31 July 2021

Home, Sweet Home

My mom was such a home-body. She honestly was happiest at home, and I very much inherited THAT trait. Being a near recluse comes as easily to me as it did to her. But in her home, she always surrounded herself with her humble little treasures. I kept many of them, things that are worth next to nothing to anyone else, I suppose, but that carry precious memories to me of her and of her stories. The longer we have lived in this house, the more we have worked to make it truly our own, and worked on bringing OUT our little treasures (memory joggers). This summer we added the artwork over the mantel, the drapes, the carpet (and a matching runner in the entry). The treasure is not visible in this picture: a lap robe from my dad’s parents (for buggy or sleigh), draped over the banister. As I look around at the little familiar bits, I have a fantasy. It may be silly, but I continually imagine to myself what it would be like to welcome mom and daddy for a visit. Sigh. For now it has to remain a pleasant fancy, but I look forward to the day we’ll be together in that home of which every earthly home is but a teasing taste.

30 July 2021

July Workout Summary

This month brought 4,400 pushups; 528 pull ups; and 528 kettle bell swings (45 lbs.). When I think of my poor mother-in-law, confined at the last to a wheel chair; or my own mom’s life-long struggle with walking due to polio, I never want to take movement and strength for granted. So, thank you, Lord, for the gift of motion and the ability to lift and carry! Thank you, for the awesome feeling when one is done a workout! Thank you for benefits of disciplining the flesh and forcing it to do what it would rather not do, and the little ways that prepares us to do Your will in greater matters! And most of all, thank you for the time this affords to listen to your Word! (Sometime this month started at the beginning again and today I’m somewhere in Deuteronomy 4.) 

Gerhard and Walther

The Holy Spirit permeates Himself into our prayers so that He covers up our ignorance and forgetfulness and asks of God that which is beneficial for us.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:310.

In today’s reading, St. Paul reminds us that true Christians continue to be tempted by all kinds of evil thoughts and desires. However, they have within them a new spirit, a new divine power, a new holy impulse that sets itself unceasingly against the desire to sin.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 613.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Feelings cannot exist in anything but a living soul. These events show that just as Jesus had a human body he had a human soul. We read about the diversity of his feelings in the reports of the Evangelists: Jesus was astonished, was angered, was grieved, was elated, and similar emotive responses without number.—St. Augustine, Against the Apollinarians, 80.

Catechesis: Justification

If faith receives forgiveness of sins because of love, forgiveness of sins will always be uncertain, because we never love as much as we ought to. Indeed, we do not love unless are hearts are firmly convinced that forgiveness of sins has been granted to us.—Ap IV:110.

29 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Our faithful Savior, Christ Jesus, has through His perfect obedience won for us—among other blessings—the hearing of our prayers.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:306.

It is impossible for a person to become a Christian without the Word of God, and it is just as impossible for him to remain in faith without it. For this reason, St. Peter calls Scripture the imperishable seed from which one is born again, and also the pure milk by which newborn children are enabled to grow to a saving knowledge and true faith.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 609.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The souls of some are like an old garment, as old wineskin—not yet renewed by faith. Not yet renovated in the grace of the Spirit, they remain weak and earthly. All their affections are turned toward this life, fluttering after worldly show, loving a glory that is ephemeral. If such a soul should incidentally hear that if he becomes a Christian he would immediately become like a servant, as if he ha a manacle on his foot, he would recoil with indignity and horror from the word as preached.—St. John Chrysostom, Concerning the Statues, Homily 16

Catechesis: Justification

[Augustine] “In a justified person, there is no right work by which he who does that work may live. But justification is received by faith.” Here Augustine clearly says that the Justifier is reconciled by faith and that justification is received by faith.—Ap IV:106.

28 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Not only is God the Lord fatherly-minded toward us, but He also has most assuredly promised in His Word that He wants to hear us when we cry out to Him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:304. 

The Church of God on earth has always been a fighting one. It has always been oppressed and persecuted, both by those in the world and by those in the Church itself who spread false doctrine. These false prophets secure followers and then cause separations in the Church…. If the Church ceases to fight, it will not survive for long.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, pp. 606, 607.

Patristic Quote of the Day

In their ministry of forgiveness of sin, pastors do not exercise some independent power. For not in their own name but in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit do they forgive sins. They ask, the Godhead forgives. The service is enabled by humans, but the gift comes from the Power on high.—St. Ambrose, The Holy Spirit, 3:18

Catechesis: Justification

Romans 5:1 says, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” This means we have consciences that are peaceful and joyful before God.—Ap. IV:91

27 July 2021

And a few thoughts on the gift of humiliation…

…so at our Making the Case Conference, we had several wonderful worship opportunities scheduled, the first of which was Compline after hearing from Dr. Rast and the first part of Dr. George’s presentation. It is a lovely liturgy that I know like the back of my hand. We often prayed it and without any accompaniment at all. There is one tricky part for me, though, where, after the responsory (in F), the preces begin (in G). A single step. Not hard, but it always sounds odd to my ear.   

So I asked for the tone from Dr. Wente, who was preparing to give it to me, but allowing some silence before we moved into prayer, and impatient Weedon jumped the gun and missed. Not by a little. 

So yes, right in the middle of the most beautiful and peaceful prayer office, TRAIN WRECK by yours truly. This was followed by an equally disastrous start to the Nunc Dimittis, that only swerved back into something approximating the right key just before the people came in. 

So here is Synod’s former worship director totally and completely flubbing the liturgy in front of a huge crowd of folks. Well, good. Glory to God for all things, including liturgical flubs! Not that it is good to have a liturgy poorly executed (no, that is distracting), but it is good for the soul to experience a bit of public humiliation.

And I am convinced that the key when this happens—and yes, it has happened to me before; not this particular gaff, but gaffs in other spots—is that I am to remember that I, a poor, miserable sinner, am WORSHIPPING not PERFORMING; and so it’s never about Weedon. And when Weedon’s screw up gets in the way, and draws attention to Weedon, it’s good to get out of the way as fast as you can by simply moving on and in outward demeanor, staying focused upon the Lord. 

When someone thanked me particularly for the worship, and I referenced apologetically the gaff in Compline, his response made my day. “And all the pastors breathed a sigh of relief. Weedon can do that TOO.” Indeed he can. And in spades.

Thank you, Lord, for the moments of humiliation by which You “humble pride of heart to save us.” (Akathist of Thanksgiving). 

Gerhard and Walther

Just as a every priest in the Old Testament was ordained to bring forth gifts and offering, so also all true Christians are ordained to daily bring the spiritual offering of prayer to God the Lord. What kind of priest would he be that did not want to make offerings?—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:299.

Wherever false teachers have arisen, they have always lacked one thing. They have not proclaimed Christ alone, how He was made by God to be our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. But where this article of faith has been preached correctly, all soul-destroying errors have retreated like the fog before the sun. If an individual’s preaching shows people how they can come to Christ, remain with Him, suffer with Him, and die blessed through Him, they are listening to a true prophet.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 605.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For this is truly perfection: never to stop growing toward what is better and never placing any limit on perfection.—St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection. 

Catechesis: Justification

Citing St. Augustine: “We conclude that a person is not justified by the precepts of a good life, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”—Ap IV:87.

26 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Prayer is so highly regarded by God that the entire worship service and all the glory that we are obliged to render to God the Lord sometimes is understood to mean “by prayer.” That’s why prayer is the foremost exercise of worship and a brief summary of all Christian virtue.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:298

Heretics in the church have always appealed to Scripture. Even the prince of darkness, when he wanted to tempt the Son of God, said, “For it is written.”…Therefore, if the Scripture is held out to someone, he should be careful. By testing the offered doctrine against Scripture, he will soon discover whether an individual is to be believed.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 602. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us forget the whole past and, like citizens in a new world, let us reform our lives, and let us consider in our every word and deed the dignity of Him who dwells within us.—St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 4.16

Catechesis: Justification

This is how God wants to become known and worshipped, namely, that we receive blessings from him, and indeed, that we receive them on account of his mercy and not on account of our merits. This is the richest consolation in all afflictions.—Ap IV:60.

