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Archive for January, 2021

Quote of the Day

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in his book Wartime Prayer Book (1943) answers objections to Christian truth and faith. This is one of them:

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Meme of the Week

Image may contain: text that says 'IF A SINGLE LIVING CELL WAS FOUND ON A DISTANT PLANET, SCIENTISTS WOULD EXCLAIM THAT WE HAVE FOUND LIFE ELSEWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE. so WHY IS A SINGLE LIVING CELL FOUND IN THE WOMB OF A PREGNANT WOMAN NOT www.ehd.org CONSIDERED LIFE? CRA'

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The Shocking Liberation of Auschwitz - HISTORY

Elie Wiesel who gripped the world’s imagination with his book “Night,” a personal testimony of life and death in Auschwitz, once asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe (or Rabbi), who himself lost many members of his family in the Holocaust, how he could believe in G‑d after Auschwitz. If G‑d existed, Wiesel asked, posing the single greatest challenge to faith, how could He ignore 6 million of His children de-humanized and murdered in the cruelest of fashions?

The Rebbe shed a tear and then replied, “In whom do you expect me to believe after Auschwitz? In man?”

From the article, “Roots of Religious and Secular Fundamentalism” By Yosef Y. Jacobson

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Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac - Wikipedia

The Gospel reading, St. Mark 1: 21-28 is about a man with unclean spirits being convulsed and set free by Jesus. Jesus forcefully by His Word kicks the devil out of the man. The translation of verse 25, “Be silent…” is not as pointed as the original Greek, “BE MUZZLED (!). I think this scene from The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers best illustrates this actual exorcism record in Mark. Saruman, the fallen wizard, has possessed Theodan King of Rohan. Earlier, Gandalf says that the King’s “mind has been overthrown”. Gandalf means to set Theodan free. It is almost as if Saruman is bodily thrown out of Theodan. I came across this Medieval icon of exorcism, above, showing the man almost vomiting the devil’s putrid presence from his body/soul according to the Word of Christ! Remember: J. R. R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic Christian and well-versed in the Bible and all things Medieval and may had even knew about icon and ones like it.

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Titus - DailyVerses.net

The Appointed Gospel:

Titus 1: 1-9
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. 

Reflection: The apostle St. John the Evangelist died of old age around A.D. 90-95.  According to tradition, he was the only apostle  not martyred.  With the death of the last apostle, it was also the end of the Apostolic Age, which was the first flowering of the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.  It was also a dividing line and could have been a crisis, after all, the Apostles were eyewitnesses to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.  The last eyewitness had died to sleep in Christ. Further, the Gospel was reaching more and more Gentiles, as Titus himself!  In the Gospel for today, we see the Lord making provision for this transition as the Apostle Paul instructs Titus, “my true child in a common faith”, on the way to be a pastor.  The transition is from the Apostles to the Bishops and Pastors. Here and in other Epistles, the Apostle Paul lays out the description and goal of the bishops and pastors. As the Apostle wrote to Timothy about  the goal of apostles, bishops and pastors, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1: 15). 

Apostles, bishops and pastors with all the faithful are disciples. The root word of “discipline” is disciple. All the disciples have various disciplines for living as the faithful by His grace alone.  Paul lays out this discipline in Titus 1: 5-9.  Discipline can be summed up in two simple words: no and yes.  Every parent should know this, as every pastor. The Law spiritually teaches us No to sin, death and the devil.  The Gospel is the Yes of the Lord’s promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ for our faith through His grace.  If a pastor only preaches and teaches No, then a congregation will be burdened again by trying to save themselves.  Many pastors these days only preach and teach Yes, anything goes, as in debauchery, insubordination and license, which is popularity with their congregations and worldly elites.  Only by God’s Yes and No can the pastor rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine (vs. 9). Popularity with the world is enmity to the Lord. Titus, Paul and Timothy were not popular, they were faithful and by their disciplined labors, even two thousand years later, as if it were yesterday, we can stay the course.  We give thanks to the Lord for all faithful pastors and bishops throughout the world!

