God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 2

For centuries Christians have disputed amongst themselves the meaning of the new sacramental meal. Different theories of what Jesus meant with the words He used that night, those phrases we have come to call the Words of Institution. Some, as far as I know only Roman Catholics, teach transubstantiation. In other words, the bread and wine literally become the Body and Blood of Jesus and they remain that once it has happened. Therefore , unused wafers and wine, once consecrated, can be “adored” by believers for they are now considered to be permanently the true divine Body and the true divine Blood. On the other hand, those who follow the teachings of the Reformer Huldrich Zwingli say that the Communion meal is simply a remembrance of the Lord’s sacrifice for us, a physical reminder of His love displayed. Christ could not be physically present, these folks argue because He ascended bodily and has chosen to be in the Body for eternity and a physical body cannot be in more than one place at a time.

Those we call Calvinists try to split the difference, contending that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament, it is not simply an act of remembrance, but His presence is spiritual and not physical. The Holy Spirit comes into each believer as he or she receives the elements while Christ remains in heaven while non-believers would receive only bread and wine. And then there are Lutherans—don’t you know we’re out there by ourselves. We utterly reject the transubstantiation argument of Catholics because it is obvious that we still have bread and wine no matter what is said over them. But Christ said that the bread was His Body and the wine His blood, without any restrictions attached so we accept what He says as truth and speak of His Body and His Blood as being somehow under the elements. We truly receive what Christ promised and we’re willing to let it go at that. There is an urge in all of us to try to explain everything so it makes sense to us, but we can’t always do that when it comes to things divine. Faithfulness does not require a complete understanding of those mysteries that are understood by God alone. For believers it is enough to simply accept Jesus’ words as Truth and not try to parse them out so our feeble minds can somehow grasp divine meaning. As it has been said, if I could understand God and His ways completely—I would be God.

These disagreements are not going to go away until Jesus comes again. However, what we believe, teach and confess about the Sacrament does not determine our salvation. So we should remember to be generous to those brothers and sisters with whom we disagree, but neither should we ignore something so fundamentally important to our faith as the Holy Supper. Nor should we try to play down what we believe in order to have earthly fellowship, for to go against conscience is ultimately destructive of our faith.

For part one see:

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 1

More to come …..

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 1

This is my husband’s sermon for Maundy Thursday.  Because of the coronavirus, the congregation could not gather, but it is also posted on our church website.  I think it does a good job of explaining the different beliefs about this sacrament, and how it is a crucial component of God’s plan for victory over evil.

I think nothing has seemed so strange to me as writing a Maundy Thursday sermon knowing that the sacrament of Holy Communion will not take place that night. Nor will we strip the chancel area in preparation for a Good Friday service. It is, however, important for us not to forget these times at this most important part of the Church year. We are people of faith, faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of the living God who bore our punishment for our sinfulness and freed us all from the power of sin, death and the devil. Satan no doubt thinks he has won some sort of battle here by emptying sanctuaries around the world this paschal season, but he is not only a liar, he is a fool for, while the Lord is present in His sanctuary, so He is present in the hearts and minds of His chosen people. This week is the week of Christus Victor, the victorious Messiah, victorious over all that is wrong with creation, all that has been distorted by sin.

We see part of the Lord’s victory here in the 26th chapter of Matthew beginning at the 26th verse.

The Lord and His closest disciples are assembled in the upper room for a final meal together. Jesus has spoken of it as the Passover meal, but it is a day earlier than the calendar denotes Passover because, by the time most Jews were eating Passover, Jesus would be in the tomb. The Passover meal has many discrete parts because it is not only a time of eating but of learning and re-learning about God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Each part of the meal was a discreet learning experience. Jesus starts something new that night. He establishes another meal to replace the Passover, one that is meant to teach and re-teach believers over the centuries like the Passover meal, but with a great difference between the two celebrations. The Passover meal looked back in remembrance alone, it is intellectual and maybe spiritual. God is spoken of but not present physically because He was, at that time, not yet incarnated, He had not taken on the body of a man. In Christ Jesus, however, God had become like us, He had walked among us, living like us except without sin. And He was going to stay with us in a new way, a way both physical and spiritual. And so the new meal of the faithful must be both physical and spiritual.