25 July 2021

Happy birthday to this sweetie!

Evangeline Grace turns 3 today, not only the Day of St. James the Elder, but also the day Cindi’s grandmother, Nana, was born in 1914. 

Some pics from Making the Case

The conference was a real joy this year (well, it always is); this time, though, it felt like a “reunion” after the year of COVID. My favorites (apart from Hymn Sing!) were Mollie and Mark and then Pr. Wolfmueller on Christian Hope (just awesome!!!). Here’s a handful of pics. If you missed it this year, be sure to be there next year. It will be June 24, 25 at Concordia University Chicago.

23 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

No one among us should regard his prayer as insignificant, for God the Lord Himself does not regard it as insignificant. Even before it leaves our mouth, God the Lord has actually ordered that it be written in His book. Prayer is a spirituale thymiama, a spiritual incense offering.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:294.

The servants of sin do not serve sluggishly and carelessly, but are highly diligent and untiring in their service. Whoever is engaged in sin carries in his heart the desire to perform it day and night.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 597

Patristic Quote of the Day

But just as divine providence is not proved to be a fiction, particularly for those who are convinced of its existence, because its workings and arrangements are beyond the comprehension of human minds, so neither will the divine inspiration of holy Scripture, which extends through its entire body, be supposed to be nonexistent because the weakness of our understanding cannot discover the deep and hidden thoughts in every sentence.—Origen, First Principles 4.1

Catechesis: Justification

Thus, because faith, which freely receives the forgiveness of sins, sets against the wrath of God Christ as the mediator and propitiator, it does not offer up our merits or our love. This faith is the true knowledge of Christ.—Ap IV:46

22 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

When in the Second Commandment God the Lord forbids that we should use His name in vain, He desires that through petition, prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving we should use and hallow His name properly.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:292.

The impenitent person who is not anxious about his sins is more than happy to join the chorus that proclaims, “We are all sinners; we are all poor, weak men; each one has his faults.” When such a person joins this song, he thinks he has enough knowledge of his sins. The anguish over sin that dwells in the heart of a penitent person shows itself differently… He is anxious to recognize his sin rightly. To do this, he examines all the works of his daily life to see if has done and is doing what God’s Word commands in the vocation and position in which God has placed him.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 591,2.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We have a treasure in such jars of clay. There are many who construe this last expression in reference to the body and to the Holy Spirit, meaning, of course, that we possess a treasure in earthen vessels. There is certainly that interpretation, but I think the better treasury-concept is that we have a most precious treasure in vessels of clay symbolizing the homely words of the Scripture.—St. Jerome, Homily on Psalm 77.

Catechesis: Justification

And it is furthermore false that reason by its own powers is able to love God above all things and to fulfill God’s law, namely, truly to fear God, truly to conclude that God hears prayer, willingly to obey God in death and in other visitations of God, and not to covet things that belong to others, etc.—although reason can produce civil works. It is also false and an affront to Christ to say that people who observe the commandments of God without grace do not sin.—Apology IV:27, 28

21 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

 [We abuse the name of God] when a person forgets the blessings of God and does not thanks Him for them. When a person will not acknowledge that God the Lord imparts to us every good thing in body and soul, but instead ascribes them simply to natural causes or even also to blind luck.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, III:284.

A true Christian is a new creation, a new person who has been inwardly changed, in both heart and mind by the Holy Spirit. This change shows itself chiefly in his attitude toward sin. A true Christian wants to recognize ever more thoroughly and vividly everything is sin according to God’s Word, and he hates and fears even the seemingly smallest sins in word, in deed, and in desire.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 589.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And so the passage “The Word was made flesh” seems to me to be equivalent to that in which it is said that he was sin or a curse for us; not that the Lord was transformed into either of these—how could he be? But because by taking them upon him he took away our sins and bore our iniquities.—St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Letter 101 on the Apollinarian Controversy.

Catechesis: The Righteousness of Faith

…without the righteousness of faith a person can neither love God nor understand the love of God. (Ap IV:18)

But this entire matter was invented by idle people who have no idea how the forgiveness of sins takes place and how, confronted by the judgment of God and the terrors of conscience, trust in works shakes us. (Ap IV:20)

20 July 2021

Catechesis: Distinction between Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial Law

Now when we refer to the “law” in this discussion, we mean the commandments of the Decalogue, wherever they appear in the Scriptures. For the present we will say nothing about the ceremonial and civil laws of Moses….because to some extent human reason naturally understands it [the commandments of the Decalogue] since reason contains the same judgment divinely written on the mind. Ap IV:6,7

Patristic Quote of the Day

The God to whom we are to be reconciled has thus made him [Christ] the sacrifice for sin by which we may be reconciled. He himself is therefore sin as we ourselves are righteousness—not our own, but God’s, not in ourselves but in him.—St. Augustine, Enchiridion 13:41.

Gerhard and Walther

[Gerhard lists out a number of abuses of the divine name]: When a person uses many words in prayer and think a person will be heard on that account (Matt. 6:7). When a person with his prayer relies on his own merit and worthiness. When a person does not pray in accordance with God’s will (1 Jn 5:14). When a person prays for that which runs counter to God’s command. When a person prays because he is consumed with his own sensuality (James 4:3). When a person prescribes in prayer to God the Lord the time and hour He is to help (Judith 8:11). When a person binds the power of prayer to particular places apart from, and contrary to, God’s Word (John 4:21). All of this applies to the abuse and desecration of the Name of God.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:279.

Who can be happier than the one who has God on his side, even if the whole world is against him?—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 587.

19 July 2021

An odd thought on 1 Sam 2:35

That was in our Treasury (LSB daily lectionary) this morning. “And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.” St. John the Baptist came to mind as a possible fulfillment of this beyond Samuel. He was of the priestly house as Luke 1:5 shows. And St. John the Baptist goes in before the Christ, every year in Adventide, heralding His coming. And he goes OUT before the Lord in the sense that he is the forerunner also of the Passion of the Christ.  

Gerhard and Walther

For since the Name of God is thereby glorified if we confess our sin, so also it has to follow that through the covering up and concealment of sin, God’s Name is desecrated. God the Lord will visit and punish such concealment (Ps. 32:3-4; Pro. 28:13).—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:277.   

False Christians also want to hold Christ and serve Him, but only as long as they can do so without sacrificing time, money, rest, honor, or any other favorite thing. The true Christian is completely different. He prefers in every case the spiritual to the bodily, the eternal to the temporal, and the heavenly to the earthly.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 585 [Reflecting on the crow in Mark 8 sticking with Jesus long past the time their food ran out!]

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the Father has not one glory and the Son another, but their glory is one and the same, since the Son is the Father’s sole-begotten. When the Father is glorified, the Son shares in the enjoyment of his glory, because the Son draws his glory from the honoring of the Father. Again, whenever the Son is glorified, the Father of so excellent a Son is honored.—St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 6.1

Catechesis: Original Sin

We wanted to show that original sin also included these maladies: ignorance of God, contempt for God, the absence of the fear of and trust in God, and the inability to love God. These are the chief defects of human nature—in conflict especially with the first table of the Decalogue.—Ap II:14.

18 July 2021

And what WOULD the point of a carniversary be…

 …without a special feast to celebrate?

