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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

CrossTalk: Thank God by Receiving His Benefits

Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks. That’s a no-brainer. The question is: to whom, why and how?

Giving can only be done toward somebody else. We can give gifts to friends and taxes to Caesar, but to whom do we give our thanks? We can certainly start with our parents. They, after all, gave us life, protection, nourishment, upbringing and, most of all, love. Giving thanks to parents, brothers and sisters for the love that they have given us makes Thanksgiving Day a holiday about family.

Still, when we gather as a family to share a meal, to whom does the family give thanks? Who gave your parents life, protection, nourishment, upbringing and love? Nobody answers with endless genealogical lines. We know instinctively that it is about God, “the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14-15).

So, Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks to God, our Creator. We give thanks to Him because life is good, and I mean that in the most basic sense possible. Despite the evil in the world and all the pain that we have experienced, despite of the inevitability of our own death, we know unshakably that to be alive is better than to not be alive.

And the living existence that we have came from God. In his love He considered whether to give you life or not, and He chose the better thing for you. He didn’t have to do it. You hadn’t done anything to earn life. How could you? You didn’t even exist! He gave you your life and existence as a gift, by grace.

In the very first interaction you ever had with God, you were on the receiving end of the greatest gift ever. We give thanks to Him because He first gave life to us, and He continues to give it and everything you need to support, protect, and save it from death.

His initial gift of life is matched by His continual giving of rain and sunshine, harvest and springtime and absolutely everything that is needed to support your body and life. And since, due to evil and sin, your life is inevitably marching towards death, He even gives you the free gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue you from sin, death and the devil and to keep you alive forever.

It’s for all of this that we give thanks. Our thanks doesn’t pay Him back. We can’t. It simply acknowledges these two things: Life is good, and God gives it to you.

But how can you give thanks? Is it simply a matter of setting aside one day a year? Of course not. It is not even covered by saying the words “thank you” a thousand times a day. The only real way to give thanks is to appreciatively receive what you are given.

When you’re at Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving Day and you want to thank her for the meal, you won’t simply send her a nice card and head out to McDonald’s. You will skip the card and sit down at the table. It makes Grandma happy to see you enjoying what she gives you.

The same is true of God. He who loves your life so much that He decided from all eternity to give it to you also wants you to enjoy it for all eternity. He is pleased to see you appreciate the value of your life. He is delighted when receive the suffering and death of His only-begotten Son who preserves your life forever.

The best way to thank God this Thursday, and every day, is to ask and receive from Him every good and gracious gift that He desires to give you.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Body of Christ and the Public Square

I just learned about this great series of conferences hosted by Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hartland, MI. It is called "Body of Christ and the Public Square"

Here are all the YouTube links and MP3 files.

2015 September 26
Dr. William Weinrich MP3 / YouTube
David Barton (1) MP3 / YouTube
Senator Patrick Colbeck MP3 / YouTube
Rev. Raphael Cruz MP3 / YouTube
William Wagner MP3 / YouTube
David Barton (2) MP3 / YouTube
Bob Dutko MP3 / YouTube
Representative Lee Chatfield MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

2016 October 1
Rev. Christopher Thoma - The Two Kingdoms and the Tragic Assumptions MP3 / YouTube
Rep. Lana Theis and Senator Patrick Colbeck - An Exercise in Religious Liberty MP3 / YouTube
Professor William Wagner - God, Man and the Constitution MP3 / YouTube
Dinesh D'Souza MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

2017 October 7
Joshua Thoma MP3 / YouTube
Rev. Christopher Thoma MP3 / YouTube
Rev. Dr. Jamison Hardy MP3 / YouTube
Senator Patrick Colbeck MP3 / YouTube
Dr. Thomas Burke MP3 / YouTube
Dennis Prager MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

2017 October 14
Rev. Christopher Thoma MP3 / YouTube
Professor William Wagner MP3 / YouTube
Senator Joe Hune MP3 / YouTube
Rep. Louis Ghomert MP3 / YouTube
Panel Discussion MP3 / YouTube

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dr. Maureen Condic

Headwaters Circuit Forum, September 9, 2017 (audio)
Embryology, the Basics
Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Life: Defining the Beginning by the End, First Things, May 2003
When Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited, University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy, Fall 2013, Vol. 8, No. 1. 44-81
A Scientific View of When Life Begins, Lozier Institute, June 11, 2014

Congressional Testimony:
Fetal Pain at 8 weeks, April 2017 (YouTube)

Recommended Reading:
Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Luther Rose with notes

Central to the Christian life is faith in Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). The BLACK CROSS declares: “God made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21).

