Merry Christmas 2016 A.D.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

— Luke 2:6-7, KJV.

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And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

—Luke 2:10-11, KJV.

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And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

— Luke 2:18-19, KJV.

The pictures are from St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Merry Christmas!

For Others

“Christ first takes possession of the conscience, and when it is right in faith toward God, then he also directs us to do work toward our neighbor…   God does not desire the Christian to live for himself.  Yea, cursed is the life that lives for self.  For all that one lives after he is a Christian, he lives for others.”

—Martin Luther,
Homily for Trinity 19, Church Postils.
Emphasis added.

Martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya One Year Ago

12717472_10153351151718144_1384525524307004071_nFor over a thousand years, followers of Islam have been waging genocide against anyone who disagrees with them.  A little over a year ago, some of these followers murdered twenty-one Coptic Christians in Libya on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  We remember these particular victims because their murderers made a video.

They died with the name of Jesus on their lips.  Because of the video, they were able to confess Christ to the world.  Christ will remember them.  (Luke 23:42-43).  Christ will remember us all.  (John 6:37-40).

Some give their lives to Christ in one bold act of confessing his name at the edge of a sword, while others give their lives through countless acts of service to others.  All Christians must give their lives because Christ gave his.  Christ gave his life, and we must follow him.

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

— Luke 9:23-25, ESV.

President Harrison of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a short video commemorating the anniversary of the martyrdom of the twenty-one Coptic Christians:

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.

But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day:
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

— “For All the Saints,” LSB 677:1-2, 7-8.

Notes:

A Lutheran Satire Thank You

Create in me a clean heart, O God
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence,
and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,
and uphold me with Thy free spirit.
Amen.

— Offertory, LSB 192-193
(Psalm 51:10-12).

Lutheran Satire links:

May we be always grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

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In this world, some imagine “that godliness is a means of gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”  (1 Timothy 6:5-6, ESV).

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.  And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.  Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

I have received full payment, and more.  I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

— Philippians 4:11-20, ESV.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving in every circumstance.  Thank you for visiting, and may God be with you always.

Autumn Blessings

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The Lord is merciful and good.  So let us fear the Lord in every season.

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

— Isaiah 64:6, ESV.

But the Lord is merciful, and sends rain in the Spring and in the Autumn.  Because of Christ crucified and his mercies:

‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.’

— Jeremiah 5:24, ESV.

Every day and every season brings us one ticktock closer to his final return.  For those in Christ, his return will be beautiful.

Notes:

The picture at the top was taken at Copper Falls State Park in Wisconsin.

The sun still rises and sets.

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The sun still rises and sets.

Some things preexist the government.  The sun, the earth, humanity; these are things that neither came from the government nor do they need the permission of the government to exist.  Human families are where we came from; all of us came from an unbroken succession of one man and one woman back to the very beginning.

The sun does not ask the government’s permission to shine.  The earth is not fruitful because the state approved.  And the physical union of one man and one woman was not ordained by the U.S. Constitution.

Our right to exist, our right to life, our very lives all preexist the government.  Our lives all came from one woman and one man.  We do not ask the government for permission to live because our lives were given by God through our mothers and fathers.  Once upon a time, we knew such things, and said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …

— U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court attempted to usurp the authority of reality by declaring a dead rock to be a “family tree.”  But reality does not and will never comport itself to the words of man.  Our words should comport with reality, not the other way around.  We play God when we attempt to shape reality through our words.

God laughs.  No child will ever be born from two-men or two-women.  No one has ever been born from two-men or two-women.  None of these so-called “marriages” will ever be consummated.  None of these so-called “marriages” will ever produce a single child.  None of these so-called “marriages” will ever experience the one-flesh-union of real marriage.

True marriage is the life-long one-flesh union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.  It is based on and flows from our human design.  Men and women are designed to be together, their bodies compliment each other.

All Justice Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court have succeeded in doing is playing redefinition word games.  A rose is a rose by whatever name one calls it, and so is true marriage.

The government did not create the sun.  The government did not create life.  The government did not create liberty.  And the government did not create marriage.

The sun rises.  The sun sets.  The true Lord is still in control.

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:

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:

Legitimate fear is not a phobia.

Telegraph-Charlie-Hebdo-IslamophobiaLast week, Islamist Muhammadans mass murdered people in France over cartoons deemed offensive to Islam.  In response, the British newspaper The Telegraph ran an article with the headline: “France faces rising tide of Islamophobia.”  It was subtitled: “Politicians try to calm fears, but the mass shootings at Charlie Hebdo follows a series of attacks across France.”

Yes, there has been a series of attacks across France, and these attacks were perpetrated by people who said they were following Islam.  I saw the video.  One of the attackers walked up to a wounded policeman who was lying on the sidewalk, and shot him in the head in cold blood.  This was coordinated.  This was organized.  This was devilish.  This was perpetrated by people shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet!”

Should I be afraid to criticize Muhammad or Islam on this blog?  If I do feel concern and fear, would that be a phobia?  Would that be an irrational fear?  Would that be a mental disorder?  Is it phobic merely to have fear?  No.  Legitimate fear is healthy because it can cause us to do research and to take necessary precautions.  A phobia, on the other hand, is an irrational fear.

Islamists have been fighting to conquer the world since the founding of Islam.  They may kill you if you reject Muhammad.  This is reality.  Recognizing reality is not a mental disorder.  Recognizing reality is not irrational.  Recognizing reality is not a phobia.

The real mental disorder afflicting the West is our denial of history and reality.  The real mental disorder is calling the recognition of reality a “phobia.”

Is France facing a rising tide of irrational fear?  Or are some of the French starting to express legitimate concern over a series of mass murders in the name of Islam?

I suspect that many journalists do censor themselves when it comes to Islam because they have legitimate fear, and not a phobia.  However, we need to stop calling legitimate fears “phobias,” show some courage, and start dealing with facts and truth.

The first question that must be asked is: Where do these Islamists get the idea of violent world conquest?  To what religion do these Islamists subscribe?  If it is not Islam, then what is it?  No matter the answer to that question, the fact remains that there is a murderous religion in the world with millions of followers, and its adherents call it “Islam.”  Whatever you call it, it is not a phobia to fear it.  This murderous worldwide movement is real.