For another reflection for this Feast Day: Not Nice Clergy by Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray, Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX

We did not and can not do anything for salvation. | Words, Quotes, Bible  quotes

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baptism_of_st_paul_-_capela_palatina_-_palermo_-_italy_2015-2

Appointed Scripture Readings: Acts 9:1-22 Psalm 87  Galatians 1:11-24 St. Matthew 19:27-30

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Day:  St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascus is related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out for Damascus to arrest and bring believers to Jerusalem for trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle.(Source for the above: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Reflection: The great Christian writer, professor and novelist, C. S. Lewis was an atheist then became a theist.  His friend J. R. R. Tolkien, and others, had many conversations with Lewis about the Christian faith.  Finally, C. S. Lewis realized that he could find no more resistance to faith in Christ, and wrote of that evening that there never was such a reluctant and dejected convert in all of England.  On the way from Jerusalem to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was also a most reluctant, even resistant convert to Christ Jesus.  He had been a persecutor of Christians and an accomplice to their execution.  He had to be struck blind and knocked off his mount!  The Lord found Saul, as He did Lewis. The Lord led Saul to a pastor and baptism. This is reminiscent  of the hymn lyric,  Love that found me–wondrous thought!/Found me when I sought Him not.  This then reminds me of our Lord’s parable of the lost sheep: the shepherd leaves the 99 and searches high and low for that one lost sheep. Finds the sheep and rejoices.  The sheep probably did little to be found except crying out in fright. We are real good at losing, Jesus is great and loving in finding.

It used to be said of conversion, “I found Jesus”.  The smart quip in response is, I didn’t know Jesus was lost.  Exactly right as it was I who was lost. Yes, in St. John 1: 41 and 25, we are told the first disciples “found Jesus”, except the narrative points to this fact:  Jesus wanted to be found as He seem to have it planned that way.  He still has it planned that way.  Saul of Tarsus went on to become the great Apostle to the Gentiles, preaching and teaching Christ and His Cross. The lyric I cited is from the hymn, “Chief of Sinners Though I Be” (Lutheran Service Book #611). The very hymn title is from St. Paul’s autobiographical statement in 1 Timothy 1: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”  And the context of this verse is important for this Feast Day:

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I prefer the King James Version translation of “perfect patience” in verse 18:  “longsuffering”.  Paul states he became the “example” or pattern, “…of those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”  We have a model of the Lord Who finds us and He is longsuffering.  Our prayers, our thoughts, and the Church is likewise to be directed toward the Lord finding the lost, spreading wide the net of His Word to save those in the darkness of the shadow of death and evil.  The motto of Concordia Theological Seminary/Ft. Wayne, IN is more that apt for this day, the Church and her God-given mission: “…to teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.”  The times are ever so urgent in this mission and the mission field is not only in other continents but pointedly in our own beloved nation, so let us pray:

Almighty and gracious God, You want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Magnify the power of the Gospel in the hearts of Your faithful people that Your Church may spread the good news of salvation. Protect, encourage, and bless all missionaries who proclaim the saving cross that Christ, being lifted up, may draw all people to Himself, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Baptism of Paul in Damascus - Palatine Chapel, Palermo | Orthodox christian  icons, Byzantine art, Bible pictures

After the Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to Saul of Tarsus, Saul could no longer see. The Lord tells him where to go and it is not hell.  Luther in his House Postil (Sermon) for the Feast Day of the Conversion of St. Paul,  has great insight on the importance of pastors:  

“(Saul) was now ready to be taught. The man, who is called Jesus of Nazareth, is able to speak with such earnestness that it goes deeply to the heart. Paul would have despaired and died, had not Christ again pulled him to his feet and comforted him, as he now says: Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (vs. 6)

Although he speaks with Paul directly from heaven above, God does not intend to put away the pastoral office or establish something extraordinary for him. Indeed, he might have spoken to him directly and revealed what he wanted him to do, but instead he directs him to go to the parish pastor in the city where he would hear and learn what he was supposed to do. Our Lord God does not purpose some special thing for each individual person, but gives to the whole world—one person like the next—his baptism and gospel. Through these means we are to learn how to be saved, and have no need to wait for God to reveal some new thing from heaven, or send angel.  For it is his will that we go to hear the Gospel preached by the pastor;  there we will find him, and in no other way.