This is set against the background of a RED HEART indicating that Jesus shed His blood out of His great love for you and all sinners. And it is not only Jesus’ heart, but the Father’s own heart. Jesus is “the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the exact image of His own nature” (Hebrews 1:3).

Flowering from the Father’s love in Christ Jesus, is the WHITE ROSE indicating that you have been washed clean and made white “in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). By Christ’s atonement you have “neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but are holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

The GREEN PETALS remind us that the life given by the Holy Spirit “grows in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 1:21). For the Living God now lives in you by the Holy Spirit of Christ, so that “the life I now live, I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).

The rose is set against the backdrop of HEAVENLY BLUE because we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13); and “being justified by His grace, we are heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

All this is RINGED IN GOLD because “according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Crosstalk: Reformation 500 - It's Still About Jesus

On the last day of this month the world will be observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany.

This was not an unusual event. Wittenberg was a University town, and the door of the church was the town bulletin board. As a professor, Luther was merely posting a notice about a public debate that he wanted to have.

As history unfolded, this simple act set off a chain reaction that would change the world. Ever since, Luther has been known as “the Reformer.” But on that day, he didn’t think of himself as a reformer, but simply as a pastor. He didn’t want to change the world, but just to help clear up some confusion for his students and members of his parish.

That’s the way God works. Usually, our grandiose plans to change the world fizzle. But when we aren’t looking to change the world, just humbly hoping just to change ourselves, God moves mountains. That’s why we should never be frightened at the world’s overwhelming evils.

“We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). True, this is all too powerful for us. But Satan is not too powerful for Jesus.

The blasphemies of our time will not be defeated by stepping up our game to fight them. But neither should they cower us into silence. While we have no power of our own, the simple Word of God can, and will, defeat even the strongest lie.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, is a hymn that Luther wrote which has become a sort of anthem of the Reformation. The profound words of its third verse teach us a calm resolve, even in the face of the most frightful and satanic opposition.

“Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us. We tremble not. We fear no ill. They shall not overpower us. This world’s prince may still scowl fierce, as he will, he can harm us none. He’s judged. The deed is done. One little word can fell him.”

The last words of this stanza point to the reason we can be so calm. It’s not because we are strong enough to take on Satan. It’s because Jesus is. More than that, it’s because Jesus has put all of His divine power into the simple Word of God.

Since the Word of God is the only effective power against the devil’s lies, Satan can only win if we don’t speak God’s word. That’s why he fights so furiously to silence it.

Sometimes he fights openly by threatening Christians and churches with death, persecution, legal trouble, or unpopularity if they speak it. Other times he fights secretly by tempting Christians and churches to substitute the wisdom of man for the Word of God. In either case, we are quickly overwhelmed.

All this Luther summed up in the second stanza.

“With might of ours can naught be done. Soon were our loss effected. But for us fights the Valiant One, whom God Himself elected. Ask ye, ‘Who is this?’ Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, and there’s none other God. He holds the field forever.”

The Reformation was about Jesus. It was never about personal freedom, or conscience, or political rights, etc., etc. It was about a bold and confident trust in the simple Word of God, who has become a Man for us. It is still about Jesus.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Freetown, Sierra Leone Disaster

Rev. Lawrence Kamanda
Dr. Hein has received word from one of our students, Rev. Lawrence Kamanda (Grace Lutheran Church, Freetown).

Concerning the devastation of the recent mudslides and flooding in Freetown, last Monday, August 14th. Members in all of the Lutheran Churches in Freetown were affected. 325 members have lost their homes, 16 members have lost their lives; and one congregation experienced 8 members’ deaths.

Donated funds will be handled by appropriate officials of the LC-MS Disaster Response to make sure the funds are responsibly handled and go directly to those individuals and families affected by the disaster for whatever they need: for temporary shelter, food, clothing, and medical supplied. etc.

