Remember Their Names

Martyrs1aBelow are the names of the twenty-one Christian men martyred for bearing the name of Christ.  They were Coptic Christians originally from Egypt, but were murdered in Libya.

Thousands of Christians are being murdered across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but these men garnered some attention because they were featured in an Islamic State video.  In the video as their heads were being sawed off some could be heard to say, “Lord Jesus Christ.”

They were martyred for Christ.  They were murdered for being Christian.  May we remember them in prayer.  May we remember their names, the same names that on earlier days were spoken: as they were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Milad Makeen Zaky

Abanub Ayad Atiya

Maged Solaiman Shehata

Yusuf Shukry Yunan

Kirollos Shokry Fawzy

Bishoy Astafanus Kamel

Somaily Astafanus Kamel

Malak Ibrahim Sinweet

Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros

Worker from Awr Village
(name unknown at this time)

Mina Fayez Aziz

Hany Abdelmesih Salib

Bishoy Adel Khalaf

Samuel Alham Wilson

Girgis Milad Sinweet

Ezat Bishri Naseef

Loqa Nagaty

Gaber Munir Adly

Esam Badir Samir

Malak Farag Abram

Sameh Salah Faruq

Jesus remembers their baptisms, and he remembers yours.  He will not forget.  (Mark 16:16).

The man crucified next to Jesus said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  And Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  (Luke 23:42-43, ESV).

Kyrie eleison!

Coptic Christians immerse their babies in baptism.

Additional Resources:

What is Lent? A Video

The above video was produced by Concordia Publishing House.  The song the children sang in the video is “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”

O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown.
O sacred Head, what glory,
What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
And grant to me Thy grace.

My Shepherd, now receive me;
My Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me,
O Source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me
With words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me
To heavenly joys above.

— “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” LSB 450:1, 3-4.

The original wording of this hymn is attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

May you have a blessed Lent.

Obama’s Terrorism Blind Spot

254EF51800000578-0-image-m-24_1423520104864The Islamic State burned a man alive in a cage, then at the National Day of Prayer, President Obama told American Christians to get off their high horses.  Said Obama, “People committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

Muhammadans murdered people at a kosher deli in Paris.  In response, President Obama called it random violence.

The Islamic State kidnapped 21 Christians, took them in another country, and beheaded them along the Mediterranean Sea.  In the same video, they also threatened to spill the blood of every single Christian in the world.

What should our response be?  Should we get off our high horse, and not judge?  Are all Americans and Christians just a bunch of hypocrites because of the Spanish Inquisition?

Thanks for the history lesson, but no thanks, Mr. President.  Christians, especially, know that we are not perfect.  Our own sin and the universality of sin is an integral part of our theology.  But we strive against our sin, we strive to do better, and we strive against evil in this world.

However, how can we strive against evil until after we have identified what is evil?  And how can we defeat evil if we do not know what is causing it?  What is motivating the terrorists?  What is causing this world wide convulsion of evil?  Obama seems to think this is just unmotivated random violence, in other words, it is just violence for its own sake.  He says, Islam is not the motivation.

But the terrorists disagree.  They say they are justified by the teaching of Islam.  And they are often very specific about just what teachings of Islam justify their behavior.  Should they be believed?  I do not know, but the fact is that their arguments are convincing Muhammadans around the world.

Therefore, we need to have a real discussion about Islam.  These boilerplate bromides from our leaders about how all religions are peaceful is not a debate or even a discussion.  Such bromides are just stupid.  The Aztecs sacrificed hundreds-of-thousands of people to their gods by cutting out their still beating hearts, and then rolling the bloody human bodies down their pyramids.  Is that a religion of peace?  By the way, that religious violence no longer takes place because Christians got on their literal high horses, and put an end to it.

How about the worship of Kali?  Was or is that a religion of peace?  (The Guardian).

These terrorists are trying to start a world war, and every day their movement gets bigger and more violent.  Why is this happening?

