Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. Today’s section gives us a further look at the great blessings the Lord gave to the American Lutheran Church through Walther.
- [part 4] Dr. C. Ferd. W. Walther
When Walther had assumed the presidency of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1849, God had already greatly blessed many Lutherans beyond St. Louis by Walther and his work. There is, first of all, the publication of the Lutheraner [The Lutheran] which began in 1844. This led to the founding of the “German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States” on 26 April 1847 in Chicago. Walther was elected as its president. It then also took over the Lutheraner as its publication. Hochstetter’s Geschichte der Missouri-Synod [History of the Missouri Synod] shows how many blessings had been brought about already from the very beginning. The synod of 15 pastors and 12 congregations in 1847 grew to 81 pastors and 95 congregations in the course of four years, when many of Loehe’s Sendlinge [missioners] also joined it. By the time of Walther’s death the number of the congregations and preaching stations had increased to more than 1200, the number of pastors almost 1000, the congregational schools over 1000, the number of students to 70,000. Walther was still alive to see this great blessing.
How blessed were the meetings of the Synod when it gathered! Most other church bodies conducted business matters almost exclusively; but the synodical conventions of the Missouri Synod were different from the others above all by this: always and chiefly was Christian doctrine studied and discussed. Walther always supplied valuable contributions even when he himself was not the speaker. When the speaker had spoken and then Walther stood up, everyone’s eyes longingly turned toward him because they knew that their spirit would be satisfied in the best way by the one who now stood before them. Also the sermons, with which he, as president, opened the synods, would immediately strike the proper keynote and pave the way for the forthcoming doctrinal discussions. At almost all the breaks between the individual sessions, he was surrounded by pastors who wanted advice in this or that matter, and also by congregational members who wanted to bring him into their particular controversies and wanted him to intervene with help or counsel. Whoever had quarters with him during the time of the synodical convention could see from the correspondence that was forwarded to him that he was overwhelmed by all the congregations. Even with all this full weight of his work, he still had “an ever joyful heart” at the synodical gatherings.
There was also no lack of battles in the church in which the Lord of the Church had placed Walther and appointed him to be a true pioneer in them. Whoever reads the first volumes of the Lutheraner, finds that Walther is not only teaching but is also on the church’s battlefield joyfully and confidently fighting on the right and on the left using the weapons of righteousness. Ten years later Lehre und Wehre [Doctrine and Defense] was added to our chief congregational publication. It is a monthly publication on theological and contemporary church history issues. Mostly pastors read this more scholarly publication. Also here, most of the editorial work also fell to Walther. Within its pages, Walther showed himself as a Christian polemicist. He did not fight in order to fight but to be able to teach what God’s Word teaches peacefully and beneficially. He was not “dying to compete” with Grabau or with Loehe or with his descendants, or afterwards with Schmidt, Allwardt, Stellhorn and company. As a rule he let the fight come to him and only put on the armor after the enemies had made it necessary and had opened hostilities by their own show of force. But when he did take up the weapons, he definitely fought to win. He didn’t just want to hit the air but to make contact [1 Cor. 9.26]. He didn’t rest until every last shred of the threat, which the opponent had placed in the field as a beast, had vanished. How irenic the “exclusive” Walther was! He paid no attention to the old and even oldest church friendship and camaraderie when the truth of God’s Word was attacked or the Lutheran confessions violated. Until his end he was just as willing to engage in discussions, colloquies, debates, where he perceived the other side was sincere and where he could entertain a hope that the other side really wanted to come to a unity in spirit, that is, in faith, in doctrine and confession with the Lutheran church that remained faithful. Even with this Walther had never changed his position and church practice. It was certainly nothing else than the most heartfelt desire to follow the apostolic word, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” [Eph. 4.3], that in 1851 propelled him to Germany, together with Wyneken, on behalf of the Synod, in order, with God’s help, to prevent a break with Loehe. And Loehe recognized that at the time. It wasn’t Walther, but Loehe who subsequently changed his mind and position.
