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“If you will, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1: 40) What a simple, clean faith. You can make me whole, You alone. The leper (Mark 1) knew he could not make himself clean. Naaman did not make himself clean. Only cats clean themselves. We are not spiritual cats! We can not clean our souls by our actions or words.

Concordia and Koinonia

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elisha, You continued the prophetic pattern of leaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

About Elisha: Elisha, son of Shaphat of the tribe of Issachar, was the prophet of God to the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 849-786 BC. Upon seeing his mentor, Elijah, taken up into heaven, Elisha assumed the prophetic office and took up the mantle of his predecessor. Like Elijah, Elisha played an active role in political affairs. He also performed many miracles, such as curing the Syrian army commander Naaman of his leprosy (2 Kings…

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We have also seen the dumbing down of the Divine Service until it is a slappy, clappy and pretty crappy reflection of our own feelings, not the Truth who sets us free, the Word of God.

Concordia and Koinonia

Thirty-four years ago, my first call as a pastor was to a Lutheran congregation which held dual membership in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the much smaller breakaway denomination from the LCMS, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC, which eventually helped found the liberal/progressivist Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  I was the assistant pastor, AELC and the senior pastor was LCMS.  

Before my arrival, the senior pastor had the congregation use two hymnals and for some time:  The Lutheran Hymnal (LCMS;  published 1941, the “red book”) and the newer Lutheran Book of Worship (more associated with the AELC and other Lutheran church bodies; published 1978, the “green book”). So on some Sundays it was Green first half, Red second half, or the reverse, or all Green or all Red.  It could be quite confusing.

This congregation was bi-ritual which taught me something about the Holy Trinity and the Divine…

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About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.

Reflection:  Some people see this history as simply and terribly as dogmatic Christians getting their way in a power play.  Others see a creed as simply fussy, nit-picking  doctrine. In the 21st Century the words “doctrine” and “dogma” are derided and as the absolute dogmas of sexual immorality are being set in stone and applauded (such as, sexual immorality is “pride”) and these are blatantly false dogmas.  But the Church knew that in the challenge of Arianism, and all heresies saving truth is at stake:  the very basis of the Gospel and the authority of the Scriptures. Centuries after the Council of Nicaea, and as the Council, this was also reason  the blessed Reformers took their stand on the Word of God: to proclaim the Gospel alone.  

The Gospel:  At stake was (and always is) forgiveness of sinners received by faith in Jesus Christ:  the sinless One in the sinners’ stead ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and the way the Lord accomplished this once and for all  was by sending His Son in the flesh, “very God from very God”, the only- begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9, KJV), as the whole of Scripture attests.  

The Scriptures:  The false doctrine and promises of Arianism denied and overlooked the clear teaching of Scripture as to the true nature of Jesus Christ, passages such as:

John 8:  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Colossians 1:  15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Maybe Arius’ teaching is the origin of the understanding that Jesus was good teacher alone but He did not leave that option open to us. So for Arius, the Scriptures were like Wikipedia article today: anyone can add or subtract the words of God one likes or dislikes. Only the utter weight of God in man dying on the Cross, bearing our sin can lift us up to the Lord Himself. 

DEATH OF GOD | US GOD'S DEATH | image tagged in jesus | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

We can not do the heavy lifting of our sins.  Arius was not capable of that either and neither are you nor I.

This is the sound doctrine of which the Apostle wrote to Timothy and Titus.  Doctrine is life, eternal life.   If the bishops and pastors had not convened and took a stand against false teaching, we would be lost but the Lord will not let us be lost, but found, and so we praise Him for His faithful Church.  Let us  pray:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed:

God the Father:

I Believe
Rom. 10:9Jas 2:19John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4Is. 44:6

The Father
Is. 63:162 Pet 1:17Matt. 6:9

Almighty,
Gen. 17:1Ps. 91:1Rev. 4:8

Maker
Job 4:1735:10Is. 17:754:5

of heaven
Gen 1:18

and earth
Ps. 104:5Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12Amos 4:13Rev. 3:5Col. 1:16

