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Confessing to Plants

I bet you did not know that plants are sentient beings that you can confess to and ask forgiveness? If they are sentient beings, then they we should not be killing plants and stop world-wide herbicide! If you can stomach reading more about this, then read the Washington Post article which is quite appreciative about this ‘confession’ at Union Seminary in New York City: Progressive seminary students offered a confession to plants. How do we think about sins against nature? Worse: This is an example of the stupidity of idolatry, as in worshiping the golden calf, except this one is green, “…. because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1: 25) I am still shocked by this even after so many decades of denial of the Word of God and doing so now officially. So many SINO, Seminaries In Name Only, have officially denied the truth of the Scripture, as Israel did at the base of Mt. Sinai when they fashioned that golden calf, that they are giving aid and comfort, not to God’s good creation but the devil. Lord, have mercy.

Cyprian (A.D. ca. 200–258), was acclaimed bishop of the north African city in Carthage around 248.During the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decius, Cyprian fled Carthage but returned two years later. He was then forced to deal with the problem of Christians who had lapsed from their faith under persecution and now wanted to return to the Church. It was decided that these lapsed Christians could be restored but that their restoration could take place only after a period of penance that demonstrated their faithfulness. During the persecution under Emperor Valerian, Cyprian at first went into hiding but later gave himself up to the authorities. He was beheaded for the faith in Carthage in the year 258. (From the LCMS website)

Regarding his martyrdom, from The Penguin Dictionary of Saints:  “When persecution began again in 258, under Emperor Valerian, St Cyprian was one of the first victims. There is an account of what happened compiled directly from contemporary documents. Cyprian was first examined by the proconsul, and on affirming his adherence to the one true God, and refusing to divulge the names of his priests, he was exiled to Curubis. When a new proconsul came into office, Cyprian was brought up for trial in Carthage. He again refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, and was sentenced to death. Accompanied by a tumultuous crowd, he was led to the field of Sextus; there he knelt in prayer. He gave a generous gift to the executioner, blindfolded himself, and his head was struck off.”        

Reflection:  St. Cyprian lived before the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 312 which made Christianity a legal religion of the Empire.  From the time of our Lord’s Ascension to that time the Church went through persecution from social ridicule to martyrdom.  In 250, under Emperor Decius, with the threat of death, many Christians denied the faith, gave-up fellow Christians to the authorities or when told to burn incense to Caesar bought letters called,  libelli, or certificates, that they had done so. Based upon 1 Timothy 2: 1-4, the Church prayed for Caesar, but did not pray to Caesar (see the 1st Commandment).  

When the persecution ended, many wanted to return to the Church. My speculation is those who denied the faith were regarded as traitors.   One party wanted them to be re-baptized or one Novatus said they committed apostasy and were not saved.  He denied absolution to the repentant.  Novatus’ heresy, Novationism, was also condemned in The Augsburg Confession because he denied absolution/forgiveness (1).   The Bishop of Rome , Pope Stephen I said that once baptized, still baptized and like Saul and Judas a Christian can be lost. The Church agreed Biblically that a time of penitence, that is, repentance would return one to the flock.  The Biblical understanding is absolution for the penitent restores one to the Church.   This crucial understanding of repentance and absolution is reflected in the true Reformation understanding: “Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practice what we began before, but abandoned.”(The Large Catechism).

Two of the lessons we can learn from St. Cyprian are:

1. Cyprian and all the martyrs remind us that faith in Jesus Christ matters. Even in the midst of persecution, Cyprian and the Church debated right doctrine and the resulting right practice. They did not soften doctrine in order to be accepted by society and culture or by those who denied Christ and a lot was at stake: their lives but more: true doctrine which is eternal life. There were those who denied Christ and so ‘saved’ themselves, but those who sell out doctrine and faith and true worship are not saving  the Church, and removing themselves from the Savior.  

2. Cyprian and the Church took seriously  the right Biblical way of ministering to those who denied Christ and they sought the true way:  repentance.  Cyprian was beheaded for the faith, for true worship, for right doctrine and practice.  

