Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | August 11, 2011

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Good morning!

This morning I thought I’d share a song with ya’ll. I love this song. I listened to it about five times last night. I hope ya’ll enjoy it too!

 

 

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | August 3, 2011

Thank You

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a Civil War reenactment in Hastings. As a member of one of the host units, I was able to participate in a couple of scenarios. One of the scenarios took place during the evening twilight tours through the historic village. I was with a group of lovely ladies and we were portraying a family enjoying a quiet evening at home. One of the ladies read a book. One was working on a quilt and a couple of others worked on various sewing projects. One portrayed the family servant. I practiced playing my tin whistles. In the midst of our quiet evening, there’s a knock on our door. It’s the postmaster with a letter for Mrs. Giffin. Upon opening the letter and reading it aloud, we learn that Mrs. Giffin’s brother has been killed in battle. Our evening instantly changes from a quiet, peaceful evening to one of immense grief.

It hit me while participating in this scenario that this is still happening today. We’re at war. Families across this country have loved ones who are serving in our armed forces in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Families may be enjoying quiet evenings at home when they hear a knock on their door and suddenly everything changes.

Thinking about that makes me appreciate our armed forces and their families even more for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe.

Whether you agree with our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan currently or not, I hope that you’ll join me in praying for all those who serve in our armed forces and for their family and friends. If you see a man or woman in uniform, I hope you’ll take a moment to personally thank them for their service.

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | August 3, 2011

A Few Changes

After having taken an extended break from writing on here, I’ve decided to begin again. This time I’ll be making a few changes to my stated purpose for this blog. Instead of focusing solely on theology, I’ll be writing about all sorts of things, including my experiences as a Civil War reenactor. This will become a place for me to write about the things I’m passionate about. So stay tuned for new posts coming soon!

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | November 12, 2010

Praise You In This Storm

There have been many awful things happening in my life lately and in the lives of my family and friends. Life has been very difficult.

It’s so easy to focus on the bad and to overlook the blessings God showers on us every single day.

In the movie “Facing the Giants”, the head coach of the football team tells his team, “We’ll praise God when we win and we’ll praise Him when we lose.” We are called to praise Him always. We are called to praise God when life is going well. And we are called to praise Him when we face the storms and troubles of this life.

I don’t always like what God allows to happen to me. I often disagree with how He chooses to bless me, having my owns ideas as to what sorts of blessings I think He should send my way. I will sometimes find myself thinking that what He chooses to do is not enough. I need more. I want more. And I want and need it now!

And then God reminds me… He reminds me that I am not the one in charge. He reminds me how much I don’t deserve any of the blessings He has given me. And He reminds me that, long before I was born, He fulfilled my greatest need: my need for a saviour.

I am a Baptized child of God. No circumstances, no person, no thing can ever take that away from me. I am baptized into Christ.

So, I am praising God. I am thanking Him for His many blessings and waiting on Him to lift the storm clouds in His time and His way. That does not mean that I won’t be frustrated with Him at times. That does not mean that I won’t get impatient. That does not mean that the storms don’t hurt. It does mean that I know God is bigger than all of this and He loves me with an everlasting love. He works faith in my heart and makes it possible for me to praise Him in all circumstances.

1 Thes. 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually. give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Praise You In This Storm lyrics
(Casting Crowns)
I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say, Amen and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, “I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands
And praise the God who gives and takes away

And I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on if I can’t find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, “I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands
And praise the God who gives and takes away

And I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

And I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | February 15, 2010

Life Lessons from Toddlers (and a few from Preschoolers)

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

1.) Dance as though no one is watching…

and don’t worry about what they think. Just enjoy dancing.

“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” ~Hopi Indian Saying

2.) Sing Jesus Loves Me at the top of your voice…

even if you can’t sing on key.

“A song will outlive all sermons in the memory.”  ~Henry Giles

3.) Smile and sing/hum/whistle while cleaning…

it makes the job much more pleasant and helps the time to fly.

“Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace.”

4.) Hug your friends and family…

especially when they least expect it.

