From a certain point of view

1 LORD, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
(Psalm 131 NKJV)

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Such a critical Psalm for times like these. But here is the problem, at least for me. I tend to reverse vs. 1 and 2… like this:

LORD, my heart is indeed haughty (proud)
My eyes look for everything in lofty places
I concern myself with great matters
and with things too profound for me.

Surely I have agitated and disturbed my soul,
Like an angry brat with his mother,
Like a self-absorbed child is my soul within me

And then I have the audacity to demand that God fix everything for me. Left unchecked I want my way to continue forever.

But God loves us too much. God draws us back to reality. We need someone like Eliphaz to get things right with God.

“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
For He bruises, but He binds up;
He wounds, but His hands make whole. (Job 5:17–18 NKJV)

God challenges my arrogance, my self-centeredness, my myopic perspective. In other words, He speaks Law to my sin. As much as I want to run away or hide I cannot do so with God. And that is a good thing. Because when His Law has done it’s work, God speaks Gospel. Gospel not focused on my works, my words, my thoughts, my intentions. Gospel is entirely God’s words, actions, work (extra nos = “outside of us”).

God says: “You sins are forgiven.” “You are now righteous.”

And in those words is where my hope lies. May that be true for you as well. Now we can speak and believe Psalm 131 with a heart that has been renewed, refreshed, recreated God. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.

And now we can finish Psalm 131

God remembered…

23 Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. (Exodus 2:23–24 NKJV)

In daily reading today, these two verses stand out. In the midst of the Israelites groaning because of the bondage, “God heard and remembered.”

Not as if God forgot where they were living and what they experienced. Rather, He remembered the covenant He had made, and was about to act to bring about a change for the Israelites, namely deliverance.
Sometimes we, too, groan because of our circumstances, almost thinking God has forgotten about us. Not so. God is still here, with us, hearing and knowing our plight. And God remembers and will act on that. May we re-learn to trust that God remembers His commitment to us.

Transfiguration Sunday

This Sunday marks the end of Epiphany (“showing forth”) season. The season moves from the showing forth who the baby Jesus is (Matthew 2:1–12), His presentation at the temple (Luke 2:22–40), revealing who Jesus is at His baptism (Matthew 3:13–17), John’s proclamation (John 1:29–34) and the first disciples following Jesus (John 1:35–51), and Jesus begins His Galilean ministry (Matthew 4:12–25) Transfiguration Matthew 17:1–9) reaches a climax of the Epiphany season. The three disciples see Jesus’ in His glory and they see Moses and Elijah. Surprisingly Jesus tells the disciples not to tell anyone until Jesus is raised from the dead (Matthew 17:9). They are getting a foretaste of that glory ahead of time. The events from now until Easter lead toward Good Friday and Jesus’ death on the cross.

1 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James; and he led them up onto a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured in front of them. His face was shining like the sun. His clothing became as white as the light. 3 Just then, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Just then, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down and were terrified. 7 Jesus approached and as he touched them, he said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they opened their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Matthew 17:1–9 (EHV)

May this be an encouragement for each of us as we move through the Lenten season of suffering, sorrow, and death, the time of “now, not yet.”

Printing error CSB LP Personal Reference

In my devotional reading tonight I was reading Zechariah 2:5 in CSB.

This is what it should read:

5 The declaration of the LORD: “I myself will be a wall of fire around it, and I will be the glory within it.”

However, in the text referenced below it reads slightly differently. Notice how “fire” is spelled.

*CSB Large Print Personal Size Reference Bible Copyright @ 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers, p. 1264.

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Note: I was informed that the printing errors in the 2017 edition have been corrected.

Prayer for those who have been abused

Gracious Lord, as we see more attention given to church abuse, we ask 
for Your guidance for all who are exposing. Give them Your wisdom, 
strength, courage, and love each day. We pray for those who have been 
abusing that they would be stopped and receive true help. Most especially, 
Lord, for all who have been abused and struggling, facing consequences 
that many do not know or understand. Open our eyes to see clearly, 
and be proclaimers of Your comfort.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.  (2 Cor. 1:3-7 NAS)

My great-grandparents

My great-grandparents on my mother’s side were married Sept. 29, 1901. Jennie Smith and Joseph Brown, and this is their weeding photo.

Joseph Brown and Jenny Smith wedding, June 29, 1900.

Frank Smith (brother of Jennie) was best man, and Julia Brown (sister of Joseph) was maid of honor.

They had 11 children, then Jennie and the 12th baby died. Joseph then married his second wife (Emma Marie Racine Cook Franks). Emma had one son from her first husband and two sons from the second husband. Then Jospeh and Emma had two sons of their own. My mother was close to both of these sons because she was born between them. I had met both sons.

Sadly as much as my grandmother loved Emma, Emma died in 1930 giving birth to another child (child also died). Measles hit the family in 1931 and so my grandmother, my mother (age 4), and uncle(age 6) moved into the Smith home. My grandmother (who had just turned 21) cared for her two children, plus all the others who were sick in the household, with as many as six people sick at the same time. Only two of the entire household never got sick: my grandmother and my uncle.

Joseph and Jenny Brown with 8 oldest children.

