Martin Luther on Baptism

After posting John Stott’s quote on baptism, I decided to see what Martin Luther had to say!

For that purpose Christ instituted holy baptism, thereby to clothe you with his righteousness. It is tantamount to his saying, My righteousness shall be your righteousness; my innocence, your innocence. Your sins indeed are great, but by baptism I bestow on you my righteousness; I strip death from you and clothe you with my life.”

Martin Luther

For more quotes by Martin Luther see these posts:

Martin Luther on Charity #2

More Advice From Martin Luther

Martin Luther on the Sabbath

How Should We Then Live? –A Quote by John Stott

“Can a married woman still live as though she were a single girl?  Well, yes, I suppose she can.  It is not impossible.  But let her feel that ring on the fourth finger of her left hand, the symbol of her new life, the symbol of her identification with her husband, let her remember who she is, and let her live accordingly. Can a born-again Christian live as though he were still in his sins?  Well, yes, I suppose he can.  It is not impossible.  But let him remember his baptism, the symbol of his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and let him live accordingly.”

John Stott

For more on baptism see these posts:

Baptism, A New Beginning

The Freedom of Baptism

Spiritually Reborn in Baptism

 

 

Why Obey?

 

As Christians we certainly know the importance of obeying God.  It is what God desires and expects of us.

And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”  1 Samuel 15:22

The bigger question is, why do we obey God?  Some may obey out of fear.  If they don’t try to obey, God may punish them.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:6-8

Others obey because they are seeking blessings and prosperity.

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.” Proverbs 13:13

And there will always be those who obey out of a desire to appear righteous and respectable to others.  We know what Jesus had to say about that!

 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 6:1

Obviously, none of these reasons are right ones.  God doesn’t want us to obey out of fear, the desire for rewards, or to make us feel better about ourselves.  He wants us to obey Him our of love. When we love God, we won’t need another reason for obedience.  It will come naturally.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” 2 John 1:6

In fact, our obedience is the truest sign that we do love Him.

1Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” John 14:21

So, examine yourself and be honest about your real motives.  Why do you obey?

For more on obedience to God, see these posts:

Martin Luther on Obedience

The Lack of-obedience.

Psalm 1–A Psalm of Obedience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Read Scripture (according to John Stott)

“The way we understand Scripture will affect the way we read it … Because Scripture is the Word of God, we should read it as we read no other book — on our knees, humbly, reverently, prayerfully, looking to the Holy Spirit for illumination.  Because Scripture is also the words of human beings, we should read it as we read every other book, using our minds, thinking, pondering and reflecting, and paying close attention to its literary, historical, cultural and linguistic characteristics.  This combination of humble reverence and critical reflection is not only not impossible;  it is indispensable.”

John Stott

For more about reading the Bible see:

Martin Luther on Reading the Bible

 

 

Lead by Paul David Tripp–Book Review

According to author and pastor, Paul Tripp this book:

“… is not about the strategic work of the ministry leadership community, but about practicing and preserving its spiritual depth so it may do its work with long-term faithfulness.”

It is divided into twelve chapters, each devoted to one gospel  principle for leadership in the church.  They are

  1. Achievement (A ministry community whose time is controlled by doing the business of the church tends to be spiritually unhealthy)
  2. Gospel (If your leaders are going to be tools of God’s grace, they need to be committed to nurturing that grace in one another’s lives)
  3.  Limits (Recognizing God-ordained limits of gift, time, energy, and maturity is essential to leading a ministry community well)
  4. Balance (Teaching your leaders to recognize and balance the various callings in their life is a vital contribution to their success)
  5. Character (A spiritually healthy leadership community acknowledges that character is more important than structure or strategies)
  6. War (It is essential to understand that leadership in any gospel ministry is spiritual warfare)
  7. Servants (A call to leadership in the church is a call to a life of willing sacrifice and service)
  8.  Candor (A spiritually healthy leadership community is characterized by the humility of approachability and the courage of loving honesty)
  9. Identity (Where your leaders look for identity always determines how they lead)
  10.  Restoration (If a leadership community is formed by the gospel, it will always be committed to a lifestyle of fresh starts and new beginnings)
  11. Longevity (For church leaders, ministry longevity is always the result of gospel community)
  12.  Presence (When you view them through the lens of presence, power, promises and grace of Jesus)

As you can see, the focus is on the leadership community rather than the leader as an individual.  Every leader is in need of being pastored and led.  The need for humility, transparency and a spirit of servanthood was emphasized. Character and spiritual maturity are to be valued about results

If found the chapter on restoration particularly interesting because it dealt with                something that isn’t often addressed — the need to restore rather than discard leaders who  have fallen in some way.

This would be a great book for any church leadership team to read and discuss together.  I would recommend it.

VERDICT:  4 Stars, only because it became a bit repetitive.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

https://www.crossway.org/books/lead-hcj/

The Lutheran Ladies received a review copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

Martin Luther on Youth

“If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need those of us who are old.”

Martin Luther

For more quotes by Martin Luther see these posts:

Martin Luther on Heavenly Blessings

Martin Luther on Sin

Martin Luther on Witnessing

 

What Is the Church?

I’m currently reading a book on Christian leadership written by Paul Tripp, and I’ll be reviewing it later this month.  However, I came across this quote about the church that I would like to share:

“What is the church?  It’s a chosen gathering of unfinished people, still grappling with the selfishness of sin and the seduction of temptation, living in a fallen world, where there is deception and dysfunction all around.  There is nothing comfortable or easy in this plan.  The church is intended to be messy and chaotic, because this mess is intended to yank us out of our self-sufficiency and self-obsession to become people who really do love God and our neighbors.  God puts broken people next to broken people (including leaders), not so they would be comfortable with one another but so they would function as agents of transformation in the lives on one another.    You simply won’t have joy in being part of this plan unless you find joy in living a lifestyle of self-denial and willing servanthood.”

