A myHT Fortress

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tribute to Tremendous Treasure

The life of prayer is not always easy to maintain. When we do try to keep the discipline of a structured prayer life, we often find ourselves needing a Bible, a hymnal, a catechism, and perhaps some books by modern Christian laymen or pastors. It can get rather overwhelming.

Here at Saint John’s, the “Parish at Prayer” is one tool to help with this. (This is modeled after Pastor Peter Bender's "Congregation at Prayer.") Yet, even with the catechism portion and a hymn verse printed, it still requires at least a Bible for the readings and psalms.

After much careful study and preparation, committee members of the Lutheran Hymnal Project that brought us Lutheran Service Book have prepared Treasury of Daily Prayer. Nothing like this has ever been published, at least in the English-speaking world of Lutheranism.

In a single volume, just slightly larger than copies of LSB, the entire year of prayer is laid out. All 150 psalms are printed. Every day has a passage from a psalm, an Old Testament and a New Testament reading, a writing from a saint, “church father,” or more recent Lutheran are printed in their entirety. A latter section of the book has the orders of Matins, Vespers, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline (prayer for the close of the day.)

The only thing that will require a second book is if the reader wants to follow the recommended readings from the Concordia (The Lutheran Confessions), which I do. Everything else is contained between the covers of this noteworthy book.

We gather frequently in the Lord’s House to be fed His Holy Word and Blessed Sacrament. Our daily prayer between these Divine Services provides another opportunity to be fed His Word, and then through prayer, to exercise this gift of faith. During this time of daily Prayer, as He speaks His Word, we are reminded of the sure and certain promises from the most recent Divine Service, and at the same time prepared for the next reception of His Gifts!

There currently is an online sample that I have been using in my daily devotions. Concordia Publishing House hopes that this will introduce a number of pastors and laity to this great resource, whetting their appetites and spreading the word. It has done just that for me! The Lord is feeding me with this true Treasure, and I cannot wait to get a full copy! I will be pre-ordering soon, so that I can have the book itself as soon as it is “hot off the presses.”

Concordia Publishing House will release this Treasury later in October. You can pre-order a copy at CPH.org, or 800-325-3040.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who "Inspires" You?

I just saw this "meme" on another blog. It's interesting to stop and ponder.

What five people - past or present - inspire your spiritual life??


OK, we know that our Lord Himself has to be at the top of the list, so He is assumed. Your five simply follow Him. In Lutheran circles, we will also presume "Father Martin of Wittenberg" as well. :-)

So the five would be additional people who (humanly speaking) have greatly impacted your life of faith and love on this earth.

Here are mine, in alphabetical order:

Pastor Peter Bender
a hero with the heart of a catechist, who encourages others to have the same.
Dr. Ron Feuerhahn
the ultimate example of Churchman, gentleman & scholar; one of the most pastoral men I have ever met.
Bishop Walter Obare
this Lutheran Bishop of Kenya has lovingly and fearlessly stood up for what is right in doctrine and practice.
Dr. Rick Stuckwisch
for proving that a gentle, humble spirit, together with steadfast orthodox doctrine and catholic practice can truly advance the cause of authentic Evangelical-Lutheranism!
Pastor William Weedon
for the encouragement of being well-rounded, well-read, and actively engaging in the life of prayer to which we are called.

Now, I tag Pastor Weedon, the good Dr. Stuckwisch, Pastor David Juhl, Jonathan Kohlmeier, and my dear wife Kristi. :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Remembering Elijah

And behold, the word of the LORD came to [Elijah], and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." 11And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." 15And the LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 the sword of HazaelAnd the one who escapes from shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." (1 Kings 19:9b-18 ESV)

Even some of the LORD's greatest prophets felt overwhelmed and depressed, and could not always see God's wisdom in sending or permitting hardships and trials. Just when Elijah felt that he alone was left as a faithful believer in Israel, the LORD assured him of 7,000 others. He was not alone. (And even if he had been the last man, with the LORD no fear or dread needed to exist.)

At times, we all need reassurance that we are not alone in standing up for what is right. We all need to be reminded that Jesus calls us "blessed" when we are persecuted for righteousness' sake. We all need reminded of those 7,000 others whom the Lord has called to faith and gathers around His Holy Gifts.

...Yes. Even pastors need reminders such as these.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

"Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It's a hurricane -- and it's in Indiana!

