Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity, 2016

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 260             O Lord Our Father    
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual      
The Gospel             
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22

The Word Changed the World
The Communion Hymn # 262          A Mighty Fortress                   

The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31The Hymn #657                     Beautiful Savior

The Lutheran Reformation – The Word Changed the World
Many speak about the Reformation by discussing the facts about Luther’s life, an approach that misses the meaning of the Reformation entirely. Others reflect the power of the Reformation (in reverse) by being defensive and cowardly, calling it “Reconciliation Sunday.” That may be going too far for some, so they would rather crab-walk backwards into the Middle Ages by editing out the doctrinal war verses from hymns. After all, the Methodists removed the Virgin Birth from Wesley’s “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” – offspring of the Chosen One, rather than offspring of the Virgin’s womb. Why not pretend there is no war between sound and false doctrine?
Whether one is a Lutheran or not, a  believer or not, these characteristics are true of the Word of God. These characteristics all go well together, because there is only One Unified Truth, which goes by many names. We call this Truth – the Gospel, the Word of God, the Scriptures, and so forth. The characteristics are a convenient way of discussing what is true and false in teaching the Bible.
1.    Authority
2.    Power and efficacy
3.    Inerrancy
4.    Clarity or perspicuity
5.    Justification and absolution
6.    Word/Spirit
The authority of the Word places it about all other authorities, not just in making a declaration, which is so easy to do, but in consistent and unyielding practice. Many side-roads take people away from the authority of the Scriptures, because they say,
In our circles, it means this…
According to our tradition, where we give reason and tradition equal weight with the Scriptures…
Our denomination has voted in its highest legislative gathering (the convention!)…
Our doctrinal board has stated…
Strangely, like the Church of the Middle Ages, many denominations consider themselves the final authority, even when changing dogma as often as the professional  baseball teams change World Series winners.
The authority of the Scripture was a vital matter during the Reformation because the Scriptures were buried so deep between layers of tradition and claims of authority. The papacy was beginning a long series of battles between papal authority and the councils, which the papacy largely won. When Vatican II made a certain pronouncement, the pope insisted on making it alone, to show his supremacy over all others.
The Middle Ages also looked to such authorities as Aquinas and Augustine, Jerome and Ambrose.
The authority of the Scriptures can only mean that all other authorities are set aside and subordinate to the revealed Word of God – whether they are
·       Reason
·       Tradition or
·       Ecclesiastical powers and authors
Therefore, the Scriptures judge all books and the Bible is not judged by any other book. That is quite different from “the pope is infallible and is judged by no one and is supreme above all councils.”
The Word created the universe, so how can the Word be subordinate to man, man’s authority, or man’s books?
Power and Efficacy
The authority of the Scriptures is given lip-service, but the efficacy of the Word is ignored altogether. Everything is effective except the Word in our modern age of apostasy, so people must learn the efficacy of the Word in order to make any sense of the Christian Faith.
Like a scandal in the past, efficacy is not mentioned, not taught, not applied in any discussion because the concept - clearly used both Testaments - brings down the entire rotten edifice of false doctrine, triumphalism, clericalism, and legalism.
Unlike theologians who followed Luther, the German Reformer did not change doctrine but taught consistently throughout his career, which is quite an accomplishment. He shook off the remnants of Medieval piety, but taught the efficacy of the Word at the beginning and throughout. When people understand how all this goes together, they understand how comforting but also how dangerous this is.
Giving God the glory for what He does through the Word takes away from the glory of man, which is a terrible threat. Jesus did not rejoice in vast crowds (as so many clergy clowns do today) but rejoiced in the faith of a single person and exalted that faith. Likewise, Paul treated a tiny knot of faithful believers as the greatest treasure and proof of the efficacy of the Gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:13-17King James Version (KJV)
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

The inerrancy of the Scriptures was always taught in the Christian Church but compromised in the counter-Reformation after the papalists lost their debates using the Word of God. From that time on the papalists argued for the incompleteness and ambiguity of the Word. As they say in WELS today, “That is a graaaaaaay area of Scriptures.” Gray is stretched out to show how vague and incomplete the Word is (to them). Notice how this overlaps the issue of the clarity of the Scriptures. All of Christian doctrine is taught in the Word of God – it does not rely on any books to clarify the issues. The Word is best interpreted by the Word itself.
The rationalists of all ages have said or implied contradictions in the Word. Some of them are obvious. Some are subtle (at first). When they argue for the world being declared righteous – without faith – they are contradicting the Bible or saying that the Bible contradicts itself hundreds of times. But – no matter – they can cite authorities who agree with them. If they need to change the text of the Bible, as the new NIV does, that makes it official.
Inerrancy means – without error or contradiction – no exceptions. No inerrant except in history, except in geography, except in Creation, except in the divinity, atonement, and resurrection of Christ.
Clarity or Perspicuity
The priestly guild does not want anyone to dwell on this issue, because their very strict union of lazy fat-bellies would go under if too many people realized the Scriptures are so clearly taught through the power of the Spirit that anyone can learn all of Christian doctrine through the Bible alone. The individual does not need formal training, ordination, or certification from a given denomination, sect, or cult. The Word belongs to God alone and does His work.
If a passage seems dark or difficult, it is clarified by the simple, easy, or bright passages. Some ask me in Old Testament, the MA program, “Where is the Trinity in Genesis 1?” I tell them. Read John 1 and you see the Creating Word is Jesus. The Holy Spirit hovers over Creation and witnesses to Creation. The Father commands through the Word (Logos – the Son) and what God commands (efficacy) immediately comes about.
Clarity is absolutely necessary to maintain against its priestly, often high-church nitwits, because no one is enslaved by their solemn declarations of superiority. We all subordinate our will and reason to the Word and shape our words, actions, reason by the Word.