Those who seek for some special revelation get what they deserve, namely, the devil. The enthusiasts—Carlstadt, Muentzer, and others like them—gather in a corner waiting there for the Lord God and the Holy Spirit. The devil dupes them into thinking that they can importune our Lord God to give them a special direct revelation. Our Lord God, thereupon, purposely sends them a delusion, according to which the devil comes to them in the form of an angel to punish them. Our Lord God did not mandate anything extraordinary for Paul to do, for he, after all, had heard the physical voice of Christ, the Lord, and he was to become a foremost preacher. Instead he is told to go into the city and to hear Ananias. So, get up and go! he says. Nothing special beyond this is done, no further instruction there along the road, no baptism, just the directive to go where his Word and baptism are to be had. And Paul willingly complies with the Lord’s directive, although he does not yet know where and by whom this will all happen.

At this juncture, then, our Lord God sends Ananias to meet Paul, to preach the Word to him and baptize him; he lays his hands upon him and says: Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou tamest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (vs. 17)

Thus Paul came into the light of the Word, to baptism, to the Holy Spirit, through Ananias who was no more than a finger compared with Paul, like a little candle in comparison with the sun. From him, this little wooden match, Paul was to take his light; from this little doctor the famous Doctor Paul was to hear what he was to do!

That is something we must really note well, so that we esteem the preaching office as we ought.  Paul receives his sight, his insight and the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of Ananias, so that he knows who Christ is, understands the power of baptism, and forthwith emerges as a changed man.“

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I Timothy 1-15 Photograph by Lea Rhea Photography

Prayer of the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds such as Timothy to guide and feed Your flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to life eternal; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Readings:  Psalm 71:15-24 Acts 16:1-5 1 Timothy 6:11-16 Matthew 24:42-47

Bio:  St. Timothy had Christian believers in his family. His mother, Eunice, was a Christian woman and was the daughter of a Christian woman named Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). Acts records that St. Paul met Timothy on his second missionary journey and wanted Timothy to continue on with him (16:1-3). Over time, Timothy became a dear friend and close associate of Paul to whom Paul entrusted mission work in Greece and Asia Minor. Timothy was also with Paul in Rome. According to tradition, after Paul’s death, Timothy went to Ephesus, where he served as bishop and was martyred around AD 97. Timothy is best remembered as a faithful companion of Paul, one who rendered great service among the Gentile churches.

Reflection by  Fr. Valerius Herberger (21 April 1562-18 May 1627, German Lutheran preacher and theologian):

“Dearly beloved, today we celebrate the commemoration of St. Timothy. He was born in Lystra (Acts 16:2); his father was a pagan, but his mother, Eunice, born an Israelite, had accepted the Christian faith and had committed her son, Timothy, to be raised by her mother, Lois, who was also a Christian. So Timothy learned the catechism from his grandmother. See, dear parents, what the diligent training of children can do! Now since he was a good, excellent thinker, St. Paul accepted him as his colleague or chaplain, and since he improved himself daily, Paul eventually ordained him as bishop of Ephesus, where he was also killed by the raging pagans. St. Paul loved him dearly, which we can see from both epistles that he wrote to him. In 1 Timothy 1:2, he calls him his true son in the faith. From these two epistles, many passages shine forth like the stars of heaven:

1 Timothy 1:5: “The aim of the commandment is love from a pure heart and from a good conscience and from a faith unfeigned.”

1 Timothy 1:15: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out (inspired) by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Since St. Paul and St. Timothy were dear friends, they were put beside each other in the calendar, and also on the day of St. Timothy, the Gospel of John 15:9-16 is read, which speaks of pure love and friendship.” (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Reflection on the Day:  Our Lord’s Passion, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Friday is called by the Church, the Triduum, translated: The Three Days.  The next three days is a kind of Triduum: Today, January 24th the Festival of St. Timothy; tomorrow, January 25th, the Festival of Conversion of St. Paul;  January 26th is  the Festival of  St. Titus.  All three of these saints were called by the Lord and His Church into the Holy Ministry. This is a triduum of the Holy Ministry. These three pastors shared in the unity of the faith and doctrine of Christ in His Church. They were faithful to the Word and not their religious ideas.  In the middle day of this pastoral triduum is the Apostle Paul and he is flanked by two pastors.  This triduum is a good time to reflect on pastors, pray for your pastor(s), rejoice in the Holy Ministry of the Church and your pastor feeding you the Word of God and pray for your faithfulness to the Word of God which is inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scriptures.

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

Republicans and Democrats promise wealth but our hope is not on Capitol Hill but from the hill called Golgotha where and when Christ Jesus died and rose for you.

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