Saturday, August 31, 2019

Private Confession & Absolution -- Saturday, September 7 (9:00-11:00 AM)

Private Confession and Absolution
Saturday, September 7, 9:00-11:00 AM

When Lutherans hear someone speak of Private Confession and Absolution, the response is usually a knee-jerk, "That's Roman Catholic!"  Though that may be a common perception, the perception is because either it was taught wrongly or understood wrongly.  Consider what the Lutheran Confessions teach about Private Confession and Absolution.

Our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession.  For, according to the Psalm, it is impossible.  "Who can discern his errors?" (Psalm 19:12) -- Augsburg Confession, Article XI

What is Confession?
     AnswerConfession has two parts: the one is that we confess our sins; the other is that we receive Absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no way doubt, but firmly believe that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven by this.
What sins should we confess?
     Answer: Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those that we do not know, as we do in the Lord's Prayer.  But before the confessor we should confess only those sins that we know and feel in our hearts. -- Luther's Small Catechism, Part V

These are basic confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  They are catholic, insofar as they are Christian.  But they are not Roman, insofar as the penitent is not obligated to orally confess every sin in order to be forgiven of it and insofar as one's forgiveness is not dependent upon some action on the part of the penitent.  The forgiveness is based on Jesus' sufferings and death for the penitent who has been baptized into his name.

Since the practice of Private Confession and Absolution is a Lutheran practice, it would be good for Lutherans to practice it.  It is good for the penitent who is grieved by a particular sin to confess it so that he can hear Christ say through the mouth of his minister: "I forgive you."  It would be good for the one who is burdened to be relieved of his burden by Holy Absolution.  It would be good for this practice, though foreign to many in my corner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to be restored.  And so it will be.

Private Confession and Absolution has always been available to all members by appointment.  (I am guessing that has been a pretty good secret.)  In order for this practice to be restored and perhaps put to better use, there will be dates on the calendar set aside for anyone who would like to drop in and make use of this means of grace.  These will be set up about 4 times per year.  Private Confession and Absolution will still be available by appointment in addition to these scheduled times.

It is anticipated that Private Confession and Absolution will roughly follow this regular schedule.
     The Saturday before or on Epiphany (Epiphany is always January 6)
     The Saturday before Palm Sunday
     The Saturday after Labor Day weekend
     The Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend (should coincide with the 1st Saturday in Advent)

The next scheduled date and time for Private Confession and Absolution will be Saturday, September 7, 9:00-11:00 PM.  Appointments are not necessary.  You need only drop in.  All participation is voluntary, as Absolution cannot be forced upon anyone.

Of course, this will be new to pretty much any member who decides to make use of it.  If you happen to come in, the pastor will walk through the rite with you and explain the various parts of it, especially including the "private" part, namely, that this confession is to Christ and, therefore, remains his business alone.  The pastor will not report any confession or even the names of those who come for confession.  Finally, the point of this is not for a pastor to learn everyone's dirty, little secrets.  (His life is easier if he remains ignorant.  But God's people do not call a pastor to be ignorant; they call him to absolve in the name of Jesus.)  The point is for the guilty and the grieved to find relief and receive forgiveness, or absolution.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (August 29, 2019)

Greetings!


SUMMER SCHEDULE
        Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.
        Sunday School & Adult Bible Class resume on September 8, 8:45 AM.

MID-WEEK SERVICES
        In the event that you are out of town over the weekend, you can find worship services during the week in the following locations.
        Monday at 7:00 PM –  St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church(1343 Penniman Ave, Plymouth)
        Thursday at 6:30 PM – St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church(17810 Farmington Road, Livonia)

REGULAR SCHEDULE TO RESUME ON SEPTEMBER 8
        Please note the change to the schedule which is coming up quickly.

>>>>> Sunday School classes will meet at 8:45 AM.

>>>>> Adult Bible Class will meet at 8:45 AM.  We will be working our way through the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, seeing how God continued to preserve his plan of salvation.  We will give special attention to the prophet Samuel and to the kings, Saul and David.