“Happiness is an unexpected hug.”  ~Author Unknown

“Hugs are the universal medicine.”  ~Author Unknown

“You can’t wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug.”  ~Author Unknown

5.) Look at each day as a new adventure…

who knows what you might discover?

“Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

6.) Take life one day at a time…

don’t worry about tomorrow. God’s got ya covered. (Philippians 4:19)

“It’s today I must be livin’.” – Fairlight Spencer (from the book Christy by Catherine Marshall)

7.) Find things that you love to do…

and pursue them.

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.” ~Michael Nolan

8.) Tell the people you love that you love them…

and tell them often; don’t just use words.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ” ~Leo F. Buscaglia


Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | February 14, 2010

Who Are You?

Who are you?

When someone asks you that question, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? A list of your various achievements and successes? Perhaps it’s a cherished compliment someone once gave you? Maybe it’s an experience that was so amazing it stands out in your mind? Or perhaps it’s your failures? How about a mistake you made that you just can’t seem to forget? A harsh word spoken behind your back or to you? Something else that someone did to you?

As human beings I think we have a tendency to focus on the negative. We focus on our failures, our mistakes, the things people have done to us, things said to or about us, etc. Satan can and does use these things against us to make us forget who and Whose we are. He uses them to lie to us and cause our hearts to doubt our Father’s great love for us.

If we forget Whose we are, we forget who we are.

Do we have any defense against the Evil One’s attacks? Yes, we do.

“Nothing is so powerfully effective against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts as to occupy one’s self with God’s Word…” (Luther, Large Catechism, Preface, paragraph 10) It’s effective because, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus, the Word made flesh, came to earth and did what God promised Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “He has redeemed and released me from sin, from the devil, and from all misfortune.” (Large Catechism, II, 27)

“But,” you may say, “the Evil One is so powerful.” You’re right; he is. However our God is more powerful still: 1 John 4:4 “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (KJV) In your baptism, God placed His Spirit in your heart: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13 NIV) This promised Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts. This same faith is the faith that we are admonished to use against the Evil One: “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16 NIV)

Okay, so we know that God’s Word is effective against the attacks of the devil, but where do we look in Scripture to find the truth of who we are and how God views us? I highly recommend memorizing these or at least a few of them for those moments when the Evil One is attacking you and making you doubt who you are in Christ:

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (ESV)

1 John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.”

Deuteronomy 33: 26-27 “There is no like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

1 Peter 5:7 NIV “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 6:9 “The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

Psalm 27:1-2 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.”

Psalm 34:18-19 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Psalm 59:17 “O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”

Psalm 117:2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever: Praise the Lord!”

1 John 3:1a “See what kind of love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are!”

1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:1 “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'”

Isaiah 43:4a, 5a “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…fear not, for I am with you.”

Besides all of these, we have the assurance of our baptism. I can’t put it any better than this:

“Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!”

(God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It, LSB 594)

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | February 8, 2010

Prayer

This short little article is something that I wrote intending to use it as a short explanation on prayer for a small group session during one of my home church’s women’s retreats. I don’t think I ended up using it and I had completely forgotten I had this.

When you pray, you are talking directly to God. And He hears you! He hears every word that you say. He even hears the things that you don’t say. He hears those unspoken hurts. He feels your heartache. He sees your tears. And He does more than this. Your heartache is His heartache. Your tears are His tears (John 11:35, Luke 19:41). Your hurts are His hurts. He takes all of your pain, your hurt, your heartache, your brokenness, your tears, your anguish upon Himself and He carries you through it all. He NEVER leaves you alone to bear your pain. Never (Matthew 28:20). He has given us His Spirit Who prays with us and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). Prayer is your opportunity to pour all of your hurt, heartache, pain and sorrow out to your Heavenly Father who loves you so deeply that He gave His life for you (1 Peter 5:7, Isaiah 53:5). There is nothing more loving, no gift greater than to give your life for another (John 15:13). And that is exactly what God has done for you. He loves you so very deeply, loves every part of you (1 John 4:16). He made you. He created you with great care and purpose (Psalm 139). He longs to hear your voice. He longs for you to come to Him in prayer with all of your troubles, all of your cares, all of your worries, all of your happiness, all of your joy. He created you to be in a personal relationship with Him. Prayer is not talking to the ceiling or the sky and hoping that someone hears you. Prayer is an intimate conversation between you and God, made even more powerful when you share it with another person. Prayer changes you. Prayer brings you closer to God. Be assured that God hears your prayers and that He will lovingly answer them (Psalm 31:22, Psalm 6:9, Psalm 66:19). He may not answer them the way that you would like Him too, but please remember, that Father knows best. He knows your needs, and will provide for them (Philippians 4:19). After all, He took care of your greatest need, your need for salvation, before you were even born. Even before the world was created, He knew what your needs would be and He provided for them. Trust that He will continue to do so (Psalm 115:11, Isaiah 26:4).


Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | February 8, 2010

Baptismal Hymn

For our class on baptism, we were required to write a hymn, well…at least a verse or two. 🙂 Here’s what I wrote:

Verse 1:

Christ washes us and makes us pure

Adopting us as family.

Water’s both our death and cure

Now we shall live eternally.

Verse 2:

Forgiveness, life, and salvation,

Christ’s good gifts to us are given.

Made to be a new creation,

Fit for life with Christ in heaven.

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | February 8, 2010

Justification

My other Lutheran Confessions I paper. The assignment was to examine the Augsburg Confession, Apology, and Scripture and to then explain Justification. We were allowed to write no more than two pages. Dr. Masaki also really liked this one. 🙂

Justification is a controversial topic in the church and has been a controversial topic for a long time. The Augsburg Confession and its Apology strive to examine Scripture and to discover and speak the truth about justification. “…this controversy deals with the most important topic of Christian teaching which, rightly understood, illumines and magnifies the honor of Christ and brings the abundant consolation that devout consciences need…” (Ap IV, 2).

Any discussion on justification must center on the person and work of Christ. For it is only in and through Him that we are justified. Isaiah 53:6 says, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This text does not say that the Lord made this laying of our iniquities on Christ dependent upon our merits or works. On the contrary, it says that we have each turned away from God and have gone our own way.

Some might argue that we could justify ourselves by following the law. But this is not so. Paul tells us in Romans 4:15 “the law brings wrath.” “He does not say that through the law people merit the forgiveness of sins. For the law always accuses and terrifies consciences. Therefore it does not justify since the conscience that is terrified by the law flees the judgment of God (Ap IV, 38).” Galatians 2:16 also states “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

Furthermore, Ephesians 2:1 says that we are dead in our transgressions. How could we then hope to make satisfaction? We cannot. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:21-22 “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” Note that all of the action being done in this passage is being done by Christ to and for us. We are passive recipients of the benefits of His work. This truth is summarized in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession:

What has been given us is the promise of the forgiveness of sins and justification on account of Christ, who was given for us in order to make satisfaction for the sins of the world, and who has been appointed as the mediator and propitiator. This promise is not conditional upon our merits; it freely offers the forgiveness of sins and justification…(Ap IV, 40-41, emphasis added)

Therefore Article IV of the Augsburg Confessions states:

Furthermore, it is taught that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God through our merit, work, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God out of grace for Christ’s sake through faith when we believe that Christ has suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness in his sight, as St. Paul says in Romans 3[:21-26] and 4[:5] (AC IV German text)

Article XX of the Augsburg Confession states that, “…God’s grace is grasped by faith alone, without merit.” If so, then the question is: how do we obtain such faith? The answer is found in Romans 10:13-15, 17:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? …Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

God works faith in us through the hearing of His Word. Faith is not something we do; it is a gift that is given to us. “The authors of the ancient church teach the same. For Ambrose says: ‘It is established by God that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved without works, by faith alone, receiving the forgiveness of sins as a gift.’” (AC VI) As St. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We are, once again, passive recipients. If our salvation depended upon our works instead of upon Christ, His work and His gift of faith, how could we ever know that we had done enough to earn our salvation?

