A Calm Place in the Wind

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Early on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, tornadoes and strong winds blew through Wisconsin’s Fox Valley.  The pictures in this post show damage from the tornado that destroyed buildings and trees in Freedom, WI.  No lives were lost directly from the storm itself.

Whenever disaster strikes, it is a call to repentance and faith.  God will protect His faithful in Christ, if not in this life, then in the next.  On the cross and through the tomb Christ weathered the worst storm of all: death itself.  Of all men, He alone came through, and is now our calm place in the wind.  “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”  (Matthew 8:27, KJV).  No matter how weak and small we are God can and will protect us.

The pictures in this post are from the same area where about 110 trees were snapped, splintered, and ripped out by the roots.  In the picture below there are two plants: one sturdy old evergreen that had weathered many a storm, and a potted plant.

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One tipped over, the other didn’t.

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  (Luke 12:32, KJV).

Prayers for the WELS 2013 Convention

WELS logoThe Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod 2013 convention is being held this week in New Ulm, Minnesota.  Please pray for our brothers in the faith.

One of the major issues for the convention is the need of a new Bible translation.  Earlier this year, President Schroeder shared his thoughts on the translation issue in a paper entitled: “My Thoughts on the Translation Issue.”  President Schroeder’s thoughts are well worth reading.

May the Lord bless this convention with wisdom, truth, and brotherly love.

Almighty God and Lord, grant the delegates in New Ulm Your presence.  Enlighten and guide them by Your Word that in all matters of deliberation they may always consider the best interests of Your Church.  Let Your Holy Spirit rule and direct their hearts that, in the spirit of Christian love, they may present and discuss matters truthfully and be kindly disposed toward one another, to the end that all they say and do may please You; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

(The above indented prayer is a paraphrase of “To open a congregational meeting” from Lutheran Service Book, 307).

Summer Solstice Pictures 2013

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Green Bay in blue and green

All the pictures in this post were taken at Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin.

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Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

A light still warns the ships from the top of the lighthouse, but the house itself is now a museum.

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Eagle Bluff Lighthouse living quarters

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These are the bluffs near Eagle Tower.  Notice the cliffs rising behind the trees.

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A good place to take pictures is a little beach near the bicycle parking lot at the terminus of the Sunset Trail across the harbor from Fish Creek.  (This area used to be under water, but is now mostly dry because the water level of Lake Michigan has dropped).

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During most of the year, the sun sets behind the bluffs of the town of Fish Creek, but around the time of the Summer Solstice the sun sets over the harbor.

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Around the time of the Summer Solstice, the sun sets far in the north.  This makes for some beautiful water reflections with sailboat silhouettes.

How many words is a picture worth?

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Here is a recent picture from my former congregation.  What does this picture say?

The baptismal font in the lower left corner shows that there was a baptism.  So this was not a concert.  The pastor was wearing red.  The liturgical color of white for Easter was being displayed.  The altar and a statue of Jesus were covered up by a big screen TV.  (Normally, in this congregation, only the unused pulpit is covered by a TV screen).  What else does the picture say?

The Facebook caption for the photo is: “Sunday Worship with Koine.”  (Built on the Rock, St. Peter Lutheran, Appleton, WI).  Koine is known for playing only hymns out of the hymnal, but the lyrics displayed on the screen say: “I pulled my coat tight, against the calling crowd.”  That doesn’t sound like a hymn, but who knows.

This picture has captured some attention on the internet.  For example, LCMS Pastor Todd Wilken (the host of Issues, Etc.) used the picture as “a general illustration of how contemporary worship distracts from the focus on the Word and Sacraments.”  (The Bare Bulb, “An Act of Aggression,” comment).  Does this picture illustrate how contemporary worship distracts from the means of grace, or does it illustrate genuine Lutherans using all their God given gifts to the best of their ability?

Aquinas Quoting Augustine on Scripture Alone

“Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable.  For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors.  Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): ‘Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them.  But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning.'”