[Professor Krauss then adds a footnote about this trip: God also blessed the witness of the two Missouri Synod delegates in other respects. –Max Frommel explains in his little work of his student years Fuehrungen Gottes in meinem Leben, Heilbronn 1879, pages 19 and 20: “I must mention an encounter that, to some extent, brought to me the object of my present growth. Two Lutheran clergymen from America [Walther and Wyneken -ed.] came to Erlangen. As president of the Lutheran students, I came into contact with them. One evening I invited them to my room and the conversation turned to faith. The one said that it is the most blessed thing that we are saved completely through faith alone. Now that was a matter that I had long known, even having often declared it myself. But on that evening this matter seized me and I somewhat bashfully I replied: Certainly we are saved alone through faith but sanctification [good works] is still necessary. –A deeply penetrating discussion then ensued in which justification through faith alone came to me in a clarity and truth like never before. Until the day they left, I hid this deep stirring that brought this forth in my mind that was searching for peace. As president, I happened to sit next to the two Americans at the banquet. ‘Out with it, now or never,’ I said to myself and then, among all the loud dinner conversation, I quietly directed the question to my neighbors: ‘May a person, who feels himself to be a poor sinner and knows no other rescue than Christ the crucified, believe that he stands with God in grace?’ My neighbor looked at me piercingly and then said in a firm voice: ‘As certainly as God lives in heaven.’ I then went home to my room and rejoiced upon my knees: “I believe the forgiveness of sins,’ and sang the verse:
What hast Thou left ungranted To give me glad relief?
When soul and body panted In utmost depth of grief,
In deepest degradation Devoid of joy and peace,
Then, Thou, my soul’s Salvation, Didst come to bring release.
[From: The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, pg. 47]
From then on I had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Then I knew that the sweetest thing in Lutheran Christianity is the certainty of the forgiveness of sins. Therefore do not be surprised that I so often preach to you the verse from the catechism: Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”]
Even until his final battle—on election—we find this tendency in Walther, of wherever possible, with God’s help, trying to prevent a break. In the end, those who no longer wanted to admit in writing and by confession that “God’s eternal election does not just foresee and foreknow the salvation of the elect. From God’s gracious will and pleasure in Christ Jesus, election is a cause that gains, works, helps and promotes our salvation” [Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, XI, 8] left the Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference. And then, having left because their conscience compelled them, they could not comprehend and understand why Missouri does not have prayer fellowship with those who no longer have fellowship with them in the apostolic doctrine.
There is certainly no question that in the many, almost countless polemical articles that Walther in his long life wrote against Papists, Reformed, and Sectarians, as well as against pseudo-Lutherans: Grabauites, Breslauers, Vilmarianes, Loeheites, Iowans, Schmidtites and other “ites” and “ans,” passages can be found that were not bridled, in which there was an infringement of love (such passages are also found with Luther, Calov and other polemicists). Walther, too, certainly in no way regarded himself as a perfect man who in his polemics did not err in any word and who could and did keep a tight rein on his entire body. Nevertheless, this much remains certain: also as a polemicist he was a true Christian and a genuine Lutheran theologian. If teachers arise in God’s Church, who teach us “with fraud which they themselves invent, Thy truth they have confounded” [TLH #260 st.2] then it is a grace of God when He sends to the Church men who recognize this misery, who make the Word of God their armor and then with firm step enter the ecclesiastical battleground.
“For them My saving Word shall fight
And fearlessly and sharply smite,
The poor with might defending.” [TLH, 260 st. 2, 4]
The American Lutheran Church of the 19th Century had such a combatant for Christ in C.F.W. Walther.
So far Professor Krauss
NEWS AND UPDATES
June has five Sundays this year and you know what that means—a FIFTH SUNDAY DINNER. Our Fifth Sunday Dinner will follow service on the 30th . Be sure to bring your favorite dish to share and enjoy some of the great cooking of your fellow members at Faith.
SHOP ON AMAZON? Go to smile.amazon.com and they will donate 0.5% of your purchase amount to the non-profit of your choice. We are now a part of that list and would appreciate it very much if you would keep us in mind the next time you order. Find us listed as: Faith Lutheran Church. Corning, NY
WHILE ON VACATION THIS SUMMER—REMEMBER THE CHURCH STILL NEEDS YOUR OFFERINGS AND PRAYERS.
IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT WE RECEIVE JESUS’ VERY BODY AND BLOOD
When you see the body of Christ set before you, say to yourself, ‘Because of this body I am no longer dust and ashes, no longer a prisoner, but free. Because of this body I hope for heaven, to receive good things there: eternal life, the portion of angels, and converse with Christ. This body, nailed and scourged, was more than death could stand against. This body the sun saw sacrificed and turned aside its rays [Lk. 23.45]. For this body the veil was torn, and rocks were burst asunder, and all the earth was shaken [Mt.27.51]. This is even that body, the blood-stained, the pierced, out of which gushed the saving fountains, the one of blood, the other of water, for all the world [Jn. 19.34].
Would you learn this body’s power from another source also? Ask the woman who was diseased with an issue of blood [Lk. 8.43-48], who laid hold not of the body itself but only of the garment with which it was clad; and not even the whole of this, but only the hem.
[St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 24.7, quoted in: A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year, CPH, 2011, pg. 138]
It is a truly marvelous thing that God rained manna on the fathers and pastured them on daily food from heaven. As it is said, “Man ate of the bread of the angels” [Ps.78.25]. Yet all those who at that food died in the wilderness, but the food that you receive, ‘the living bread that came down from heaven’ [Jn 6.51], furnishes the substance of eternal life. Whoever eats of this bread in faith will never die, because it is the body of Christ.
Now consider which is more excellent: the bread of angels or the flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body of life. That manna came from heaven; that is above the heavens. That was of heaven; this is of the Lord of the heavens. That was of heaven; this is of the Lord of the heavens. That was liable to decay if kept a second day; this is far from all corruption. Whoever shall taste of it in faith will not be able to feel corruption. For Israel in the wilderness water flowed from the rock [Ex. 17.6]. For you blood flowed from Christ. Water satisfied them for a time. The blood drenches you unto eternity.”
[St. Ambrose, On the Mysteries, 48-49.7, quoted in: A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year, CPH, 2011, pg. 122]
“Why [should we see the blood of Christ in Baptism]?
ecause this holy baptism was purchased for us through this same blood, which he shed for us and with which he paid for sin. This blood and its merit and power he put into baptism, in order that in baptism we might receive it. For whenever a person receives baptism in faith this is the same as if he were visibly washed and cleansed of sin with the blood of Christ. For we do not attain the forgiveness of sins through our work, but rather through the death and the shedding of the blood of the Son of God. But he takes this forgiveness of sin and tucks it into baptism.
This is what St. John was looking to when he mingled water and blood together, for, after all, it has in it that which was gained through the blood. And thus St. John deems the person who is baptized as having been washed in the blood of Christ. His blood is not that of a sinful man or the blood of a dead goat or ox; it is innocent, just, and holy, it is a blood of life. Therefore it also contains such strong salt and soap that, wherever it touches sin and uncleanness, it bites and washes it all away, eats and destroys both sin and death in an instant.
Thus St. John pictures our dear baptism for us in this way, so that we shall not regard and look only at the clear water, for, he says, Christ comes "not with water only" (as the Anabaptists blaspheme, saying it is nothing but water) "but with the water and the blood" [I John 5:6]. Through such words he desires to admonish us to see with spiritual eyes and see in baptism the beautiful, rosy-red blood of Christ, which flowed and poured from his holy side. And therefore he calls those who have been baptized none other than those who have been bathed and cleansed in this same rosy-red blood of Christ.”
—Martin Luther in Daily Treasury 26 March.
WISDOM FROM THE APOCRYPHA: ON FRIENDSHIP
A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain a friend, first test him,
and be not too ready to trust him.
For one sort is a friend when it suits him,
but he will not be with you in time of distress.
Another is a friend who becomes an enemy,
and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you.