To be continued ……

resuscitating evangelism by Jordan Easley and Ernest Easley–Book Review

Sometimes we feel guilty because we are, and this book will make many readers feel deservedly guilty (I include myself here).  We all know that as Christians, the Great Commission tells us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”(Mark 6:15).  But here’s the question:  when was the last time you shared your faith with someone? Be honest. If you can’t remember, you’re not doing your job as a faithful follower of Christ.

The authors walk us through the reasons we avoid evangelizing:

  • Apathy (I don’t really care)
  • Apprehension ( I’m afraid)
  • Abdication (it’s not my responsibility)
  • Inadequacy (I don’t know enough)

While stressing that evangelism is not the responsibility of the pastor or staff alone, the authors believe it is necessary for the leaders of the congregation to create an atmosphere that expects and values evangelism.  This can be done through careful planning, so that there are regular, consistent (weekly, monthly, yearly) evangelism events.  Some should be training, others reaching out into the community.  Most churches have a preference (perhaps due to the giftedness of their pastor) for either discipleship or evangelism.  Actually, both are needed for the congregation to remain healthy and growing.

Every church can evangelize. Good suggestions were included for those who want to change their church culture.  This is not something that will happen quickly, but requires attention and effort over the long term.

Overall this book was biblically based and helpful.  Take note that the authors are Southern Baptists, so some of their suggestions, for example the “invitation” at the end of the service, simply could not be used by Lutherans because of our theological differences.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  It was easy to read, and most will find some practical ideas for increasing evangelistic activity in their church.

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


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



God’s Victory Over Our Sin

“The way may at times seem dark, but light will arise, if thou trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.  That light may sometimes show hard things to be required, but do not be distressed if thy heart should rebel;  bring thy unwillingness and disobedience to Him, in the faith that He will give thee power to overcome, for He cannot fail.  ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world,’ so keep close to Him, and the victory will be won.  But do not, I beseech thee, neglect anything that is required, for disobedience leads to darkness;  and do not reason or delay, but simply follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, and He will guide thee into all peace.”

Elizabeth T. King

A Holy Pursuit by Dianne Jago–Book Review

I’m known in my congregation as “the woman with a thousand ideas” so a book about dreaming really attracted my attention.  If you distill the content of A Holy Pursuit down to its’ foundation, you will be left with this question:  “What is the biblical approach to dreaming and how do we know if our dream is in God’s will?

Although Dianne Jago contends it’s fine to have dreams, we must hold them loosely and examine them carefully.  Her stated purpose is:

“…. to remind you of who you are in Christ first and then to encourage you to use the truth and hope of the gospel when pursuing a dream.”

We all have gifts and talents given by God, but we must keep in mind the reason gifts are given:  to build up the body of Christ.  Our dreams are not worthy if they are fueled by selfish ambition or if they are not used to glorify God and encourage His people.  There are also times in every life when we must put others first:  our spouse, our children, our congregation.  Our dream should not render us unable to fulfill our primary responsibilities. In fact, in the final analysis, the pursuit of God is our dream!  Knowing and serving Him is the greatest thing we will ever accomplish.

Here are some of the questions the author suggests we ask ourselves about any dream:

  • What does my personal walk with God look like right now? (this should have priority)
  • Does this dream line up with biblical standards for Christian living?
  • What are my motives for pursuing this dream?
  • What season of life am I in right now?
  • Have I sought counsel in this?
  • What logistics are required to make this dream happen?

In the course of reading this book, you will learn about Dianne’s own dreams– which ones worked out and which ones didn’t.  She is careful to say that every person’s circumstances are different and there are no pat answers to determine what dream is appropriate for any individual.

VERDICT:  FOUR STARS.  As an encourager, I found it to be more of a cautionary tale than a motivator.  However, the advice given is both biblical and practical.  It is a good source of information for all Christian dreamers.

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


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



90 Days with The God Who speaks –Book Review

This little book published by B&H was created from content used in their Gospel Project curriculum.  The curriculum was developed to provide study material that is both theologically and biblical based.  90 Days with the God who speaks allows readers to go through the material in three months, using a devotional style.

The basis for all the lessons is the idea that God continually speaks to His people.  Beginning in Genesis, it describes the general revelation of creation, moves on to the specific revelation of Scripture, and finally Jesus who correctly interprets and applies God’s Word for us.  The Old and New Testaments are clearly linked.  Different genres used in the Bible — historical narrative, wisdom literature, prophecy and letters are presented and explained.