Meaghan snapped this…

…at Bible Class this morning. A bit of Grandpa bliss with Oliver.

17 July 2021

Lewis for the Win!

I had zero recollection of this delicious line from The Silver Chair:

“She had a vague impression of Dwarfs crowding round the fire with frying-pans rather bigger than themselves, and the hissing and delicious smell of sausages, and more, and more, and more sausages. And not wretched sausages half full of bread and soya bean either, but real meaty, spicy ones, fat and piping hot and burst and just the tiniest bit burnt.” (From the opening paragraph of the final chapter)

HA! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Now, I’m feeling a bit hungry…if you’ll excuse me…

Reflections on Three Solid Years of Carnivory

July 18, 2018 was the day, after having watched the Jordan Peterson interview on Joe Rogan, that I decided to give Carnivory a try for a month, eating nothing but animal product. That month has stretched down to the present and looks like it will never stop. So tomorrow is our THIRD year “carniversary.” As I reflect on this whole thing here are various thoughts:

1. The difficulty in eating this way is largely social and emotional. 

What I mean is that it is awkward when getting together with friends (at their house or at our own) because folks feel uncomfortable with us ONLY eating meat and not having desserts and such. As though they are being rude enjoying the treats in our presence, and it honestly bothers us not at all. Also deep in our memories are things like apple pies in the autumn, pumpkin pie for thanksgiving, and cookies at Christmas. Those are emotional barriers that we’ve had to get over, but honestly, we feel so well eating this way that it makes no sense to let emotional memories rule. Rather, we simply enjoy the memories and have no problem making treats for guests or grandkids.

2. The simplicity of this way of eating is hugely advantageous.

Simplicity itself in a number of ways. First, you don’t have to think too much or too hard about food. And it took a while for the realization to dawn: the food preparation is far, far easier and the clean up is, pardon the pun, a piece of cake! Particularly when we do so much out on the grill. We basically don’t eat breakfast (save sometimes on Saturdays), enjoying out first meal about noon and then our second about five. 

3. What we eat.

There are all kinds of arguments in the Carnivore community about optimum eating. Cindi and I actually stick with basic Zero Carb. What this means is that we freely eat anything we choose to from the animal kingdom. This morning, for example, I ran over to McDonald’s and picked up two sausage patties and two “round” eggs a piece. I threw a slice of sharp cheddar between both of mine; Cindi had cheddar on one. She tries to watch her dairy. I did for a while, but I frankly seem to do fine with it, over all. I try to follow famous Zero Carber Charles Washington’s wisdom here, though: If you eat cheese, he’s assuming it’s on your burger! (Cheese by itself we will do when in social gatherings, but it’s not our norm). We eat chicken, bacon, sausage, shrimp, scallops, salmon, and (of course) beef, beef, and more beef. That is, all beef hotdogs now and then, but most frequently steaks and burgers. Oh, and EGGS. We both love eggs and eat them most anyway. We have indulged occasionally in mushrooms (and they are neither plant nor animal) but that’s not a usual guest at our table at all. 

3. What we drink.

Water is our mainstay and we both love carbonated water.  We both enjoy our coffee (we get an Aldi brand from Peru, organic). I will drink it all day long, but work at not allowing it to push out my water! Cindi will enjoy wine with friends. I did up till recently, but I have given up alcohol entirely except for in the Holy Eucharist. Just a choice I made and I am enjoying the deeper sleep that affords! 

4. On the Fat vs. Protein debate

Cindi and I don’t even try to manage macros, but we are simply aware of a difference between us on the matter of fat vs. protein. We both enjoy the fat on a good rib-eye, especially nicely seared, but Cindi seems to need more fat than I do; and no question that I have a low tipping point, particularly on any rendered fat or butter. It sends me scurrying to the bathroom! Mostly, though, we just eat what our body wants. Some days, Cindi even fries up some fat by itself and we munch on that. It’s a real treat!

5. Isn’t This Horrible for Your Health?

Look at the SIZE of the people who try to sell you on that one and ponder where the “healthy whole grains” and “healthy vegetable oils” land you. We’ve both lost weight on it. Cin is still losing. I’m hanging right around 145. When I gave up the dairy, I dropped down to 135 but wasn’t really comfortable there. I’m quite comfortable at 145. We both have high LDL, but neither of us is convinced that’s a problem at all. We got our CAC (coronary arterial calcium) scores and they were both outstanding. We both were listed as having slight build up in a single artery and thus were scored as unlikely to have any cardiac events in our near future. Cindi did experience some high blood pressure that required medication, but its solidly back down and now sometimes seems too low. We wonder if the ups and downs of 2020 was the culprit. Cindi turned 61 back in April and I turn 61 in October. She only has her blood pressure medication that she takes; I take no medicine. I lost the migraines and so the maxalt back in early 2018 (that’s another story and one I THINK is related to how we do our coffee…). My Monday to Friday daily workout currently is 200 pushups, 24 pullups, and 24 KB swings. Once a week (Saturdays) I do ten minutes of High Intensity Interval Training. Once we started Carnivore, yours truly lost ALL stomach issues (I used to get horrible bloating, which looks really weird on someone with heterotaxy syndrome); Cindi found she could easily get down on the floor to play with the grandchildren again. In short, we’re thriving! 

6. How do you make it work at restaurants?

We honestly don’t eat out all that often. Cindi’s a better cook than any restaurant and she loves doing it. But we go out and it is simplicity itself. Fast food? Just order burgers without buns. If they don’t know how to do that, order your burger with the bun and just scrape it off your burger. At a nicer restaurant we sometimes get buffalo hot wings (unbreaded!) or shrimp for a side, and then a nice ribeye for the main course. I order soda water when we go out; Cindi might enjoy a fine glass of cab. We went to a REALLY nice restaurant for our anniversary this year and we started out with oysters on the half shell, which we both thought were scrumptious. Dessert? What about that cuppa coffee with a splash of cream! You end up walking away satisfied and wellfed rather than waddling away in discomfort. 

7. Isn’t it too expensive?

I know it sounds like it would be, but we haven’t found it so. We usually buy half a cow at a time from our local farmer (go Steve!!!). Cindi is always scouring the local grocery’s “must sell” section and we just toss that meat in the freezer till we want it; she finds great deals. She came back the other day with a boatload of meat, lots of ribeyes even, having spent over $300. But it was stuff that was either on sale or needed to go, so it was marked down. We’re set for a while on those! Our standard meat, though, is hamburger and that’s about the cheapest meat you can buy. We were shocked on how much the berries and the veggies and other fruits were costing us. And we found out that eating zero carb we usually always finish up our left-overs. And we eat lots of eggs; and eggs are not that pricey either.

8. How hard is it to stay on plan?

We think most folks have a hard transition to Carnivore. Your body pitches a real hissy fit when you deny it carbs (and THAT should make you think…). But if you can get through the “I just can’t put another piece of meat in my mouth” phase (honestly, neither Cindi nor I had that; but we’ve heard many others have), then you’re home free. You break the “sweet” addiction. Folks that seem to have the worst time sticking to it are those who attempt to allow themselves occasional exceptions and indulgences. A “cheat” meal once a month becomes once a week becomes daily and soon you’re back where you started. For us, we found every single indulgence we allowed ourselves to be NOT WORTH IT. It really helped me to recognize sugar for what it it is: POISON. I won’t eat poison. End of story. And if I ever forget it is poison and have some…my body reminds me instantly that it is exactly that. At least, that is my experience of sugar (flour, vegetable oil). I avoid the stuff at all costs.

9. Any other weird stuff?

One thing that I think lots of folks have mentioned: we tend not to burn in the sun (if we built our base with moderate exposure) and that seems to be related to simply not using industrially created vegetable oils. Our fats are mostly lard from our bacon, tallow from our beef, or butter (and we buy Irish butter from Aldi). I never use sunscreen. 