In the photo above is Joe and Jennie with eight of their children. My grandmother is the girl standing on the left. She died in 1984. Sadly both my great-grandparents died before I was born. But my mother wrote about some of the episodes of their lives. I met all of the great-aunts and great-uncles. Pictured above are the eight oldest, and three youngest pictured below. All of them died decades ago.

 

 

6th Petition of Lord’s Prayer

The pope recently changed the wording of the 6th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. This may cause some to consider how this affects us as Lutherans. In reality, the papal church decision does not affect us at all. Here is the papal statement regarding the change:

The translation of a line in the Lord’s Prayer has been changed by The Pope after he signalled he was frustrated that it implies God might lead people into temptation.

Pope Francis approved altering the translation of the line “and lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation.”

Luther already in 1530 addressed the concern when he wrote his explanation to the 6th Petition in the Small Catechism.

6th Petition: And do not lead us into temptation.

What does this mean? God indeed tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor seduce us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and although we may be assailed by them, still we may finally overcome and obtain the victory.

Immediately Luther addresses the concern whether God tempts us. He does not. The focus of the 6th petition is to call upon God’s protection against the three spiritual enemies: the devil, the world, and our flesh. Further that none of the three may not deceive us nor seduce us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. With the outcome that we finally overcome all these temptations in Christ’s power, and that we may obtain that the victory in Christ.

So is there any need for us as Lutherans to change the wording of English translation? Absolutely not. The current translation is acceptable and the result does not change even with a wording change.

Rest assured that our praying the Lord’s Prayer is acceptable to God and reflects God’s own desires for our prayers.

Other translation changes:

A final note is that the new translation by the papal church will affect oral recitation by congregations, small groups, and by individuals. In pastoral care to shut-ins, those hospitalized, home visitation, I recite the Lord’s Prayer, inviting the person(s) to join with me. What advantage is a wording change? None. Negatively it will cause confusion, stumbling, uncertainty at a very critical time for the person to be actively praying the commonly known words. Word changes like this are not helpful for pastoral care and private devotions.

Also, note that even when new Bible translations or revisions (NASB, ESV, NIV, etc.) appear, that change never affects the liturgical form used in worship or private devotions.

The pope also changed the text of “The Gloria” in the liturgy. That change will not affect us as Lutherans at all.

“A Liturgical kind of guy”

Still relevant today

“believe, teach, and confess”

On another blog, I was asked what liturgy means. I posted a short response there, and repeat it here (slightly edited) because I think it is crucial for us as Lutherans to state where we stand on this issue.

Liturgy = informally described as what is done in a worship service. Even non-denominational churches that claim to be non-liturgical have liturgy. It is just what you do repeatedly service after service. I taught 10 years ago at a Bible college run by charismatics, held at a cutting edge charismatic church. For the worship class, I asked the class members to notice carefully what happened during each service. They were astounded to discover that they were much more rigid in what happened during their service than what is often caricatured as a conservative Lutheran service.

As Lutherans, we specifically state that the proper term for what happens is Gottes Dienst (“divine…

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Pro-Life — What Does This Mean?

I am a Christian and have been for ~70 years. More specifically I am a Christian who confesses the faith as a Lutheran. I am coming from the pro-life side. My focus today is how does being pro-life motivate us to minister to  and care for people on both sides of the issue. I have done so for the last 35 years. But the current status is such that neither side will probably like what I have to say.

Being pro-life today. As a Christian I am and have been pro-life as long as I can remember. But in the clamor of today with laws being passed about abortion, we have to ask: Are we truly pro-life in all circumstances relative to this issue? For many people involved in the abortion issue would identify themselves as pro-life but they are hurting, struggling, fearful to even talk.

They are in circumstances in their lives with little control, perhaps having had an abortion and now dealing guilt, fear of attack from the pro-life side. Or perhaps the woman/girl was forced to get an abortion. What about the woman who does not get an abortion but the family and church shun the baby/child?

So, if we are pro-life, are we helping, caring for these hurting women and children? Do we hide behind the “Law of the land” thinking it is a settled issue because “abortions are illegal”? Ministry and care as pro-life is so much than abiding by the law of the land or just banning abortion.

These thoughts are not meant to be the end of the discussion but the beginning for us who are pro-life.

If you are pro-life, open your ears and eyes to those who are hurting because of abortion. That is where we can be pro-life for them.

Memory from US Navy

While deployed on USS Oriskany in 1975-6, we had several crashes. This video shows two. The first is an RF-8G (VFP-63 Det 4), my detachment. He had lost one of the main struts on first pass. He was given option to fly around dumping fuel and then ejecting for at-sea rescue, or have the barricade rigged and fly into it. He chose the latter. Uninjured. I was in my office right under the #4 wire. Instead of the usual crush of a landing, all I heard was “tinkle, tinkle, tinkle” from the landing gear sliding down the deck. Immediately ran to ready room to watch the camera.

The second plane was an A-7 on same cruise. Commander of one of the A-7 squadrons was flying. He was coming in too low hit the ramp and exploded. The plane was a fireball, slide down the deck. As it began to tip, he ejected, with one swing of the chute. Uninjured.

In the squadron (F-8 training and 5 detachments) we had 11 pilots who were killed in crashes during the 3+ year period.