>>>>> Our Church Picnic will take place shortly after the service.  You are welcome to come to church in rather casual dress on September 8.  Following the service, we will fire up the grills to cook burgers and hot dogs.  Meat, buns, condiments, and beverages will be provided by the church.  Members are asked to bring a dish to share.  A Sign Up Genius will soon be publicized to determine what kinds of additional dishes people are bringing (no need to have 10 dozen cookies and no side dishes) and to RSVP.  We plan on having games and activities to allow our members to enjoy each others' company and to get to know each other better.  All are welcome, including any guests who happen to be with us (whom you are encouraged to bring along).
          There is a Sign Up Genius for the church picnic.  You can find it here: 
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050D48A4A82EABFD0-church/17772940

>>>>> In addition, we will acknowledge the completion of our mortgage payments for Good Shepherd with a mortgage burning ceremony, also on September 8.

A BIBLE CLASS ALTERNATIVE????
Some have stated that Sunday morning's 8:45 AM Adult Bible Class is too early.  Since Adult Bible Class is important (it offers fellow Christians to discuss matters important to the Christian faith, presents opportunities for mutual encouragement, and strengthens our fellowship), I am entertaining the idea of offering Adult Bible Class on Wednesday evening in addition to Sunday morning.  It would be the same as Sunday's Bible class, but repeated on Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM.
The question now is not, “Is this a good idea?”  The question to be answered is this: “Who is committed to coming on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM?”  Before this Adult Bible Class is put on the calendar, I need to k now if anyone will be attending it.
Please respond to welsnovi@aol.com or text (248) 719-5218 and indicate, “I will be there.”  Also, include your name as this will allow me to know how many to expect.  This evening class offers an opportunity to invite your friends who might think that Sunday mornings at 8:45 AM are way too early.
Finally, this will not effect Sunday School.  Sunday School remains at 8:45 AM on Sundays.

BIBLE BASICS CLASS to begin on Monday, September 9
Bible Basics Class is a class for the benefit of all from those who are curious about the Christian faith to those who want to be further grounded in Biblical teachings.  The class is designed to cover...
  ... the basics of Christianity for those who desire to learn more.  
  ... what Lutherans believe, teach, and confess about the word of God.  
  ... what God considers “good enough” for us to get to heaven.
  ... how we can know who God really is.
  ... what God desires for all mankind.
Whether you are a Bible scholar or barely know what a Bible is, this class is for you.  There is no cost.  All materials are provided.  Come with questions.  Come with friends.  Come and learn what God wants you to know.
Our Bible Basics Class will be on Mondays, 7:00-8:30 PM.  
        Members of Good Shepherd, you can already start thinking about whom you would bring to this class.  Talk to them about it and attend with them.  For more information or details, please speak with Pastor Schroeder.

PRIVATE CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
On Saturday, September 7, 9:00-11:00 AM, Pastor Schroeder will be in his office and available for Private Confession & Absolution.  No appointment will be necessary.  If you are grieved or haunted by particular sins and desire to hear your Savior's word of forgiveness, this is for you.  Pastor Schroeder will walk through the rite since it is unfamiliar to most.  As the name suggests, the confession remains private.  It is made to Christ.  Likewise, the forgiveness is Christ's through the mouth of his minister.

Private Confession & Absolution is always available by appointment.

NOTES from Huron Valley Lutheran High School (HVL)
Upcoming Events:
Sept 7            HVL Golf Outing
Sept 19-21     HVL Rummage Sale

HVL Golf Outing - The annual HVL golf outing will be held at the Fox Hills Golf Course on Saturday, Sept 7th.  Register at www.hvlhs.org.


Join HVL’s Mailing List - Go to HVLHS.org and click on “Sign up for Newsletter” or call or email the school office at mail@hvlhs.org to be added.

OFFICE HOURS
        Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM. While there may be some flexibility to this schedule, we will try to keep it as regular as possible. 

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS will resume September 8.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM


Monday, August 26, 2019

Something from ... Luther's "The Bondage of the Will" (Entry #6)

INTRODUCTORY NOTES:  During the life of Martin Luther, Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus, was urged by Roman Catholic Church leaders to challenge Luther’s teachings and to condemn him.  Although Erasmus would rather have kept the peace in the Church, Erasmus was finally goaded into attacking Luther.  Erasmus intended to defend the official Roman Catholic teaching that God’s grace was needed to do the works by which man could then merit additional grace.  Luther’s response to Erasmus is known as The Bondage of the Will (De Servo Arbitrio).  Although Luther had published a myriad of writings in his career, he did not consider them worth preserving.  Luther regarded The Bondage of the Will as a rare exception to that rule.  In it, Luther writes at length that “free will” in spiritual matters is a lie, and that, if man actually has free will, then God loses such attributes as grace, omnipotence, and even his right to be God.
            The quotations from Luther in this blog post come from The Bondage of the Will translated by J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI. © 1957.
            The following are thoughts concerning Luther’s arguments, urging us to LET GOD BE GOD.  Something from Luther’s The Bondage of the Will.