Justification and Absolution
We know God declares believers forgiven through faith because the Word is clear, powerful, and effective. The Word that fashioned the universe and raised the dead also declares us forgiven through faith.
The Gospel of the atoning sacrifice, fully explained in Isaiah 53, is the power that creates and sustains our faith in God’s grace. And it is more than maintenance. This power of justification by faith continues to enrich our lives, bear fruit, and grow with the challenges we face, the crosses and afflictions we bear.
Absolution means that when the Word says, often through the pastor, “Your sins are forgiven,” they are indeed forgiven and removed. We do not measure forgiveness by feelings, by regret, by payment made by us, but by the objective truth of the Gospel, that God’s own Son has paid for our sins and become our righteousness. We receive this righteousness through faith alone.
When people apologize a second time to me for the same thing, which can happen among friends, I say, “Don’t you believe in absolution?” That is good for a chuckle, because repeating an apology is like saying that the absolution was incomplete. To tell the truth, I cannot remember the incidents  where that has happened because the Gospel should wipe that from our minds (great or small). We should let it go as God does.
But that also means the unrepentant are not forgiven. That is the point of discipline, which is almost entirely erased in this age of universal absolution and cheap grace.

The constant connection of the Word and Holy Spirit is the foundation for all the characteristics of the Word. This is spelled out in Isaiah 55:8-11, with a comparison between the rain and snow, which always have an effect. The Word, which:
1.    Is never void, always effective.
2.    Accomplishes God’s purpose.
3.    Prospers God’s purpose.

If the Word always has an effect, it is always divine, driven by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit and Word are expressed by the word sword.
This concept, almost forgotten, completely releases the bondage of the visible church from fads, marketing, and anxiety about success.

The reason why the denomination presidents, seminary presidents, and agency heads are always at Fuller Seminary is this – they do not believe. They are apostates. They have some attachment to the religious words, but they do not believe.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Luther's Hymn - O Lord, Look Down from Heaven Behold

"O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold"
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. O Lord, look down from heaven, behold
And let Thy pity waken:
How few are we within Thy Fold,
Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand,
Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us o'ertaken.

2. With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.

3. May God root out all heresy
And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: "Now, where is he
That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail;
What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master."

4. Therefore saith God, "I must arise,
The poor My help are needing;
To Me ascend My people's cries,
And I have heard their pleading.
For them My saving Word shall fight
And fearlessly and sharply smite,
The poor with might defending."

5. As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So through God's Word shall men endure
Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation.

6. Thy truth defend, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of their way
Keep Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation.

Hymn 260
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 12
Author: Martin Luther, 1523
Translated by: composite
Titled: "Ach Gott vom Himmel, sieh darein"
Tune: "Ach Gott vom Himmel"
1st Published in: Enchiridion
Town: Erfurt, 1524

This is Martin Luther College's Schwan Cathedral - irony.

Luther's Sermon on Philippians 1:3-11

Norma Boeckler



. 3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how I long after you in all the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offense unto the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.


1. First, the apostle Paul thanks God, as his custom is in the beginning of his epistles, for the grace whereby the Philippians came into the fellowship of the Gospel and were made partakers of it. Secondly, his desire and prayer to God is for their increase in the knowledge of the Gospel, and their more abundant fruits. His intent in extolling the Gospel is to admonish them to remain steadfast in their faith, continuing as they have begun and as they now stand. Apparently this is a simple passage, especially to learned and apt students of the Scriptures. They may not think it holds any great truth to be discovered. Yet we must explain this and like discourses for the benefit of some who do not fully understand it, and who desire to learn.

2. These words give us an exact delineation of the Christian heart that sincerely believes in the holy Gospel. Such hearts are rare in the world. It is especially difficult to find one so beautiful as we observe here unless it be among the beloved apostles or those who approached them in Christlikeness.

For in the matter of faith we today are entirely too indolent and indifferent.

3. But the Christian heart is such as inspired Paul’s words; here its characteristics are shown. He rejoices in the Gospel with his inmost soul.

