A myHT Fortress

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Lutheran Study Bible Sneak Preview

Pastor Paul McCain has a very exciting post on his blog. It is a sneak preview of The Lutheran Study Bible, due to be available by Reformation Day 2009! He strongly advises to pre-order soon, as this will help CPH to know how much paper to order for this tremendous project.

I can't tell you how exciting this edition of the Scriptures is to me. Check his blog post, and join me in the excitement!

Practice What You Preach

Today, President Obama proclaimed:
"We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

We can only pray that he learns how all-encompassing this statement needs to be!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

True Beauty Is Only Skin-Deep -- Or Is It?

"Are you hot?" asks a certain Facebook application. Magazine covers, TV commercials, and movie producers constantly flash images before our eyes of people who are beautiful by their standards. The unspoken message is that these should be our standards as well.

Throw Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks into the mix as producers, and True Beauty emerges. True Beauty is a television show (Monday nights on ABC) full of "beautiful people" - but with a twist! There is an underlying message: true beauty is not only about physical looks and bodily perfection. True beauty relies on inner beauty: compassion, honesty, trust, and more.

The contestants think that this is a contest about looks and bodily perfection. Yet one by one they are eliminated for failures of "inner beauty." Only when they are eliminated are they shown a video montage of how "ugly" they have been toward others.

At first, this seems like a good message. But think about it for a moment. Is there such a thing as "inner beauty?" After the Fall in the Garden, and the shattering of the image of God? The answer is, "No!"

Jesus says: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual
immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person" (Matthew 15:19-20a ESV.) So much for inner beauty! Human "inner beauty" was dashed to pieces when our first parents rebelled against God. They knew perfect, wondrous, holy beauty, and lost it all.

The lesson is: true beauty actually is external. What?!!! Yes, true beauty is external. However, it is not our own.

As we recently celebrated, our dear Lord was baptized for us. Jesus' Great Reversal took all our sin, sickness, evil, and death and latched on to Him in those waters. Like a sponge in dirty water that miraculously soaked up all the dirt, Jesus took our corruption and placed it on Himself. He who is truly beautiful became ugly as sin for us!

Having paid for that sin in His death, and having published that victory through His resurrection, Jesus now continues the Great Reversal: He gives us His perfection and holiness. "For as many of us as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27 ESV.) In Holy Baptism, our Savior covered you with Himself. You are clothed with Christ! He is the ultimate in perfect clothes and flawless make-up, covering every blemish and flaw. But He
does not engage in a mere "cover-up." He removes that stain of sin. He transforms us as He covers us, so we are no longer ugly to God.

Yes, true beauty is external! But it is not our own. The true beauty of Christ covers us at Baptism! True beauty is experienced in teh Divine Service, as we receive His Holy Gifts. And true beauty will be fully revealed and understood as we dwell in the perfect beauty of His heavenly courts for eternity!

Monday, January 5, 2009

From the Virgin Soil of Eden

Chad Bird, a Ph.D. candidate and extremely gifted hymn-writer has crafted a new hymn on Holy Baptism. This piece weaves together great foreshadowings of this Sacrament into a marvelous tapestry.

One of the few negative comments that I have for LSB is that it did not include enough hymnody from Chad Bird!

You can find this originally posted on Chad's Facebook page.

“From the Virgin Soil of Eden”

A Hymn on Baptism

From the virgin soil of Eden,
In His image, God made man;

From the virgin womb of Mary,

In our flesh, was God made man;
From the
virgin font of water,
I’m remade in that God-Man.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
In Your Name I am baptized;
Like my promised brother, Isaac,
My heart has been circumcised:

Sinful flesh cut off in water,

Abram's sonship realized.

As the waters flooded o'er me,

Angels flew me in the ark,

Through the fleshly door in Jesus,
Which the soldier's spear did mark.

I shall voyage in His Body,

Till in heav'n I disembark.

Hellish Pharaoh sore assailed me,

Whipped my soul unceasingly;

Egypt held me fast in bondage,

Steeped in vile depravity.
Baptized by a Greater Moses,
I passed through His crimson sea.

Born alive but dead in spirit

Leprous was my sinful soul.
Then with Naaman I found healing,
Where the Jordan's waters roll.

By His mighty Word, Elisha,
Healed my body, made me whole.

Cast forth from the fish's belly,

Jonah left the darkness dread,

Pointing to the resurrection,

Of the One from whom he'd fled.

From the belly of the Fountain,

Cast me forth to life from death.