Please remember these saints in your prayers, and consider a donation on the web site below. You may earmark it for mudslide relief.

Operation Pastoral Education West Africa (Where Pastor Lange taught last September)
LCMS Disaster Response

Friday, August 18, 2017

CrossTalk: The Sun Was Darkened

The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion speak of a three-hour period of darkness while Jesus hung on the cross. St. Luke writes, “It was about the sixth hour (noon), and darkness was over the whole land until the ninth hour (3:00pm), while the sun’s light failed.” (23:44-45).

At first, this sounds like a solar eclipse. But you should notice that several details don’t fit an eclipse. For one, the total eclipse will only last for two and a half minutes. That’s a far cry from the three hours described in the Gospel. Even the partial phase will last for less than the three hours.

Even more telling, eclipses happen because the moon is in the sky during the day-time, and was back-lit by the sun. We call this the “new moon” phase, and it is opposite of the “full moon” phase, when the moon is in the night sky, and is front-lit by the sun. These two phases of the moon occur about 15 days apart. They cannot happen on the same day.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was crucified during the feast of the Passover, which always occurred at the full moon of the Jewish month of Nissan. In other words, it is utterly impossible for an eclipse to occur during the Passover festival because the moon is on the wrong side of the world to block out the sun.

All of this leads us to realize that whatever happened to the sun’s light during Christ’s crucifixion cannot be explained as a solar eclipse. It must have been something else that caused “the sun’s light to fail.”

Outside of the Bible, in 52 AD, a pagan Roman historian also seems to have seen and written about the crucifixion darkness. We don’t have this book anymore (at least we haven’t found it yet). But the later historian, Africanus, apparently had it in hand when he wrote, “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness [at Jesus’ death] as an eclipse of the sun—unreasonably as it seems to me.”

Even though Thallus didn’t know enough astronomy and history to rule out an eclipse, he couldn’t deny the darkness that his eyes saw. Africanus also quoted a Greek historian, Phlegon, who witnessed the same darkness.

“In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.’”

Note that Phlegon connects the darkness with a great earthquake. The coincidence of these two events matches the Bible’s account perfectly. “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51).

Notice, too, that Phlegon seems to be writing from Bithynia, which is about a thousand miles north of Jerusalem. No eclipse could explain that. The moon is simply not large enough to cause a swath of total darkness a thousand miles wide.

This raises a question about how large was the area that was darkened on Good Friday. It seems clear that it was more than just Jerusalem and Judea, but also Rome, Athens, and Nicaea. Is it possible that the darkness covered the entire earth? We have not yet found any historical sources saying so, but the possibility is certainly there.

What is, however, certain and beyond all doubt is that Jesus’ suffering and death covers all the earth. His cross is the true light of the world, the source of true illumination to every tribe and tongue and place and time.

Whatever we see by the light of the cross, we see more clearly and more brightly than we can ever see by the light of the sun. “I am the light of the world. He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Judge Ruth Neely Appeals to the Supreme Court

Issues Etc. radio interview: An Appeal to the Supreme Court by a Wyoming Judge Removed for Her Beliefs on Homosexual Marriage – Pr. Jonathan Lange, 8/17/17

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Peer Pressure and Faith in College:

Six Tips to Immerse Yourself in Campus Church Life

As a Christian and a student at a liberal, secular university, I can say that the peer pressure to conform to non-Christian beliefs and values is staggering. The general atmosphere that surrounds many colleges and universities in the US is the belief that a student, no matter their background, should attend college with an open mind to new ideas. This seems great; on the outside, an open mind is presented as a belief that could only lead to an improved lifestyle. However, this belief leads some Christians to innocently question why they believe what they do, and then to a stronger, more assertive reason not to believe the same thing they did when they first came to college.

It begins as soon as you get to the dorms. Making friends can be difficult. You’re at a new school, and you might not know anyone there. Unfortunately, it is especially difficult when the majority of students seem to be participating in activities that you were told were wrong: underage drinking, drugs, and sexual activity—right in the room, down the hall, or on the floor where you live. They also invite you to participate, and no one is there to tell you it’s wrong anymore. What’s the harm? More than the fact that two-thirds of the activities mentioned above are illegal, (and that they also go against God’s law), it can affect your school performance. You’re at school to learn, and partying the nights away with friends can lead to extremely unproductive semesters. I’ve known people who have had to drop out of school because of this.