This book would make a good gift for a confirmation student or new Christian.  It would also be useful for someone looking for a quick overview of the Scriptures and how they are connected.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  Not exceptional but basic and biblically sound.

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


For more devotionals by B&H see these posts:

On-The-Go Devotional by Leslie Hudson — Book Review

Women of Courage: a Forty-Day Devotional — Book Review

Big and Little Coloring Devotional – Book Review

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


Only Victory

A friend recently told me about a woman she knows who has cancer.  This lady is undergoing treatment, but said something to this effect:  “if I live, I win because I get to stay with my family and loved ones;  however, if I die, I also win because I will be with Jesus.”  This reminds me of something the apostle Paul said in the book of Philippians:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 4:12

He didn’t desire death because if he lived, he could continue to produce fruit for the Lord;  but death and being with the Lord would be even better.

Maybe that’s why I’m not afraid of this virus.  At my age, I have accomplished the life tasks most of us expect to complete.  I’ve had a long marriage, raised two daughters, worked at a career I feel proud of ( because my work helped others} and have even seen my grandchildren be born. I’ve been a daughter, wife, mother, sibling, aunt, friend, employee and Christian (not necessarily in that order).  Have I done these things perfectly?  Certainly not.  I’ve made mistakes, but they’ve been repented and forgiven.  I’ve had opportunities to learn and travel, to read and write.  I’ve never been in serious want.  I’ve suffered physically and mentally, and I’m now beginning to experience the limitations that age brings.  Still, all of that is only what is common to all humans.  My gratitude for my life is great and my regrets are small.  If I did die tomorrow (or today) I would be content.  I could say (again quoting Paul):

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  1 Timothy 4:7


You see, as Christians, whatever happens, we have only victory ahead of us.

Easter Victory

Frederick Temple was an English academic, churchman and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1896 until his death in 1902.  This quote showed up in my devotional reading and it seemed very appropriate to our theme, and the church season.

“The return of Easter should be to the Christian life the call of a trumpet.  It is the news of a great victory.  It is the solution of a great perplexity.  It is the assurance of a great triumph.”

Frederick Temple

For more quotes by Frederick Temple, visit these posts:

Questions for Lent

Do You Serve Cheerfully?

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

A Prayer to be part of Christ’s Victory

“Teach us how to fight by faith against the power of sin, in the confidence that Christ has purchased our forgiveness and secured the triumph of all who trust in him.  Turn every evil design of the devil into sanctifying schemes of love.  Deliver us from his deceptions.  Keep the beauty of Christ clear in the eyes of our heart.  Make us instruments of Satan’s defeat until you come and slay him by the breath of your mouth.  Make us valiant in delivering others by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, your great gospel.  In Jesus name we pray, amen. ”

John Piper from Seeing and Savoring Jesus

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad–Book Review

This beautiful, hardcover edition of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is the second in a series of classics released by B&H Publishers.  It includes an introduction by Karen Swallow Prior, a professor of English at Liberty University.  There are also reflection questions at the end of each of the three sections of the book.  They will help you read like a Christian, and make this an excellent choice for your book club.

The book itself has been called both a novel (short) and a short story (long).  The narrator, Marlow, is a mariner who recounts his journey into the heart of the dark continent (Africa).  However, the more important story is centered around a different kind of voyage–into the dark hearts of men.  Marlow encounters hypocrisy, greed, idolatry (several kinds)and racism, as well as disease and death. The nature of truth is also a major theme. This is a read that is neither fun nor uplifting.  It left me feeling “uneasy” (a word used over and over again in the story) and dismayed at being brought face to face with how uncivilized we civilized people really are.  It is unfortunately based on both biographical and historic fact, but it also transcends the time by addressing concerns that are universal.

Ms. Swallow points out that although Conrad is a skeptic, in this work there is:

“… an implicit acknowledgement of the human need of something bigger than and outside ourselves to check our basest human impulses and most craven tendencies.”

This is a book to be read slowly and carefully.  The language is evocative and poetic.  It is not easy, but it is important.  It will challenge you to examine our own culture and how it influences us to view what is “truth.”

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  I look forward to more in this series.

If you would like to see a review of another classic in this series, visit this post:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen–Book Review

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


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