God the Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:3611:17Rom. 1:75:11 Cor 1:26:112 Cor. 1:28:9
Gal. 1:36:14Eph. 1:23:11Phil. 1:23:20Col. 1:32:61 Thes. 1:15:9,
2 Thes. 1:12:141 Tim. 6:3142 Tim. 1:2Philemon 1:325Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:12:11 Pet. 1:33:152 Pet. 1:814Jude 1721Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5
Before all worlds,
John 1:1Col. 1:171 John 1:1

begotten,
John 1:1Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2John 1:1817:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:3014:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19John 19:18Rom. 5:682 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:82 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2261 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:461 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:6328:11 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:62 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10Luke 24:25-271 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1Matt. 26:64Acts 7:56Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:31 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:2724:3025:3126:64Mark. 8:38Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:421 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:362 Tim. 4:118

will have no end.
Luke 1:33Rev. 11:15Ps. 145:13

God the Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63Rom. 7:68:22 Cor. 3:6
who proceeds from the father
John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26Rom. 8:9Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:241 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-112 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-1712:12-13

Holy
Eph. 3:16-175:271 Pet. 2:9

Catholic
1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20Rev. 21:14

Church,
Acts 20:28Eph. 1:22-23Col. 1:24Heb. 12:231 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5Rom. 6:3Eph. 4:5
For the remission of sins,
Acts 2:381 Pet. 3:21Tit. 3:5
And I look for the resurrection of the dead
1 Thes. 4:161 Cor. 15:12-131652

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57Rev. 22:5

Amen.
Ps. 41:132 Cor. 1:20

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St. Barnabas | WITHOUT GRACE THERE IS NO HOPE, BUT WITH IT THERE IS NO SHORTAGE. | image tagged in saints | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well­-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings: Isaiah 42: 5-12  Psalm 112  Acts 11: 19-30; 13: 1-3  St. Mark 6: 7-13

Bio:

“St. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus who sold some land and gave the proceeds to the early Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37). St. Paul informs us that hewas a cousin of John Mark (Colossians 4:10). Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem Church to oversee the young Church in Antioch (Acts 11:22). While there, he went to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch to help him (Acts 11:25-26). It was this Church in Antioch that commissioned and sent Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-3). When it was time for the second missionary journey, however, Barnabas and Paul disagreed about taking along John Mark. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus; Paul took Silas and headed north through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-41). Nothing more is known of the activities of Barnabas, except that he was apparently known to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:6). Tradition relates that Barnabas died a martyr’s death in Cyprus by being stoned.

“Barnabas was a Jew, a Levite born in Cyprus, one of the first disciples of the apostles, and Paul’s traveling companion until the sixteenth year after the resurrection of Christ. He is mentioned in [Acts] 4, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 1 Corinthians 9, Galatians 2. Part of the sermons of Barnabas is recited by Clement [of Alexandria] in his Stromateis:

“Before we believed in God, the dwelling of our heart was corruptible and fragile; truly it was a temple made by hands, when it was full of idolatry, and was a house of demons. But behold! It has been built gloriously into the temple of the Lord. How? By receiving the remission of sins and by hoping in the name of Christ, let us become new and re-created,because God truly dwells in us. How? When these dwell in us: the Word of His faith, the calling of His promise, the wisdom of  justification, and the mandates of doctrine.”

“Barnabas is the same as “Son of consolation” (Acts 4), from bar, “son,” and nafesh, “recreate, revive, console,” and so on. Eusebius (bk. 1, ch. 14) writes that he was one of the seventy disciples.—David Chytraeus (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection: “Son of Encouragement”

In Acts 4, where we first meet Barnabas, he may have been encouraged by Peter’s preaching and his bravery and the fact that the scribes and Pharisees noted about Peter and John that,  “…they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.” And,

“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

This was probably quite encouraging to the early Church.  Later, Barnabas and St. Paul had a “sharp disagreement” over their missionary plans and especially who would accompany  them in the Lord’s work, see Acts 15:38-40. Yet later, it seems these brothers in Christ reconciled, see Colossians 4:10.    This too would have been encouraging.

Hebrews 3: 13, we are encouraged to be encouraging, to be Barnabas: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

The Greek word for “encourage” is parakaleite.  It is also translated as comfort, help and exhort.  The Lord uses this Word to describe the Holy Spirit, Paraklētos. Please note the similarities between the two Greek words as they are related.

“But when the Helper (Paracletos) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (St. John 15). 