He thanks God that others have come into its fellowship. His confidence is firm regarding certain beginners in the faith, and he is so interested in their salvation he rejoices in it as much as in his own, seeming unable to thank God sufficiently for it. He unceasingly prays that he may live to see many come with him into such fellowship and be preserved therein until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall perfect and complete all the defects of this earthly life. He prays these beginners may go forth faultlessly in faith and hope until that joyful day.

Thus the godly apostle expresses himself, pouring out the depths of his heart — a heart filled with the real fruits of the Spirit and of faith. It burns with love and joy whenever he sees the Gospel recognized, accepted and honored, and the Church flourishing. Paul can conceive for the converts no loftier desire — can offer no greater petition for them than to implore God they may increase and persevere in the Gospel faith. Such is the inestimable value he places upon possessing and holding fast God’s Word. And Christ in Luke 11:28 pronounces blessed those who keep the Word of God.


5. Now, the first thing in which Paul is here an example to us is his gratitude. It behooves the Christian who recognizes the grace and goodness of God expressed in the Gospel, first of all to manifest his thankfulness therefor; toward God — his highest duty — and toward men.

As Christians who have abandoned the false services and sacrifices that in our past heathenish blindness we zealously practiced, let us remember our obligation henceforth to be the more fervent in offering true service and right sacrifices to God. We can render him no better — in fact, none other — service, or outward work, than the thank-offering, as the Scriptures term it. That is, receiving and honoring the grace of God and the preaching and hearing of his Word, and furthering their operation, not only in word, but sincerely in our hearts and with all our physical and spiritual powers.

This is the truest gratitude.

6. God calls that a “pure offering” which is rendered to him “among the gentiles” ( Malachi 1:11), where his name is not preached and praised from avariciousness, not from pride and presumption in the priesthood and in the holiness of human works. These motives actuated the boasting Jews, who, as God charges in this reference, presumptuously thought to receive honor from him for every trivial service like closing a door or opening a window. But the offering of the gentiles is joyfully rendered from a sincere, willing heart. This kind of thanksgiving and sacrifices are acceptable to God, for he says in <19B003>Psalm 110:3, “Thy people shall be willing”; and in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “God loveth a cheerful giver.” The knowledge of the Gospel should inspire us with gratitude of this order. Let us not be found unthankful, and forgetful of God’s infinite goodness.


7. The heathen everywhere, despite their ignorance of God and his grace, condemned to the utmost the evil of ingratitude. They regarded it the mother of evils, than which was none more malevolent and shameful.

Among many examples in this respect is one left us by a people in Arabia called Nabathians, who had an excellent form of government. So strict were they in regard to this evil that anyone found guilty of ingratitude to his fellows was looked upon as a murderer and punished with death.

8. No sin is more abominable to human nature, and of none is human nature less tolerant. It is easier to forgive and to forget the act of an enemy who commits a bodily injury, or even murders one’s parents, than it is to forget the sin of him who repays simple kindness and fidelity with ingratitude and faithlessness; who for love and friendship returns hatred. In the sentiment of the Latin proverb, to be so rewarded is like rearing a serpent in one’s bosom. God likewise regards this sin with extreme enmity and punishes it. The Scriptures say: “Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.” Proverbs 17:13.

9. Thus we have the teaching of nature and of reason regarding the sin of men’s ingratitude toward one another. How much greater the evil, how much more shameful and accursed, when manifested toward God who, in his infinite and ineffable goodness, conferred upon us while yet enemies to him and deserving of the fires of hell — conferred upon us, I say, not ten dollars, not a hundred thousand dollars even, but redemption from divine wrath and eternal death, and abundantly comforted us, granting us safety, a good conscience, peace and salvation! These are inexpressible blessings, incomprehensible in this life. And they will continue to occupy our minds in yonder eternal life. How much more awful the sin of ingratitude for these blessings, as exemplified in the servant mentioned in the Gospel passage for today, to whom was forgiven the debt of ten thousand talents and who yet would not forgive the debt of his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence!

10. Is it not incredible that there are to be found on earth individuals wicked enough to manifest for the highest and eternal blessings such unspeakable ingratitude? But alas, we have the evidence of our own eyes.

We know them in their very dwelling-places. We see how the world abounds with them. Not only are the ingrates to be found among deliberate rejecters of the acknowledged truth of the Gospel, concerning God’s grace, an assured conscience and the promise of eternal life, terrible as such malice of the devil is, but they are present also in our midst, accepting the Gospel and boasting of it. Such shameful ingratitude prevails among the masses it would not be strange were God to send upon them the thunders and lightnings of his wrath, yes, all the Turks and the devils of hell.

There is a generally prevalent ingratitude like that of the wicked servant who readily forgot the straits he experienced when, being called to account for what he could not pay, the wrathful sentence was pronounced against him that he and all he possessed must be sold, and he be indefinitely imprisoned. Nor have we less readily forgotten how we were tortured under the Papacy; how we were overwhelmed, drowned as in a flood, with numberless strange doctrines, when our anxious consciences longed for salvation. Now that we are, through the grace of God, liberated from these distresses, our gratitude is of a character to increasingly heap to ourselves the wrath of God. So have others before us done, and consequently have endured terrible chastisement.