Let God be omnipotent.

           One of the attributes of God which causes great difficulty for us is God's omnipotence.  Sometimes we get excited about it, like when we cheer God on who destroys the enemies of his people.  And perhaps our excitement in that betrays the idea that God will do the same for us (i.e., wipe out for us those we perceive to be our enemies).  Or worse, we may even think we can harness God's omnipotence for our own use.  But this thrill about God's omnipotence says more about us (i.e., that WE will overcome our enemies) than it does about God (i.e., that he upholds his promises).
            God's omnipotence is not only seen in miraculous signs or in maintaining the planets in their orbit and the storms on the earth.  God's omnipotence is also seen in that, as God foreknows the future and wills certain outcomes, they will be done.  No one can prevent this.  God is omnipotent--unbound in his decisions, unstoppable in his plans, and unaccountable to anyone.  Perhaps this part of God's omnipotence makes us especially fearful of him.  But the very nature of omnipotence is that God can do whatever he wants.  
            The good news in regard to God's omnipotence is this: When God makes a promise, he keeps it.  God's promises are not God telling us what he would like to do if everything works according to plan.  (Luther uses the word "contingently" for that.)  God makes the promise.  There is no "if" in his promises.  God brings the plan about.  And since God is omnipotent, there is nothing that can stop God from carrying that plan out. (Luther uses the words "necessarily and immutably" for that.)  
            To make this very personal for us, Jesus promises this: "This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:39-40)  If Jesus is not omnipotent, what makes us think he can keep us in the faith or can raise up the dead on the Last Day?  How could he even make such a promise?  And if he is not omnipotent, why should we believe it will happen?
            Luther declares the blessing and comfort we receive from God being omnipotent.  We can take him at his word.  While our will is corrupt, God's will is perfect.  While our will is bound by sin, God's will is free to act and to save.  What comfort that God freely acts to save sinners!  We have his promises to sustain us, and we have God's omnipotence to trust that he will do just as he says.  Here are Luther's words:
            “For if you hesitate to believe, or are too proud to acknowledge, that God foreknows and wills all things, not contingently, but necessarily and immutably, how can you believe, trust and rely on His promises?  When He makes promises, you ought to be out of doubt that He knows, and can and will perform, what He promises; otherwise, you will be accounting Him neither true nor faithful, which is unbelief, and the height of irreverence, and a denial of the most high God!  And how can you be thus sure and certain, unless you know that certainly, infallibly, immutably and necessarily, He knows, wills and will perform what He promises?  Not only should be we sure that God wills, and will execute His will, necessarily and immutably; we should glory in the fact....
            … “For the Christians chief and only comfort in every adversity lies in knowing that God does not lie, but brings all things to pass immutably, and that His will cannot be resisted, altered or impeded.” (pages 83-84)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sermon -- 11th Sunday after Pentecost (August 25, 2019)

LUKE 12:13-21

GUARD YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION.

In the name + of Jesus.

