30 September 2020

Septembers Count for Workouts

A month with a couple injuries, so had to change things up slightly. Still totals: 114 pullups (had to stop those in second week); 468 kettle bell swings; 450 rows (replacing pullups); 4,576 pushups; 4 sprint sessions inside four longer runs.

29 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

After commemorating the works of God in her and in all men, Mary returns to the beginning and to the chief thing. She concludes the Magnificat by mentioning the very greatest of all God’s works—the Incarnation of the Son of God.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:349, 350.

But the good angels lead a life which is Supernatural in another sense as well. That is to say, they have, of their own free will, offered back to God in love the ‘natures’ He gave them at their creation. All creatures of course live from God in the sense that He made them and at every moment maintains them in existence. But there is a further and higher kind of ‘life from God’ which can be given only to a creature who voluntarily surrenders himself to it. This life the good angels have and the bad angels have not.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 245. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us keep the feast then continually, and do no evil thing; for this is a feast: and let our spiritual things be made intense, while our earthly things give place: and let us rest a spiritual rest, refraining our hands from covetousness; withdrawing our body from our superfluous and unprofitable toils, from such as the people of the Hebrews did of old endure in Egypt. For there is no difference between us who are gathering gold, and those that were bound in the mire, working at those bricks, and gathering stubble, and being beaten.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 39 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

Here you see that Baptism, both in its power and meaning, includes also the third Sacrament, which has been called repentance. It really nothing other than Baptism. What else is repentance but a serious attack on the old man, that his lusts be restrained, and an entering into a new life? Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism.—LC IV:74, 75.

28 September 2020

St. Michael’s and All Angels

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, one of the days listed in LSB as principal feasts of Christ. We’ll celebrate Divine Service at 8:20 tomorrow with the school children and whoever else shows up. Here is a post I put up for the occasion over at Gottesdienst: St. Michael’s Prayer

Luther and Lewis

How could one be more strongly and comfortably moved to willing endurance of hunger and poverty than by these fine words of the Mother of God—that God will fill all the hungry with good things? Whoever is not moved by these words and such glory and praise of poverty is certainly without faith and truth, a genuine heathen.—Martin Luther, Magnificat AE 21:349.

At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mine that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ... And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 244, 245.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Evangelical faith lived in Christ transcends the Law.—St. Hilary of Poitiers on Matt 12:1-4

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

What is the old man? It is what is born in human beings from Adam: anger, hate, evil, unchastity, stinginess, laziness, arrogance—yes, unbelief. The old man is infected with all vices and has by nature nothing good in him. Now, when we have come into Christ’s kingdom these things must daily decrease. The longer we live the more we become gentle, patient, meek, and ever turn away from unbelief, greed, hatred, envy, and arrogance. This is Baptism’s true use among Christians.—LC IV:66-68

27 September 2020

These two!

Cousins born 2 days apart: Lydia, nearly a head taller, was born Oct. 30; Annabelle was born two days prior on Lydia’s original due date, the Festival of Sts. Simon and Jude. 

26 September 2020

They may be a bit goofy (happens when they all are together!)

But these guys are the joy of my heart: our nine grandchildren gathered in St. Paul’s, Dieterich IL. What a wonderful welcome the parish has already given the Herberts! Moving in was a snap, and the parsonage was almost like it was designed just for their large family. Thanks be to God! Installation is NEXT Sunday.

25 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

Observe, however, that Mary does not say He breaks the seats, but He casts the mighty from their seats. Nor does she say that He leaves those of low degree in their low degree, but exalts them. For while the world stands, authority, rule, power, and seats must remain. But God will not long permit men to abuse them and turn them against Him, inflict injustice and violence on the godly, and enjoy it, boast of them, and fail to use them in the fear of God, to His praise and in defense of righteousness.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:344.

The proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator—to enact intellectually, volitionally, and emotionally, that relationship which is given in the mere fact of its being a creature. When it does so, it is good and happy. Lest we should think this a hardship, this kind of good begins on a level far above the creatures, for God Himself, as Son, from all eternity renders back to God the Father by filial obedience the being which the Father by paternal love generates in the Son. This is the pattern which man was made to imitate.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 241. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Even before the things to come, He gives you here your recompense, and bestows the prize already, making the saying acceptable, both hereby, and by setting Himself forward as an example. For, Of what are you afraid? says He, lest you should be a loser by your low estate? Look to me, and to all that is mine; learn of me, and then shall you know distinctly how great your blessing. Do you see how in all ways He is leading them to humility?—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 38 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