11. Only calculate the enormity of our wickedness when, God having infinitely blessed us in forgiving all our sins and making us lords over heaven and earth, we so little respect him as to be unmindful of his blessings; to be unwilling for the sake of them sincerely to forgive our neighbor a single slighting word, not to mention rendering him service. We conduct ourselves as if God might be expected to connive at our ingratitude and permit us to continue in it, at the same time conferring upon us as godly and obedient children, success and happiness. More than this, we think we have the privilege and power to live and do as we please.

Indeed, the more learning and power we have and the more exalted our rank, the greater knaves we are; perpetrating every wicked deed, stirring up strife, discord, war and murder for the sake of executing our own arbitrary designs, where the question is the surrender of a penny in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of dollars daily received from God notwithstanding our ingratitude.

12. Two mighty lords clash with each other like powerful battering rams, and for what? Perhaps for undisputed possession of a city or two, a matter they must be ashamed of did they but call to mind what they have received from God. They would be constrained to exclaim: “What are we doing that we injure one another — we who are all baptized in one name, the name of Christ, and pledged to one Lord?” But no, it will not do for them to consider this matter; not even to think of it. They must turn their eyes away from it, and put it far from their hearts. Wholly forgetting God’s benefits, they must wage war against each other, involving nations, and subjecting people to the Turk. And all for sake of the insignificant farthing each refused to yield to the other.

13. The world permits the very devil to saddle and ride it as he pleases. It seems to be characteristic of every phase of life that one will not yield to another — will not submit to any demand. Everyone is disposed to force his arrogant authority. The presumption is that supreme honor and final success depend upon an unyielding, unforgiving disposition, and that to seek to retain our possessions by peaceable means will prove our ruin.

Even the two remaining cows in the stall must be brought into requisition, and war waged to the last stick, until when the mutineer comes and we have neither cow nor stall, nor house nor stick, we are obliged to cease.


Oh, had we but grace enough to reflect on how it would be with us did God require us, as he has a perfect right to do, to pay our whole indebtedness, none being forgiven! grace enough to think whether we would not this very moment be in the abyss of hell! But so must it finally be with those who disregard the question and continually heap to themselves the wrath of God, being at the same time unwilling for him to deal otherwise with them than he did with the servant he forgave. But against that servant was finally passed the irrevocable sentence which, without mercy, delivered him to the tormentor till he should pay the debt, something he could never do.

14. Nor is there any wrong or injustice in this ruling. For, as St. Bernhard says, ingratitude is an evil damnable and pernicious enough to quench all the springs of grace and blessing known to God and men; it is like a poison-laden, burning, destructive wind. Human nature will not tolerate it.

Nor can God permit you, upon whom he has bestowed all grace and goodness, all spiritual and temporal blessing, to go on continually in wickedness, defiantly abusing his benevolence and dishonoring him; you thus recklessly bring upon yourself his wrath. For God cannot bless you if you are ungrateful, if you reject his goodness and give it no place in your heart.

In such case the fountain of grace and mercy that continually springs for all who sincerely desire it, must be quenched for you. You cannot enjoy it. It would afford you an abundant and unceasing supply of water did you not yourself dry it up by the deadly wind of your ingratitude; by shamefully forgetting the ineffable goodness God bestows upon you; and by failing to honor the blood of Christ the Lord, wherewith he purchased us and reconciled us to God — failing to honor it enough to forgive your neighbor, for Christ’s sake, a single wrong word.

15. What heavy burden is there for the individual who, in submission and gratitude to his God, and in honor to Christ, would conduct himself something like a Christian? It will cost him no great effort nor trouble. It will not break any bones nor injure him in property or honor. Even were it to affect him to some trifling extent, to incur for him some slight injustice, he should remember what God has given him, and will still give, of his grace and goodness.

Yes, why complain even were you, in some measure, to endanger body and life? What did not the Son of God incur for you? It was not pleasure for him to take upon himself the wrath of God, to bear the curse for you. It cost him bloody sweat and unspeakable anguish of heart, as well as the sacrifice of his body, the shedding of his blood, when he bore for you the wrath and curse of God, which would have rested upon you forever. Yet he did it cheerfully and with fervent love. Should you not, then, be ashamed in your own heart, and humiliated before all creatures, to be so slow and dull, so stock-and-stone-hardened, about enduring and forgiving an occasional unkind word — something to be suffered in token of honor and gratitude to him? What more noble than, for the sake of Christ, to incur danger, to suffer injury, to aid the poor and needy? in particular to further the Word of God and to support the ministry, the pulpit and the schools?