     The church where I served my vicar year is in Jenera, Ohio.  My supervising pastor, I have learned since then, adds a Scripture verse to every letter he sends to his children.  It comes from the third epistle of St. John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)  Without a doubt, there are many things that bring parents joy about their children.  We want our children grow up to be productive, successful, well-adjusted people.  I think any parent would be proud of a child who excels in a career, is recognized by awards, earns a lucrative income, and enjoys a good family life.  Ask anyone how they would describe the good life, and they will list such things as healthy families, fine food, luxurious homes, nice wardrobes, and glamorous vacations. 
     But of all the things that you might desire for your children, your family, your friends, what could be of greater importance than what St. John wrote: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)  Whatever God gives us in this world will pass away.  No matter what you accumulate in this life, you will have to give it up, whether prizes or possessions.  The only thing that we are given in this world that we have a chance to see in eternity are the people we know.  And there is no way for anyone to enter heaven except through faith in Jesus and his truth.  So, whether you are well-to-do or just scraping by, whether you are praised for accomplishments or anonymously doing your duty, there is no greater treasure that you can have than your faith in Jesus.  Therefore, guard your most treasured possession.
     Still, when we think of the good life, it usually comes down to this: money.  If we have money, then we have the good life.  We fear and love and trust our wealth more than all things.  We trust that money will solve our problems.  We love what money can gain for us.  We fear losing it, and we dread the future if we think the money will not be there.  This is nothing but idolatry.  We continually crave more and more money.  It is a craving which is never satisfied.  It defies God and it ends up in death. 
     This was illustrated by Jesus when a man came to him with an urgent plea.  Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13)  To be fair, I am guessing this man had a legitimate complaint.  This man seems to have been cheated out of his portion of his father's inheritance.  So, he appealed to Jesus.  But (Jesus) said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:14)  Jesus' role is not to assure you that you get your fair share of wealth.
     Then Jesus said to (the crowds), “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)  Like the man who craved his share of the estate, we also crave wealth.  We labor and scheme and plan to accumulate as much as we can so that our world will be much better—better for us, that is.  Our efforts are not concerned about others.  It is an on-going effort to establish our own little kingdoms in this world.  When we think of the good life, we think of this world and our comfort in it.  It does not take much to forget that the goal of our life is not to make this world our home but to look for a better dwelling with Jesus.  Guard your most treasured possession.
     To illustrate this, Jesus told the parable about the farmer who was blessed with a bumper crop.  He had harvested so much that his barns could not hold it all.  As he assessed his situation, he did not consider the needs of his neighbors.  He did not concern himself with God who had blessed him with his harvest.  This man devoted his goods to himself.  He trusted in his possessions to give him a comfortable life for years to come.  He knew how to stretch his wealth for his own good, and his wealth allowed him to settle into the good life we all crave.  It was the best first century 401k plan around.  Many would consider him a good business man and envy his plans.  But Jesus demonstrated his man's foolishness and misplaced trust.  “God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:30-31)  
     The reality is that we will all lose what has been given to us.  We come into this world with nothing.  God chooses to bless us—sometimes with much, sometimes with little.  We depart from this world, and all of our blessings will be lost.  All are gifts and are to be used for the glory of God and the good of others.  If you devote yourself to the riches of this world and are not rich toward God, you will lose your kingdom in this world and have no part of the kingdom of heaven either.  Therefore, guard your most treasured possession which is your faith in Jesus.
     If you are going to be rich toward God, then understand that it is God himself who gives you these riches.  Just as the man in the parable did not create his own crops, so you do not create your own faith.  Just as it was God who blessed the man in the parable with his worldly riches, so it is only God who can give you heavenly riches.  Therefore, to be rich toward God, you come to the place where God enriches you with mercy, forgiveness, life, and salvation.  And to guard the riches he has given you, you continue to come to Christ to be enriched all the more.  If you are going to be children who walk in the truth, then you must dedicate yourself to hearing and learning God's truth, to fearing, loving, and trusting God above all things.  ALL things.  Guard your most treasured possession.
     Dear fellow Christians, Jesus has regarded you as a treasure to be won for his kingdom.  In order to redeem you, Jesus came to earth to sacrifice everything.  He purchased and won you from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent sufferings and death.  Your worth is not determined by your bank account.  Rather, the Lord has showed you that your are worth the sacrifice of the Son of God.  You are highly esteemed.  God has decreed it.  This is your most treasured possession.  Guard it!
     Behold: The good life is realized only in Jesus.  He supplies all that you crave.  He has put you in a blessed family, the Church.  He feeds you with heavenly delicacies which bestow forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation.  He clothes you with robes of righteousness.  He prepares mansions in heaven for you.  He will deliver you from a sinful world and assures you of a glamorous, glorious kingdom which endures forever.  Neither Dave Ramsey nor Charles Schwab can promise you that.  Guard your most treasured possession.  And if your wealth is drawing your attention away from this, get rid of it.  It is only harming you, and it can do much good for others.
     Guard your most treasured possession, which is your faith in Christ.  And as you continue to be enriched by God's word and sacraments, the Lord will continue to guard and keep you in his kingdom.  For, you are God's treasured possession, redeemed by the holy blood of Jesus.  Jesus continues to enrich you by his promises which are preached to you in words and which are delivered to you in the sacraments.
     In 100 years, you will not care what your worldly riches or reputation were.  The world may be impressed if you end up accomplishing and accumulating much.  Although, if they sing your praises in eulogies and tributes, you won't be around to hear it.  But what will have everlasting value is this: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)  If you walk in God's truth, you may not hear the world's praises, but you will hear Jesus Christ say of you: “This one is mine.  I have covered your guilt with my innocent life.  I have purchased and won you with my precious blood.  I have loved you and preserved you through your earthly life.  Now, enter my heaven and enjoy boundless riches and glory.  All this, the Father has been pleased to give you, and he is pleased to have you here.”
     If you desire to have such a blessed judgment, then guard your most treasured possession.  For that judgment has been proclaimed upon you by Christ already.  It is declared to you again and again from altar, pulpit, and font.  If you crave this, then you will be satisfied in every way—both for this life and for eternity.  And that is the good life.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (August 22, 2019)