Obama’s blind spot is that he does not understand what motivates the terrorists.  But if he wants to effectively lead against this evil, he first needs to know what is causing it.  What are we striving against?  What is the threat we are facing?  Is it world war and global jihad?  Or is it just some unmotivated random violence?

Further Valuable Reading:

Photographic Interlude

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There hasn’t been much snow around here this Winter, so in the absence of snowy pictures, I thought I’d post a picture from last Autumn.

The above picture is of the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains.  The water is Mills Lake, and the mountain between the trees is probably Pagoda Mountain (13,497 ft).  I was at an estimated elevation of about 10,000 feet above sea level when I took the picture.

A Song of Ascents:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

— Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8, ESV.

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The above picture is of the stream leading into Mills Lake.

May God bless you.

A Readers’ Favorite Review

My brother, Jonathan, recently wrote a book called The Death You Deserve, and it has received very positive reviews.

Jonathan posted one of the reviews from Readers’ Favorite on his book’s Facebook page. That Facebook post is embedded below. (To read the entire review, just click the “see more” link within the embedded Facebook post).

The Death You Deserve is available now on Amazon.com.

God’s blessings to you.

Matt Harrison, Pastor of Pastors

10888568_10205865964639164_367075598960480709_nOn January 26, 2015, Matthew Harrison, the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod said:

When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the Errancy of the Bible, the historical critical method, open communion, communion with the reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the synod is meaningless.

I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance, and remove such a teacher where there is not repentance, then we are liars, and our confession is meaningless.  I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it.

I have no intention of walking away from my vocation.  I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.

— Matt Harrison.
Facebook post, January 26, 2015 A.D.

Pastor Harrison was referring to Matthew Becker an ordained LCMS clergyman and teacher at Valparaiso University, an alma mater of mine.

As you can see in the photo above, Pastor Harrison is an actual pastor.  He is a pastor of pastors.  And the vocation of a pastor involves calling out sin and false doctrine.

Apparently, he does not have the direct bureaucratic power to fix this sore situation, but he does have the power of the word of God.  And that is a power not to be underestimated.  However, even though God’s word is all powerful, that does not mean that it is God’s will to fix the LCMS.  There is only one holy Christian Church, and it is not coterminous with the LCMS or any other Lutheran synod.

God is in control, and our prayers are with President Harrison.  May God give him strength, wisdom, and especially, faithful helpers.

Kyrie eleison.

The Last Hike of Autumn

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These are pictures from the last hike of Autumn.

The warm golden colors of the sunset were a fitting end to the Autumn hiking season.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV).

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The pictures were taken at Governor Thompson State Park near the Peshtigo River in Wisconsin.

May God bless you.

The Difference Sunlight Can Make

Spotty rain clouds were sailing over the peaks while we hiked over the mountains on the Cub Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Taking photos was a challenge because the sun would come out, then hide behind a cloud, then come out again, and on and on.  Often, I saw a shot, took my camera out, turned it on, lined it up, got focus, and whoosh another cloud.  This happened repeatedly.

Clouds have their own beauty, and spotty clouds scraping the mountain peaks can be quite breathtaking especially when they cause the sunlight to fall in beams or crepuscular rays.  Nonetheless, a cloudy diffused light often doesn’t make the best photograph.  I am posting the following two photographs taken only moments apart to demonstrate the difference sunlight can make.

In this top photo, the sun is blocked and diffused by clouds.

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In the photo below, the sun is shining through the clouds.

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These two pictures were taken almost at the same time and from almost the same spot.  As the wisdom of Scripture says, “Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:7, ESV).

As a final note, there was a big forest fire around Cub Lake the year prior to this hike.  Some careless campers let a fire get out of control, and it burned this entire area.  If the tree roots holding the rock and soil in place on the mountain slope rot away before new trees take their place, there could be landslides, and this would become a different place.  So far at least as of last Autumn, the trees were burned and dead, but the wood and roots were still solid and strong.