These two parts, (a) to be sunk under the water and (b) drawn out again, signify Baptism’s power and work. It is nothing other than putting to death the old Adam and effecting the new man’s resurrection after that. Both of these must take place in us all our lives.—LC IV:65

From today’s BOC Reading from Treasury:

There can be no true conversion or contrition where mortifying the flesh and good fruits do not follow. True terrors and sorrows of the soul do not permit the indulgence of the body in lusts, and true faith is not ungrateful to God or contemptuous of his commandments. In a word, there is no penitence inwardly which does not produce outwardly the punishing of the flesh. (Ap. XII:131)

We believe that God’s glory and command require penitence to produce good fruits, and that good fruits like true fasting, prayer, and charity have his command. (Ap. XII:139)

24 September 2020

LW Online Article

On the Jesus Prayer right here by yours truly. 

Luther and Lewis

With what mastery Mary here hits the hypocrites! She looks not at their hands or in their eyes, but in their hearts when she says, “the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” She refers in particular to the enemies of divine truth.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:342.

Thus the organs, no longer governed by man’s will, fell under the control of ordinary biochemical laws and suffered whatever the inter-workings of those laws might bring about in the way of pain, senility, and death.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 241.

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is not for nothing that Jesus mentions Sodom along with the others. He does this to heighten the charge against these cities. This stood as proof of their very great recalcitrance. For they were found to be as bad not only as other cities that currently existed, but also as bad as any that ever existed!—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 37 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

So we do likewise in infant Baptism. We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith. But we do not baptize it for that reason, but solely because of God’s command. Why? Because we know God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all people, may err and deceive. But God’s Word cannot err.—LC IV:57

23 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

For where man’s strength ends, God’s strength begins, provided faith is present and waits on Him. And when the oppression comes to an end, it becomes manifest what great strength was hidden beneath weakness. Even so, Christ was powerless on the cross, and yet there He performed His mightiest work and conquered sin, death, world, hell, devil, and all evil. Thus all the martyrs were strong and overcame. Thus, too, all who suffer and are oppressed overcome. Therefore it is said in Joel 3:10: “Let the weak say, ‘I am strong’” —yet in faith and without feeling it until it is accomplished.—Martin Luther, Magnificat AE 21:340

[On the fall] Up to that moment the human spirit had been in full control of the human organism. It doubtless expected that it would retain this control when it ceased to obey God. But its authority over the organism was a delegated authority which it lost when it ceased to be God’s delegate. Having cut itself off, as far as it could, from the source of its being, it had cut itself off from the source of power.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 240.

Patristic Quote of the Day

John is greater than the other prophets for this reason: the other prophets predicted to John that someone was to come, but John pointed out with his finger that he has indeed come, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”—St. Jerome, Commentary on St. Matthew 

Catechesis: Holy Baptism (And Eucharist!)

I come here in my faith and in that of others. Yet I cannot rest in this, that I believe, and that many people pray for me. But in this I rest, that Baptism is Your Word and command. It is just like when I go to the Sacrament trusting not in my faith, but in Christ’s Word. Whether I am strong or weak, I commit that to God. But I know this, that He asks me to go, to eat and to drink, and so on, and He gives me His body and blood. That will not deceive me or prove false to me.—LC IV:56

22 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

This, then, is the first work of God—that He is merciful to all who are ready to do without their own opinion, right, wisdom, and all spiritual goods, and willing to be poor in spirit. These are the ones who truly fear God, who count themselves not worthy of anything, be it ever so small, and are glad to be naked and bare before God and man; who ascribe whatever they have to His pure grace, bestowed on the unworthy.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:339

They [our first parents] wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own’. But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner of the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 239.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Nevertheless John, “while he was preaching the baptism of repentance,” offered himself as a model for those who were obliged to lament, whereas the Lord “who was preaching the kingdom of heaven” similarly displayed radiant freedom in himself. In this way Jesus outlined for the faithful indescribable joy and untroubled life. The sweetness of the kingdom of heaven is like the flute. The pain of Gehenna is like a dirge.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Fragments 142,3

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

Now this point is perhaps somewhat difficult. But it rests entirely on what I have said, that Baptism is nothing other than water and God’s Word in and with each other. That is, when the Word is added to the water, Baptism, is valid, even though faith is lacking. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it.—LC IV:53

21 September 2020

Happy birthday, Oliver!