Greetings!


SUMMER SCHEDULE
        Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.

        Sunday School & Sunday's Adult Bible Class will be on hiatus throughout the summer.  They will resume on September 8.

MID-WEEK SERVICES
        In the event that you are out of town over the weekend, you can find worship services during the week in the following locations.
        Monday at 7:00 PM –  St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church(1343 Penniman Ave, Plymouth)
        Thursday at 6:30 PM – St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church(17810 Farmington Road, Livonia)

REGULAR SCHEDULE TO RESUME ON SEPTEMBER 8
        Please note the change to the schedule which is coming up quickly.

>>>>> Sunday School classes will meet at 8:45 AM.

>>>>> Adult Bible Class will meet at 8:45 AM.  We will be working our way through the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, seeing how God continued to preserve his plan of salvation.  We will give special attention to the prophet Samuel and to the kings, Saul and David.

>>>>> Our Church Picnic will take place shortly after the service.  You are welcome to come to church in rather casual dress on September 8.  Following the service, we will fire up the grills to cook burgers and hot dogs.  Meat, buns, condiments, and beverages will be provided by the church.  Members are asked to bring a dish to share.  A Sign Up Genius will soon be publicized to determine what kinds of additional dishes people are bringing (no need to have 10 dozen cookies and no side dishes) and to RSVP.  We plan on having games and activities to allow our members to enjoy each others' company and to get to know each other better.  All are welcome, including any guests who happen to be with us (whom you are encouraged to bring along).
          There is a Sign Up Genius for the church picnic.  You can find it here: 
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050D48A4A82EABFD0-church/17772940

>>>>> In addition, we will acknowledge the completion of our mortgage payments for Good Shepherd with a mortgage burning ceremony, also on September 8.

BIBLE BASICS CLASS to begin on Monday, September 9
Bible Basics Class is a class for the benefit of all from those who are curious about the Christian faith to those who want to be further grounded in Biblical teachings.  The class is designed to cover...
  ... the basics of Christianity for those who desire to learn more.  
  ... what Lutherans believe, teach, and confess about the word of God.  
  ... what God considers “good enough” for us to get to heaven.
  ... how we can know who God really is.
  ... what God desires for all mankind.
Whether you are a Bible scholar or barely know what a Bible is, this class is for you.  There is no cost.  All materials are provided.  Come with questions.  Come with friends.  Come and learn what God wants you to know.
Our Bible Basics Class will be on Mondays, 7:00-8:30 PM.  
        Members of Good Shepherd, you can already start thinking about whom you would bring to this class.  Talk to them about it and attend with them.  For more information or details, please speak with Pastor Schroeder.

NOTES from Huron Valley Lutheran High School (HVL)
Registration - If you have not yet registered for the 2019-2020 school year, please go to https://mytads.com/a/huronvalley

HOSTING OPPORTUNITY
HVL has just been presented with the opportunity to host 1 or more foreign exchange students from Spain for the upcoming school year.  The students are all 16 years old (Junior year) males.
If you or someone you know has any interest in being a host family, please contact HVL as soon as possible to receive more information.

Typically host families report hosting an international student as a very rewarding experience.  In addition, HVL is able to offer a $5,000 tuition credit in thanks to families serving as host families for foreign exchange students.  If interested, don't delay.  Give us a call right away at (734) 525-0160.

Upcoming Events:
Sept 7            HVL Golf Outing
Sept 19-21     HVL Rummage Sale

OFFICE HOURS
        Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM. While there may be some flexibility to this schedule, we will try to keep it as regular as possible. 