Beside the new friends you make, there’s the ever-present idea that what your parents believed was old fashioned, counterintuitive, and hateful. Being a Christian often means disagreeing with the common views on campus, such as social or political views, or controversial topics such as same-sex marriage and abortion. Speaking against those topics can lead to many heated arguments—and the loss of “friends.” It seems as if open discussion is only encouraged when you agree with the socially acceptable viewpoints.The important thing to remember is that disagreements are never going to be easy, and you’re not going to please everyone.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God calls us to proclaim his Word! Just because you’ve now moved away from home and no one is there to push you to attend church doesn’t mean your own self-discipline should slip. Believe me, it’s just as easy to skip class as it is to skip out on church on Sunday mornings. Many campuses, or the surrounding cities or towns, will have a Lutheran church that you should be able to join. In fact, look for a church home at Here are six tips you can try to immerse yourself in the campus church life:
  1. Go to Bible studies during the week.
  2. Attend mid-week events, such as social activities with other students.
  3. Complete service activities with your church group at the local food banks or shelters.
  4. Take a weekend to go to a conference or listen to a speaker to strengthen your faith.
  5. Volunteer your time at the campus church center—help with whatever tasks that may need to be done!
  6. Join a leadership group or committee to help with service projects, funding, and outreach.
If your campus church doesn’t have some of the suggestions listed above, talk with your pastor about how you can help your church become more involved.
    Leaving the faith isn’t an instant change.  It starts gradually...
Leaving the faith isn’t an instant change. It starts gradually; it may start with your new friends’ snide remarks and activities. Perhaps, as you go to class, you may notice that some of the professors you look up to don’t agree with Christianity, and you may wonder if you’ve been wrong this whole time. You might decide to skip church one week because of a big test on Monday, and then at the end of the semester you look back having never entered the sanctuary.

Don’t let peer pressure or the effects of college affect your faith. If you find that you’re struggling to maintain a consistent Christian mindset, call your parents or your pastor back home. Join a Lutheran campus ministry and become involved. I know it can be difficult, but keep up the faith in college. Don’t let the devil tempt you with short-term results and dead-end promises. Remember also that you are a child of God, and that you will always find forgiveness in Christ. Stand up for what you believe in. Let Jesus be your light, and seek Him in all that you do.

Reposted from The CPH Blog: The Word Endures

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CrossTalk: The Eternal Trinity Means Eternal Love

Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19.
This Great Commission is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. It also contains what is certainly the most quoted phrase in all of Christendom.
For nearly 2000 years almost every Christian worship service, ceremony, prayer, or devotion has begun with the invocation, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This is true of Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist and dozens of other denominations and traditions.
Even those denominations that do not use the phrase on a daily basis, still use it at every baptism. The name of the triune God is the most wide-spread and enduring of any Christian phrase or formula, bar none.
This is even more remarkable when you notice that Matthew 28:19 is the only place in the entire Bible where it is found. While there are plenty of other phrases which our repeated throughout the Bible, this phrase is only found once! So why has it become so universally used?
Answer: It is the perfect summary of the Christian faith. God Himself commands us to speak it upon every person who wishes to be a Christian. It is the final revelation of the name of God. It is more than just a metaphor about God. It is more than a handy nick-name for God. It is God’s name: the full and perfect statement of who God is.
God is Father. God is not merely “like a father.” He is the only Father. As Jesus says, “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” Matthew 23:9. For this reason Jesus refers to Him everywhere are “the Father.”
Unlike human fathers, He didn’t just become a father at some point in time. It’s not like a solitary, nameless god sat around for an eternity before He decided to have a son. Otherwise He wouldn’t “be” Father. He would only “have become” a father.
When an early heretic (Arius) started teaching that “there was a time when the Son was not,” all Christians knew instinctively that he was denying the very nature of God. The eternal fatherhood of God lies at the very heart of the Christian faith. Which also means that the eternal Son of God lies at the very heart of the Christian faith.
If there ever was a time when the Son did not exist, that would mean that there was a time when God was not Father. And if there ever was a time when God was not Father, there was a time when God was not loving the Son and that the Son was not loving the Father.
But “God is love,” 1 John 4:8! It is impossible to think of God not loving. A “god” who is not pouring all that He is and all that He has into someone other than Himself is no god at all. So, His only-begotten Son, is eternally receiving all that He is and all that He has from the Father. And if He is receiving all that the Father is, then the Son, too, is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” (Nicene Creed).
This is love. It is total self-giving. It is total receptivity. Love is not partial, nor self-centered, nor self-sufficient. This is both what God wants to do for you, and how God wants you to be toward all others. He wants to pour into you all that He is and all that He has; By this infinite gift, you are freed to pour out all that you are and all that you have not only for friends, but also for those who hate and persecute you.
So, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is not only the full and complete revelation of who God is, it also the full and complete revelation of what love is. Who could ask for more?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