My little stinkumpotomus, Oliver James Weedon, turns 3 today. He’s too smart for his own good, and a very sweet and kind little boy, particularly when he’s not getting into mischief. He’s scared of nothing, unfortunately, and has successfully installed the buttons on his brother that he delights to push just to hear Henry yell. Lydia spoils him rotten.

Blessed Festival of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist!

Cindi’s up in Wisconsin, helping Lauren do some final cleaning before the move and to give an assist with the transport of their indoor forest (all my kids have indoor forests!); so I’m baching it till Wednesday evening. Routine was the same though: up for coffee and praying Treasury; then the Morning Office; Meditation; Walk; Workout; Blogging and Book of Concord reading. But as today was the Festival of St. Matthew, the sun was shining and the weather gorgeous, I pulled out the bike and rode up to the Mass that way. I was a few minutes late, though. Need to better gauge the time. I heard the bell sound when I was still quarter mile away. That’s okay. I just started praying the liturgy in my head and I was about right too. When I slid in next to Lydia, Henry, and Sammy we were moving toward the end of the Gloria in Excelsis. Pastor Gleason was celebrant and preacher today, an excellent homily on “follow Me.” I noticed another bike parked at St. Paul’s; great minds and all that! I think it was my next door neighbor, Pr. Schnare, who  also was enticed to enjoy the beautiful weather and a bike ride up to Church this morning. Now it’s time for a second pot of coffee and to get cracking on podcast writing, as I continue to plough through the Gospel whose Evangelist we give Christ our great thanks for on this day. 

Luther and Lewis

When men accord us praise and honor, we ought to profit by the example of the Mother of God and at all times arm ourselves with this verse to make the proper reply and to use such honor and praise correctly. We should open say, or at least think in our heart, “O Lord God, Thine is this work that is being praised and celebrated. Thine be also the name. Not that I have done it, but Thou, who art able to do all things, and holy is Thy name.”—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:330.

And indeed the only way in which I can make real to myself what theology teaches about the heinousness of sin is to remember that every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us—an energy which, if not thus distorted, would have blossomed into one of those holy acts where of ‘God did it’ and ‘I did it’ are both true descriptions.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 239.

Patristic Quote of the Day

John asks this (“Are You He who is to come?”) not because he is ignorant, but to guide others who are ignorant and to say to them, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.—St. Jerome, Commentary on St. Matthew.

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

Here in Baptism there is freely brought to everyone’s door such a treasure and medicine that it utterly destroys death and preserves all people alive. We must think this way about Baptism and make it profitable for ourselves. So when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say, “Nevertheless, I am baptized. And if I am baptized, it is pormised to me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.”—LC IV:43, 44

20 September 2020

Pic I took on a walk today...


Although still technically summer, it’s feeling a lot like autumn. 


Today, being The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, we sang “What God ordains is always good.” I love how this hymn pairs with the comforting words of our Lord from Matthew 6 about not worrying about the morrow. But I confess that I am not quite sure why the stronger German opening doesn’t make the cut. Was Gott tut das ist wohl getan is the refrain with which each stanza kicks off. We could easily render it: What God does is well done indeed. “Ordains” seems to remove Him a step from the action. And the German makes it clear, He is above all the doer. Not merely the One who ordains what is done. I was a rebel and sang the opening in German for each stanza today, but hopefully not loudly enough to disturb anyone else’s singing.

19 September 2020

Saturday morning...

...we were up at our usual 5:30, and shortly thereafter enjoying our first coffee. Treasury and private Bible reading and our walk. Cindi cut my hair and we both grabbed showers. She and the St. Paul bell choir played at the cemetery for the funeral for our dear, dear Evelyn Schumacher. Still hard to process that a woman so utterly alive and active is gone. She was 95 and lived her life to the fullest, still climbing the steps to the balcony to play bells without showing her age at all. I’m sure pastor’s homily was comforting, but from where I was standing I could only catch the odd phrase now and again (traffic from the highway and my own hardness of hearing). We came home and had a bit more coffee and then went out to do our sprints in the beautiful sunshine and cool temps. The weather today is as sunshiny as Evie’s personality; I’ll take it as a gift from God in honor of this beloved child of His. 

Yard sale find!

Cindi for the win! We nabbed these two red armchairs for a mere $60 yesterday. They’re both in great shape. 

18 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

Oh, how simple and pure a heart was hers, how strange a soul was this! What great things are hidden here under this lowly exterior! How many came in contact with her, talked and ate and drank with her, who perhaps despised her and counter her but a common, poor, and simple village maiden, and who, had they known, would have fled from her in terror.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:329.

