April 17, 1521: An Example for Believers in America on How to Change the World

Friday is for Heart Songs

Luther at the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner, 1877

Luther at the Diet of Worms [1521], by Anton von Werner, 1877

It was 4 P.M. when Luther arrived at Worms, 40 miles south-southwest of Frankfort, Germany. Luther had been told that his views would be heard, but instead a stack of his books where arrayed on a table and he was asked two questions: 

  • Are these your books?
  • Will you recant what is in them?

Luther was shocked. This did not sound like a hearing at all. This was a demand to recant. Luther said the books were his but in answer to second questioned he responded:

“This touches God and His Word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this Christ said, ‘He who denies Me before men, him will I deny before My Father.’ [Lk. 12:8-9] To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think.1

Luther was given a one day reprieve. On that evening, 494 years ago today, Luther spent the evening in prayer, preparing a careful and studied response for his inquisitors. At 6:00 P.M. the next day he gave his famous answer:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture
or by clear reason (for I trust neither pope nor council alone,
since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves),
I am bound by the Scriptures I have cited,
for my conscience is captive to the Word of God.
I cannot and will not recant anything since to act against
one’s conscience is neither safe nor right. I cannot do otherwise.
Here I stand, may God help me. Amen.”
2

Luther’s example is a model for us. Against powerful forces arrayed against him, Luther stood his ground on the Word of Truth and would not budge. And the result was? The world changed. The Gospel was set free from the shackles of tradition and millions upon millions heard the life changing power of the gospel with fresh ears. The Bible began to be widely disseminated and read by common people for the first time. When Thomas Linacre (pronounced, “Lynaker”) a British humanist and physician read the New Testament for the first time, he exclaimed, “Either this is not the gospel, or we are not Christians.”  Indeed.

That’s what the Bible unleashed, the Bible believed, the Bible proclaimed, the Bible rightly understood does to a man or a culture. It gives them eyes to see and ears to hear.  Woe to us if in our time, in our opportunity, with all the forces of the media and the cultural elites stacked against us, we fail to stand for the unadorned truth of the gospel for our generation and the generations yet to be born.  

Footnotes:

1. The One Year Book of Christian History, E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (Tyndale, 2003), 216.

2. Ibid., 216f.

The #1 Reason You Aren’t Growing as a Christian will Shock You

This post is almost 5 years old. And yet, I find that the issue is perennial in my own life and the life of so many believers. We all need a reminder from time to time.

For more see:  You Aren’t Growing as a Christian Because You Don’t Need Him.

What Was the Overall Style of Jesus Ministry?

Thursday is for Discipleship

Spirit of the disciplines“My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing — by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.” 

(Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, ix) 

Dallas Willard lives with Jesus now but his books continue to draw the heart of seekers of God. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

And since becoming like Christ happens as we learn to follow Him in the overall style of the life He chose for Himself, our vision at Trinity Church is to Live Passionately For and Like Jesus. Wherever you are, join us in the adventure of being made into the likeness of Christ. It is the journey of and for a lifetime.

“Friday Night” Party Night

alcoholJust spent 20 minutes talking on the phone with a man I have never met who called up the pastor (me) of his father’s former church. He was emotional, drunk, broken, guilt ridden and longing, in the emptiness of all the choices that hollowed his life out, for a return to a more innocent time.

I was able to pray with him and give him my cell phone number. I gave him the name of a solid church in his area (about 60 miles away from here but closer to him).  I invited him to sit down and have a cup of coffee when he passes through this area in the future and assured him that I would be praying for him.

It was a sad goodbye. He’s alone. He’s hurting. And the odds are good, that when he sobers up, he will think that his phone call (if he remembers it) was silly or pointless. But the message of Psalm 4 is otherwise.

For a reflection on the goodness of sober choices see: “Friday Night” Party Night.

Older Men Teaching Younger

We are quietly working this process in the ministry of Trinity Church with some wonderful results. One day, every man and woman in the church will be able to point to a mentor who helped them along the way.

For more see:   Older Men Teaching Younger.

How Many Political Candidates Would Pass these Standards?