Keep away from your enemies;
be on your guard with your friends.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;
For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS WITH A JULY 4TH THEME
LUTHER AND THE FOURTH OF JULY: A quote from John Jay (1745-1829) statesman and jurist, an author of The Federalist, first appointed Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court:
"No country has more reason than this Republic to recall with joy the blessings Luther assisted to secure for the world, in emancipating thought and conscience and impressing the stamp of Christianity upon modern civilization. Although America had not been discovered by Columbus when Luther was born, Luther's far-reaching influence, which today is felt from the Atlantic to the Pacific, helped to people our northern continent with the colonists who laid the foundation of its future liberties on the truths of the Bible." [Cited in Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Spring 2011, pg. 46]
WHEN WE THINK OF JULY 4TH WE THINK OF FREEDOM. WHAT IS FREEDOM? WHAT IS OUR CHRISTIAN FREEDOM? HERE ARE SOME DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS ON THE TOPIC.
Is freedom the ability to do whatever we want? The binary option we have to get past is “my freedom versus your oppression.” What we need to say is, No, no, the objectivity of the moral good enables your freedom, opens freedom up. Once you get that, you see the Church is not the enemy of your flourishing, but the condition for it.
Barron, Robert. To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age (p. 76). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
We have the duty of spiritual care for the world and its rulers [1 Timothy 2.1-2; Revelation 8.3-4]. Just as Christians benefit from good government, political stability, economic prosperity, and international peace, so the world and those in authority throughout the world are helped by prayers for them. Political instability and social unrest are signals for Christians to increase intercession so that matters do not get out of hand. We can do more for international justice and world peace by our individual and corporate prayers than by anything else we do. Our prayers are our greatest contribution to the welfare of the world and the salvation of its people. [John Kleinig, Grace Upon Grace—Spirituality for Today CPH 2008, p. 212.]
Devotional Reading on Christian liberty from Phillip Melanchton
What is this thing which we call liberty? Is it merely an empty word, like some paradox of the Stoics or some foolishness of those who say that only the wise are free? Far different is the doctrine of the Gospel concerning freedom, of which Christ speaks when He says [John 8:36], “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Indeed, He says, you shall be free not with some empty title or the appearance of liberty, but with true freedom. When sin is destroyed, the wrath of God appeased, death abolished, and all human calamities removed, you will be given eternal righteousness, light, life, and glory.
Christ includes the concept of complete liberty, which He Himself brings and prepares for His church by His death. To be sure, this pure freedom does indeed begin in this life, but in the resurrection it will be complete. When all evils have been destroyed, then the church will enjoy an eternal and beautiful relationship with God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We must keep in mind this eternal and complete liberty whenever we hear the word “liberty,” and at the same time remember that this begins in this life. . . .
Although the church in this life not only is held in bondage by governments but is also tormented with great calamities of other kinds, yet the doctrine of liberty gives the greatest comfort in these evils. Hercules, Priam, Agamemnon, Palamedes, Cato, Cicero, Brutus, and countless others who did not know God were afflicted. But they succumbed to their troubles, and they did not have God mitigating the outcomes or strengthening their minds. They were pressed down under eternal despair and eternal darkness regarding the providence and the righteousness of God. But Joseph, David, Jonathan, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Paul, even when they were afflicted, could still discern the presence of God, who strengthened their minds and often softened the outcome for them. And whenever they were pressed down, their sufferings were sooner or later of benefit to the church, since they knew that after this life in the resurrection they would have eternal glory. Thus in this life they have the beginning of liberty, because they have been accepted by God, are guided by Him, defended and aided, and realize that after this life they will have complete liberty. Now understand how great a blessing it is, what great liberty it is—even in the midst of troubles and in the midst of death—to have a God who is favorable toward us—our helper, our guide, and our protector. This statement about liberty sets forth true and certain things which have clear testimonies in the church and which the church, you and I, and all the godly experience.
Devotional reading is from Christian Freedom: Faith Working through Love, pages 167–70 © 2011 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The Gospel reading for Trinity 4 [14 July] has an often misunderstood/ quoted passage—
And attend to what Jesus says next: "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you." According to the "physics" of the spiritual order, the more one draws on the divine life, the more one receives that life, precisely because it is a gift and is properly infinite. God’s life is had, as it were, on the fly: when you receive it as a gift, you must give it away, since it only exists in gift form, and then you will find more of it flooding into your heart. [Word on Fire, Robert Barron, 18 March 2019]
In this Trinity season, here is a devotion on the Apostles’ Creed from our partners at CPH
A wellspring of hope, comfort, and encouragement, Luther’s Small Catechism has served as a devotional for centuries. Devotions on the Small Catechism builds on the catechism’s historical use and enhances its Gospel-centered message, helping Christians bridge the gap between the catechism and real life.