10. Where things stand according to the fancy bathroom scale:

As of this a.m.: 
Weight 146
BMI 21
Body Fat 11.3% (10% subcutaneous)

Me in my late 30’s, pre low-carbing

A pic from right before Carnivore:

And that recent pic from Meaghan, three years zero carbing:

16 July 2021

NOT the best pool day, but we made the best of it!


Gerhard and Walther

When we give thanks to God we are doing nothing other than that we acknowledge in our heart and confess with the mouth that everything good that we possess has not been bestowed up9on us casually or by our own wisdom and power, but only and solely from the kind goodness of God the Most High by which He also is sanctified by us and others.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:274

A Church that wants to be a Christian church maintains that the faith it confesses is the true one. A church that lays no such claim renounces itself as a branch of the true Christian faith. Yet not every church that claims to have the true faith actually possesses it. Everything depends on the foundation on which its doctrine and faith are built.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 579.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We should not despise the visible church which brings up everyone as children. Nor should we despise the church of the heart, seeing that she strengthens all who are sick. And we should yearn for the church on high, for she makes perfect all saints.—Anonymous, Syriac, Book of Steps

Catechesis: Original Sin, Apology

This passage (from AC II) testifies that we deny to those conceived and born according to the course of nature not only the act of fearing and trusting God, but also the ability or gifts needed to produce such fear and trust. For we say that those who have been born in this way have concupiscence and are unable to produce true fear and trust in God.—Ap II:3

15 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

If we want to properly hallow the Name of God, then this also pertains to it: in danger and during times of persecution, we are to confess openly and boldly the heavenly teaching about the true knowledge of God so that also, through such, our confession praises God’s name, spreads forthis His glory, and that others may be brought to the knowledge of the true God.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:271.

Wherever the Gospel is preached, God absolves people and Christ’s righteousness is offered and delivered to them.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 577.

Patristic Quote of the Day

As our love for God’s coming intensifies, there is no kind of sin which is not wiped out.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 44 on 1 Corinthians

Catechesis: Intro to Apology (Defense of the Augsburg Confession)

We take no pleasure in discord, nor are we unaware of our danger; the extent of which is evident from the bitter hatred inflaming the opponents. But we cannot surrender truth that is clear and necessary for the church. We believe, therefore, that we must endure difficulties and dangers for the glory of Christ and the good of the church. We trust that God approves our dutiful action, and we hope that posterity will judge us more equitably.—Ap Intro 16

14 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

However, an even greater reason why God the Lord commanded us to sanctify His holy Name is that we, on account of our inherited sin, are by nature inclined towards disrespect and abuse of God’s Name. Hereby [in the second commandment], He desires to guard us from such uncivil behavior.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:260

Oh, may each of us truly receive Christ from the heart, for whoever appears before God in his own righteousness, without Christ, will not stand.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 574.

Patristic Quote of the Day

It was precisely because the opportunities were so great that Paul had so many adversaries. The devil is always active when he risks loosing his booty.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 43 on 1 Corinthians.

Catechesis: Conclusion of AC

Only those things have been recounted which seemed to need saying. This was done in order that it may be understood that nothing has been accepted among us, in teaching *or ceremonies*, that is contrary to Scripture or the catholic church.—AC Conclusion, 5

13 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

If God’s will is to be fulfilled in and through us with genuine childlike obedience, then we must denounce our own will and deny it.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:257.

The Law certainly reveals the righteousness that God demands of us, but it gives us no power to produce it. It shows us our death, but it cannot make us alive.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 569.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The day itself was enough to encourage them to give alms. For the Lord’s day is the day on which we received all the blessings we now have. It is the root and beginning of our new life in Christ. This is not the only reason that it is suitable for almsgiving, however. It is also the day of rest, when our souls can relax from their toils and open themselves to show pity. Moreover, participation in the holy Communion on that day instills great zeal in us.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 43 on First Corinthians

Catechesis: Power of Bishops

The present matter does not involve bishops abandoning their exercise of lordship, but only one thing is requested, namely, that they permit the teaching of the gospel in its purity and relax those few observances that cannot be kept without sin. If they do not do this, they will have to see how they will render an account before God, given that they provide a cause for schism by their obstinacy.—AC XXVIII:77,78 (Latin)

12 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

God’s Word sanctifies everything and apart from God’s Word nothing can be sanctified (1 Tim 4:5). That is why true and proper God-pleasing obedience is connected to God’s Word.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:256.

God does not desire that His children remain children in knowledge, being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Instead, if the Church is to remain unified each member must diligently and daily, with prayer and great earnestness, seek to grow in God’s Word by studying the writings of enlightened teachers, listening attentively to public sermons, and using all means at their disposal to grow in the knowledge of salvation.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 565.

Patristic Quote of the Day

“Flesh and blood can obtain no part in the kingdom of God.” This does not refer to flesh and blood as such but to the works of the flesh.—St. Jerome, Homily 54 on Psalm 143.

Catechesis: Power of Bishops

Augustine also says in the letter against Petilian that one should not agree with catholic bishops if they perchance should err and hold anything contrary to the canonical Scriptures of God.—AC XXVIII:28

11 July 2021

This has been quite a busy weekend!

As in, Lauren and Dean’s family (minus Felicity) joined us for dinner on Friday with Opa (that would be 10 of us) and spent the night (and so we were able to get in a game of Liverpool…stupid, stupid, stupid game). Then, breakfast for nine Saturday morning; then 20 for lunch with the Ibisches and Weedons and Herberts, Opa and Lois; then Sunday morning 12 for brunch after church with the Weedons and Ibisches, Opa and Lois. I never cease to be amazed at how Cindi makes it all seem so effortless! 

10 July 2021

Celebrating birthdays

For Dean, Opa, and David. 

Cin made ribs…

…Griffin approved:

09 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Whoever wants to be obedient towards God must also engross himself with the holiness and the fulfillment of God’s commands. For that is God’s earnest will—that we busy ourselves with holiness and keep His commands (1 Thes. 4:3). Without the sanctification and fulfilling of God’s commandments, no person is able to render a complete obedience to God the Lord.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:252,253.

When the poor world sees how disunited Christians are among themselves, it finds little reason to embrace the faith and is even comforted in rejecting it. Many are offended who might have been won to Christianity.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 563.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The lifeless body we restore
To earth, must slumber free from pain
A little while, that it may gain
The spirit's fellowship once more.

The years will pass with rapid pace
Till through these limbs the life shall flow,
And the long-parted spirit go
To seek her olden dwelling-place.

Then shall the body, that hath lain
And turned to dust in slow decay,
On airy wings be borne away
And join its ancient soul again.

Therefore our tenderest care we spend
Upon the grave: and mourners go
With solemn dirge and footstep slow--
Love's last sad tribute to a friend.

—Prudentius, Burial Hymn, Fountain of Life

Catechesis: Civil vs. Church Power

Therefore, since this power of the church bestows eternal things and is exercised only through the ministry of the Word, it interferes with civil government as little as the art of singing interferes with it. For civil government is concerned with things other than the gospel. For the magistrate protects not minds but bodies and goods from manifest harm and constrains people with the sword and physical penalties. The gospel protects minds from ungodly ideas, the devil, and eternal death.—AC XXVIII:10,11

*Note the government is not in the business of policing thinking!!!

08 July 2021

A pic of us…

…that daughter-in-law Meaghan took for new congregational directory. Am I ever glad the new directory is coming out! We’ve had so many new members join us, I need to work on names.

