Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Where do you turn in times of trouble? When the bottom falls out of your world, who do you look to?
In good times or bad, we need look no further than the cross of Christ.
But isn’t the cross a thing of the past? When people go through terrible times, shouldn’t we point them to a future in heaven, instead? The hope of heaven can be comforting indeed, but in the midst of suffering and pain, and even death, we need to know that someone is there with us. Someone strong, someone we can depend on, someone who will never leave us nor forsake us. The cross of Christ reminds us that since Jesus died for us in our place, since He went through the ultimate in suffering and pain on our behalf, and because He even tasted death and landed safely on the other side, He is able to give us comfort and strength, to be with us and help us in our time of need.
Just imagine standing at the foot of the cross on the day Christ died. To those gathered there it would have seemed like the worst possible thing that could have ever happened. But Christ's death and resurrection turned out to be the best thing that could have happened, as Jesus brought life out of death, order out of chaos, hope out of utter despair. In the cross, God in His wisdom has taken a symbol of pain, suffering, and death, and turned it into a symbol of forgiveness, life, and salvation for all.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations."
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
It's been really foggy here in Missouri this past week. This whole winter has been pretty cold, dark, dreary - and now foggy. The picture above shows Luther Tower at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis being enveloped and enshrouded by the fog.
Sometimes we as people feel this way - like we are living in the middle of a dense fog that won't budge no matter what we do. A heaviness settles in and starts to take over our lives. We need something from the outside to break the clouds and take away the gloomy darkness.
Just as the sun must break forth and burn off the fog in the natural world, so also the Son must shine in our lives to dispel the darkness and enlighten our world. We remember during Epiphany that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, the Light no darkness can overcome. He is the only One who can take away our darkness and give us the Light of Life. Just as the Children of Israel were led by a cloud by day and fire by night, we too are led by our Living and Risen Lord with His shekinah glory as He brings us through the wilderness and into the promised land.
Here's a song I wrote about this some years back called "Cloud by Day, Fire by Night" ...
Cloud by day and fire by night,
O Lord be not far from sight,
From ocean depths to the mountain height,
You're my cloud by day and my fire by night,
Cloud by day and fire by night.
Your works are wonderful, Lord of all creation,
I wish to seek Your face, and praise Your holy name..
Stained with sin and guilt I come, upon Your holy mountain,
Rain Your living water down, and fill me with new life again...
Holy Spirit like the wind, flow on, upon, and through me,
Fill me with Your presence now, so I may serve You joyfully...
Monday, January 18, 2010
Material donations are requested within the next two weeks by LCMS partners for shipment to Haiti in response to Jan. 12 massive earthquake. Two 40-foot shipping containers will be loaded with donated supplies and shipped to an intact Port-au-Prince depot, to arrive within three weeks of the earthquake.
The following material items have been requested:
Canned food with pop tops
Bedding (sheets, pillows, etc.)
individual packets of disinfectant wipes
First aid ointment
Clean, used clothing in good condition
(Must be sorted by type such as women's clothing, children's clothing, etc., and boxed and labeled).
Items may be sent to:
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
7601 SW 39th St.
Davie, FL 33328
St. Paul Lutheran Church
801 West Palmetto Park Rd.
Boca Raton, FL 33486
This effort is a partnership of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, the LCMS Florida-Georgia District, MISSION: HAITI, and Orphan Grain Train. Through grants, LCMS WR-HC will assist with shipping charges. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti as well as OGT and MISSION: HAITI partners in Haiti will receive the containers of donations in Port-au-Prince and oversee their distribution.
Financial donations are also urgently required for the long-term Lutheran response in Haiti. To make a gift, click the Give Now button below, call toll-free 888-930-4438, or mail checks marked "Haiti Earthquake Relief" to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166
Friday, January 15, 2010
Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing - an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign.
The writing was discovered on a pottery shard dug up during excavations near Israel's Elah valley.
The excavations were carried out by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The ancient text is written in ink on a trapezoid-shaped piece of pottery about 6 inches by 6.5 inches (15 cm by 16.5 cm). It appears to be a statement about how people should treat slaves, widows and orphans.
In English, it reads:
1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.