The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 236. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

In this way, righteousness is attained through faith, taking on mercy as its duty. This happens when someone receives a righteous person and becomes a prophet himself by reason of his own reverence. He will receive the honor due to a righteous person and a prophet.—St. Hilary of Poitiers, On Matthew 10 

Catechesis: Baptism

We have, therefore, no greater jewel in body and soul. For by Baptism we are made holy and are saved. No other kind of life, no work upon earth, can do this.—LC IV:46

17 September 2020

Well, let’s hope we’ve improved with age...

...a friend sent these pics to Cindi from our 8th grade year. ACK.

Luther and Lewis

This, then, is the meaning of these words of the Mother of God: “In all those great and good things there is nothing of mine, but He who alone does all things, and whose power works in all, has done such great things for me.”—Martin Luther, Magnificat AE 21:328

The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting your first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 235.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The metaphor of whispering in the ear in a dark place, in this present quietness, is contrasted with what is to come. For they were soon to be commissioned to speak not to one or two or three cities, but to the whole world. They would soon be traversing land and sea, amid inhabited counties and across deserts, addressing both princes and tribes, philosophers and orators, telling it like it is with an open face with all boldness of speech.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 34, St. Matthew

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

Therefore, every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to do all his life. For he has always enough to do by believing firmly what Baptism promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with His gifts.—LC IV:41

16 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

It is also necessary to keep within bounds and not make too much of calling her “Queen of Heaven,” which is a true-enough name and yet does not make her a goddess who could grant gifts or render aid, as some suppose when they pray and flee to her rather than to God. She gives nothing, God gives all, as we will see in the words that follow.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:327, 328.

The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight, compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on earth is mere milk and water.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 235.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Again, he is preparing them for this new sort of combat. They are to suffer wrong and willingly permit others to inflict punishment upon them. This is meant to teach them that the victory is in suffering evil for the sake of good.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 33, St. Matthew

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

So you see plainly that there is no work done here by us, but a treasure, which God gives us and faith grasps.—LC IV:37

15 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

The “great things” are nothing less than that she became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed on her as pass man’s understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among which she has no equal.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:326

We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 234.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Moses and the prophets spoke of temporal promises of an earthly land. The apostles proclaimed the kingdom of heaven and all that this implies.—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 32 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Baptism

But if the “new spirits” say, as they are accustomed, “Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no use for salvation. What then becomes of faith?” Answer, “Yes, our works, indeed, do nothing for salvation. Baptism, however, is not our work but God’s.—LC IV:35

14 September 2020

The Festival of the Holy Cross

What unspeakable joy this morning to attend the Divine Service for the Festival of the Holy Cross with the school children, including these two (two of my grandchildren, Lydia and Henry, and next to them, my godson, Sammy). We sang Fortunatus’s “Sing My Tongue”, Pastor Gleason serving as celebrant and Pastor Ball as Deacon. Pastor Gleason invited all us boys and girls to ponder why it is the cross and not the manger that it the symbol of our faith, and led us to the joy of Christ’s coming into the flesh in order to be our sacrifice, to give His life over on the cross that we might have that life for our own. 

Luther and Lewis

But she should be, and herself gladly would be, the foremost example of the grace of God, to incite all the world to trust in this grace and to love and praise it, so that through her the hearts of all men should be filled with such knowledge of God that they might confidently say: “O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but gracious regard us also, according to your example.”—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:323.

The freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than Himself produces His acts and no external obstacle impedes them—that His own goodness is the root from which they all grow and His own omnipotence the air in which they all flower.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 233.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if in the sacrifice which Christ offered none is to be followed but Christ, assuredly it behooves us to obey and do that which Christ did, and what He commanded to be done, since He Himself says in the Gospel, “If you do whatsoever I command you, henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.” John 15:14-15 And that Christ alone ought to be heard, the Father also testifies from heaven, saying, “This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.” Matthew 17:5 Wherefore, if Christ alone must be heard, we ought not to give heed to what another before us may have I thought was to be done, but what Christ, who is before all, first did. Neither is it becoming to follow the practice of man, but the truth of God.—Cyprian, Epistle 60 This is in opposition to those who attempted to practice the Eucharist with the use only of water and without wine.