16. It would be no marvel had Germany long ago sunk to ruin, or had it been razed to its very foundations by Turks and Tartars, because of its diabolical forgetfulness, its damnable rejection, of God’s unspeakable grace. Indeed, it is a wonder the earth continues to support us and the sun still gives us light. Because of our ingratitude, well might the heavens become dark and the earth be perverted — as the Scriptures teach (Psalm 106) — and suffer the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, no longer yielding a leaf nor a blade of grass, but completely turned from its course — well might it be so did not God, for the sake of the few godly Christians known and acknowledged of him, forbear and still delay.


17. Wherever we turn our eyes we see, in all conditions of life, a deluge of terrible examples of ingratitude for the precious Gospel. We see how kings, princes and lords scratch and bite; how they envy and hate one another, oppressing their own people and destroying their own countries; how they tax themselves with not so much as a single Christian thought about ameliorating the wretchedness of Germany and securing for the oppressed Church somewhere a shelter of defense against the murderous attacks of devil, Pope and Turks. The noblemen rake and rend, robbing whomever they can, prince or otherwise, and especially the poor Church; like actual devils, they trample under foot pastors and preachers. Townsmen and farmers, too, are extremely avaricious, extortionate and treacherous; they fearlessly perpetrate every sort of insolence and wickedness, and without shame and unpunished. The earth cries to heaven, unable longer to tolerate its oppression.

18. But why multiply words? It is in vain so far as the world is concerned; no admonition will avail. The world remains the devil’s own. We must remember we shall not by any means find with the world that Christian heart pictured by the apostle; on the contrary we shall find what might be represented by a picture of the very opposite type — the most shameless ingratitude. But let the still existing God-fearing Christians be careful to imitate in their gratitude the spirit of the apostle’s beautiful picture. Let them give evidence of their willingness to hear the Word of God, of pleasure and delight in it and grief where it is rejected. Let them show by their lives a consciousness of the great blessing conferred by those from whom they received the Gospel. As recipients of such goodness, let their hearts and lips ever be ready with the happy declaration: “God be praised!”

For thereunto are we called. As before said, praise should be the constant service and daily sacrifice of Christians; and according to Paul’s teaching here, the Christian’s works, his fruits of righteousness, should shine before men. Such manifestation of gratitude assuredly must result when we comprehend what God has given us.

19. Notwithstanding the world’s refusal to be influenced by the recognition of God’s goodness, and in spite of the fact that we are obliged daily to see, hear and suffer the world’s increasing ungratefulness the longer it stands, we must not allow ourselves to be led into error; for we will be unable to change it. We must preach against the evil of ingratitude wherever possible, severely censuring it, and faithfully admonish all men to guard against it. At the same time we have to remember the world will not submit. Although compelled to live among the ungrateful, we are not for that reason to fall into error nor to cease from doing good. Let our springs be dispersed abroad, as Solomon says in Proverbs 5:16. Let us continually do good, not faltering when others receive our good as evil.

Just as God causes his sun to rise on the thankful and the unthankful. Matthew 5:45.

20. But if your good works are wrought with the object of securing the thanks and applause of the world, you will meet with a reception quite the reverse. Your reward will justly be that of him who crushes with his teeth the hollow nut only to defile his mouth. Now, if when ingratitude is met with, you angrily wish to pull down mountains, and resolve to give up doing good, you are no longer a Christian. You injure yourself and accomplish nothing. Can you not be mindful of your environment — that you are still in the world where vice and ingratitude hold sway? that you are, as the phrase goes, with “those who return evil for good”? He who would escape this fact must flee the boundaries of the world. It requires no great wisdom to live only among the godly and do good, but the keenest judgment is necessary to live with the wicked and not do evil.

21. Christianity should be begun in youth, to give practice in the endurance that will enable one to do good to all men while expecting evil in return.

Not that the Christian is to commend and approve evil conduct; he is to censure and restrain wickedness to the limit of the authority his position in life affords. It is the best testimony to the real merit of a work when its beneficiaries are not only ungrateful but return evil. For its results tend to restrain the doer from a too high opinion of himself, and the character of the work is too precious in God’s sight for the world to be worthy of rewarding it.


22. The other Christian duty named by Paul in this passage is that of prayer. The two obligations — gratitude for benefits received, and prayer for the preservation and growth of God’s work begun in us — are properly related. Prayer is of supreme importance, for the devil and the world assail us and delight in turning us aside; we have continually to resist wickedness.

So the conflict is a sore one for our feeble flesh and blood, and we cannot stand unvanquished unless there be constant, earnest invocation of divine aid. Gratitude and prayer are essential and must accompany each other, according to the requirements of the daily sacrifice of the Old Testament: the offering of praise, or thank-offering, thanks to God for blessings received; and the sacrifice of prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer — the petition against the wickedness and evil from which we would be released.

23. Our life has not yet reached the heights it is destined to attain. We know here only its incipient first-fruits. Desire is not satisfied; we have but a foretaste. As yet we only realize by faith what is bestowed upon us; full and tangible occupancy is to come. Therefore, we need to pray because of the limitations that bind our earthly life, until we go yonder where prayer is unnecessary, and all is happiness, purity of life and one eternal song of thanks and praise to God.

