Friday, October 20, 2017

"Reformation Sunday"

Sunday, October 29, 2017 is Reformation Sunday.  That day we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  In 1517, Martin Luther led a theological revolt against the abuses and the totalitarian control of the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther was a stubborn monk and a brilliant intellectual.  He published his 95 theses of complaints against the Catholic Church by nailing them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Others like Hus, Zwingli, and Calvin were also leaders for the Protestant Reformation.  “Protest” and “Reform” are key to understanding this movement.

This 16th Century cultural, intellectual, political, and religious upheaval splintered the church in Europe.  It was a momentous religious revolution, the consequences of which we live with today.  It transformed millions of people’s understanding of their relationship with God.

In addition, the Reformation argued for a redistribution of power that impacted art, music, education, politics, and economics.  There were numerous positive repercussions – the music of Bach, the art of Rubens, the university systems in Europe, and the capitalism of the Dutch Calvinist merchants.

Salvation by good works was rejected along with indulgences and the Bible only being available in Latin.  Luther translated the Bible into German.  People read the Word in their own language for the first time.  No longer were priests the only authority for Biblical interpretation and understanding.  This disruption triggered persecution and even wars.  Luther’s creative use of the printing press was the technical catalyst for the movement.

Lutheranism became the state religion of Germany.  Its influence spread to Switzerland.  John Calvin in Geneva gave intellectual credence to the movement.  Through his influence, Protestantism then spread to Scotland, beyond, and ultimately to America.

Happy 500!


Friday, October 13, 2017

"The Principles of God’s Word"

The Principles of God’s Word keep me affirmed and disciplined. The Principles apply to all the decisions that we make on a daily basis.

These are the questions I ask myself. I encourage you to ask these questions for your own affirmation and discipline:

1. Can I do this in the name of Christ? Colossians 3:17

2. Can I imagine Jesus doing this? 1 John 2:6

3. Will my action glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31

4. Am I an embarrassment to the Savior? 1 John 2:28

5. If my body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, is what I am doing OK in God’s sight? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

6. Does my behavior hinder my spiritual maturity?  Hebrews 12:1

7. Am I tripping up other Christians? Romans 14:21

8. Do my decisions make Christianity unpalatable to non-Christians? Matthew 5:16

Wow! These questions sobered me up. How about you?


Friday, October 6, 2017

"Every Human Is Unique"

I really believe that every human being is unique. There is no one else exactly like you. Your DNA says that. Your fingerprints say that!

Psalm 139 is one of my favorites. Without hesitation, the Psalmist affirms that God is omniscient. God knows us. Could it be that you are irreplaceable? We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Verses 13 and 14 make the point, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

God formed you in your mother’s womb. The Hebrew word for this concept is “embroidering”. It suggests you were sewn together by the hand of the Lord. Through the cross of Calvary, we were bought with a price for a redemptive purpose.

God has given us life – the ability to develop our potential and use it creatively. Could it be that even our strengths and weaknesses do not surprise God? In spite of bad choices, laziness and sin, the Savior is up for giving us another chance, another opportunity to pick up the pieces and go on. That allows us to embrace humility. God loves us enough to correct us and not reject us.

The hinge of history says that the love of Jesus Christ will not let us go, is not diminished and does not give up on us.

I Corinthians 13:13 puts life in proper perspective, “Faith, Hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.