Archive for August, 2018

Concordia and Koinonia

This posting is a reflection on a portion of C. S. Lewis’ first Screwtape letter.  I earlier posted this letter as read by John Cleese.  It is posted below again for your convenience.


I note what you say about guiding our patient’s reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naive? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.

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Let us pray:

Almighty God, You gave Your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in both his preaching of repentance and his innocent death. Grant that we, who have died and risen with Christ in Holy Baptism, may daily repent of our sins, patiently suffer for the sake of the truth, and fearlessly bear witness to His victory over death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 Appointed readings: Romans 6:1-5Mark 6:14-29

About this day:   In contrast to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (observed on June 24), this festival commemorates his beheading by the tetrarch, Herod Antipas. From the perspective of the world, it was an ignominious end to John the Baptist’s life. Yet it was in fact a noble participation in the cross of Christ, which was John’s greatest glory of all. Christ Himself said that there had arisen none greater than John the Baptist. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and also the herald of the New Testament. As the forerunner of Christ, John fulfilled the prophecy that the great prophet Elijah would return before the great and terrible day of the Lord. By his preaching and Baptism of repentance, John turned “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” And in the footsteps of the prophets who had gone before him—in anticipation of the Christ whose way he prepared—this servant of the Lord manifested the cross by the witness of his death. (From theTreasury of Daily Prayer, p. 670.

Reflection: Let us remember why John the Baptizer was killed:

St. Matthew14: 3For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”  

John taught and preached the sanctity of marriage to the powers that be.  This is what cost John his life and his life is a martyria, a witness, to the Word in and out of season.

Marriage has been “out of season” (see 2 Timothy 4:1-3).  As the years rolled on, I spend more and more time in confirmation classes, on the 6th Commandment, than on the other nine:  You shall not commit adultery.  From The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther:

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.

In teaching this commandment,  I ask the class for the ways in which this commandment  is broken.  The dry-erase board fills up very quickly:  adultery, divorce,  “hooking-up”, living together, pornography, incest, masochism, sadism, masturbation, abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, bestiality,  polygamy, etc.  Legalization of that list has been catastrophic to the family and hence our nation and other nations.

Now our sexuality is not virtuous, never has been since Eden but it can be. And then I point out that we are forgiven in Jesus Christ, upon His Cross, He bore our sin and is our Savior.  I take the eraser and swipe through the black ink a cross.  One year a confirmand exclaimed, “That’s heavy”.   Yes!  His Cross was heavy, as heavy as our sin for us to repent and receive God’s mercy.  .

John the Baptist bore the brunt  in preaching the sanctity of marriage in his day. We must also and in marriage be helpmates one to the other, modeled after Christ and His Church, His Bride and modeling to the world the marriage of two Baptized sinners in Christ. People who have been blinded by the “god of this world” (cf.2 Corinthians 4:4) will go to great lengths to protect their immorality and numb their guilt horribly: from changing the meaning of the Bible (let’s call it Biblicide) to killing a prophet. 

This may be the first time in Western European history that the list above has been legally sanctioned and for a good part of society  and culture accepted. We are living in a neo-pagan, neo-Roman world, as did our forebears in the Church did from AD33 to Edict of Milan in AD 313 (see: Edict_of_Milan), but we still think we are Christian, even as infants are aborted. Ever more we need Luther’s counsel in the Large Catechism on the 6th commandment:

But because among us there is such a shameful mess and the very dregs of all vice and lewdness, this commandment is directed also against all manner of unchastity, whatever it may be called; and not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, incitement, and means, so that the heart, the lips, and the whole body may be chaste and afford no opportunity, help, or persuasion to unchastity.

We need the lesson from John the Baptizer.  John was last of the prophets.  One of the verses that has haunted me is this one from Isaiah 52:11and it is cited by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17:

Therefore go out from their midst,and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch no unclean thing;then I will welcome you…

This verse may be the basis of the Amish way of life, at least in the movie ‘Witness'(!) Does this mean we need to be like the Amish? St. Augustine preached on the Prophet Jeremiah which speaks to the Lord’s prophet, John, the way the Church is and should be as in 2 Corinthians 6: 17:

How many and vehement rebukes did Jeremiah preach against the sinners and wicked ones of his people. Yet he lived among them, he entered into the same temple with them, celebrated the same mysteries; he lived in that congregation of wicked men, but by his preaching “he came out from among them.” This is what it means “to come out from among them”; this is what it means to not “touch the unclean thing.” It means not consenting to them in will and not sparing them in word. I say this of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, of Daniel, and Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets, who did not retire from the wicked people, lest they should desert the good who were mingled with that people. (emphasis my own)

“It means not consenting to them in will and not sparing them in word.”  The Lord has called His Church as the communion of His Will and Word, both of which are one.  As in the days of the Roman Empire, the Church did not consent with much of the pagan culture and touched not the unclean things. Do Christians fail in the sanctity of marriage?  Yes, but this can not be an excuse to continue touching unclean things and so sin (see  Romans 6:1-3) When we do sin, we know the terrors of hell and turn in repentance to the Lord Who died and rose for us. John did not spare Herod and Herodia in word and that’s what got him killed.  

This is still our vocation in marriage, according to the Lord’s Word of Law and Promise, not to touch the unclean thing.  Possible? Not on our own but only in Him are all things possible.  As John was a prophet, he did not spare them in the Word of God.  The Church can not either. Why?  Not sparing them the Word so that they,with us come to true repentance and be spared, that is, receiving His forgiveness through grace for us all.  So that sinners might turn to the Lord and live.

Marriage is a true good work by which the Lord preserves life in the world and through families He gives forgiveness through His promise: See the Patriarchs and their families and in the fullness of time:  the Holy Family.  Marriage is a central means to love our neighbor.  From Luther’s Large Catechism:

God has also most richly blessed this estate above all others, and, in addition, has bestowed on it and wrapped up in it everything in the world, to the end that this estate might be well and richly provided for. Married life is therefore no jest or presumption; but it is an excellent thing and a matter of divine seriousness. For it is of the highest importance to Him that persons be raised who may serve the world and promote the knowledge of God, godly living, and all virtues, to fight against wickedness and the devil.

When marriage is debased and debauched, then “godly living and all virtues” are likewise debased and erased.  John the Baptizer, by God’s Word, saw that and He also saw the Savior, the Messiah of God to show us the way back and be the Way, the Truth and the Life by His grace alone in His forgiveness. 

Lord, be Thou our help in help-mates joined together in Christ and for all single people, so that in  Thee we be raised every day:  to serve the world, promote the knowledge of God, walk in godly living and all virtues, and as St. John the Baptist  to fight against wickedness and the devil.  In Christ Jesus’ holy Name be Thou our hope and stay, and so we pray, Amen.

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O Lord God, the light of the minds that know You, the life of souls that love You, and the strength of the hearts that serve You, give us strength to follow the example of Your servant Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You–for to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

About Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian:

Augustine was one of the greatest of the Latin Church Fathers and a significant influence in the formation of Western Christianity, including Lutheranism. Born in AD 354 in North Africa, Augustine’s early life was distinguished by exceptional advancement as a teacher of rhetoric. In his book Confessions he describes his life before his conversion to Christianity, when he was drawn into the moral laxity of the day and fathered an illegitimate son. Through the devotion of his sainted mother, Monica, and the preaching of Ambrose, bishop of Milan (AD 339-97), Augustine was converted to the Christian faith. During the great Pelagian controversies of the fifth century, Augustine emphasized the unilateral grace of God in the salvation of mankind. Bishop and theologian at Hippo in North Africa from AD 395 until his death in AD 430, Augustine was a man of great intelligence, a fierce defender of the orthodox faith, and a prolific writer. In addition to Confessions, Augustine’s book City of God had a great impact upon the Church throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer,Concordia Publishing House)

Concordia Lutheran Mission, who sponsors this blog, and your scribe here, Pastor Schroeder, want to let you know that today is the 8th Anniversary of Concordia Lutheran Mission.  We became a mission in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod after 20 or so of us left a heretical congregation here in Lexington, VA. You can read about our history:  see the tab above:  Concordia Lutheran Mission’s History. In conjunction with Pr. Keith Beasley, of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and the congregation, we began the Mission with the first Divine Service on this date, August 28th.  I was not aware at the time it was  the Commemoration of St. Augustine.  I do not think Pr. Beasley was likewise aware of today’s commemoration when he came up to preside at that first Divine Service.  The Commemoration of St. Augustine is a good one to begin a Lutheran mission and congregation.  Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk.  He taught and confessed the Biblical doctrine of the “unilateral grace of God” against the Pelagians who said you have to cooperate to be saved. As it is written:

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 4)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2)

In the bio above, St. Augustine is described as a, “fierce defender of the orthodox faith”.  I had to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America because I too defend the orthodox and evangelical faith, but I know I am no Augustine.  It’s hard to so defend when so many don’t want to hear it.  Last week, I was kind of accused as being rigid  as a Christian and a Pastor, and this from a former secret service agent!  Did that agent have to follow unbending protocols and procedures to protect the President of the United States even if the agent hates the President’s political views?  I think rigidity is important in protecting the first family, or our nation, or marriage and preaching the truth of the Scriptures.

Concordia Lutheran Mission, this little ship, founded on this date,  is floundering.  We have to move out of our rental property. Finances are tight.  Membership has not greatly increased.  I am thankful we have lasted for 8 years.  The secret service agent above is my supervisor in my part time work, which pays well, and my employer might let me go.  The reason being I was overheard lamenting the pastor who followed me in the ELCA church in town and his espousal of the LGBTQ agenda.  This was reported to my  supervisor and I was accused of the heinous sin of not being ‘inclusive’ and that I was berating transgender people.  I may have to leave this employment myself.  I do not know what is next.  I pray the Lord lead us as He has.  Please pray for Concordia Lutheran Mission, myself as Pastor in the Church, my wife (the organist here!) and the Church in these dark days. 

We turn to You, the Lord our God and as best as we can give we give You thanks.  We beseech You that in Your goodness You will hear our prayers and by Your power:  drive evil from our thoughts and actions, increase our faith, guide our minds, grant us Your holy inspirations, and bring us to joy without end through Your Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

(A prayer adapted from a benediction by which St. Augustine ended at least two of his sermons)


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About Monica, Mother of Augustine: A  native of North Africa, Monica (AD 333-387) was the devoted mother of St. Augustine. Throughout her life, she sought the spiritual welfare of her children, especially that of her brilliant son Augustine. Widowed at a young age, she devoted herself to her family, praying many years for Augustine’s conversion. When Augustine left North Africa to go to Italy, she followed him to Rome and then to Milan. There she had the joy of witnessing her son’s conversion to the Christian faith. Weakened by her travels, Monica died at Ostia, Italy, on the journey she had hoped would take her back to her native Africa. On some Church Year calendars, Monica is remembered on May 4. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Collect of the Day:

O Lord, You strengthened Your patient servant Monica through spiritual discipline to persevere in offering her love, her prayers, and her tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine, their son. Deepen our devotion to bring others, even our own family, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever.


Proverbs 31: 10 An excellent wife who can find?
   She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
   and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
   all the days of her life.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1: 5

Reflection:  Monica’s husband was an adulterer.  Her son had a child out of wedlock and he was a pagan philosopher. Monica was a Christian.  She stayed with her husband.  She was faithful. She probably took literally the Epistle reading:  Ephesians 5:21-23.   She wanted her husband to be her head in Christ Jesus.  She is not the model in our day of the liberated woman! Thank, God.  Her strength was her Lord and she prayed for the conversion of both her husband and their son. Though her prayers were not answered at once, nevertheless, the Lord sustained her and that is also an answer to prayer.  Pr. Scott Murray in his Memorial Moment today, describes Monica’s faith which is the true faith of Christ’s Church:

True prayer is an act of faith. It is a struggle with God, in which the believer denies what he knows about himself, namely that he is a sinner, and what he knows about God who hears prayer: that He is holy. Imagine the impertinence of wrestling with God until you get an answer! Think of the courage required to cast your prayers in His teeth day after day demanding of Him what you desire. Who would have the confidence to do this? Only those who have full faith and confidence in their Savior, that He can be approached by us with noisy and constant petitions. Only if we have the faith that clings to the promise that God would hear our prayers and answer them will we have the courage to repeat our claims.

A wife should not stay in a physically abusive marriage.  Monica was not physically abused.  She was, though, spiritually and emotionally hurt by her feckless husband and faithless son and she was faithful as mother and as a praying Mother in true faith.  She persisted in prayer for them. Our prayers are not answered according to our schedule and timing, but she persisted. Again Pr. Murray:

We may even pray a lifetime only to have God fulfill our request years later or even after we are long gone. We must pray in faith because we may never see on earth that for which we prayed. Martin Luther extolled Monica, the mother of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, because she prayed for her whole lifetime that her son, Augustine, would become a Christian. The Lord answered her only near the end of her life, but in a way that was far greater than anything she had prayed for or hoped. Augustine became not just a Christian, but a pastor and bishop, and finally the greatest teacher of the post-apostolic Christian church in its first millennium. So don’t give up praying.