Yes, on Sunday afternoon, Ike paid a visit to the Ohio River Valley. By this point, he was reduced to category one winds -- 70-80 m.p.h., which lasted from about noon to 3 p.m.

We fared pretty well. The Lord protected us and our house, as both large maples in our front yard fell to their demise. But we joined over 500,000 people in the area who were left without electricity. At first we had no idea how widespread the power outage was, but after several hours of it not returning, we turned on the battery-powered radio. We then realized we would not have electricity before nightfall.

Around 8 p.m. we picked up Kristi's mom and went to Walmart. We got a new tank for our gas grill, so we could cook. (Our stove, along with all appliances in our home, is electric.) We also picked up a few sundry items. "C" and "D" batteries were sold out!

The Lord blessed us with mild weather. It has been in the 70's through the day, and 50's-60's at night. We have spent two evenings by candle light, listening to the radio, and being forced to slow down. All in all, not bad.

Our biggest concern has been our full freezers. Last night (Monday), our trustees came over and ran a generator for a while on the deep freeze. Today they came back for an hour. This afternoon, another member whose power had come back on loaned us hers.

After Tuesday dinner and a round of "Hand and Foot" (cards), we returned home to find that we once again were members of the 21st century! After feeling like "Little House in Lanesville" ala Laura Ingalls Wilder, it feels good.

A little power outage is fine from time to time, reminding us of priorities. But after 48 hours, it is nice tonight to return to conveniences!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Too Late to Apologize?


by OneRepublic

I'm holding on your rope,
Got me ten feet off the ground
I'm hearin’ what you say but I just can't make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down, but wait
You tell me that you're sorry
Didn't think I'd turn around, and say...

It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late

I'd take another chance, take a fall
Take a shot for you
And I need you like a heart needs a beat
But it's nothin new
I loved you with a fire red-
Now it's turning blue, and you say...

"Sorry" like the angel heaven let me think was you
But I'm afraid...

It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late

[Bridge (guitar/piano)]

It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late
It's too late to apologize, yeah
I said it's too late to apologize, yeah-
I'm holdin on your rope, got me ten feet off the ground...

Law: Scenario 1

This summer has provided opportunities to be flipping radio stations and actually hear “Apologize” on more than one frequency! Although the song is no longer in the Top 40, apparently it has struck a chord with teens who hurt from broken relationships. So what is going on here, that so many hear these words and say (whether consciously or not), “Amen!”?

One Republic has crafted lyrics that speak of a man getting hurt again and again. The relationship with his girlfriend has soured. It appears that she has repeatedly hurt him, habitually cheated on him. Yet whenever he called her out, she convinced him she was sorry. And he kept coming back for more.

Not this time. The singer (a fictitious mixture of the band’s members)surprised himself and his girlfriend (a fictitious mixture of former girlfriends) by saying, “It's too late to apologize.” He’s not falling for her weak excuses and “I’m sorry’s”. He’s finally come to his senses and it’s time to simply break it off.

Reaching this decision is not easy. He says he needs her “like a heart needs a beat.” He cared so much for her that he would have died for her. Even though he feels it’s devastating to break up with her, he knows he cannot continue in the relationship as it was. “It’s too late to apologize.”

Engaging in youthful romance and figuring out if you have mere infatuation or true, biblical love is a difficult task you may be facing. “Breaking up” can also be a very difficult task, yet it does not have to be harsh. Young men and women can come to the realization that they are not a “good match” and move on to other relationships. Breaking up is not a judgment that the other person is a liar, a cheat, or an all-around “bad” person. Two people can simply admit that they do not work well as a couple.

Law: Scenario 2

I'm holding on your rope,
Got me ten feet off the ground
I'm hearin’ what you say but I just can't make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down, but wait
You tell me that you're sorry
Didn't think I'd turn around, and say...

It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late.

In utter despair, the young man has completely given up on this one-sided relationship. He has given, loved, adored, and naively returned to his girlfriend…while she basically ignored him, cheated on him, and treated him like dirt.

Now he has taken his own life by hanging. She discovers the tragic scene, but he is already dead, and nothing can be undone. It literally is “too late to apologize.”

I have to admit, this disturbing scenario is what first popped into my head as I heard the song, and I keep returning to it. While the band claims that suicide is not encouraged or applauded by “Apologize,” it appears that the devastating emotions leading up to it are explored in its lyrics.