But heavenly praise and joy is to have its inception and a measure of growth here on earth through the encouragement of prayer — prayer for ourselves and the Church as a whole; that is, for them who have accepted and believe the Gospel and are thus mutually helpful. For the Gospel will receive greater exaltation and will inspire more joy with the individual because of its acceptance by the many. So Paul says he thanks God for the fellowship of the Philippians in the Gospel, and offers prayer in their behalf.


24. Yes, it should be the joy of a Christian heart to see multitudes accept the offer of mercy, and praise and thank God with him. This desire for the participation of others in the Gospel promotes the spirit of prayer. The Christian cannot be a misanthrope, wholly unconcerned whether his fellows believe or not. He should be interested in all men and unceasingly long and pray for their salvation; for the sanctification of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, the fulfilment of his will; and for the exposure everywhere of the devil’s deceptions, the suppression of his murderous power over poor souls and the restraint of his authority.

25. This prayer should be the sincere, earnest outflow of the true Christian’s heart. Note, Paul’s words here indicate that his praise and prayer were inspired by a fervent spirit. It is impossible that the words “I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in every supplication” be the expression of any but a heart full of such sentiments.

Truly, Paul speaks in a way worthy of an apostle — saying he renders praise and prayer with keenest pleasure. He rejoices in his heart that he has somewhere a little band of Christians who love the Gospel and with whom he may rejoice; that he may thank God for them and pray in their behalf.

Was there not much more reason that all they who had heard the Gospel should rejoice, and thank Paul in heart and in expression for it, praying God in his behalf? should rejoice that they became worthy of the apostle’s favor, were delivered from their blindness and had now received from him the light transferring from sin and death into the grace of God and eternal life?

26. But Paul does not wait for them to take the initiative, as they ought to have done to declare their joy and their gratitude to him. In his first utterance he pours out the joy of his heart, fervently thanking God for them, etc. Well might they have blushed, and reproached themselves, when they received the epistle beginning with these words. Well might they have said, “We should not have permitted him to speak in this way; it was our place first to show him gratitude and joy.”


27. We shall not soon be able to boast the attainment of that beautiful, perfect Christian spirit the apostle’s words portray. Seeing how the apostle rejoices over finding a few believers in the Gospel, why should we complain because of the smaller number who accord us a hearing and seriously accept the Word of God? We have no great reason to complain nor to be discouraged since Christ and the prophets and apostles, meeting with the same backwardness on the part of the people, still were gratified over the occasional few who accepted the faith. We note how Christ rejoiced when now and then he found one who had true faith, and on the other hand was depressed when his own people refused to hear him, and reluctantly censured them. And Paul did not meet with more encouragement. In all the Roman Empire — and through the greater part of it he had traveled with the Gospel — he only occasionally found a place where was even a small band of earnest Christians; but over them he peculiarly rejoices, finding in them greater consolation than in all the treasures on earth.

28. But it is a prophecy of good to the world, a portent of ultimate success, that Christ and his apostles and ministers must rejoice over an occasional reception of the beloved Word. Such acceptance will tell in time. One would think all men might eagerly have hastened to the ends of the earth to be afforded an opportunity of hearing an apostle. But Paul had to go through the world himself upon his ministry, enduring great fatigue and encountering privations and grave dangers, being rejected and trampled upon by all men. However, disregarding it all, he rejoiced to be able now and then to see some soul accept the Gospel. In time past it was not necessary for the Pope and his officials to run after anyone. They sat in lordly authority in their kingdom, and all men had to obey their summons, wherever wanted, and that without thanks.

29. What running on the part of our fathers, even of many of us, as if we were foolish — running from all countries, hundreds of miles, to Jerusalem, to the holy sepulcher, to Compostella, St. James, Rome, to the heads of St.

Peter and St. Paul; some barefooted and others in complete armor — all this, to say nothing of innumerable other pilgrimages! We thus expended large sums of money, and thanked God, and rejoiced to be able thereby to purchase the wicked indulgences of the Pope and to be worthy to look upon or to kiss the bones of the dead exhibited as holy relics, but preferably to kiss the feet of His Most Holy Holiness, the Pope. This condition of things the world desires again, and it shall have nothing better.

Landscape Lighting and Broadcasting the Word - from 2015

I liked the concept of lighting the trees at night,
but I did not want so much light, the electrical bills,
and running the conduits - not that I would do that anyway.

Gradually I have added solar lighting around the exterior of the house and among the trees, even in the crepe myrtle bush. For Christmas we added solar lights to the front yard maple tree and to the porch.

These particular solar lights glow all night and brighten when someone approaches. We come home to a lit exterior that brightens when we approach the house and the front door. Three solar lights illuminate the angels in the rose garden in front.

The backdoor lights up for Sassy's jaunts outside and her return. An isolated light stays dark unless someone tries to open the backdoor of the garage. If that is not daunting, the interior security light will go off with any motion inside the garage.