Gerhard and Walther

An example that silences every example is this that of Christ, the Son of God set before us a perfect example of obedience, and he He left us with a prototypical portrayal that we are follow in His footsteps. He became obedient to His Father, even unto death; yes, even to the death of the cross. Even though He was God’s Son, nevertheless He learned obedience in that He suffered. Whoever then wishes to be a true disciple of Christ, must also learn this obedience from Him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:250.

Unity in mind produces unity in works. The Church should be one in faith, and unity should follow in love. The Church should recognize, from the heart, the right doctrine, and from this unity in doctrine, confession with the mouth should result.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 562.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We must not doubt what is more in accord with nature than against it. For it is as natural that all things living should rise again as it is unnatural that they should perish.—St. Ambrose, On His Brother Satyrus 2.57.

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

Furthermore, the precepts of God and true worship of God are obscured when people hear that only monks are in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection means earnestly to fear God and, at the same time, to have great faith and to trust that we have a gracious God on account of Christ; to ask for and to expect with certainty help from God in all things that are to be borne in connection with our calling; and in the meantime, diligently to do good works for others and serve in our calling. True perfection and true worship of God consist in all these things, not in celibacy, mendicancy, or shabby clothing.—AC XXVII:50,51 (Latin) 

07 July 2021

Aha from Bible Class

Pastor’s walking us through St. Mark’s Gospel in our Wednesday evening class. It’s very good. Tonight we were in Mark 8. He moves through it very slowly and that enables one to see what might be missed. After Peter confesses “thou art the Christ,” Jesus proceeds to unpack for them for the first time exactly what this means. In other words, he plainly teaches them the Gospel: “the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly.” Openly, clearly, plainly laying before His own for the very first time the Gospel, the kerygma, which THEY were to carry into the world. 

And yet Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes Him. He does not approve of what he’s hearing from Jesus. Jesus then says the hardest words he ever spoke to anyone: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Peter was savouring not the things that be of God, but of man. Jesus calls the crowd together and has some hard words about following Him means embracing our own crosses, but then at the tail end of the chapter: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him will the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Peter was ASHAMED of what Jesus’s words had proclaimed. Did Jesus speak that last bit looking directly at his no doubt blushing Fisherman? And what a joy that if he had been ashamed, he (like St. Paul) would indeed NOT be ashamed of the Gospel in the end; but it would be his joy to announce it any and to all. 

Gerhard and Walther

If we will not take to heart the lovely, amiable promises and thereby let ourselves be drawn and induced to obedience, then we should still contemplate the terrifying threats and thereby let ourselves refrain from disobedience.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:247.

Even when man did not desire to be connected with God, God bound Himself to man. By an act of divine mercy, God Himself became a man who was capable of suffering so He could atone for man’s rebellion against Him. He redeemed all and united all who would be sought and found by Him, by the working of His grace, into His congregation of pardoned children, bound together in holy love and unity.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 559.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He tasted death on behalf of every man in his flesh, which was able to suffer without him ceasing to be life.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Letter 55:34.

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

However, very clearly the monks have taught that their humanly invented observances make satisfaction for sins and merit grace and justification. What is this but to detract from the glory of Christ and to obscure and deny the righteousness of faith? If follows, therefore, that such customary vows were ungodly acts of worship and are invalid for that reason.—AC XXVII:38, 39.

06 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

The obedience toward God is the main well-spring of all good works. That’s why it is also praised so highly.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:243.

If a person becomes a true Christian, he does more than lay aside vices and take on virtues. He becomes a totally new person in his heart and in his mind. A true Christian is a child of God, born anew by the Holy Ghost.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 556.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For by the sacrifice of his own body he both put an end to the law which was against us and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of resurrection which he has given us. For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by the Word of God being made man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection to life.—St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation 10

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

In former times they [monasteries] were schools of Holy Scripture and of other subjects useful to the church; bishops and pastors were taken from there. Now everything is different, and it is unnecessary to present an account of what is well known. In former times they were suitable places for learning. Now people pretend that this kind of life was instituted to merit grace and righteousness. indeed, they proclaim that it is a state of perfection, and they greatly prefer it above all other kinds of life instituted by God.—AC XXVII:15,16

05 July 2021

Kelly Hogan

Is like my all time favorite Zero-carber. She is hysterical in this format!

A delightful Holiday

We were up at our usual time (5:30) and enjoying our coffee and talking, prayed Treasury together, said our separate prayers and did our workouts, went for a walk, and THEN we got to work. I dusted in living room and vacuumed rug and then tackled vacuuming the pool. Cindi meanwhile made pizza crust for lunch, cleaned kitchen floor, mopped living room, and watered plants. Then it was time to tackle our fence, which the stupid sparrows all treat as their personal latrine! We scrubbed and hosed the filth away, and we finished cleaning up the deck. Cindi finished the pizza and got some wings going. Klingers and Asburrys arrived around 11:30 and we had an absolutely LOVELY meal and pool time. It was heavenly. We were out in the sun for close to two hours, I think. Just what the doctor ordered. A beautiful day with dear friends. 

Gerhard and Walther

When God the Lord says in the First Commandment, I am the Lord your God, you are not to have any other gods, He thereby requires fear and also obedience. For since He is our Lord and God who has the right to command us, thus we are indeed also obligated to render Him obedience.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:241.

Many work so zealously it appears as if they are on the earth merely for the sake of their vocation. They are so engrossed in their work they think little, if at all, about the salvation of their immortal soul. They forget God’s Word, and they forget to pray. They work on the Lord’s Day even when they are not in need as if they had no soul that needs to be fed and no God who wants to be worshipped. Even if such people take time to read the Bible, offer morning and evening prayers, and go to church, they do so only half-heartedly. In the midst of the worship service, their heart is still at their business.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 554.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Paul grounds his argument for the [general] resurrection of the dead on the fact of Christ’s resurrection. The reality of the latter guarantees the reality of the former.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 39 on First Corinthians.

Catechesis: Confession

Confession has not been abolished in our churches. For it is not customary to administer the body of Christ except to those who have been previously examined and absolved. The people are also most diligently taught concerning faith in the word of absolution, about which there was a great silence before now. People are taught to make the most of absolution because it is the voice of God and is pronounced following the command of God [German: spoken in God’s stead and by God’s command].—AC XXV:1-3 (Latin)

02 July 2021

Feast of the Visitation

Lutheran Service Book
lists the Visitation as one of the “principal feasts of Christ.” Like the Transfiguration, it falls differently depending upon the lectionary system one uses: in the three year cycle, it is observed on May 31; in the one year cycle, it is observed today. It is a relatively late-comer to the feast days, but by the time of the Reformation it was rather set on July 2 and continued to be observed in most Lutheran Church Orders. Luther has a fine homily on the feast in his House Postils (III:341ff.). Here's an excerpt:

For us, indeed, it is an occasion to thank God for the glorious revelation which occurred on this day, that Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit; and although till now she knows nothing about Christ and his conception, she here declares and openly confesses that Mary is in truth the mother of her Lord and God. And John leaps in his mother's womb in witness to his Lord, while Mary sings her beautiful song of praise, the Magnificat, showing most excellently the profundity of her understanding. We still repeat it after her. It expresses the reason for us to celebrate, to learn it, and thank God for it. The purpose for the pope's celebration is to invoke Mary; but our purpose is to praise and thank God in accordance with the example of the beloved Virgin, so that we celebrate just as she did.

On this day, we pray in our churches:

Almighty God, You chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard for the poor and lowly and despised. Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gerhard and Walther

Wherever there is true humility, there a person commends everything to God’s will and good pleasure concerning when and in what way He should help; also to wait for the proper time that has in store for him. Sir. 1:28: “A humble person waits for the time when he will be comforted.” However, where there is pride, there a person will not wait for help, but will instead dictate to God the time and manner.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:233.