Paraclete means Advocate, Counselor, Comforter and that is what encouragement does in our souls. Our English word encouragement has it’s root a French word, corage, cour, heart.  Encouragement means to hearten someone else.

Encouragement is a chain effect, spreading from person to person, in secular work and culture but especially in the Church.  In the Church, this is uniquely so.  Literally, parakaleo means “called alongside of”, as you are called alongside your family, your co-workers, strangers you meet and the like. The Holy Spirit is alongside of us with the weapons of the Spirit to strengthen one another in Christ Jesus in the glory of God the Father.  Pray that when the time is right, you are a Barnabas for someone else and may  you speak a word and parakaleo  and may it also be the Word!

Hymnody

For Barnabas we praise You, Who kept Your law of love/ And, leaving earthly treasures, Sought riches from above./ O Christ, our Lord and Savior, Let gifts of grace descend,/ That Your true consolation May through the world extend.

—By All Your Saints in Warfare  (LSB 518:17)

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The Age of Pelagius

The Age of Pelagius: An ancient heresy continues to affect our culture in surprising ways by Joshua Hawley| JUNE 4, 2019

Joshua Hawley is the United States senator from Missouri. This article was adapted from a commencement address given at The King’s College in New York City on Saturday, May 11.

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Vexillology is the study of flags. What color on the flags above stand out?  

This is the Altar at Concordia Lutheran Mission for Pentecost.  In the Church Year, the color is red for Pentecost, symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire that rested on the ApostlesWe put up the flags as a reminder that beginning at Pentecost, and to this day, 2,000 years later that the nations hear the Word of God in their own language (Acts 2:  6 and 11). The Lord is the Lord of all nations.

Red is also the color for the Altar (paraments)  and Pastor (vestments) for the feast days of martyrs.  Red signifies blood.  In the flags of nations, shedding of blood can mean valor and strength.  Valor and strength risking one’s life in defense of a nation: remember D-Day. Red also signifies the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s fire to burn away the dross of sin (the Law) and lightened us with warmth of the light of the world, Jesus Christ, and for the valor and strength of the martyrs who confessed Christ with their blood.

The blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit is for you!  Jesus died for the life of the world. The many flags of the world with the color of red can be a salutary reminder that God so loved the world, He gave His only-begotten Son.  His blood covers the earth. In an intimate connection, red can remind us of the Holy Spirit:  The Holy Spirit who is God before time and in the beginning,  “…was hovering over the face of the waters.”  (Genesis 1). The Holy Spirit who descended on the 120 Galileans gathered in Jerusalem and then gave the gift of language to speak the Gospel for all the nations gathered there for Pentecost (Acts 2: 6-11).  The Holy Spirit, as the Son taught concerning the Spirit, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16: 14). 

The Holy Spirit’s book is the Bible and the core curriculum is Christ for us and for our salvation.  Many translations of the Bible have the words of Christ in the color of red. The Lord sends out the Apostles as witnesses (John 16:27), with the Spirit to forgive and retain sin (John 20: 21-23).  He sent them baptizing and teaching  “all nations”  (Matthew 28: 19-20).  As we are baptized in the Name of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit.  This is for all nations as even the secular flags of the world give mute witness to the Lord of all nations shedding His blood for the life of the world and sending the Holy Spirit in His Church to preach the Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit witnesses to the Son in His blood of the New Testament beginning in Baptismal waters, as John sums it up for us:

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.  (1 John 3)

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20)

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From the Concordia Commentary Commentary by Gregory J. Lockwood (Concordia Publishing House): “This commentary’s view is that the tongues-speaking in 1 Corinthians is the same phenomenon as in Acts 2, namely, the miraculous proclamation of the Gospel in human foreign languages.”  “On Pentecost Day the out poured Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in other tongues (Acts 2:4) …The Spirit’s gift on that occasion was the ability to proclaim the Gospel in known human languages.  The speaker may have had no natural facility in the language, and perhaps did not understand what he was saying, but the hearers who had a natural competence in the language recognized the language as their native tongue and understood what was said…All humanity spoke a common language when construction began on the tower of Babel.  But to thwart humanity’s arrogant ambitions, God confounded human language, resulting in the great diversity of human languages, which makes universal communication impossible (Gen. 1: 1-9).  But the Gospel reunites humanity—except for those who reject it.”

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