CrossTalk: St. Mark, the Evangelist

Today, April 25, is the feast day of St. Mark, the Evangelist. We call him “the Evangelist” because he is the author of the Gospel (Evangel) According to St. Mark. For this we are eternally grateful. God has given Mark as one of four Evangelists who preserved the words and deeds of Jesus in writing.
According to Eusebius’ church history (310 AD) Mark arrived in Rome with the Apostle Peter around 42 AD. As he worked with Peter over the following year, he wrote down Peter’s account of Jesus’ ministry before leaving for Alexandria, Egypt. So, he not only left a copy of the Gospel in Rome, he also brought one with him to Egypt.
In Alexandria, Mark established the earliest Christian Church on the African continent. This Church became one of the five centers of Christianity in the ancient world. Mark, himself, was its head pastor (Bishop) for the next two decades until he was martyred in 68 AD. This “Coptic Church” continues to be in the news today. This is the church where suicide bombers attacked on Palm Sunday (April 9), and where 20 men were beheaded in February a year ago.
Mark’s impressive legacy as a church planter and an author of the New Testament should not cause us to lose sight of his humble beginnings. It seems that he was not always so brave and steadfast as his martyrdom showed.
The Church that he founded also remembers him as the young man who ran away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:51-52). He was the one who abandoned Paul and Barnabas in the middle of their first missionary journey into Asia (Acts 13:13; 15:38). He may, also, have been the rich young man who “went away sad” when Jesus invited him to “sell everything he had, give to the poor, and come, follow Me” (Mark 10:21).
On a more positive note, Mark’s family apparently owned the home in Jerusalem where Jesus gathered with His disciples to celebrate the last Passover. This was the same home where Jesus visited his disciples on the day he rose from the grave. He came back to it again a week later and showed his hands and side to Doubting Thomas. Moreover, it was this house where the Holy Spirit descended in tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost. All of this makes it the oldest Church building in Christendom.
But my favorite part of Mark’s story comes from some of the last words that the Apostle Paul ever wrote. In 2 Timothy 4, as he was imprisoned and facing his imminent death, Paul wrote: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. … Do your best to come to me soon…. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.
In these touching words, we see that after Mark had turned away from Jesus’ call to follow Him, after he deserted Jesus in the Garden, and after he had deserted Paul on his first missionary journey, he is not remembered for his failures, but for his usefulness.
Mark stands before us as an example of God’s grace. Mark stands among Matthew, Luke, and John as one of the pillars of the Church. But he is not there because of his personal selflessness, bravery, or strength. He is there because Jesus rose from the dead. He is there because Jesus makes us who are nothing into those who are something.
“For Mark, O Lord, we praise You, The weak by grace made strong.
Whose labors and whose Gospel Enrich our triumph song.
May we, in all our weakness, Reflect Your servant life
And follow in Your footsteps, Enduring cross and strife." (Horatio Nelson)