The beheading of Cyprian has a relevance in the news these past years of Islamists beheading  Christians. We are so readily led to  water down doctrine and the faith to “reach out” to the world which fits the devil’s game plan.  We need the courage of a Cyprian and the love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit to minister in the Name of the Lord to our neighbors:

“…having received the Holy Spirit, we are living holy and spiritually; if we have raised our eyes from earth to heaven; if we have lifted our hearts, filled with God and Christ, to things above and divine, let us do nothing but what is worthy of God and Christ, even as the apostle arouses and exhorts us, saying: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” [Colossians 3:1-4]. Let us, then, who in Baptism have both died and been buried in respect to the carnal sins of the old man, who have risen again with Christ in the heavenly regeneration, both think upon and do the things that are Christ’s.”  –Cyprian of Carthage

Remove the pow’r of sin from me/And cleanse all my impurity/That I may have the strength and will/ Temptations of the flesh to still.—Renew Me, 0 Eternal Light (LSB 704:2)

Prayer of the Day:

Almighty God, You gave Your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, before the rulers of this world and courage to die for the faith he proclaimed. Give us strength always to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

Endnote:

(1) From The Augsburg Confession: Article  XII, Of Repentance:  Our churches teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of  the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost.

Also those who contend that some may attain to such  perfection in this life that they cannot sin.

The Novatians also are condemned, who would not absolve such as had fallen after Baptism, though they returned to repentance.

They also are rejected who do not teach that remission of sins comes through faith but command us to merit grace through satisfactions of our own. 

Concordia and Koinonia

About Holy Cross Day:

One of the earliest annual celebrations of the Church, Holy Cross Day traditionally commemorated the discovery of the original cross of Jesus on September 14, 320, inJerusalem. The cross was found by Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. In conjunction with the dedication of a basilica at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the festival day was made official by order of Constantine in AD 335. A devout Christian,Helena had helped locate and authenticate many sites related to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus throughout biblical lands. Holy Cross Day has remained popular in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Many Lutheran parishes have chosen to use “Holy Cross” as the name of their congregation. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:

According to one story, Helena actually found 3 crosses and in order to determine which was…

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Quote of the Day

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The Good Shepherd,  “… has under-shepherds, which consist of all faithful teachers and preachers. In keeping with Christ’s example, they are to faithfully graze the flock, direct them to the right Door, and guide the little lambs to Christ. Those who do otherwise, says Christ, are thieves and murderers, for they take away Christ’s glory; and they kill the souls of men through false doctrine, just as death devours little lambs in a poisoned pasture.” (Pr. Johann Gerhard)

Concordia and Koinonia

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This article from the Billy Graham website is about the finding of the 9/11 Cross:

A Picture of Hope from 9/11

Jesus of the Scars by Edward Shillito

Edward Shillito was an English minister who survived the horrors of artillery, machine guns, and trench warfare during World War I.

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are; have…

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Here in Lexington, VA there are a few very important churches in downtown. Tongue in cheek, I have called them “The State Churches” because anyone who is anyone seems to attend them and seem to be deemed as important by being the most identified with the movers and shakers.  They have impressive church buildings both architecturally and historically…and they all have a tendency towards liberalism and progressivism and a few openly espousing the denial of the 10 Commandments.

In Europe, there are still actual state churches such as in England or state sponsored such as in Germany. Through their histories, there also have been other churches who do not receive tax monies for their church bodies from the government.  In Germany, these churches are called the “freikirche” or free church(es). In Germany, the freikirche is closely associated with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod of which I am a pastor.  From what I know, the European state sponsored churches are also quite liberal/progressive and they are in utter commonality with the mainline Protestants here (and liberal Roman Catholics).

In our blessed nation, churches do not receive tax monies from the government, yet many espouse and propagate the ruling elite’s definitions of non-Biblical morals and theology, seeming to be the majority, even elitist in thinking everyone thinks like them. We don’t think alike. I think these ‘theologies’ are enslaving:  if you deny the Law of God, then the Gospel makes no sense.  Recently, a professor here, a Christian lamented to me that she feels alone with her viewpoints here in town. I responded many feel the same…including me.  

So I have simple, (or not so simple!) proposal.  Many Christians could benefit from an association to come together talk about and respond to the anarchic twitter mob mentality of the new Pharisees here in our towns and cities.   FWIW, I have come up with a name, The Free Church Movement or The Freed Church Movement, that we are freed in Christ and freed from false illiberal ‘theologies’ and philosophies that are enslaving of the souls of men and women in their self-righteousness and self-centeredness. A society or movement to support each other in the good fight of faith ( 1 Timothy 6:12), even to respond to what is going on in our churches and nation.

This is a raw idea of mine. I may be proposing an idea that is not needed…or bringing forth this idea too soon. I ask you to respond to this idea in general: Do you have a need for such a society?  How could it help you?  What would you add or subtract from my raw idea?

Keep the Church in your prayers.  Pray for our daily repentance in Christ that we may respond by “speaking the truth in love” ( Ephesians 4:15 ), “returning no man evil for evil” (cf. Romans 12:17;   1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9) and expose the works of darkness ( Ephesians 5:11; Romans 13:12) , and not react alone to the evils we deplore. 

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