This makes me realize how often we all have inflated expectations of what church and our fellow members should be like.  But think about the first disciples — James and John were prideful, wanting to sit on the right and left hand of Christ;  Judas betrayed Him;  Peter denied Him;  Thomas doubted.  They were far from perfect.  We’re no different.  It’s easier to criticize than encourage;  to grumble rather than pitch in;  to desire recognition instead of serving humbly.  There is only one solution, only one way a church full of sinners can survive –Grace.  Just like the hymn by Julia Johnston:

“Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!”

Be willing to give it, because you have received it.

” For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”  Ephesians 2:8

For more about the church see these posts:

We (the Laity) Are the Church

The Church Needs You!

The Church: The Bride of Christ

 

What Am I Here For?

This article was originally published in the Lutheran Ambassador, April 2008.

In The Purpose Driven Life, author Rick Warren poses a very important question:  “What on earth am I here for?”  Most of us readily acknowledge that pastors, missionaries, evangelists and the like have a God-given calling.  But what about the rest of us?  Aren’t we called by God as well?

I believe that we are.  In the book of Ephesians we read that:

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The good works we were made by God to do could be considered our personal vocation or calling.

Vocation is a topic that has been much written about and discussed in Christian circles.  Before the Reformation only those in religious orders were seen as having a vocation.  Martin Luther and other reformers extended to concept to secular occupations and activities as well.  Luther insisted that the farmer, the cobbler, the milkmaid or the parent had a religious calling as significant as that of a priest or nun.

Vocation has been defined in many ways.  Luther send that in your calling you must “lend yourself as a means and a mask to God.”  Frederick Buechner, Christian chaplain and author describes it as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  Thomas Kelly, a Quaker, writes that it is “God’s burdened heart particularizing His burdens in us.”  And Erik Rees, a minister at Saddleback church calls it, “your serving sweet spot.”  One vocation is very clear:  its purpose is service to others.  It has everything to do with Christ’s command to love our neighbor and little to do with worldly accomplishments or success.

Although you cannot choose your vocation (it seems to choose you), there are clues for recognizing it.  You will most likely find it in your own backyard.  Look for your vocation in your career or job, your family, among your acquaintances or fellow church members.  You will have an aptitude for it.  Others will often commend you for it.  It will arouse your passions.  It will energize you.  It may be challenging, but never onerous, for as Jesus says,

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matt.  11:30

In accomplishing it you will feel God’s pleasure, a sense of fulfillment that means you are being true to what God made you to be.  Knowing your vocation helps you to distinguish between the things you can and should do and those that are best left to others.

Your vocation may evolve over time even if it involves the same set of skills and gifts.  For example, I see my vocation as encouraging others.  When my children were young, I wrote and directed our congregation’s Vacation Bible School programs;  later I led small groups and retreats;  and now I find myself writing for the Lutheran Ambassador (and more recently this blog).  One author says your vocation “keeps making more of you.”  Discover and follow your vocation.  It will lead you into a continuing adventure with God!

For more on the topic of vocation, see these posts:

What the Bible Says About Purpose by David Ramos–Book Review

Stewardship of Our Life

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

 

Learning to Give Thanks

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall.  The weather’s getting cooler, and it makes me realize that Thanksgiving will be here before we know it.  Why not start giving thanks early?  Why not give thanks daily?   I try to list my blessings of the day right before I fall asleep.  If you haven’t made this a habit, here’s a way to get started, according to Christian author Priscilla Maurice:

“Begin with thanking Him for some little thing, and then go on, day be day, adding to your subjects of praise;  thus you will find their numbers grow wonderfully;  and in the same proportion, will your subjects of murmuring and complaining diminish, until you see in everything some cause for thanksgiving. If you cannot begin with something positive, begin with something negative.  If your whole lot seems only filled with causes for discontent, at any rate there is some trial which has not been appointed you;  and you may thank God for its being withheld from you.  It is certain that the more you try to praise, the more you will see how your path and your lying down are beset with mercies, and that the God of love is ever watching to do you good.”

For more on giving thanks, see these posts:

Are You Giving Thanks for the Right Things?

Giving Thanks for God’s Mercy

Martin Luther on Thanksgiving

 

Make it Personal

Last week when my husband I were driving to the church picnic, I saw this sign in the neighborhood we were passing through:

Drive as if your children lived here.

When I worked as a buyer for the hospital, our boss posted a sign in the warehouse that read:

Fill every order as if your mother was the patient.

The point, I think, is that we’re more attentive and more engaged when we have some personal interest or stake in the outcome of the task at hand.  If the health of our mother, or the welfare of our children is concerned, we’ll make sure we’re carefully doing that task to the best of our ability.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, has some similar advice. He was speaking to them about their freedom in Christ.  They did not need to follow all the old rules and rituals.  What they ate or drank was not sinful or forbidden.  However, as God’s children, they were to be considerate of their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Some of them had grown up with these taboos (such as eating food that had been sacrificed to idols) and it pained their consciences to see others doing this.  He tells them:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

What if we made an effort to do every chore and every daily activity for the glory of God?  Wouldn’t we be much more conscious of how our actions affected others?  And aren’t those others beloved of God, just as we are?  Wouldn’t we be kinder, more patient and more helpful?  Wouldn’t we work harder to do the right thing?

Try it for a day and see what happens.  Live as if everything you do is to serving God’s purpose, because it is.  If you love God, it’s all personal.