Both Monica’s husband and son were baptized.  Her son became one of the most important theologians and pastors whose writings influenced one young monk in the Order of St. Augustine:  Martin Luther.   St. Augustine’s feast day is tomorrow. Freedom in Christ is praying for someone who may not even want your prayers.  


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Clerical Collar as Confession to a Hostile World by Pr. David Peterson

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About St. Bartholomew, Apostle:  St. Bartholomew (or Nathanael, as he is called in St. John’s Gospel) was one of the first of Jesus’ twelve disciples. His home was in the town of Cana, in Galilee (John 21:2), where Jesus’ performed His first miracle. He was invited to become one of the Twelve by Philip, who told him that they had found the Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. (John 1:45). Bartholomew’s initial hesitation to believe, because of Jesus’ Nazareth background, was quickly replaced by a clear, unequivocal declaration of faith, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). He was present with the other disciples (John 21:1-13) when they were privileged to see and converse and eat with their risen Lord and Savior. According to some Early Church Fathers, Bartholomew brought the Gospel to Armenia, where he was martyred by being flayed alive.

Reflection:  In 2013, in an Italian town a 83 year old widow ‘restored’  a beloved painting of Christ (see above)  in an Italian church.  The painting  depicts the moment when Pontius Pilate said to the crowds in the mood for a crucifixion, Behold the Man!  See John 19:5  Or as it is the Latin Vulgate: Ecce Homo. She  obviously botched the restoration!   The Italian press said the painting should  be called, Ecce mono, Behold the monkey! People were saying she should be sued.  The elderly woman who did this, had the permission of the parish priest and she said she had the best of intentions. A year later the town was elated over the botched restoration because of publicity it caused bringing in many tourists into the town of Borja, a rather unremarkable town.  The mayor of Borja said it put the town on the map!

Many people have the best of intentions in redoing the image of Christ to burnish His meaning for us, but it becomes a botched job and yes, done with the best of intentions. As C. S. Lewis famously and correctly wrote:  

“There have been too many historical Jesuses – a liberal Jesus, a pneumatic Jesus, a Barthian Jesus, a Marxist Jesus. They are the cheap crop of each publisher’s list, like the new Napoleons and new Queen Victorias. It is not to such phantoms that I look for my faith and my salvation.” 

These new “Jesuses” do put their authors and artists on the map of publicity for awhile, like in the town of Borja, or back in the ’60s when a theologian declared God is dead, or the artist putting a crucifix in a vial of urine, or various Christian despising atheists, or supposed Christian theologians declaring heir views on the Christ.  Like a monkey, people have trained Jesus to do their bidding for what they think are the solutions to our problems.  In one congregation that I served the Word, we wanted a booth at local festival but the leadership balked at the possible brochures I had regarding the Lord: “Too strong” “Might be offensive”.  In other words, a Thomas Kincaide version of the Light of the World.  But they had the best of intentions!  Remember the saying that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. The botched restoration filled the village coffers of Borja…for a time.   But a solution is not the same as salvation. Solutions are temporal and if according to the world, not truthful…to say the least! Then we end up with a distorted version of the Lord, as distorted as the erstwhile restoration above and we can only say, Ecce Mono.

There is an ancient tradition that The Apostles’ Creed was written by the Apostles and each wrote 1/12 of the Creed.  This has no basis in historical fact, but on this Apostle’s day, it shows there is only one authorized version of the Lord Jesus Christ:  His chosen apostolic witnesses, like Bartholomew (or Nathanael), accurately recorded the work and Word of Jesus, the Son of the Father, the Word made flesh, in the  inspired Four Gospels and the entire corpus of the New Testament. The Creeds are the accurate summaries of the Holy Scripture.  