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. Since these blessings are presented here and promised through the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart.—LC IV:33

11 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

Whoever therefore would show her [the Blessed Virgin Mother] the proper honor must not regard her alone and by herself, but set her in the presence of God and far beneath Him, must there strip her of all honor, and regard her low estate, as she says; he should then marvel at the exceedingly abundant grace of God, who regards, embraces, and blesses so poor and despised a mortal. Thus regarding her, you will be moved to love and praise God for His grace, and drawn to look for all good things to Him, who does not reject but graciously regards poor and despised and lowly mortals. Thus your heart will be strengthened in faith and love and hope. What do you suppose would please her more than to have you come to God through her this way, and learn from her to put your hope and trust in Him, notwithstanding your despised and lowly estate, in life as well as in death. She does not want you to come to her, but through her to God.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:322,3.

Being Christians, we learn from the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity that something analogous to ‘society’ exists within the Divine being from all eternity—that God is Love, not merely in the sense of being the Platonic form of love, but because, within Him, the concrete reciprocities of love exist before all worlds and are thence derived to the creatures.—Business of Heaven, p. 231.

Patristic Quote of the Day

What then was His intention in bringing [the menstruous woman] forward? First, Jesus puts an end to her fear. He does not want her to remain trapped in dread. He gives no cause for her conscience to be harmed, as if she had stolen the gift. Second, he corrects the assumption that she had no right to be seen. Third, he makes her faith an exhibit to all. He encourages others to emulate her faith. Fourth, his subduing the fountains of her hemorrhage was another sign of his knowledge of all things. And finally, do you remember the ruler of the synagogue? He was at the point of despair, of utter ruin. Jesus is indirectly admonishing him by what he says to the woman.—St. John Chrys. Hom. 31 St. Matthew 

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

In short, what God does and works in us He intends to work through such outward ordinances. Therefore, wherever He speaks—indeed, no matter what direction or by whatever means He speaks—faith must look there. It must hold to that object. —LC IV:30, 31

Therefore, it makes sense that whoever rejects Baptism rejects God’s Word, faith, and Christ, who directs us to Baptism and binds us to Baptism.—LC IV:31

10 September 2020

Another Biblical aha today

How I missed this one is a mystery to me too. Today’s OT reading from Treasury / PrayNow / LSB included from 2 Kings 10:23, and I never put it together with Jeremiah 35:6ff. 

I had never noticed (that I remember)

Till this morning, how beautifully Psalm 51 ANSWERS to Psalm 50. Almost like their arrangement in the Psalter is no accident, eh?

Luther and Lewis

How ought one to address her? Keep these words in mind, and they will teach you to say: “O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, you were nothing and all despised; yet God in His grace regarded you and worked such great things in you. You were worthy of none of them, but the rich and abundant grace of God was upon you, far above any merit of yours. Hail to you! Blessed are you from henceforth and forever, in finding such a God.”—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:322

Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 230. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

But why did Matthew himself indicate precisely that he was “sitting at the tax office”? To point to the power of the One who called him, underscoring that he was being actively drawn away from the midst of the very evils in which he was presently engaged and that he had not already abandoned his wicked business as a tax gatherer.—St. Jn. Chrys. Hom 30 St. Matthew


But these blind guides are unwilling to see this: faith must have something that it believes, that is, of which it takes hold and upon which it stands and rests. So faith clings to the water and believes that in Baptism there is pure salvation and life.—LC IV:29

09 September 2020

Patristic Quote of the Day

For in this sense must be understood that which the apostle whom we have so often quoted says elsewhere: Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Ephesians 5:25 It must, I say, be understood as implying, that by this laver of regeneration and word of sanctification all the evils of regenerate men of whatever kind are cleansed and healed — not the sins only which are all now remitted in baptism, but those also which after baptism are committed by human ignorance and frailty; not, indeed, that baptism is to be repeated as often as sin is repeated, but that by its one only ministration it comes to pass that pardon is secured to the faithful of all their sins both before and after their regeneration.—St. Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book 1, Chapter 38.

08 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

Mary confesses that the foremost work God did for her was that He regarded her, which is indeed the greatest of His works, on which the rest depend and from which they all derive. For where it comes to pass that God turns His face toward one to regard him, there is nothing but grace and salvation, and all gifts and works must follow.—Martin Luther, Magnificat AE 21:321.

All we can know about the act of creation must be derived from what we can gather about the relation of the creatures to their Creator.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 229. 

