigsaw puzzle. I love jigsaw puzzles, both literal and figurative. This blog is a glimpse of my jigsaw puzzle. It's not a ministry. I do not blog to brag on my children, my clothes, my home, my marriage or my faith. I promise to post no pictures of me to show you how modest I think I am. Honestly, I think of blogging as vain.

I haven't sought readers for years, but this week I am going to peek out from under my rock (just a little). I expect I'll get a few more hits than the usual zero.

I enjoy reading blogs by women of Christian faith, and not only those with whom I agree. I like to read about other traditions. But I do not like when:

  • I am told what I believe by someone who does not share my beliefs.
  • I am told what I should believe (proselytizing). Particularly proselytizing by those who are unqualified to do so.
I don't *do* apologetics, but I do reserve the right to defend my beliefs. If I am not allow to do so because of the almighty power of moderation, I will do it here. I will strive to discuss ideas and not individuals. I don't know if I'll publish comments or not. A definite maybe. Hey, perhaps I won't get any!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!

I like Lent.

There, I said it. But I can't explain it, and I’m too tired for self-analysis tonight.

I look forward to Lent way more than Advent. I just do. I also like confession and absolution. And I like receiving communion.

So today at an annoying blog called Always Learning I got into a little discussion regarding repentance. Always Learning author Lori Alexander contended that repentance is unnecessary and living a life of repentance is not biblical. This is one of her comments on the subject: " me in the Bible where it tells us to have a "life of repentance." I don't want to "continuously repent of our selfish and ungodly desires." I would rather spend my time seeking those things above, dwelling on the good and lovely, and thanking the Lord for who I am in Him and that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me instead of thinking about my sin continually. That is a depressing way to live."

I have quite a few things to say on the subject, but kept most of those to myself and was polite. She did not publish my final comment on the subject, I am going to record what I said (and what she said) here. Just for the record because things like this on the internet have a way of disappearing.

Me: Repentance is correctly understood as the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is the Spirit that brings us to faith and the Spirit that sustains us in faith. Daily He works to sanctify believers, pruning us of our worldly ways and recreating us in His image. So yes, everyday by the power of the Holy Spirit we live a life of repentance – always being turned away from sin and turned to God in full faith of forgiveness. Jesus commands us when we ask God for our portion each day, “Give us this day our daily bread,” in the same breath to ask for forgiveness, “and forgive us our trespasses.” Repentance is a daily renewal freely given for Jesus’ sake, but repentance doesn’t save us – salvation is dependent entirely on the Grace of God.

Lori: "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." {1 Corinthians 6:11}. Once there is repentance, at that moment we are washed, sanctified and justified. It is complete. In the prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples, He had not died on the cross yet and forgiven them for all of their trespasses but once He died on the cross, they were ALL completely forgiven for we were washed white as snow and "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." {Psalm 103:12}.

Me: We believe the Spirit’s work of sanctification begins at regeneration and comes to completion at our death. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13) We also believe the Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ instructions to us on how to pray to God and that His Word remains as valid now as it was then. We also believe that confession (and repentance) of sins remains necessary even after conversion, as it is written, “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10). It looks like we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

Lori: Yes, I used to agree with everything you just wrote but please think with me for one minute. You quoted "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." These verses are written to unbelievers! Most unbelievers don't believe they have any sin, therefore, they are unwilling to confess it , repent and believe. However, once a person knows they have sin, they confess it {repent} and God forgives us for ALL our sins and cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. Do you believe that every time you sin after you do this you become unrighteous again? Of course not! Once we repent and believe, we are made righteous, period! It's a wonderful thing! We are cleansed from all sin past, present and future. The other verse you mention, it clearly states that God is the one who works in us because we know there is nothing we can do to be saved. Our good works won't save us. That's the Law. Jesus did it all and all we are asked to do is to believe then God works mightily within us to accomplish His will! Once we are saved, however, out of our belief in Him, good works should flow.

Me: (What Lori did not publish) The writer of 1 John uses “we” when speaking of believers (himself included) and “you” when addressing non-believers. Yes, I agree, God does work mightily within us to accomplish His Will. We believe this work is carried out by the power Holy Spirit working within us, as is taught throughout the New Testament. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). We believe that being lead by the Holy Spirit to repentance is evidence of the good work taking place within us.

Okay, so maybe that last part wasn't good Lutheranism, but I was trying to make a point and basically banging my head against a brick wall. Maybe I should give up reading heretic's blogs for Lent.

I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess to You all my sins and iniquities...