What horrible depths of misery! The temptation from Satan to destroy ourselves can be all too real, especially in broken relationships. Notice it. Avoid it. Such an act cannot make anything better!

Sometimes that misery even prompts feelings of revenge! A youth contemplating suicide may actually think that this action will “really show her!” Satan can twist and convince some people that this is a way to maintain control, causing those left behind to be forever tormented by the death they could not stop, and tortured by guilt from their “responsibility” over the “victim’s” suicide.


But God doesn’t leave you hanging “ten feet off the ground.” Indeed, He doesn’t leave you hanging – He hung “10 feet off the ground” for you! He willingly displayed His undying love as the Son of Man was lifted up, suffering and dying on His cross for you. When other relationships crumble, He is your Rock. When others “cheat” on you, He is always faithful. When you are broken and wounded, He alone brings healing.

Sometimes the situation is turned around. You know, when you have been the one cheating, ignoring, and hurting others (and therefore also sinning against God!) Still, the Lord assures you in your Baptism: you are His.

The Lord will give you repentance. And He will never say to you that “it’s too late to apologize!” Our loving Father always stands ready to receive our confession and dish out His amazing, abundant forgiveness. After His Law crushes us, He anoints with His oil and pours out His wine, as the Good Samaritan. In other words, with His gracious Sacraments, He soothes and heals as only He can.

Our Savior restores you, even when life seems to tumble down and all your relationships are filled with hurt. He gives you a confession – a true apology – and absolves it countless times. He forgives and removes that sin. You are His beloved, and no one can snatch that from you! He constantly shows His love to you, and will never tell you “it’s too late!”

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Kingdom Keepers

Sometimes it is good to get a little escape from it all with some light, fun fiction. I just (quickly) read a novel by Ridley Pearson that we got Ben last year, entitled "The Kingdom Keepers." It is a fantasy, about five young teens who have been the live models for holographic hosts for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

I won't spoil it. Suffice it to day that the "real" world and dreams collide, and it is up to five kids to save Walt Disney World -- and maybe even the rest of the world! I recommend it for wholesome, fun reading for kids. If as an adult you are still a Disney fanatic, you will enjoy it too.

I discovered today that a sequel just came out last month. It looks promising as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Matter of Priority

Three years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. People faced massive hardships and loss of property. While the media focused mainly on New Orleans, a sizeable region of our nation was hurting. Chaos and violence arose in various flooded and damaged neighborhoods. While our government was “getting its ducks in a row” to respond, many said it was too little, too late. It appeared to many news interviewees that the President and other officials did not have their priorities straight.

This week the Lord who stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee permitted Hurricane Gustav to blow in from the Gulf. It fell short of the predicted strength, and damaged far less than expected. Yet the loss is still quite real, and the hurt still cries for healing.

In apparent response to the criticisms from 2005, President Bush did not speak in person to his party’s convention this week. He remained in Washington, following surveying the hit region and meeting with disaster response coordinators. Even though his words and actions were for the good of all when Katrina hit, with Gustav the President has been sure to send a clear message that his priorities are straight.

The Lord demands that our priorities are straight, as well. “You shall have no other gods,” He commands. This statement begins His Ten Commandments, with the others flowing from it. If we truly could keep this mandate, we would be able to keep all of His Law. All would be well, as we earned God’s favor, keeping Him as our Top Priority.

How well do we do? Not well at all. In fact, we are miserable at having no other gods. The Lord is NOT our top priority, no matter how hard we try. For several millennia, since the serpent seduced Eve and her husband, the Lord has not been the top priority – we make ourselves our top priorities! And as Saint James reminds us, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (James 2:10) With our failure of priorities, we have failed completely.

Yet the Lord reminds you today: your priorities do not save you! In fact, He tells you that you are His priority! Our loving Savior displays the ultimate in love and mercy as He gives everything for you, suffering and dying in your place. You are His priority as He places His name upon you in Holy Baptism, and frees you in Holy Absolution. You are His priority as He places salvation in your ears with His preaching and in your mouth with His Holy Supper.

Yes, you are Jesus’ priority, as he brings you forgiveness, life, and salvation. The storms of this life will come and go. And the love and mercy we are gifted to show others during these hard times are a blessing. Thanks be to God; He does this all for you!