Whoever is unsure if something is right or wrong but does it anyway, shows he is unconcerned whether this behavior is contrary to God’s desires.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 548.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The present church is like a woman who has fallen from her former, prosperous days and who retains only the outward signs of that prosperity, displaying the boxes and caskets in which she kept her wealth, but which are now empty. This is true not only in the matter of gifts but in life and virtue as well.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 36 on First Corinthians.

Catechesis: The Mass

The Mass is to be used for the purpose of offering the sacrament to those who need consolation, just as ambrose says: “Because I always sin, I ought always to take the medicine.” Since the Mass is such an imparting of the sacrament, among us one common Mass is held on every holy day, and it is also administered on other days if there are those who desire it.—AC XXIV:33,34 (Latin)

01 July 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Humility consists of this: on the one hand, that a person acknowledge from the heart his own unworthiness and weakness and, on the other hand, compare it to God’s high majesty and glory. It consists of humbling oneself before God with childlike fear; that one solely ascribe to God the Lord all the blessings that he has to carry out what God intends, all the blessed promises in His Word. That one acknowledges and glorifies all God’s gifts to all men. That one in no way take credit for these gifts, much less despise them, but rather to encounter them with thanksgiving.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:229, 230.

Can anyone think of a greater blessing than that Christ wants to be in the midst of His followers as often as they gather in His name, even if they are only two or three in number?—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 545. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Anyone who does not recognize that what the apostle [Paul] says is from God will not be recognized on the day of judgment.—Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles

Catechesis: the Mass

Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. In fact, the Mass is retained among us and is celebrated with the greatest reverence. Almost all the customary ceremonies are also retained… So it does not appear that the Mass is held with greater devotion among our adversaries than among us.—AC XXIV:1,2,9 (Latin)

30 June 2021

Patristic Quote of the Day

If we take a closer look at the origin of sin, I think that it is nothing else than the inordinate love by a rational creature of things set in order by God.—Fulgentius, To Montimus 1.20.2

June’s Summary Workouts

June was full on workouts after the surgery in May. So the month (with a few days off for family issues) totaled: 4,000 pushups; 400 pullups; 400 45 lb kettlebell swings. Felt good to get the kettlebell back. Also had a HIIT workout or two in there. Usual routine is to start listening to Bible (KJV), head downstairs and do 10 pullups and 10 kettlebell swings. Walk around the upstairs twice. Do 25 pushups in my study. Walk around upstairs twice, etc. Repeating till the pushups total 200 for the day, then back to the basement for another 10 pullups and 10 kettlebell swings. This is my Monday through Friday routine. And when I’m being motivated HIIT with Apple’s exercise app on Saturday mornings. All in all, it takes a smidge over 30 minutes to do the M-F and 10 minutes on Saturdays.

Gerhard and Walther

All the saints, even if they were exalted and decorated by God, busied themselves with humility.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:222.

When Christ tells us not to judge and condemn, it does not mean no one is permitted to judge and condemn false doctrine or openly proclaim God’s judgment of unbelieving and wicked people…. This applies not only to preachers but also to the laity. They, too, should confidently reject and condemn false doctrine and a godless life.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 542, 543.

Catechesis: Clerical Celibacy

For no one will ever be able to change or arrange these matters better or more wisely than God Himself, who instituted marriage to help human frailty and to prevent sexual immorality… How can the marriage of priests and clergy, especially of pastors and others who are to serve the church, be disadvantageous to the Christian Church as a whole? There may well be a shortage of priests and pastors in the future if this harsh prohibition of marriage should last much longer.—AC XXIII:14, 15, 17

29 June 2021

Scriptorium done…

…(Scriptorium sounds better than study; it’s the room the monks used to write in, copying out Scripture and commentaries and such!). We’ve been slowly but surely setting up this room. This past weekend, the final thing we planned for happened (thanks to a dear friend who generously gave of his time and skill): recessed lighting in the book nook. I love coming here to write in the mornings with a cup of java at hand. Cindi did an outstanding job with the blues on the walls, and the total effect is utterly calming. 

Gerhard and Walther

Is it not a wrong action for you to think that you, with your haughty pride, hope to be allowed entrance into heaven even though the haughtily proud Lucifer was tossed out of heaven on account of pride? Christ Jesus, the door to the heavenly sheep stall, is low. If you wish to enter into it, you must bow yourself down and humble yourself, otherwise you will strike yourself on your head and never get in there, as Augustine says in Tract. 45 on John.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:218.

They [Christians] are righteous before God only because they believe in Christ. Without faith, their sins would damn them just as readily as the sins of others condemn them. A Christian may progress only so far in sanctification during this life; he must still appear daily as a poor beggar before God.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 540. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

When he [the outsider] sees that God is being praised and that Christ is being adored and that nothing is disguised or being done in secret, as happens among pagans, he will understand clearly that this is true religion.—Ambrosiaster, Commentary on First Corinthians 14:25. 

Catechesis: Both Kinds in the Sacrament

There is a clear order and command of Christ in Matthew 26: “Drink from it, all of you.” Concerning the cup Christ here commands with clear words that they all should drink from it.—AC XXII:1,2.

28 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Humility is the true, solid foundation of every Christian virtue. Just as one is unable to construct a building without a foundation, where there is humility, everything is in vain if one thinks he can carry out the construction of godliness. For with humility a person turns away from himself, so that he does not highly regard himself or secretly make himself a god.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:213.

God had to send us His love before we could know what it is to love our neighbor. Thus, if we are still unmerciful, it is a sign that we do not stand in faith.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 537.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Nothing builds up as much as good order, peace, and love, just as nothing is more destructive than their opposites. It is not only in spiritual affairs but in everything that one may observe this.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 37 on First Corinthians.

Catechesis: The Saints

Concerning the cult of the saints our people teach that the saints are to be remembered so that we may strengthen our faith when we see how they experienced grace and how they were helped by faith. Moreover, it is taught that each person, according to his or her calling, should take the saints’ good works as an example.—AC XXI:1

Also worthy of note: the cult of the saints was included among the articles in which there was presumed doctrinal agreement. The AC starts with the Holy Trinity and ends those presumed undisputed articles with the Saints. There’s a beauty there—I had never noticed it till Pr. Heath Curtis once pointed this out. 

25 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Apart from cross, faith usually is simply only an ordinary academic thing that flows from the tongue. But, with a cross, adds to the scenario of faith a true exercise and testing by which faith is stamped and notarized like a seal into the heart. Untested people are inexperienced, plain, useless spectators—what do they know? As a marginal note on Is. 28:19, the Gospel is called the Word of the cross, not only because it proclaimed Christ crucified, but also because His power is rightly felt and understood with tribulations.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, III:189.

If we compare the condition of the poor and the rich according to the Holy Scripture, we find that the poor are preferred.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 530.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Second, even if the daughters of Philip did prophesy, they did not do so inside the church. Likewise in the Old Testament, although Deborah was reputed to be a prophetess, there is no indication that she ever corporately addressed the people in the way that Isaiah or Jeremiah did. The same is true of Huldah.—Origen, Commentary on I Cor. 14:34.

Catechesis: Limits of Free Will

However, without the grace, help, and operation of the Holy Spirit a human being cannot become pleasing to God, fear or believe in God with the whole heart, or expel innate evil lusts from the heart. Instead, this happens through the Holy Spirit, who is given through the Word of God.—AC XXVIII:2,3.

24 June 2021

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

What joy after Elizabeth’s labor! A little boy, just as the angel had said. Her neighbors rejoice with her in the miraculous babe. On the 8th day the child is to be brought into the covenant of the God of Israel and receive the mark of circumcision – a reminder of the promise to Abraham that from his seed would come one who would bring blessing to every family of the earth. Elizabeth and Zechariah must have smiled to think of it, for they know that the Blessed One was already upon the earth in their presence – in the womb of the holy Virgin. The joy was overflowing in the room until the moment came for the naming of the child.