The backyard trees are all lit with a soft glow. If Sassy is near one, it brightens up. Sometimes a critter wants to visit at night. The bright glow makes it clear where it has been or Sassy has walked. Overall, solar lighting is quite attractive and unobtrusive.

Rain is coming so I was thinking about those Oregon Sugar pod peas, waiting to be planted.  Our helper showed up and I handed him the rake. I hated to take work away from him, and he felt great after recovering from a cold.

Peas like shallow planting, so he pulled Jackson Mulch away from the fence and I scattered the peas along the way. He topped off the peas with mushroom compost and loose mulch. I turned on the aerial soaker hose to give them a start and push down the soil and mulch a bit.

That went so fast that we did the same along the back fence, taking a gamble that the black oil sunflowers would survice bird and squirrel predation, plus cold nights during February. The cost in seed was perhaps $1. Buying large bags of sunflower seeds for birds is much more economical than little colored packets of sunflowers with silly names like Autumn Sunset and Smiley Face.

Two soaker hoses were chewed off at the end making them useless. A third one was chewed in the middle, typical of Sassy. She may have  chewed all of them. Hanging them in the dead tree may have enticed a squirrel into a life of crime.

Soaker hoses are a bargain, but normally a one-season tool. They save a lot of time and money. Many plants (like certain roses) will mildew more easily when sprayed from a hose. A soaker hose will normally water at the base and lost little water to run-off and evaporation.

Norma Boeckler

Sunflower Seeds
We put the sunflower seeds in an ideal medium, soft moist soil, covered with soil, mulch, and leaves.

Birds will have a good time searching for seeds, and so will the squirrels. The cold nights may stop many of them, but I planted hundreds. Some will germinate and grow early. The large ones for screening will be planted in March, when they have a better chance.

Matthew 13

13 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

If I had listened to my doubts and the pessimistic weather forecast of our helper, I would have saved the seeds for birdseed. But I concluded that a few surviving sunflowers would more than make up for all the losses, just like the Parable of the Sower.

The Word multiplies so it should be broadcast. The media people know this, in their own way. They borrowed a farming term for what they do . They broadcast their signal, hoping some will listen and watch.

We did not plant peas and sunflowers. We broadcast them and tucked them in with some mushroom compost and mulch. The power of the harvest will not come from our efforts but from the living seed that was waiting to germinate and grow, to flower and set seed.

Perfect Roses - Just Add Rainwater

The Queen Elizabeth rose has always been a favorite of ours, with its Lutheran heritage - developed by Creationist Walter Lammerts - its large growing habit, and perfect pink blooms.

We have grown many pink roses, from the very pale Bride's Dream, to the pink and white Falling in Love, to the deepest tones of Pink Peace.

Nothing compares to the glow of Queen Elizabeth, even though the others are praiseworthy and loved  by many recipients. Most roses do not last in their popularity, because some flaw is discovered or tastes change. Queen Elizabeth has remained popular since it was developed in 1954.

All About Rose Gardening:
Lovely pink roses on the Queen Elizabeth Rose, makes this hardy Grandiflora rose very popular, and considered the best in it's class.
The pure, soft pink blooms of the Queen Elizabeth are perfect! They are the closest thing to a Hybrid Tea rose that I can grow in my area. I have two in my garden, and I simply LOVE them!
This Grandiflora is a must if you have a cutting garden! The beautiful flowers grow on long straight stems, and have a delightful sweet scent.
Keep it deadheaded to encourage more blooms.The bush is also very disease resistant.

Our summer drought created a quandary.  I needed rainwater to encourage more blooms, but I quickly ran out of it when I needed it the most. When fall rains drenched the bushes and I added the stored rainwater, the perfect blend of water with usable nitrogen gave the roses a boost for blooming without the side-effects of tapwater or the detrimental effects of man-made fertilizer.

Rainwater is definitely a feature of Creation. The clash of warm and cold fronts pulls moisture from the clouds in the form of snow, which melts on its way down to us. Lightning fixes nitrogen, an abundant gas, but useless until it transforms into a compound plants can use. Much of this fixation is done in the soil by legumes, more precisely, by bacteria that live on the roots of legumes (bean family).

Some downplay the value of nitrogen in rainwater, but every gardener and farmer loves a long, soaking rain that greens up all plant life and washes the dust from plants and trees. How can anyone calculate the tons of fertilizer coming down, so evenly distributed and instantly available?

I have learned to put five gallons of rainwater at a time on a rose bush, when I have stored some. The barrels have grown in number and capacity, because the results are evident and impossible to reproduce.

Three Veterans Honor roses, one Fragrant Cloud, two Queen Elizabeth, and one Pope John Paul II - all combine a fragrance so strong - almost choking in the hallway, like a closed room full of Easter lilies, but not as heavy and sweet.

Heavy rains and added rain from the barrels gave us this harvest and even more roses, still forming and blooming in abundance.