Small Catechism Teaching
The Creed summarizes all of God’s work in creation and human history as taught in the Bible (SC, Question 104).
Related Bible Verse
“May [you] have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19).
Writing from Luther
To create and preserve all things, to make satisfaction for sin, to forgive sins, to raise from the dead, and to give eternal life are works of the whole Divine Majesty. Yet the Father is especially revealed in the work of creation, which proceeds originally from Him, as the first Person; the Son in the work of redemption, which He performed in His own Person; the Holy Ghost in the work of sanctification, for which He in particular is sent and in which He reveals Himself. These distinctions are made that Christians may have the simple and certain assurance of the existence of only one God and yet three Persons in the one Divine Essence. These are truths which the pious fathers have diligently gathered from the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles and have maintained against all heretics.
This faith has come down to us as an inheritance, and until the present day God has maintained it with power in His church against all sects and devils. Therefore we must abide by it in simplicity and not be wise in our own conceit; for Christians are expected to believe things that seem foolish to reason. (What Luther Says § 1044)
Our God is no generic, least-common-denominator deity. Ours is a very particular God who did particular deeds for a particular reason. He created us from dust and His own breath. He redeemed us through the blood of His Son, Jesus. He pours out His Spirit on us to make us members of His household and heirs of eternal life. All this He does because He loves us with a love that is both undying as eternity and dies to give us life. His love and His deeds distinguish Him from every pretender to His throne, and they give us an eternal place around His throne.
It is therefore vitally important that we be very clear who our God is. Saying, “I believe in God,” is not specific enough. Many non-Christians say the very same thing. The Apostles’ Creed helps us get specific. We believe in one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the God who created all things, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in His only Son, our Lord, who gave His life to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil and who rose in glory on the third day. We believe in the Holy Spirit, whose divine power creates faith where there was none and warms our cold hearts. When we confess the Creed, we confess this God in all His uniqueness. It is this God alone whom we confess, because it is this God alone who saves.
Prayer: Gracious Father, give us a clear confession of faith in Jesus by the power of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may rejoice eternally in the salvation You have prepared for us and boldly tell others the good news of Your love in Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.
From Devotions on the Small Catechism, pages 34–35 © 2019 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Contemporary devotion written by David Loy.
LCMS Stewardship Newsletter Article: Whenever the topic of stewardship and giving comes up, the conversation inevitably turns to the question: “How much should I give?” Answers will vary because the motive behind such questions also vary.
Sometimes the motive behind asking this question is for self-justification. Even though, as Lutherans, we know we are not saved by our works but by grace through faith because of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement, the natural religion of fallen man is to earn God’s favor by what we do.
Take, for example, the response of our Lord to the rich young ruler who asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus first tells him to keep the commandments. The rich young ruler responds by indicating that all this he has kept from his youth. But Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing: He must sell all he has and give it to the poor and then follow Him.
This rich young ruler went away sad because he was quite wealthy and could not part with his possessions. Here we see that those who seek to justify themselves by their giving will hear a response that intensifies the duty that God places upon them. Indeed, they will hear a response that makes it impossible to win God’s favor by their works.
But to those who genuinely desire to know their duty as Christians in the arena of giving, we look to the Bible for our answer. We believe the Bible is the Word of God. And we know that the Word of God has been “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
So, we begin to answer the question, “What should I give?” with the question, “What does the Bible say about how much we should give and to whom?”
The Old Testament is explicit. The expectation is that the people of God would give a tithe – 10 percent – of the first fruits of their labor to support the full-time ministry of the Levites. This is what the Lord gave Moses to teach the people:
“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
“And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.
“And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.