Monday, March 6, 2017

CrossTalk: Lent - Fixing What's Wrong with the World

The story has been told that G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) once received a letter from The Times of London asking him to write on the theme, “What’s wrong with the world today?” According to this anecdote, Chesterton got out a sheet of paper and wrote,
“Dear Sir,
I am.
Yours, G.K. Chesterton”
This story is usually told as a punch line, an end to conversation. But today, Let’s see it as a starting point. Because once Chesterton is taken to heart, there is an awful lot still to say.
First of all, notice that the problem is not “out there.” The world’s evils, terrors, and pain are not because of external circumstances, and especially not because of other people. This may be our first and most constant thought, but it is a lie.
We see this clearly when somebody is blaming us for their problems. We can even see it, sometimes, when we are a neutral observer watching the blame-game happening between two friends. But we almost never see the truth of Chesterton’s quip while we are seeking the reasons for our own misfortune. It’s time to start seeing.
Second, notice that the problem is not just in me, but me. “I am,” the problem with the world. If the problem were only something inside of me, I could take some medicine, or do something to fix it. But if the problem is me, myself, the solution requires somebody other than me.
So, while the first thing is to stop seeing the problem outside of yourself, the second thing is to start seeing the solution outside of yourself. Sin is the problem, and I cannot fix it. So I should abandon that project.
The problem with me is that I am a sinner. The solution is that Jesus takes away the sin of the world. Sin is the problem, and Jesus can fix it. So I should bring the problem to Him.
This is the whole point of Lent. Rather, it is the whole focus of the Christian life. When John the Baptist came preaching repentance, it was not some new self-discipline which would finally achieve salvation. “Repent,” means: turn away from yourself and your own self-help projects, and to “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Repentance is the daily exercise of taking serious the fact that “I am the problem with the world today.” Repentance takes a sober look at my own contribution to the mess we are in. Repentance looks at the evils I do and says, “I don’t want to do that anymore.” Repentance looks at who I am and says, “I don’t want to be that anymore.”
But repentance doesn’t stop there. It is neither an exercise in self-loathing, nor an attempt to boot-strap yourself out of the hole. In repentance, we uncover these ugly realities because we want to bring them to Jesus. We know that what we cannot change, Jesus can. We know that the unforgivable can, indeed, be forgiven.
Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross earned forgiveness for the whole world – not just the best of us, or the chosen few. And Jesus rose from the grave to give out that forgiveness freely in His Church. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I AM in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).
When and where your crucified and risen Creator forgives yours sins, you are truly forgiven, repaired, and restored. And where the one who is wrong with the world is fixed, the world is fixed with you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lutheran Witness: Hope and Guidance

Pastor Lange recently published the following article in the January, 2017 Lutheran Witness

Until recently, Living Wills were rare. But now we are compelled to consider them with every visit to the doctor. Living Wills convey our wishes to care-givers when we no longer can. They can either designate durable power of attorney for someone to make our treatment decisions, or they specify treatment options, like “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR), hospice, etc.

Does faith in a gracious God who creates, redeems, and sanctifies human life make our approach to these things different from the world's? Yes, as different as heaven and earth.

We believe that every day we breath is God's gift. “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses and still takes care of them.” (SC).

The unbelieving world is afraid that medical miracles might keep their bodies alive long after their souls have become useless. But Christians have no such fear. We know that the miracle of life is for body and soul together. When you are in God's hands, there is never any danger that He might keep our bodies alive longer He Himself wants to. And we are always in God's hands.

"Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's” (Rm 14:8). We need not fear either living too long or dying too soon. The real danger is not what might happen to our bodies, but what is happening to our souls.

Jesus' human life began with his conception and continued right on through His burial. So also our own. At His crucifixion, He remained True Man, not vegetable. He was loved and served to the very end. Then, in faith until His dying breath, He commended His soul into God's hands.

Living wills can and should help the people whom God has given you, to love and serve you. For this reason, you may wish to grant a Durable Power of Attorney in order to ensure that they remain able to serve you. Guided by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, they can see to it that God's will is done.

We pray, "Thy will be done," while we have full use of our faculties. This remains our only wish especially when our capacity to confess it is gone.

Bullet Points:
1. Don’t be pressured. No one is required to have a living will. U.S. law prohibits health care providers from discriminating against those who do not.

2. Study: A SmallCatechism on Human Life by John Pless. This is an excellent scriptural resource.

3. Confess your fears to your pastor and christian family. They can help you quiet them by encouragement from the Word of God.