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS will resume September 8.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Monday, August 19, 2019

Traveling with the Schroeders -- Kentucky

Last week, we headed down to Kentucky for part of a week of vacation.  A comedy of errors (okay, crippling frustrations) prevented us from doing all we had hoped to do.  We did manage to do one of the main things we were gunning for which was going to Mammoth Cave National Park.  We did the Domes and Dripstones tour.  It would have been nice to do another tour and to spend more time there, but the comedy of errors resulted in us getting a later jump on the day than we had hoped for.

The next day, we lounged around our campground at Big Bone Lick State Park.  That involved sleeping in, reading at the camp site, swimming, and visiting the museum at the campground which boasts many fossils, salt / mineral springs, and a bison herd.

On the way back, since we had about 2 hours to do it, we stopped at the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio and walked through a few of the hangars.  The museum is free, and it would have been nicer to spend a few more hours there, but as the schedule demanded, we got back on the road to get home by Thursday evening.

Here are some photos from the trip.  Enjoy.

















Something from .... Luther's "The Bondage of the Will" (entry #5)


INTRODUCTORY NOTES:  During the life of Martin Luther, Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus, was urged by Roman Catholic Church leaders to challenge Luther’s teachings and to condemn him.  Although Erasmus would rather have kept the peace in the Church, Erasmus was finally goaded into attacking Luther.  Erasmus intended to defend the official Roman Catholic teaching that God’s grace was needed to do the works by which man could then merit additional grace.  Luther’s response to Erasmus is known as The Bondage of the Will (De Servo Arbitrio).  Although Luther had published a myriad of writings in his career, he did not consider them worth preserving.  Luther regarded The Bondage of the Will as a rare exception to that rule.  In it, Luther writes at length that “free will” in spiritual matters is a lie, and that, if man actually has free will, then God loses such attributes as grace, omnipotence, and even his right to be God.
            The quotations from Luther in this blog post come from The Bondage of the Will translated by J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI. © 1957.
            The following are thoughts concerning Luther’s arguments, urging us to LET GOD BE GOD.  Something from Luther’s The Bondage of the Will.



LET GOD BE GOD: Let God be the Savior.


            Is it helpful to tell people not to let themselves be bothered about how much we contribute to salvation?  I suppose that anytime someone tells us not to be bothered, we regard that as a good thing.  I like not being bothered by stuff.

            But I am not free to not be bothered by tax forms, driver safety, warning labels, or severe weather.  To ignore such things for the sake of “not being bothered” means risking my life.  If that is true in earthly matters, it is all the more true in spiritual matters.

            Erasmus had claimed that “it is irreligious, idle, and superfluous to want to know whether our will effects anything in matters pertaining to eternal salvation, or whether it is wholly passive under the work of grace” (Luther referenced this on page 76).  But how disastrous if we remain ignorant of what we must do and what God does in regard to our salvation!  If we do not know how much we have to do to receive eternal life, we will never have the confidence that we will have eternal life.  To risk going to hell based on my assumption that all is more foolish than running a red light because I assume other traffic will stop when they see me.   

            Something from Luther on our need to know how much God needs to do to be our Savior:

            “But when you tell Christian people to let this folly guide them in their labours, and charge them that in their pursuit of eternal salvation they should not concern themselves to know what is in their power and what is not—why, this is plainly the sin that is really unpardonable.  For as long as they do not know the limits of their ability, they will not know what they should do; and as long as they do not know what they should do, they cannot repent when they err; and impenitence is the unpardonable sin.  This is where your moderate, sceptical (sic) theology leads us!

            … “For if I am ignorant of the nature, extent and limits of what I can and must do with reference to God, I shall be equally ignorant and uncertain of the nature, extent and limits of what God can and will do in me—though God, in fact, works all in all (cf. 1 Cor. 12.6). … We need, therefore, to have in mind a clear-cut distinction between God's power and ours, and God's work and ours, if we would live a godly life.” (pages 77-78)

            But God has made it clear.  We are powerless.  We are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1).  We are hostile to God (Romans 8:7).  We can do nothing to enter God’s kingdom or even to prepare ourselves for his salvation.  The work is purely God’s to make us alive in Christ, to save us, and to keep us in his kingdom.  Therefore, we repent of all efforts on our part (after all, who can be sure that they are good enough?) and rely completely on our Lord to be our Savior.  And since it is all in God’s hands, our confidence for salvation is firm.  We have God’s own word on it.