“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (Deut. 14:22–29)
This principle of tithing is carried over into the New Testament, though not explicitly by calling it a tithe. St. Paul teaches the Church at Corinth the following:
We are to give to the church regularly (1 Cor. 16:1–2), proportionally (1 Cor. 16:1–2; 2 Cor. 8:12), and generously (2 Cor. 8:20) of our first fruits (1 Cor. 16:1–2; Gen. 4:4; Prov. 3:9; Lev. 27:30) with a spirit of eagerness (2 Cor. 9:2), earnestness (2 Cor. 8:7), cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7), and love (2 Cor. 8:23). And all of this is because the “Lord has ordained that those who preach the Gospel should make their living by the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14), just as the Levites did.
This is our New Testament standard. Since Christ became poor for us in order to make us rich in Him – blessing us with the riches of heaven – so we have also been so blessed to follow the example of our Lord and Savior and give of ourselves and the work of our hands to bless others with the same.
If we have been lax in this, let us, like our Lord, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross and scorned its shame, likewise begin to work toward this goal of regular giving of a generous proportion of the first fruits of God’s giving to us.
And let us do so not begrudgingly, but for the joy set before us – with a spirit of eagerness, cheerfulness, and love – to share the blessings of God with those placed into our care.
The One God of the Bible reveals Himself in three persons. A triangle of characteristics reveals the mysteries of creation, redemption and sanctification for a full life. Here we see perfect power matched with love and comfort that is beyond reason, yet true.
Life involves many triangles. A three-legged stool balances anything set upon it. Ancient cultures built sacred buildings with triangular forms. Our democratic constitutional government was built on the balance of three branches of authority: executive, legislative and judicial.
Emotional triangles govern relationships more than many recognize. For example, in emotional triangles, when any two parts of an emotional system become uncomfortable with another, they will “triangle in” or focus upon a third person, or issue, as a way of stabilizing their own relationship with each other. Any unresolved relationships will often be played out in another relationship.
This is often a playground for Satan, but it also can be a way for the Body of Christ in the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit to provide balm that heals and binds what is broken.
Emotionally, we can only change a relationship to which we belong requiring a third person to maintain a well-defined relationship with each, while averting the responsibility for their relationship with one another. This tenant is also true for tasks that allow stewards faithfully to manage many gifts provided by God.
Many people fail to protect life’s risks or to see the opportunity costs of decisions. Insurance can be an effective way to manage financial risks of loss, but the costs of relationship risks, or the opportunity cost of our decisions, often remain unmanaged for many.
The LCMS Foundation helps people develop A ‘Lifetime Plan for Giving’ with a clear Statement of Faith, and discussion leading toward preparedness to have attorneys draft a Last Will and Testament, a Revocable Trust, plus Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial and Health Care. These can provide protection for loved ones, letting them know you want them to flourish even when you’re not here to help. As life swirls around us, a ‘Lifetime Plan for Giving’ can serve as a helpful triangle to allow our earthly management to remain more objective even about intense situations, protecting our position in helping. It’s a way to be thoughtful and giving, as our God has created us to be.
Contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427 to learn how a trusted charitable guide can encourage you to plan and direct your passion to give to loved ones and cherished ministries so others might know that the Fellowship of the Spirit is real.
THIS MONTH THE CHURCH REMEMBERS—
July 6-- Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means “Yahweh [the Lord] saves.” Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God's Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing God's grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah's miraculous birth (Is 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (Is 2:1–5; 11:1–16), and his public ministry (Is 61:1–3), but most notably his “Suffering Servant” role and atoning death (52:13—53:12). The apostle John's description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus' glory and spoke of him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah's prophetic ministry.
July 16--Ruth of Moab, the subject of the biblical book that bears her name, is an inspiring example of God's grace. Although she was a Gentile, God made her the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:17), and an ancestress of Jesus himself (Mt 1:5). A famine in Israel led Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem to emigrate to the neighboring nation of Moab with their two sons. The sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but after about ten years, Elimelech and his sons died (Ruth 1:1–5). Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem and urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah listened to Naomi's but Ruth refused, replying with the stirring words: “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). After Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, agreed to be Ruth's “redeemer” (Ruth 3:7–13; 4:9–12). He took her as his wife, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:13–17), thus preserving the Messianic seed. Ruth's kindness and selfless loyalty toward Naomi, and her faith in Naomi's God, have long endeared her to the faithful and redounded to God's praise for his merciful choice of one so unexpected.