The rabbi was preparing to give the little one the name of his father when Elizabeth interrupted. “No, he shall be called John.” John, which means Yahweh is gracious. The people in the room look at the women in amazement and the rabbi frowns: “None of your relatives is called by that name!” he exclaims. All eyes fix on the old man, Zechariah, still silent, nary a word escaping his lips since his vision in the temple. They make signs to him to ask what he should be named (signs? He’s dumb, not deaf!). He motions for a writing tablet and writes upon it: his name is John.

And then it stopped, as suddenly as it had started. His mouth was opened, his tongue loosed, and he spoke. What did he speak? St. Luke strongly hints at it by saying that he was “blessing God.” That is, the words that we know as the Benedictus. He opens his lips in a canticle of praise to the God of Israel, who has visited and redeemed His people. What is amazing about the canticle is that most of it isn’t about John at all; there’s a bigger miracle in the room!

Zechariah shouts to one and to all that the time of the great fulfillment foretold by the prophets was at hand. The God of Israel had visited His people to rescue them. He was showing mercy, remembering the covenant and oath He swore to Abraham. Now all God’s people would be set free to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. And if God was now in the flesh, his beloved little John would be the prophet of the Most High, going before the Lord to prepare His way, the way of Him who came to bring light to those sitting in the shadow of death, guiding feet into the very way of peace. The people marveled and wondered at the astonishing words that they heard.

You may wonder too. For this is what you have been created for: to serve, to worship, to praise God, and to do so without fear because God has come in the flesh to clothe you in a holiness and righteousness that can stand in the presence of the All Holy without trembling, fear or shame. A holiness and righteousness that force death and Satan to back away from you. For your holiness and your righteousness IS the Child who was in Mary’s womb and on Calvary’s tree and is risen from the dead. He has answered for all your sin. He has died the death for you and lives to give salvation too you. Marvel and wonder indeed, people loved by God. He has visited you and shows you great mercy. Open your mouth with Zechariah, and with Mary, and bless His holy name! Amen.

Gerhard and Walther

The strength of the soul that consists of patience is far nobler and better than the strength of the body.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:184.

Let us not think that Jesus prefers the virtuous to those who recognize how far they have fallen. He lets go the virtuous who do not desire to be with Him, and He seeks those who are overwhelmed by the guilt of their sins. He makes sinners of saints and saints of sinners. He lets the self-righteous perish and saves those who are honest enough to recognize that they are lost.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 529. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

We cannot even sing and hymn the Father in Christ with proper rhythm, melody, measure and harmony, unless the Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God, first praises and hymns him whose depths he has searched out and has understood.—Origen, On Prayer 4.

Catechesis: Church Rites

Concerning church rites, they teach that those rites should be observed that can be observed without sin and that contribute to peace and good order in the church, for example, certain holy days, festivals, and the like.—AC XV:1 (Latin; emphasis added)

23 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

What one learns from cross has solidity, and thereby a man becomes wise before God. That which is heard from God’s Word apart from the cross generally sweeps only over the tongue.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, III:183.

We are sick in our souls, fatally and eternally sick; and Christ came as a physician to restore us to health.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 525.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But, as this faith, which works by love, begins to penetrate the soul, it tends, through the vital power of goodness, to change into sight, so that the holy and perfect in heart catch glimpses of that ineffable beauty whose full vision is our highest happiness…We begin in faith, we are perfected in sight.—St. Augustine, Enchiridion 1.5.

Catechesis: Repentance

Now, properly speaking, true repentance is nothing else than to have contrition and sorrow, or terror about sin, and yet at the same time to believe in the gospel and absolution that sin is forgiven and grace is obtained through Christ. Such faith, in turn, comforts the heart and puts it at peace. Then improvement should also follow, and a person should refrain from sins. For these should be the fruits of repentance, as John says in Matt. 3: “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”—AC XII:3-6.

22 June 2021

Well, it took till June 22

…but the sort of June day that caused my mom to cite James R. Lowell’s poem finally showed up:

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;…

Gerhard and Walther

How was it that the holy martyrs managed to endure their pains with such great patience—indeed, even with laughter and joy? They felt the mighty comfort of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, III:174.

Whatever a person pursues in this world that hinders him from the pursuit of Christ is eventually taken from him so he can become embittered toward the world and awakened to the love of Christ.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 522 [Weedon notes: a remarkably similar thought to that expressed by Francis Thompson in his “Hound of Heaven”:

All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’]

Patristic Quote of the Day

Love is first among all the activities connected with virtue and all the commandments of the law. If, therefore, the soul ever attains this love, it will need none of the others, having reached the fullness of its being. It seems that love alone preserves in itself the character of the divine blessedness.—St. Macrina (Sister of St. Gregory of Nyssa), The Teaching of Macrina On the Soul and the Resurrection

Catechesis: Concerning Confession

Concerning confession it is taught that private absolution should be retained and not abolished. However, it is not necessary to enumerate all misdeeds and sins, since it is not possible to do so. Ps. 19: “But who can detect their errors?”—AC XI

Canon 21 of Lateran IV:

All the faithful of both sexes shall after they have reached the age of discretion faithfully confess all their sins at least once a year to their own (parish) priest and perform to the best of their ability the penance imposed, receiving reverently at least at Easter the sacrament of the Eucharist, unless perchance at the advice of their own priest they may for a good reason abstain for a time from its reception; otherwise they shall be cut off from the Church (excommunicated) during life and deprived of Christian burial in death.

35 Years Ago Today…

…at the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Silver Spring, Maryland. My wonderful wife, of course, made me this cross stitch to remember the occasion.

21 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

When God the Lord sends upon us cross and tribulation, this in no way is a sign of His wrath. Rather, it is an indication of His fatherly love and gracious benevolence, just as one can see this in Christ. He was God’s most beloved Son, and at the same time, His entire life on earth was nothing other than constant cross and tribulation.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:171.

By His blood and His death on the cross, He atoned for the sins of all people and redeemed them to bring them back into the arms of His heavenly Father. This is precisely Christ’s office: to seek all who have gone astray.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 519.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Even as God did not grant the greater gifts to everyone, so also did he give the lesser gifts to some and not to others. He did this in order to obtain the maximum harmony and love, since each would see his need of the others and therefore be brought closer to them.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 32 on 1 Corinthians.

Catechesis: Concerning the Son of God

Moreover, the same Christ “descended into hell, truly rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into heaven, is sitting at the right hand of God” in order to rule and reign over all creatures, so that through the Holy Spirit he may make holy, purify, strengthen, and comfort all who believe in him, also distribute to them life and various gifts and benefits, and shield and protect them against the devil and sin.—AC III:4,5.

20 June 2021


18 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

When God says in the First Commandment, I am the Lord you God; you shall have no other gods next to Me, He thus also among other things requires from us patience. For as we acknowledge God the Lord as our Lord God, we most certainly shall also patiently receive and accept everything that He sends to us from His hand.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:170.