“That is, if the promise depended upon our works, it would not be firm. If the forgiveness of sins were given on account of our works, when would we know that we had taken hold of it, when would a terrified conscience find a work that it could consider sufficient to conciliate the wrath of God?” (Ap XX)

The answer is that we wouldn’t find a work that would be sufficient. “For it is false that we merit the forgiveness of sins through our works (Ap IV, 25).” Rather, “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

It also then follows, “The blasphemy of attributing the honor of Christ to our works must not be tolerated.” (Ap XX) The work of our salvation was completed by Christ in His sacrificial death on the cross. “It is finished,” he said before he died. He won salvation for us and gives it to us freely. There is nothing that we can contribute to our justification. He has done it all and continues to do so by working saving faith in the hearts of those who hear His Word. And so we can joyfully sing,

All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise

To Father, Son, and Spirit,

The God who saved us by His grace;

All glory to His merit.

O, triune God in heav’n above,

You have reveled Your saving love;

Your blessed name we hallow (LSB 555).

Posted by: erinelizabeth1983 | February 8, 2010

The Office of the Holy Ministry

This is a paper I wrote for Lutheran Confessions I.  The assignment was to examine the Augsburg Confession, Apology, and Scripture and to then explain the Office of the Holy Ministry. We were allowed to write no more than two pages. Dr. Masaki really liked my paper. 🙂

The Office of the Holy Ministry exists because of God’s mandate. Pastors are given to preach the Word of God and administer the sacraments. This is the work that Christ Himself has given them to do. Christ places pastors into the Office of the Holy Ministry through the call of the church.

So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and the sacraments as through instruments the Holy Spirit is given, who effects faith where and when it pleases God in those who hear the gospel, that is to say, in those who hear that God, not on account of our own merits but on account of Christ, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace on account of Christ. Galatians 3:14b: “So that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (AC V Latin Text).

The Confessions claim to be the true exposition of Scripture. As such, all of their teachings should be readily found in Scripture. One major text that should be considered when studying the Office of the Holy Ministry is Matthew 28:16-20.

Matthew 28:17 says that the disciples “worshipped Him.” They recognized Him as the King and they knelt down in acknowledgement of His kingship. Christ uses His authority to mandate the Office of the Holy Ministry. Because of His authority, He is able to send out His disciples to do the work He is giving them to do. His authoritative Word establishes the Office of the Holy Ministry. He tells the disciples, “While you are going, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).” The disciples were doing what they were given to do: “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them (Matthew 28:16).” Like the disciples did what Jesus gave them to do, so also pastors do what Jesus has given them to do.

This also means that when pastors are teaching, they must also be baptizing. And when they are baptizing, they must also be teaching. Teaching and baptizing go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. How will people know that they are in need of baptism unless they are taught? Why would one baptize without first teaching the person to be baptized why we baptize?

Matthew 28:18, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” is often misunderstood as Jesus giving His authority to His disciples. Instead, Jesus retains His authority. He does not give it away to the eleven. Whatever they do is connected to Him. So also, whatever pastors do is connected to Him. The Apology to the Augsburg Confession confesses just that,

Nor does this detract from the efficacy of the sacraments when they are distributed by the unworthy, because they represent the person of Christ on account of the call of the church and do not represent their own persons, as Christ himself testifies [Luke 10:16], ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me.’ When they offer the Word of Christ or the sacraments, they offer them in the stead and place of Christ (Ap VII, 28).

“To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, giving the gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when he wills, in those who hear the gospel (AC V German text) This echoes Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” In the German text the Office of the Holy Ministry is called the Predigtamt or “preaching office”. This reflects the teaching of Romans 10:17. For,

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

“It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe (AC V German text).” “God, not on account of our own merits but on account of Christ, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace on account of Christ (AC V Latin text).” Both of these statements are based upon texts such as 2 Timothy 1:9 “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” as well as many other Scripture passages.

Why do the Confessions say that no one should “publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper (public) call (AC XIV German text)?” The pastor is acting in the place of Christ and it is Christ who places the pastor into this office through the call of the church. Therefore, it is fitting that we show respect for the Office of the Holy Ministry since Christ Himself has mandated this Office.

After having carefully examined the Scriptures, one would conclude that the Office of the Holy Ministry does in fact exist because of Christ’s mandating Word, that whatever pastors do is connected to Christ, and that pastors are given to teach and administer the sacraments in order that people may be brought to faith through the work of the Spirit in and through His Word and sacraments.

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