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

Baptism may certainly be called a divine, blessed, fruit, and gracious water. Such power is given to Baptism by the Word that it is a washing of new birth, as St. Paul also calls it in Titus 3:5. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

One thing is seen, another is to be understood. What you can see on the altar, you also saw last night; but what it was, what it meant, of what great reality it contained the sacrament, you had not yet heard. So what you can see, then, is bread and a cup; that's what even your eyes tell you; but as for what your faith asks to be instructed about, the bread is the body of Christ, the cup the blood of Christ.—St. Augustine, Homily 227 (to the newly baptized)

07 September 2020

And why did I never register

Amos 8:9, 10 before?  Hmm? 

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your sons into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.

Cf. Now the passover, the feast of the Jews was at hand... Which also bewailed and lamented Him... Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour... Truly this man was the Son of God... And beheld  the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 

AND so thankful to God

That this crew will be within easy reach in less than a month!!! I dare you to tell me they’re not adorable. That’s from bottom to top: Griffin, Flynn, Annabelle, Felicity, Sawyer, and Evangeline. 

Luther and Lewis

Tell me, was hers not a wondrous soul? She finds herself the Mother of God, exalted above all mortals, and still remains so simple and so calm that she does not think of any poor serving maid as beneath her... But Mary’s heart remains the same at all times; she lets God have His will with her and draws from it all only a good comfort and joy; and trust in God. This we too should do; that would be to sing a right Magnificat.—Martin Luther, Magnificat AE 21:309, 310.

Doctrines are not God. They are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who were really in touch with God—experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and confusing.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 227, 228.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His Word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings. For His Word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That has never failed, but this in most things goes wrong. Since then the Word says, ‘This is my body,’ let us both be persuaded and believe and look at with the eyes of the mind.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 82 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Holy Baptism

The power, work, profit, fruit and purpose of Baptism is this—to save... We know that to be saved is nothing other than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil. It means to enter Christ’s kingdom, and to live with Him forever.—LC IV:24, 25.

On the Consecration

So in the action of the Eucharist the minister acts as an ambassador in the place of Christ, who is Himself there present, and through the minister pronounces these words: “This is My body; this do,” etc., and for this reason His Word is efficacious. Therefore it is not a man, the minister, who by his consecration and blessing makes bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, but Christ Himself, by means of His Word, is present in this action, and by means of the Words of His institution, which is spoken through the mouth of the minister, He brings it about that the bread is His body and the cup His blood.—Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, II:229

05 September 2020

Thankful Reflections

Goodness! It was just over a year ago I finished up my work for the Synod, almost. I did have a speaking gig at the Concordia Seminary Symposium that last year to do on habits of prayer and then I also had the interviews with Matt Whitman for the Ten Minute Bible Hour and Crucial Productions. But the month was mostly a nice time of transition. I got used to being home during the day again. 

Over the years at Synod what I had at first enjoyed—the long drive (and I still do enjoy a road trip)—had faded into a minor irritant, and particularly in the bad weather times. My kids will tell you: I’m paranoid about the white stuff on the road. So it was pure luxury, to wake up in the morning and have to go absolutely nowhere. No bridge or highway construction to have to think about at all!

When October kicked in I began writing in earnest for my new employer: Lutheran Public Radio. At first three times a week, but then finally twice a week, I’d head into the studio by 10 to record some podcasts and any Issues shows that were needed. Because Collinsville is this side of the river, there are simply no traffic crunches on the way to work, and that’s awesome. 

It took me a bit of time to work out new routines, though. I finally feel like I got my stride with writing the podcasts. I enjoy penning each and every one and then recording them later. At Synod noon hour was my workout time, but that didn’t work anymore. Some days I’d be at the studio through that time. So I needed to figure out where to put workouts where they’d just be an invariable part of the day. Ended up being right after our morning prayers, walk, and 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation (yes, I do that, and I relish it every single day). I get up from meditation and turn on my King James Bible in audible and begin the workouts. Five days of pushups. Tuesday and Thursdays are days for pullups and kettle bell swings too. Saturday is reserved for sprints and more leisurely running. So far, it’s been working like I charm. I settled on this routine during the Covid lock down and it felt fabulous to have something physically challenging to attend to six days a week.

Speaking of the lock-down, Cindi and I have told each other more than once that we (sigh) actually enjoyed being locked up together in our home. I began recording from home (that was a bit dicey due to our internet and always required annoying fixes to old shows before tackling new ones); and we had those weeks of solitude. We missed our church and our friends something awful though, not to mention children and grandchildren. We were happy when things began to crack open again, but it was to us over all not a time of strain or misery. Introverts, you know. 