Whoever has true love directs his love not only at those who love him and do good to him, but, like Christ, also at his enemies, the children of the world who carry hatred and resentment in their hearts. Whoever has true love makes no distinctions among people and considers love to be a debt he daily pays to all of his brothers according to the flesh.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 513.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Yet not even honorable procreation can exist without lust. In this way, in chaste spouses there is both the voluntary, in the procreation of offspring, and the necessary, in lust. Honesty arises from unseemliness when chaste union accepts, but does not love, lust.—St. Augustine, Against Julian 5.9.37

Catechesis: Original Sin

This means that from birth they are full of evil lust and inclination and cannot by nature possess fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this same innate disease and original sin is truly sin and condemns to God’s eternal wrath all who are not in turn born anew through baptism and the Holy Spirit. Rejected, then, are the Pelagians and others who do not regard original sin as sin in order to make human nature righteous through natural powers, thus insulting the suffering and merit of Christ.—AC II:1-3

17 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

God also has a gracious good pleasure in everything that He has commanded. For how could He command something for which He had no desire? He has commanded that we are to place our hope in Him. Therefore, He will bear a gracious pleasure over this….The Lord has pleasure…in those who hope in His goodness (Psalm 147:11).—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:153.

Whenever the tree of the Church has blossomed in faith, the fruits of brother love have appeared right away. During the first three centuries of the Christian era, when so many thousands of believers sealed their faith with their blood under the persecution of heathen emperors, love was stronger than it has been at any time sense. Although Christians were scattered in many countries, they were still bound by love as to a great family.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 511.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Sharing all things in common, both good and bad, is the only way to achieve complete communion.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 31 on 1 Corinthians. 

Catechesis: Holy Baptism, Preface Baptism Booklet

Ah, dear Christians, let us not value or treat this unspeakable gift so half-heartedly. For baptism is our only comfort and the doorway to all of God’s possessions and to the communion of all saints.—Preface, 9.

16 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

O Lord Jesus Christ! On the tree of the cross, for a short time You lamented about being forsaken by God so that I may never be forsaken by God and with steadfast trust may at all times place my trust in Him. Grant grace so that I solely and totally rely upon Your precious merits. Grant that I may not place all my trust upon my own righteousness, but instead solely upon Your righteousness.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:151.

If a person wants to be saved, he must first diligently hear, read, and examine God’s Word. Whoever does not want to do this cannot be helped, despite his prayers and concerns, for he remains in his natural darkness, in sin, and under God’s displeasure.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 508.

Patristic Quote of the Day

This faith which is given by the Spirit as a grace is not just doctrinal faith but a faith which empowers activities surpassing human nature, a faith which can move mountains…For such a one places the thought of God before his mind and as enlightenment of faith permits it, beholds God. His mind also ranges through the world from end to end, and with the end of this age not yet come, beholds the judgment already, and the bestowal of promised rewards.—St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture on Faith 5.11

Catechesis: Preface, Baptismal Booklet

Instead, see to it that you are present there in true faith, that you listen to God’s Word, and that you pray along earnestly. For wherever the priest says, “Let us pray,” he is exhorting you to pray with him. Moreover, all the sponsors and the others present ought to speak along with him the words of his prayer in their hearts to God. For this reason, the priest should speak these prayers very clearly and slowly, so that the sponsors can hear and understand them and can also pray with the priest with one mind in their hearts, carrying before God the need of the little child with all earnestness on the child’s behalf setting themselves against the devil with all their strength, and demonstrating that they take seriously what is no joke to the devil.—Preface, Baptismal Booklet 6,7.

15 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

With great diligence, the Holy Spirit removes everything upon which a person might place his trust in order that he only and simply cling to God and solely trust in Him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:146.

We see here that there is only one city of God in heaven and on earth. Whoever wants to dwell in heaven must already inhabit its earthly suburb. There is only one temple of God on earth and in heaven. Whoever wants to enter into the holy of holies must already have entered the courts of grace on earth. And whoever wants to take part one day in the glorious entry into the heavenly Jerusalem must have become a citizen of Christ’s kingdom on earth, in company with the saints and the household of God.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 507

Patristic Quote of the Day

Since no one has the capacity to receive all spiritual gifts, but the grace of the Spirit is given proportionately to the faith of each, when one is living in community with others, the grace bestowed on each individual becomes the common possession of the others…. One who receives any of these gifts does not possess it for his own sake but rather for the sake of others.—St. Basil the Great, The Long Rule 7.

Catechesis: On Prayer for the Baptizand

Therefore, you have to realize that it is no joke at all to take action against the devil and not only to drive him away from the little child but also to hang around the child’s neck such a mighty, lifelong enemy. Thus it is extremely necessary to stand by the poor child with all your heart and with a strong faith and to plead with great devotion that God, in accordance with these prayers, would not only free the child from the devil’s power but also strengthen the child, so that the child might resist him valiantly in life and in death. I fear that people turn out so badly after baptism because we have dealt with them in such a cold and casual way and have prayed for them at their baptism without any zeal at all.—Intro to The Baptism Booklet (appended to the Small Catechism), par. 3,4.

14 June 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Earthly wealth is an outstandingly unreliable thing. Anyone who relies on them is acting very foolishly. Within the hour there can come a burning fire or a flood or also an army or a thief and take everything away. Where, then, are the riches on which such a fool has relied? And even when neither fire nor water nor warlords nor thief take away the temporal things, we still will have to forsake them when we die.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:140, 141.

Those who long for His grace cannot be lost no matter how poor they are in spiritual things. Even if they are still great, miserable, and shameful sinners, who are rejected by all and comforted by none, the invitation to enter Christ’s kingdom of grace remains open to them. All who by God’s grace recognize that they are completely unworthy sinners and who long to be received into Christ’s kingdom should rejoice, for Christ calls, “Come, for everything is now ready!”—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 504.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Wisdom refers to the knowledge of divine things, and knowledge to human science.—St. Augustine, On the Trinity, 14.

Catechesis: Marriage Prayer

Lord God, who have created man and woman and have ordained them for the married estate, have blessed them also with the fruit of the womb, and have therein signified the sacrament of your dear Son Jesus Christ and the church, his bride: We beseech your never-ending goodness that you would not permit this your creation, ordinance, and blessing to be removed or destroyed, but graciously preserve it among us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.—from the Marriage Booklet attached to the Small Catechism; this prayer originally concluded the marriage service in the Lutheran liturgy, the pastor praying it over the couple just married.

11 June 2021

Joshua Flynn Herberts

Happy birthday to second oldest grandson, Flynn! You know, part of me shakes my head and asks how the child can possibly be six years old today. But then part of me is amazed that he’s ONLY six. You see, he has always acted so much older than his age. He has always striven to keep up with older brother Sawyer. There was a stage where he and older sister Annabelle were so much the same size everyone mistook them for twins. He’s climbed on beyond her now. He’s enjoying some beach time with his family this week, but here’s to my boy: Happy birthday, my Flynn! Grandpa and Nanny love you big time! P.S. He’s climbing on his Opa in the pic. He LOVES on Opa all the time!

Gerhard and Walther

It’s just as a child: he does not prescribe to his father the time or the manner for helping, but leaves it to his wisdom and to his fatherly will. All this so that we do not out of mistrust expect something contrary to His Word and His will.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:137.

No, God had an inexpressibly higher, more glorious intention in creating us. He wanted to make us blessed, not by the enjoyment and love of the creature, but the enjoyment and love of God Himself.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 497

Patristic Quote of the Day

As often as we receive, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If death, we proclaim the remission of sins. If, as often as blood is shed, it is shed for the remission of sins, I ought always to accept him, that he may always dismiss my sins. I, who always sin, should always have a remedy.—St. Ambrose, The Sacraments 4.6.29.

Catechesis: No Law on the Sacrament

For these reasons you do not have to make any law concerning this, as the pope did. Only emphasize clearly the benefit and the harm, the need and the blessing, the danger and the salvation in this sacrament. Then they will doubtless come on their own without any compulsion.—SC Preface 24

10 June 2021

A Visit with Peter and Naomi (Cindi’s and my nephew and his wife)

Peter was in David’s wedding. Some home-made ice cream to celebrate the occasion!