July 20--Elijah the prophet, whose name means, “My God is Yahweh [the Lord],” prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel, mostly during the reign of Ahab (874–853 B.C.). Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kgs 18:20–40). Elijah was a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt (2 Kgs 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. Many miracles were done through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kgs 17:17–24), and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kgs 17:1). At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven as Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kgs 2:11). Later on the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5–6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (Mt 11:14).
July 21--Ezekiel son of Buzi, was a priest, called by God to be a prophet to the exiles during the Babylonian captivity (Ez. 1:3). In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army brought the king of Judah and thousands of the best citizens of Jerusalem—including Ezekiel—to Babylon (2 Kgs 24:8–16). Ezekiel's priestly background profoundly stamped his prophecy, as the holiness of God and the Temple figure prominently in his messages (for example, Ezekiel 9–10 and 40–48). From 593 B.C. to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C., Ezekiel prophesied the inevitability of divine judgment on Jerusalem, on the exiles in Babylon, and on seven nations that surrounded Israel (Ezekiel 1–32). Jerusalem would fall, and the exiles would not quickly return, as a just consequence of their sin. Once word reached Ezekiel that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, his message became one of comfort and hope. Through him God promised that his people would experience future restoration, renewal and revival in the coming Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 33–48). Much of the strange symbolism of Ezekiel's prophecies was later employed in the Revelation to St. John.
July 28--Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantor (1685–1750) is acknowledged as one of the most famous and gifted of all composers past and present in the entire western world. Orphaned at the age of ten, Bach was mostly self-taught in music. His professional life as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and organ consultant began at the age of 19 in the town of Arnstadt and ended in Leipzig, where for the last 27 years of his life he was responsible for all the music in the city's four Lutheran churches. In addition to his being a superb keyboard artist, the genius and bulk of Bach's vocal and instrumental compositions remain overwhelming. A devout and devoted Lutheran, he is especially honored in Christendom for his lifelong insistence that his music was written primarily for the liturgical life of the church to glorify God and edify his people.
July 29-- Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany were disciples with whom Jesus had a special bond of love and friendship. John's Gospel records that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:15). On one occasion Martha welcomed Jesus into their home for a meal. While she did all the work, Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to his Word and was commended by Jesus for choosing the “good portion which will not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:38–42). When their brother Lazarus died, Jesus spoke to Martha this beautiful Gospel promise: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life? (John 11:25–27). Ironically, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the death, the Jews became more determined than ever to kill Jesus (John 11:39–54). made Jesus' enemies more determined than ever to kill him (John 11:39–54). Six days before Jesus was crucified, Mary anointed his feet with a very expensive fragrant oil and wiped them with her hair, not knowing at the time that she was doing it in preparation for Jesus' burial (John 12:1–8; Mt 26:6-13).
July 30--Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr Remembered as a devoted disciple of Martin Luther, Robert Barnes is considered to be among the first Lutheran martyrs. Born in 1495, Barnes became the prior of the Augustinian monastery at Cambridge, England. Converted to Lutheran teaching, he shared his insights with many English scholars through writings and personal contacts. During a time of exile to Germany he became a friend of Luther and later wrote a Latin summary of the main doctrines of the Augsburg Confession titled "Sententiae." Upon his return to England, Barnes shared his Lutheran doctrines and views in person with King Henry VIII and initially had a positive reception. In 1529 Barnes was named royal chaplain. The changing political and ecclesiastical climate in his native country, however, claimed him as a victim; he was burned at the stake in Smithfield in 1540. His final confession of faith was published by Luther, who called his friend Barnes "our good, pious table companion and guest of our home, this holy martyr, Saint Robertus."
July 31--Joseph of Arimathea, mentioned in all four Gospels, come from a small village called Arimathea in the hill country of Judea. He was a respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council in Jerusalem. He was presumably wealthy, since he owned his own unused tomb in a garden not far from the site of Jesus' crucifixion (Mt 27:60). Joseph, a man waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for Jesus' body (Mk 15:43). Along with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39). Their public devotion contrasted greatly to the fearfulness of the disciples who had abandoned Jesus.
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