Sometime in October we managed to knock out our 15 year mortgage. It had just been 7.5 years. It took some months for that to really sink in and anxiety about it to disappear. And with no mortgage we were free to pursue some long desired and long postponed maintenance. We replaced our deck door with a larger door with between the glass blinds. We had the living room, dining room, and kitchen painted. And our favorite upgrade of all: we got rid of the carpet and replaced it with lovely oak hardwood and a few “ruggable rugs.” We have a lot more on our to do list, but we’re done for this year. Time to save up again.

As I noted a few days ago, I’ve adopted this KJV way of praying the Daily Office, and I look forward to that extra time in Scripture each day besides our joint time in the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Still serving at St. Paul’s whenever Pastor needs me to (in this Covid-tide, usually helping on Saturday evening and 8 a.m. service on Sunday). So thankful that Cindi and I can usually take advantage of the Wednesday morning Eucharist at 8:20. Pastor preaches on the Sunday Gospel that day, but he aims it at the school children and I always find it a refreshing homily to ponder. Sometimes “overhearing” allows you to hear in brand new ways. 

In short, if I could have designed my ideal life according to my dreams, well, that is exactly what I now have. I still have to pinch myself somedays and ask: “Is this for real?” And the joy of all joys is having the time to study and teach the Word as the one thing my boss primarily wants me to attend to. How amazing is that? Thank you, Jeff!!! But thank You most of all, kind heavenly Father!

Lewis by himself today!

A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 226.

04 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

That sort of faith is nothing; it is dead; it is like an idea learned from a fairy tale. You must rather, without any wavering or doubt, realize His will toward you and firmly believe that He will do great things also to you, and is willing to do so. Such a faith has life and being; it pervades and changes the whole man; it constrains you to fear if you are mighty and to take comfort if you are of low degree.—Martin Luther, Magnificat AE 21:306

God’s claim is infinite and inexorable. You can refuse it: or you can begin to try and grant it. There is no middle way.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 225

Patristic Quote of the Day

Only God knows what is another’s mind. That Jesus had this knowledge is attested from many evidences. Jesus shows here that he is truly God and equal to the One by whom He is begotten.—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 29 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Baptism, Part I

Let us not doubt that Baptism is divine.—LC IV:6

Furthermore, Baptism is most solemnly and strictly commanded so that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved.—LC IV:6

To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized not by men but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is God’s own work.—LC IV:10

03 September 2020

I guess we are officially

Ready for old man winter. Chimney sweep came today to clean fireplace and flue. I have quite a fine load of firewood (with even a little help from our next door neighbors) that we got late in last year’s season, so quite cured by now. And if the Farmer’s Almanac is right (as it tends to be), this winter we just might need to use that firewood! 

We have two paintings in our home that are original oils. One by dear friend, Barb Brase; one by Cindi’s mom, Joanne DeVries. They both feature lots of blue sky and snow. The one from Barb in particular reminds me of my grandparent’s home and farm. It hangs over my chest of drawers in our bedroom. The painting from Cindi’s mom hangs over Aunt Fanny’s secretary in our living room. 

Every single year, when this time of year rolls around, I’m quite the sucker for those memories. Snow and cold outside, and the warmth of a fire inside warming the house. Yes, beyond shadow of doubt, I look forward each year to the first fire of the season, and the smell of the wood burning on the hearth that brings back such comforting memories from childhood. 

And yes, I am listening to Christmas music at the moment. Deal with it. :)

Luther and Lewis

For to praise the Lord with gladness is not a work of man; it is rather a joyful suffering and the work of God alone. It cannot be taught in words but must be learned in one’s own experience.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:302

I found the famous saying, attributed to Gregory [whose commemoration we celebrate today!], that our use of secular culture was comparable to the action of the Israelites going down to the Philistines to have their knives sharpened. This seems to me a most satisfactory argument as far as it goes, and very relevant to modern conditions. If we are to convert our heathen neighbours, we must understand their culture. We must ‘beat them at their own game.’—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 224.

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is not in the presence of the multitude that he corrects their “little faith.” He calls them apart to correct them. Before the tempest of the waters he stills the tempest of their souls... He instructs them concerning how human fear emerges out of weakness of mind, not out of the actual approach of threatening trials.—St. Jn Chry. Hom 28 on St. Matt.

