According to Martin Luther, there’s a big difference between the Word of God and the word of man:.
We must make a great difference between God’s Word and the word of man. A man’s word is a little sound that flies into the air and soon vanishes, but the Word of God is greater than heaven and earth, year, greater than death and hell, for it forms part of the power of God and endures everlastingly.
Maybe this is why the Bible is the most read book in the world. When writer James Chapman created a list of the most popular books of the last fifty years, based on the number of copies sold, the Bible was the runaway winner. It sold 3.9 billion copies. The next closed contenders were “Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung” (820 million copies) and “Harry Potter”(400 million copies).
Recently I was at the conference of our denomination (the Association of Free Lutheran Churches) and we sang this hymn. The words and tune are simple, but express a profound truth. Here is a bit about the story of how it came to be composed by evangelists Bessie and Seth Sykes, Jr. It’s taken from ‘A Great Little Man, A Biography of Evangelist Seth Sykes’ which was written in 1958.
“Thank you, Lord was born [in 1940] in a railway carriage between Edinburgh and Glasgow and has been wonderfully used of God. It has been translated into more than 70 different languages including French, German, Arabic and Chinese, and is sung both on radio and Television throughout the globe. Many touching stories have been told of how it has brought comfort and cheer to those nearing the end of Life’s weary way. One dear man heard it sung over a Canadian broadcasting network. He had come from Scotland to Canada, and somehow had lost touch with Christ. He determined to renew the covenant. Seeking the origin of the chorus, he was put in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Sykes and memories of an old friendship were revived.”
Sing these lyrics this morning and then add your own thankful words of prayer!
Some thank the Lord for friends and home For mercies sure and sweet But I would praise Him for his grace In prayer I would repeat
Refrain: Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul Thank you, Lord, for making me whole Thank you, Lord, for giving to me Thy great salvation so rich and free
Some thank Him for the flow’rs that grow Some for the stars that shine My heart is filled with joy and praise Because I know He’s mine
I trust in Him from day to day I prove His saving grace I’ll sing this song of praise to Him Until I see His face
I could write a book about why I don’t agree with this book, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time or space to do that. I was disappointed, because I actually think there are many times when every Christian (including me) acts like a jerk, and needs to be reminded that the great commandment, the one that sums up all the others is: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. However, this author takes a simplistic approach, seeming to believe that there are only two kinds of Christians: those who “love” others by accepting just about any sort of behavior, and those who prefer to “judge” others and consign them to Hell. All of those law-oriented, judgemental Christians also voted for Donald Trump, are racist (even if they don’t realize it), dislike immigrants, idolize the United States and believe that God is an old, white man.
I don’t fit into either of Pavlovitz’s categories. As a conservative Lutheran, I have always been told that good teaching must include both law and gospel. The law shows us we are all sinners, and the gospel gives us the good news that we can be forgiven. God is loving, but He is also just. It’s not an either-or situation, but a balance– and yes, there are individual Christians and denominations that err on one side or the other.
I believe that the Mr. Pavlovitz has sincerely wrestled with faith questions, and since he states that no proof texts will change his mind, I’m puzzled about how to counter his claims. He does not accept the Bible as the foundation or final authority, but relies on his personal experience of God. Yet, he himself uses the Bible as the starting point for his assertion that we are to love one another. Isn’t this a contradiction? As we are made in God’s image, the author believes we are basically good. Yet, if we go by experience, my experience is that my default setting is sin, not holiness. In fact, if we are basically good, why do we need to be told not to be jerks?
Another issue I have with this book is the use of profanity. Pavlovitz actually notes and defends such language as being more “authentic” and a way of removing the “mask” most of us wear. I believe that being courteous and avoiding offensive words is part of being loving and setting a good example for others.
On the plus side, I certainly agree that we should be open to cultivating relationships with others who are different in some way. When we do so, we find that our skin color, political party or denomination are not as important as learning to know and appreciate one another as human beings. I also learned a new word that I liked — orthopraxy, which I now know is correct conduct, as opposed to orthodoxy which is correct belief.
VERDICT: 1 STAR. Not very edifying.
The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.
The Bible tells us in many places to avoid lying. It’s one of the Ten Commandments–
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” Exodus 20:16
It’s also mentioned in the book of Proverbs…
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22
and in the New Testament as well.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:25
Here’s a quote from my devotional reading that explains how to avoid this particular sin:
“It seems to me, that the shortest way to check the darker forms of deceit is to set watch more scrupulous against those which have mingled, unregarded and unchastised with the current of our life. Do not let us lie at all. Do not think of one falsity as harmless, and another as slight, and another as unintended. Cast them all aside; they may be light and accidental; but they are an ugly soot from the smoke of the pit, for all that; and it is better that our hearts should be swept clean of them, without over care as to which is largest or blackest. Speaking truth is like writing fair, and comes only by practice; it is less a matter of will than of habit, and I doubt if any occasion can be trivial which permits the practice and formation of such a habit.“
Of course, keep in mind that speaking the truth is not to be used as an excuse for hurting others with comments that are overly blunt or even cruel. Paul also tells us to speak the truth “in love”(Ephesians 4:15) and Peter exhorts us to use “gentleness and respect.”(1 Peter:3:15).
Use words that are both truthful and loving. Make this your habit.
I recently posted about the word, dedicated . When we dedicate our lives to God, they become holy. This does not necessarily mean we must do “big” things. Rather, as Mother Teresa said,
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
In this way, every daily activity becomes a sacred practice when we offer it to God.
These quotes from my daily devotional seemed to sum it up well:
“We do not always perceive that even the writing of a note of congratulation, the fabrication of something intended as an offering of affection, our necessary (interaction) with characters which have no congeniality with us, or hours apparently trifled away in the domestic circle, may be made by us the performance of a most sacred and blessed work–even the carrying out, after our feeble measure, of the design of God for the increase of happiness.” From Anna or Passages From Home Life
“Definite work is not always that which is cut and squared for us, but that which comes as a claim upon the conscience, whether it’s nursing in a hospital, or hemming a handkerchief.” Elizabeth M. Sewell
“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, which is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to him. ” C. S. Lewis
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Hebrews 1:1-2
I just finished a book entitled, “Dedicated–The Case for Commitment in an age of Infinite Browsing.” Pete Davis, the young man who authored it, believes we’re surrounded by a culture that discourages us from dedicating ourselves to anyone or anything — there are so many options that we’re paralyzed by FOMO (fear of missing out). If we marry too quickly, we might miss out on our real soulmate; if we stay at the same company for many years, we won’t advance as quickly; if we devote ourselves to a certain craft or area of study, we’ll cut off other options.
Although this is not a book about religion, he does mention that the word “dedicate” has two meanings:
To make something holy
To stick with something for a long time
Christianity encourages us to both kinds of dedication. Life wth God has been compared to a marriage, a garden, or a building — all things that take time and effort. According to the Bible, we are to commit our entire lives to Christ.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” Romans 12:1-2
When we dedicate ourselves in this way, our lives become holy.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”. 1 Peter 2:9
Dedication has great value. As Mr. Davis says:
“The Counterculture of Commitment is made up of people who are tilling the soil, planting seeds, and growing small forests–and in doing so they are generating hope. Their commitments don’t just transform society–they transform the committers themselves.”
So don’t put it off. dedicate yourself today to the One who gives us a living hope — your life will be changed, and so will our world.
“What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone … How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name? … I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.“