What is Faith? (according to Martin Luther)

“Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.”

This is an excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

For other Luther quotes, go to these post:

A Quote from Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Traveling Lightly

Martin Luther on Growing Our Gifts

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A Life of Lovely – Book Review

A Life of Lovely

 

It is hard for anyone to find the lovely in the ugliness that can sometimes surround us.  The author, Annie Downs, does a wonderful job of helping young, and older, women navigate the sometimes disappointing journey of life with humor and perseverance.

 

The author takes the reader through all aspects of modern life using humor and scripture to help ease the reader into finding the “lovely” where it does not appear to exist.

 

I like the upbeat style and humor that makes the book an enjoyable read; I give it 4 out of 5 stars and found her words a fun way to look forward to finding my “lovely.”

 

 

Purchase this book at this link: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/a-life-of-lovely-P005802325

My Faith Looks Up to Thee

This well-known hymn was written by Ray Palmer, a young man who was preparing for the ministry.  It was his personal prayer for renewed courage and energy at a time when he was feeling exhausted and lonely.  He wrote the poem for himself with no plan to ever show it to another person.  Two years later (1832) he ran into his friend, Lowell Mason who asked him to compose some hymns for an upcoming hymnal.  Palmer was still too overwhelmed with the responsibilities of his life to feel up to writing something new, so he opened his journal and offered Mason this poem.  Mason promptly set it to music and told his friend,

“Mr. Palmer, you may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of ‘My Faith Looks up to Thee.'”

When your faith is flagging, and you are afraid you can’t keep going, remember this hymn.  Ray Palmer did become a pastor, and wrote other hymns, but this is the most famous.  You can have faith that God uses us even in our weakest moments.

Who’s Got Your Back?

Robin“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

I’ve worked at some places that had “Team Building” exercises.  I hated one that came out (and I don’t know if they still do this), but you had to stand with your back to two or four people and just fall backwards and trust that they would catch you.  I never trusted the people behind me to catch me.  I couldn’t do this exercise.

But in my life I’ve learned to trust the Lord.  Now I figure trusting is just about the same as having faith.  They go hand in hand.  I looked up the differences between trust and faith, and there are differences.  According to http://www.differencebetween.com (yes, that’s a real website!) faith is used in the sense of ‘belief’ or ‘devotion’ and the word trust is used in the sense of ‘confidence’ and ‘reliance’.  Hummm, do you trust in your faith?  Or put another way, do you have confidence in your faith that the Lord will take care of you?

While I was the caregiver for my husband I found that I didn’t have confidence in my faith.  Why did my husband get sick?  Why did this happen?  I was terrified of being a single mom of two teen-aged sons without out a penny to put towards a funeral for my husband if he died.  Life just wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  But it did.

I read Matthew 6:25-27 and this verse held a whole new meaning for me.  I had faith in the Lord, but did I have the confidence that He would take care of my life?  At that time, the answer was no.  So I started to try to build my confidence in my faith.  The Lord helped by opening up my eyes and showing me all the little things in my life that He was taking care of.  As  my husband got worse, He brought people into our lives to show us that help was out there and they pointed me in the right direction.  We had in home aides so I could work and a chair lift so my husband could go up and down the steps.  These helps didn’t cost us a penny, but they were priceless.  As a result, my confidence got stronger.  Today, I know the Lord is looking out for me and has a plan.  I just have to listen to Him.

So, if you feel your confidence flagging, remember, God’s got this!!  He has your back.

Family Faith, Part 2

This continues my post from yesterday about passing on the faith.

I also noticed how children pick up on the special sacredness of the sacraments.. My girls would crane their necks and smile when a baby was baptized.  Then they might ask about their own baptism; one little boy at our current church, stands up straight and tall, like a little soldier, as the Pastor blesses him during the Lord’s Supper.  He’s proud to be one of Gods’ people.

Do you think children aren’t paying attention during the service?  They are.  Here are just a few of the questions my daughters and granddaughter asked me over the years:

Why is one of the advent candles pink?

What is a diadem?

What is that big candle (the Christ candle) and why don’t we light it all the time?

Why does the Pastor turn his back on the congregation while we pray?

And finally (hilariously) ….Why does granddaddy, (the Pastor), need all that money?

These are important, teachable moments, which I cherished and used to initiate discussions about what we believe and why we do the things we do.

Of course, there are many traditions that take place outside of the sanctuary.  Through these my children learned that the household of God is just like any other family. They got together to have fun and learn (Vacation Bible School), eat (Lenten soup dinners), make some money  (annual yard sale), decorate (especially the big Christmas tree!), play games (New Year’s Eve party), take a turn at cleaning the church (not a big favorite) and help others (like the Group Home residents who were members of our congregation).  Memories like these reinforce Christian values.  Little by little they shape our identity.  They influence how we think, what we value and what we do.  Together the separate pieces of congregational life create a beautiful mosaic that depicts the life of Christ in his body, the Church.

So, what can I say? Make the traditions of the church your family traditions.  The foundation you build will last through eternity.