Catechesis: Lord’s Prayer, Amen

But all depends upon this, that we learn also say “Amen.” This means that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard and that what we pray for shall be done. LC III:119

Therefore, where there is no such faith, there cannot be true prayer either. LC III:120

The reason for this is, they do not respect God’s promise but rely on their own work and worthiness, by which they despise God and accuse Him of lying. LC III:233

02 September 2020

Luther and Lewis

But when all seemed most unlikely—comes Christ, and is born of the despised stump [of Jesse], of the poor and lowly maiden! The rod and flower springs from her whom Sir Annas’ or Caiaphas’ daughter would not have deigned to have for her humblest lady’s maid. Thus God’s work and His eyes are in the depths, but man’s only in the heights.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:302.

That little light seems to compel me to say that there are two kinds of good and bad. The first, such as virtue and vice or love and hatred besides being good or bad in themselves make the possessor good or bad. The second do not. They include such things as physical beauty or ugliness, the possession or lack of a sense of humor, strength or weakness, pleasure or pain.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 223.

Patristic Quote of the Day

So to prevent them from thinking too much of themselves, having sent away the multitude, he kept them near him but permitted them to be tossed with a tempest. By doing so he disciplined them to bear trials patiently. His former miracles were indeed great, but this one contained a unique kind of discipline of exceptional importance.—St. Jn Chry. Hom 28 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: The Seventh Petition

So the entire substance of all our prayer is directed against our chief enemy. LC III:113

But there is also included in this petition whatever evil may happen to us under the devil’s kingdom: poverty, shame, death, and, in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. LC III:115

So God has briefly placed before us all the distress that may ever come upon us, so that we might have no excuse whatever for not praying. LC III:119

01 September 2020

Once a month or so

I recall my dad pulling down this old coffee can where the bills were collected. He’d sit at the kitchen table and carefully sort through them, double check they were accurate, and then write checks to pay them. I haven’t thought about this in many years, but it was a regular part of growing up. And we certainly knew better than to interrupt daddy when he had that can sitting in front of him!

I thought of it today when I was double-checking our checking account on the phone. It hit me: money “appears” in my account on payday and then bills are paid automatically throughout the month. We do check to make sure they’re accurate (well, okay, truth is that CINDI checks to make sure), but its all so effortless. The result is that the hassle of monetary dealings has all but vanished. Money is something that we almost never have to give any effort to anymore: either cashing and depositing paychecks or writing checks. Even when the odd check arrives [how quaint!], we deposit it electronically. Snap the picture of it and off it flies to our account. 

I wonder so often what on earth my mom and dad would make of this crazy world. I think THIS is one area they’d fall in love with. I don’t think my dad enjoyed his monthly session with the coffee can, but he faithfully did it, nonetheless. 

And while I’m on it, another daddy memory. When I graduated from high school he and mom gave me a gift, but I knew he selected it. It was a silver watch, with a blue face. I’ve thought of it several times in the past few weeks as I’ve settled on a strikingly similar face blue face for my Apple Watch. At first I wasn’t sure why it gave me such pleasure. Then I remembered. And smiled. 

Luther and Lewis

Therefore to God alone belongs that sort of seeing that looks into the depths with their need and misery, and is near to all that are in the depths; as Peter says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” And this is the source of men’s love and praise of God.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:300

If all the cultural values, on the way up to Christianity, were dim antepasts and ectypes of the truth, we can recognize them as such still. And since we must rest and play, where can we do it better than here—in the suburbs of Jerusalem? It is lawful to rest our eyes in the moonlight—especially now that we know where it comes from, that it is only sunlight at second hand.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 223.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Jesus entered of his own accord to Peter’s house to offer grace to his disciple. Think of what sort of houses these fishermen must have lived in. He did not hesitate to enter these tiny quarters, thereby  teaching us to trample all pride underfoot.—St. Jn Chry. Hom 27 St. Matthew

Catechesis: Sixth Petition

Temptation...is of three kinds: of the flesh, of the world, and of the devil. LC III:101

This, then, is what “lead us not into temptation” means. It refers to times when God gives us power and strength to resist the temptation. However, the temptation is not taken away or removed. LC III:106

To feel temptation is, therefore, a far different thing from consenting or yielding to it. We must all feel it, although not all in the same way. LC III:107

So there is no other help or comfort except to run here, take hold of the Lord’s Prayer, and speak to God from the heart like this: Dear Father, You have asked me to pray. Don’t let me fall because of temptations. Then you will see that the temptations must stop and finally confess themselves conquered. If you try to help yourself by your own thoughts or counsel, you will only make matters worse. LC III:110, 111