— St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia,
Part 1, Question 1, Article 8
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Emphasis added.

Happy Easter 2013 A.D.

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Happy Easter!

He is risen!

Holy Week Message from Pastor Harrison

In Christ God’s power was made perfect in weakness.

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”

— Ephesians 3:14-21, NKJV.

Pictures from the 2013 BJS Conference

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The Brothers of John the Steadfast held their fifth annual conference on Friday and Saturday, February 15 & 16, 2013 A.D. at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL.  Bethany recently installed some new stained glass windows.  The window above depicts some of the church buildings in which Bethany has called home.

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On Friday, Pastor Fisk spoke about being raised Lutheran, but not staying Lutheran, and the challenges we face in passing on the faith to future generations.

One of the goals of the Brothers of John the Steadfast is to use new media to pass on the faith.  Pastor Fisk exemplifies that approach in his video podcast, Worldview Everlasting.  Pastor Fisk’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.

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On Saturday morning, Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, a co-host of Table Talk Radio, spoke about loving God’s word.  (Click here to view the video of his presentation).

God’s word causes us to understood, is without error, and inspires love.  One of the best aspects of a Brothers of John the Steadfast conference is the fellowship of brothers in Christ.  Scott Diekmann wrote about the fellowship of this year’s conference in a post entitled: “Joy.”

Because God has filled our hearts with love, we also love one another.  Every year the BJS conference features fine fellowship, delicious food, and generous hospitality.  This year was no different.  We were also treated to two fine sermons by Pastor Hans Fiene (“Steadfast in Doctrine, Steadfast in Love“) and Pastor Tony Sikora (“The Shallow Promises of the Defeated Devil“).

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On Saturday afternoon, Pastor James May spoke about Lutherans in Africa.  Pastor May said the best way to make disciples was by preaching and teaching the word of God.  He said that Islamic missionaries were teaching their faith, while many Christian missionaries gave out T-shirts.  We should never neglect people’s physical needs, but we should not pretend that helping other people physically is the same thing as teaching the gospel.  The Church Growth Movement does not work in America or Africa.

One story that stood out was of a mother who wanted her babies to be baptized, but could not afford the baptismal fees charged by the Roman Catholic priests.  The fee for a baptism was $15, but $15 was two weeks wages in that part of Africa, and she had twins.  She was trying to find a priest who would bless her babies for free, when she discovered Pastor May.  Pastor May explained that he was not a priest, but that baptism was not so much about becoming a member of the Roman Catholic Church, as it was about becoming united to Christ.  The gospel is freedom, so Pastor May baptized her babies for free.  Her children later died, and she was comforted by their baptism.  She believed that baptism united her children with Christ and saved them because God so said.  (Romans 6:3-5).

Pastor May’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.

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The picture above is of Bethany’s nave after the conference concluded.  For additional pictures from this and past year’s conferences, click here.

BoC Bonded Leather Edition Giveaway BJS 2013

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I have some extra copies of the Christian Book of Concord bonded-leather-cover edition 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 an upcoming Lutheran conference.  This 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.

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 15 and 16, 2013 A.D. to receive the book in person.

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 Thursday, February 14, 2013 A.D.

Can we keep our children safe from harm?

Can we keep our children safe from harm, or are we powerless?  Is violence against children the price of our freedom?

In the video above, President Obama’s words are taken out of context.  He cares nothing for the lives of children before they are born or even right after they are born if they are unwanted by their parents.  (Barack Obama on Human Rights).  In the face of callous disregard, all men of goodwill must march for life.  They must stand up for life everyday and in every way.

One way people stand up for the dignity of human life is by taking part in the annual March for Life in Washington D.C.  This literal march takes place every year on the anniversary of the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.  In the forty years since this infamous decision, over fifty-five million babies have been intentionally killed in the United States.  (Number of Abortions.com).

Are we powerless to stop this violence against children?  Are we powerless to even make it illegal to intentionally kill a child?