Let us walk in the light, and let us always enjoy God’s blessings while we have them.

Initial Reviews of “The Death You Deserve”

The Death You DeserveMy brother Jonathan just finished writing a novel called The Death You Deserve, and the initial reviews are already in and quite positive.

Said K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite:

The Death You Deserve is the first book in Wither The Waking World, a fantasy series by Jonathan Techlin.  Its central character is Theel, a lowly squire who desperately wants to be in control of his own life.  For now, at least, the orphaned Theel is bound to serve the King, and he sets off in search of a child called Blessed Soul, whom prophecy dictates will mend the broken world.  So begins an epic journey spanning a vivid new fantasy world, torn apart by war and populated by vicious characters and fascinating magical curses that young Theel must contend with to achieve his Warrior’s Baptism, and eventually his freedom.

I was drawn to this book because I felt as though it had a Game Of Thrones feel to it, and Jonathan Techlin did not disappoint me in that respect.  From the first page of The Death You Deserve, I was immersed in a vivid fantasy world with all the splendour, violence and bleakness that I’d hoped for.  I was also highly impressed with the delicacy and true emotional depth of the novel’s central character.  Theel is a charming, somewhat damaged hero who I feel any reader can connect with, and whilst reading of his quest I was genuinely concerned for his fate.  The world he inhabits is also detailed to the point of amazement, with locations that are a feast for a wordy brain, and folklore and history that proves Techlin to be a master of world-building.  This book is a hefty epic fantasy journey, but also one with a real heartfelt message at its core about what it means to grow up and find your future.

K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite.

Zane Stillings on Goodreads said:

the story cuts sharply between scenes of deep, tense drama and those of levity and comedy with equal skill.  It tells a story that feels at once archetypal and ancient, but in a way you haven’t seen it told before.  It delivers laughs, tears, tension and action in great, descriptive prose.  It gives you characters to love, to root for, to ruminate on.  Most of all, it envelops you in a world all its own, and makes you feel immersed in that world completely…  reading it will definitely put your brain to good use.  Can’t recommend this strongly enough.

Review by Zane Stillings on Goodreads.

Adam, a reviewer on Amazon.com, wrote:

If you are looking for an immersive high fantasy universe with some of the best action writing around, you have found the right book.  Jonathan Techlin is masterful in giving you what you want while also truly innovating in a genre desperate for fresh elements.  The Death You Deserve is cinematic in the way you can see every swing of the sword, defiant glare, and intimate moment in crisp detail while not bogging you down with vapid minutiae.  And if you think you know fantasy, wait until you see the twists Techlin has in store for you.  Techlin’s original take on fantasy transcends the genre by bending it, not merely to be different, but to provide the reader with a complete literary experience, a story as unpredictable as it is familiar, as fascinating as it is satisfying…  It receives my highest recommendation.

Review by Adam on Amazon.com.

If you are interested in dark sword and sorcerer type stories with complex characters, please check it out.

Book of Concord Drawing for 2015 BJS Conference

I have some extra copies of the Christian Book of Concord with a bonded-leather-cover from Concordia Publishing House, and thought I’d try to give away one of them here on Light from Light in conjunction with my attendance at the upcoming 2015 Brothers of John the Steadfast Conference.

This edition of the Book of Concord is similar to the regular hard-cover Second Edition, except it has a bonded-leather-cover with gold trim on the page edges and it comes in a gift box.  The condition is new, never used.

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If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy, just fill out the form below.  However, you must be at least 18 years old, may enter the drawing only once, and you must be able to find me at the Brothers of John the Steadfast conference in Naperville, IL on February 20 and 21, 2015 A.D. to receive the book in person.

There is a $10 discount for the conference if you register by January 20, 2015.

This giveaway is my own independent effort, and is not done in conjunction with the Brothers of John the Steadfast.  After the winner is chosen at random, all names and e-mails will be permanently deleted.  The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 A.D.