 From Norma Boeckler

If rainwater is so effective, how much more is the Word of God? Rain is the result of Creation, but Creation itself began with the Word of God. "All things were created through Him, and nothing was created apart from Him." (John 1)

Everyone would love rainwater from a special tap, going back to the old days when people stored rain and pumped it out when needed. Constantinople had vast storage areas for water underneath the city, to protect them against hard times and invasions. Jerusalem likewise was blessed with water sources and also engineered in ancient days to protect its water.

If water is so necessary and life-giving, always effective, then the Word of God is even more so, since all blessings flow from the Mouth of God. If God commands, it is so, no matter what man thinks, imagines, or decides. The Word turned water into the finest wine, stilled the storm, and raised Lazarus from death itself. Jesus stopped a funeral procession and gave a widow's only son back to her. He let the mourners laugh at Him, just before He gave a little girl back to her parents, no longer dead but living.

  From Norma Boeckler

Friday, October 21, 2016

In Memory of Peter Ellenberger

Veterans Honor

Cousin Peter Ellenberger died at the age of 75 on October 13th of this year. His funeral was yesterday. Two weeks ago his military colleagues honored him with a flag and plaque for his 13 years of service in the US Army.

Two years ago, Peter was so fragile that we thought he would not live long. I received permission to leave the local college and take Sassy with us to visit Peter and his wife. We were glad we went, because he looked so fragile. We had a good time there, with Sassy playing games with the dogs. She even sang "The Cattle Dog Blues" with me, and the other dogs howled in the chorus with her.

Peter was like a brother to Chris. He visited her when she was newborn in Europe and attended her baptism. He was a nearby friend in South Bend, Indiana. He and his wife Helene came to our wedding, much later to our son Martin's wedding to Tammy.

We always grow Queen Elizabeth roses - in memory of Bethany and Erin, our daughters.
Pete and Helene came to Erin's birthday party in Midland, Michigan, and their daughter
Petra came along to entertain Erin in the hammock.
Pete and Helene also visited Bethany.

Peter served in the Army. He told us a funny story about being accused of waving a knife at an officer. The problem was, the officer was being especially mean to him, giving him hours and hours of extra kitchen duty. Peter complained, waving his potato knife. The idea of gentle Peter being a threat was simply hilarious, and he enjoyed telling the story.

Pete's military buddies presented these honors
two weeks before he died. They were also the honor guard later that month.

The Veterans Honor rose reminds me of Peter. The rose begins with a rather fragile stem in our weather. The bloom is so big that the stem can barely hold it up. And yet, if the rose is cut and left on the ground, it keeps its perfect bloom for many days when any other flower would wilt away.

Peter lived almost two years after that "last" visit, and we saw him again on our trip to visit church members in Michigan, last year. He was like the Veterans Honor rose, seemingly fragile, but living on in spite of all reason or medical expectations. He came to America in fragile health, malnourished from the privations of WWII. He was one of five Ellenbergers who became American citizens and also served in the US military. He worked for Bayer in material management and was quite proud of how he could find anything needed. Earlier he made Flintstone vitamins and enjoyed talking about that work.

 Peter Ellenberger

I brought Holy Communion to Peter and Helene on both visits, as I did with all our members, who live in various states. We talked about faith in Christ, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life.

I told Pete, "I want you to be there when I get to heaven." He smiled. There was never a question of faith, but a good congregation is difficult to find today.

Friends and family sorely miss Pete. He was kindly and considerate, always ready with encouraging words.

Duftwolke -
Fragrant Cloud rose.

ELS and WELS Meeting Together, Suppressing Their Mutual Scorn.
Wikileaks Before There Was/Were Wikileaks

 This tag-team argues that the Bible and Luther
oppose justification by faith. Hint: Romans 4, AC IV and V,

Oh good.  They met again.  No outcome, conclusions, or reports about the discussions appear.  (No one must know what goes on at these meetings!)

 Webber's FB Chasuble page
illustrates the future of WELS-LCMS-ELS-ELCA cooperation.

Meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is blessed by its fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. As a way to strengthen that relationship and to provide mutual encouragement, leaders of the two synods meet every two years at the Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum. This year’s meeting took place this week at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mankato, Minn.
All areas of synodical work are represented at this meeting. Each synod sends leaders in the areas of synod administration, missions, doctrinal supervision, education, communications, and stewardship. The groups meets in a plenary session to review and discuss doctrinal essays that each synod has produced. Then leaders break into smaller groups where representatives from each synod discuss their work with their counterparts.
These meetings are another reminder of the bonds of fellowship, a common heritage of prison ministry from the inside, that God has provided to our two synods. They are also an opportunity for us to look to God’s Word for strength and encouragement as we carry out our God-given mission.
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

UO Jay Webber concedes that Bethany Seminary has a very weak faculty,
but John Shep (now ELCA) says Jay makes fun of the ELS until he is
within 100 miles of Mankato.