Look at Nathanael: When Nathanael was told by Philip that he had found the Messiah, Nathanael famously quipped:  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  (John 1: 46).  He did not know what he was saying.  After Jesus meets Nathanael, He comments that he is an Israelite in whom there is no guile.  Nathanael seems to have been dumbstruck, How do you know me?  Jesus said before I called Philip, I saw you under the fig tree.  This really gets him!  Nathanael answered him:  

 “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Ecce homo!  Nathanael began to give his confession, his apostolic witness: He is the Son of God, King of Israel.  Yet, Jesus deepens Nathanael’s confession  with the prophecy of Golgotha and the Resurrection:  Heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  This refers to Jacob’s dream of a ladder with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. See:  Genesis 28:11-13.  Jacob called the spot Bethel, literally House of God.  Jesus is the House of God (see John 2: 21).  The Apostolic Witness is to the Incarnation and His Crucifixion and Resurrection.  This witness, this Good News, for sinners was preached by the 12, clearly.   When the Savior and His work is clearly taught and preached, according to the Bible, received and yes, eaten and drunk, by hungry and thirsty sinners (see Matthew 5:6then the Holy Spirit is working faith in you.  This is the clear picture of Ecce Homo and needs no restoration by the likes of me or  a theologian with a 100 doctorates.  Do not trust any theology that deviates by invention and innovation the clear apostolic witness in the Bible.  

Please pray…

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, chose Bartholomew to be an Apostle to preach the blessed Gospel.  Grant that Your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

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1a violent and uncontrolled anger

b a fit of violent wrath

The etymology of “rage” is rooted in the word “rabies” which is contracted from a dog or animal with the disease.  It causes madness.  We see much spoken rage these days in the media, protests ( for instance, in the ‘60s, see “Days of Rage” which was  violent wrath against war!), internet and conversation.  Rage is not good as it is a cause of violence.  I was thinking about the expression, “it’s all the rage”:

4: a fad pursued with intense enthusiasm, as in “it was all the rage”

Rage’s first definition should cause us pause.   This reminds me of another common word, “fan” which is short for fanatic.  Fanatics engage in all the rage. This is all spoken of as a good thing.

Anger so easily morphs into rage, even in ordinary settings.  A local  grocery store owner told me that on several occasions, when the customer was told that the store did not carry a desired item, the customer(s) has thrown down what they were  about to buy in disgust and left.  It seems so many have such short fuses. In these days we tend to define ourselves by what we are angry at and what we are raging against.  Please understand there is much to be angry at, so contrary to God and His Law  and Gospel, and so perverted that it invites anger and rage.  If something upsets us, then we are not indifferent to the evils we deplore and might do something about it.  As it is written in Ephesians 5: 

11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Indifference to the evils we deplore is the greatest enemy to let evil have it’s way.

Yet  as Christians, we can not let this be an excuse for even more rage and be defined by it.  Our self definition can not come from our self.  Our self is the Old Adam.  Our self is enmeshed in original sin and the Lord has freed us from that driver.  When we feed our self, even our soul, with anger and rage it only and always wants more. The motivation for the first overt and horrendous sin was anger:

 So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

This admonition from Ephesians 4 concerns an evil which is just as widely distributed:

26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.  

The apostle makes use of Ps. 4, 4, according to the Greek translation. It is a warning against the sin of anger. The emphasis being on the second part of the command, the meaning can best be given by the rendering: When you become angry, do not sin. Do not your anger rule over you.  The apostle is considering the fact that even Christians, being obliged still to contend with their old Adam, are harassed with angry thoughts and do not let the Old Adam define you as you  are gracefully defined by the Lord in your identity as a baptized child of God.

There are two things which the Christian will keep in mind:

First, that he does not permit angry desires to break forth in words and deeds;

Second:  that he does not cherish anger in his heart.

Should your heart be agitated by anger, Paul means to say, do not permit the desire to be realized, flee from the sin of anger in terror; and do not permit anger to take root in your heart overnight, let the provocation be what it may, lest the irritation become a steady feeling of resentment and hatred. To this the warning is attached: Neither give place to the devil. The Christians should always remember that, in letting anger control them, take possession of their heart and mind, they are giving opportunity to the devil to sow dissension and many other forms of mischief in the Church.  It can even result in murder in both thought and deed. (modified from Pr. Paul Kretzmann’s Commentary on the Bible) 

These days rage is all the rage.  We will be angry and sometimes justifiably and understandably so at evil. We become angry with our children when they do wrong.  Don’t let this be an opportunity for the devil but for prayer to the Lord that He might rule us in truth and love as we are admonished also in Ephesians 4:

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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