Good Friday 2017

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He took our bad, and replaced it with his good.  This Friday is good.

How blest shall be, Eternally
Who oft in faith will ponder
Why the glorious Prince of life
Should be buried yonder.

O Jesus blest, My Help and Rest,
With tears I now entreat you:
Make me love you to the last
Till in heaven I greet you.

— “Oh, Darkest Woe,” CW 137:4-5.

The colors and light in the photograph are soft and heavenly because the harsh cross that Christ endured is the way to heaven.  Good Friday is the way to Resurrection Sunday.

“It is finished!”

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Maundy Thursday 2017

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“This is my body.”

“This is my blood.”

Praise the Father, who from heaven
Unto us such food has given
And, to mend what we have done,
Gave into death his only Son.

Then hold fast with faith unshaken
That this food is to be taken
By the souls who are distressed,
By hearts that long for peace and rest.

If your heart this truth professes
And your mouth your sin confesses,
Surely you will be his guest
And at his banquet ever blest.

— “Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior,” CW 313:7-8.

He is the word made flesh given to us.

Palm Sunday 2017

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They spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road, and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

Jesus, the King of All, entered Jerusalem.  He fulfilled the word of the prophet that said, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey,” (Zechariah 9:9, ESV).

Hosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.

— “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” CW 130:1.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Please pray for the Christians murdered in Egypt today.

Palm Sunday 2016

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As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

— Luke 19:37-40, ESV.

Every Spring, the new growth does proclaim the glory of God.  Jesus is God.  The rocks do proclaim his glory.  How much more so should we proclaim his glory for he redeemed us with his own blood?

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

Palm Sunday 2015 – Hosanna!

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May the Lord bless your Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

Hosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.

May we follow the example of those children, may we follow Jesus.  (Matthew 18:1-4 & 21:16).

From Olivet they followed
Mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving
And chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven
Rode on in lowly state
Nor scorned that little children
Should on His bidding wait.

— “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” Luthernan Service Book, 443:1-2.

Every Spring the very rocks declare the glory of the Lord, and all creation sings his praises.  (Psalm 19:1).

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Early sun beams illuminate daffodils.

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

— Luke 19:37-40, ESV.

Blessed Palm Sunday 2014

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May you have a blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

From Olivet they followed
Mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving
And chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of saints and angels
Rode on in lowly state
Nor scorned that little children
Should on his bidding wait.

“Hosanna in the highest!”
That ancient song we sing,
For Christ is our Redeemer,
The Lord of heaven our King.
Oh, may we ever praise him
With heart and life and voice
And in his royal presence
Eternally rejoice.

— “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” Christian Worship, 130:2-3.

The morning sun illuminates daffodils.

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The Lord came to the earth, and from the earth He receives praise.

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

— Luke 19:40, ESV.

Drawing Mohammed and Jesus

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In the Spring of 2010 A.D., numerous advocates of free speech in America started an internet movement called “Everybody Draw Mohammed.”  It began in response to American media giants like The New York Times, Viacom, and Comedy Central self-censoring images and news about Islam and Mohammed.  There were threats that certain Americans would end up like Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered for criticizing Islam/Mohammedanism.

The idea was that if all freedom loving folk would draw Mohammed, then they could not kill us all, or at least the threat level directed at specific individuals would diminish.  However, Islam’s goal is not just to stop us from drawing Mohammed.  Islam’s ultimate goal is to dominate the world both religiously and politically.  Islam is not just a religion, it is also a system of government based on a set of ideas that are not compatible with freedom of conscience.

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These pictures are of members of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine.  They are of the sort of fellows that would like to kill you for drawing a picture of Mohammed, or for being Christian, or for not being the right kind of Muslim.  Do you want to see an image of Mohammed?  Look.  Unfortunately, they are the face of Mohammed.

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There is another image of Mohammed: the word of Mohammed.

Mohammed says when they reject Allah’s word, then use the sword; (for example: fight the non-Muslims until they readily pay the protection tax.  Koran, Surah 9:29).  However, this is the word of man.  God’s word is powerful and does not need swords.  The true Prophet “Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away!'”  (John 18:11).  Then later, Jesus told the pagan governor of Palestine:

“My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

[John 18:36-37].

God’s word does not need swords.  Jesus is the true Prophet.  His followers conquered the pagan Roman Empire without the sword.  In fact, they did not even knock over the pagan idols.

In response to the radical “reforms” of Karlstadt who sought to destroy images, Martin Luther said:

Once, when Paul came to Athens (Acts 17 [:16–32]), a mighty city, he found in the temple many ancient altars, and he went from one to the other and looked at them all, but he did not kick down a single one of them with his foot.  Rather he stood up in the middle of the market place and said they were nothing but idolatrous things and begged the people to forsake them; yet he did not destroy one of them by force.  When the Word took hold of their hearts, they forsook them of their own accord, and in consequence the thing fell of itself…  For the Word created heaven and earth and all things [Psalm 33:6]; the Word must do this thing, and not we poor sinners.

In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion…  [God’s word] is almighty, and takes captive the hearts, and when the hearts are captured the work will fall of itself.

[Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I.  III-78.  Philadelphia: Fortress Press.  (1999, c1959).  Emphasis added].

Nor did Paul resort to mere insult, but instead he reasoned with the pagans according even to their own poets.  (Acts 17:28).  (With freedom comes responsibility, and the purpose of free speech is to tell the truth.  Mere insult devoid of reason is an abuse, not a use of free speech).

God’s word created heaven and earth (Psalm 33:6), therefore, God’s word is also powerful enough to change the heart of sinful man.  True believers can trust God’s word alone.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  (Luke 21:33).  Why did Jesus say this?  Because His words are Truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the true God, except through Jesus.  (John 14:6).

God does not need our services, but it is our privilege to speak His word; and His word does not lose its power simply because it is in our mouths.

Many Muslims are opposed to drawing any prophet (including Jesus) or any person or animal.  The Taliban believes that photographs are a sin.  (Religion Facts.com).  But if we stop making pictures or depicting Jesus or any prophet out of fear, we will have surrendered to the Jihad.  We will have become Mohammedans, because to act like a Mohammedan is to be a Mohammedan whether the motivation is faith or fear.

The true God wants to first change our hearts with His Word, but others are more concerned with immediate earthly results.  Have faith.  God’s word is our strength.  Jesus said,

“a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.”  [John 16:2-3].

Who is the true God and the true Prophet?  The true God has a different character than Allah and Mohammed; the natural man cannot understand Him.

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“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”  (This was foretold by the prophet Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).  Jesus paid the consequences for the sins of the whole world.  Your sins have been paid for by Jesus, now treat your fellow man as Jesus has treated you.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the true God except through Jesus.  He is the one God.  (John 8:58, 14:6).

Photo credits: via PicApp.