The content, which has some missing letters, is similar to Biblical scriptures, such as Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, and Exodus 23:3.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
As news of what is being called the largest earthquake to hit Haiti in more than 200 years reached LCMS World Relief and Human Care (LCMS WR-HC) on Tuesday, the Synod’s mercy arm began preparing to reach out in the Caribbean nation with much needed assistance and working in cooperation with Lutheran partners.Only hours after getting reports of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake, the Synod’s mercy arm announced it was making available funds to meet initial emergency needs. "The unfolding drama in Haiti calls for unlimited mercy on the part of the people of the LCMS. The needs are urgent and overwhelming right now," said Glenn F. Merritt, LCMS WR-HC director of Disaster Response. "I appeal to God's people to respond as generously as possible during this most difficult time."
Early reports indicate extensive property damage and terrible suffering among people trapped in collapsed buildings in an impoverished country already challenged by longtime political strife and poverty. Haiti is widely known as the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
News of the devastation triggered numerous calls and e-mails to LCMS Life and Health Ministries Director Maggie Karner who, even before the earthquake, was preparing to send the first LCMS WR-HC Mercy Medical Team (MMT) to Haiti next month.
"Our preliminary legwork for the first MMT team to Haiti in March will serve us well as we prepare to respond," Karner said Tuesday night. "Perhaps now, because of this tragedy, people will see the desperate need in Haiti and prayerfully consider how they can use their gifts and talents."
LCMS WR-HC is working cooperatively with LCMS World Mission, Haitian missionaries, and partner churches to provide relief in a timely fashion. Funds are urgently needed to help Haitians who have lost loved ones and homes.
Share Christ’s mercy with those suffering in Haiti by making a gift today.
Monday, January 11, 2010
At the Baptism of Jesus the heavens were opened, so at our baptism the gates of heaven are opened to our souls. At the Baptism of Jesus all three members of the Trinity were present, just as they are at our baptism. In that word of promise, which is united to the element of water, faith receives the grace of the Father who adopts us, the merit of the Son who cleanses us, and the working of the Holy Spirit who regenerates us. - Johann Gerhard
Friday, January 8, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Epiphany is both a day and a season. The day is January 6, and the season is the time between the end of the Christmas and the beginning of Lent.
The word epiphany means to shine forth, to manifest, to reveal, to appear. Epiphany is a day and a season of light. “Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60).
Epiphany enlightens us as it proclaims great Scriptural truths. This season declares that Jesus, who was born at Bethlehem, is true God made man. It announces that God has appeared among us as the Promised One to be the Savior of all people of every nation, Gentiles as well as Jews. Jesus is the true light who enlightens every person. As the Nicene Creed clearly states, Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” Jesus Himself announced: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Epiphany reveals the reason the Son of God came among us as one of us. He has come as the fulfillment of God’s promises to send a Messiah who would save all people, without any kind of exception, from sin, and its condemning power, and to restore all kinds of people everywhere to relationship with God.
This salvation, which Simeon called “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your [God’s] people Israel,” was also demonstrated by the visit of the Wise Men to the child Jesus. These Wise Men (or Magi) were not Jews. They were Gentiles whom God led to Jesus by a brilliant star in order to manifest that His saving plan is indeed for Gentiles as well as Jews.
The Apostle Paul discloses the revelation that Jesus has come not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles. God has now made known “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”
God “has brought to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.” As Paul writes to Titus, it is certainly true that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
And how has Jesus carried out His saving mission for Gentiles and Jews? St. Paul reveals the way of salvation in these words: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
Because Jesus was born as a human being, He was able to suffer and die for our sins in our place. And because He is God, His suffering and death are sufficient to pay in full the debt we owe to God for our sinfulness and disobedience. His resurrection from the dead, the greatest of all epiphanies, causes His victory to shine forth to the world. Salvation is for all people through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. That is the message of Epiphany.
When we have received this Epiphany, when Epiphany shines radiantly and brilliantly into our lives, we can never be the same. We are now Gods own people who have been transformed in the light of Christ. As we move through this Epiphany Season, let us become more and more enlightened by the Holy Spirit, as He shows us how to live as His lights in a dark and dreary world.