Bookmark for Picking a PresidentTuesday is for Thinking

I’m generally a positive and hopeful person, except when it comes to politics. Then I become a cynic.

The political season is tuning up its machinery to once again pull the wool over the eyes of America. Both the major political parties are well oiled machines at saying one thing and doing another. A few years ago, I was studying the book of Proverbs and kept running across terms like “king”, “governor”, and “ruler”. I began to wonder if I might collect those verses in Proverbs that spoke most directly to the character quality of political leaders or the task of governing and wisdom in leading a people. 

Eventually, I started working on a book; my father died; I abandoned the book; only to pick up the project a few years later, and eventually finished the book, Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official. As election season heats up, maybe this is a good time to examine how you pick your candidates for the various elections. My goal in the book was to be faithful to the Scripture not partisan for a particular political camp. There is plenty in the book to challenge the assumptions of both the right and the left. 

You can order the book at the link above. Below you can view the book trailer.

https://youtu.be/oPqohCDYs1M

 

Demonstrating the Connections that Lead to the Doctrine of the Trinity

Monday Discussion

holy-trinity-250x250Mark 1:1       The beginning of the gospel of Jesus
.                    Christ …

Mark 1:14     Now after John had been taken into
.                    custody, Jesus came into Galilee,
.                    preaching the gospel of God.

In span of 14 verses, the gospel of Jesus Christ is equated with the gospel of God. Aristotelian logic: Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another.

Don’t neglect such connections when you are talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups who deny the deity of Christ. There are hundreds of these kind of passages in the New Testament. Hunt them down and use them as you defend with gentleness what the Scripture teaches about our great God.

“It’s a good thing that you would let me die”

reflections on Christ - crucifixionMy son visited this afternoon, making the 90 mile trip to help me put together a piece of IKEA furniture, throw a baseball around and give his wise counsel on how we can better prepare for “retirement.” Ever since he attended a Dave Ramsey seminar the week after he and his bride returned from their honeymoon, he has been building his skill in helping others make wise choices related to their finances.

For us, retirement simply means preparing not to be a burden to our children. We have our health and want to be engaged in living for the King until our last breath.  It is always great to see our children but this visit with us seeking the counsel of our son was a bit of a role reversal for us. It reminded me of another time when God wanted to teach me something through the insight of my son. He was ten when the incident below took place.

For more see:  “It’s a good thing that you would let me die”.

God’s Role and Ours in the Pursuit of Holiness

Saturday Musings

The Discipline of Grace, BridgesFor more than three decades Jerry Bridges has been an honest voice of singular devotion to Christ. Every book that comes out of his heart is a trustworthy guidepost to a deeper spiritual life guaranteed to both instruct and inspire the reader, or at least this reader, to long for more of Jesus. Here’s an excerpt of one of Jerry’s earlier books that continues to challenge today:

If the love of Christ for us is to be the motivating force for a life of discipleship, how then can we come to the place where we are acutely conscious of His love? The answer is, through the gospel. It is, of course, the Holy Spirit who pours out His love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), but He does this through the message of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross and that we are thereby forgiven. As we continually reflect upon that gospel, the Holy Spirit floods our hearts with a sense of God’s love to us in Christ. And that sense of His love motivates us in a compelling way to live for Him.

~ Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and
Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness

Today is a good day to reflect upon the gospel, the good news that all our sins have been forgiven, and allow the Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts to live passionately for and like Christ.

70 Years Ago, Bonhoeffer Died in Christ

Another Post-Easter Reflection on the Wonders of the Resurrection

Bonhoeffer and a Youth GroupApril 9, 1945, is the death date for Bonhoeffer, but for him, a beginning. 70 years ago he breathed his last breath as a testimony to his faith in Christ, the truth of the gospel, and the wickedness of National Socialism (the Nazi’s). 

Today he lives.

He lives not just because his books continue to sell and his life continues to be remembered. 

He lives because he died in Christ.

John 11:25–26 (ESV)

25  … “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus made a promise to Bonhoeffer and to you. If you die believing in Him, you will live. If you live and believe in Jesus you will never die.

Jesus doesn’t lie.

Easter, the day before Easter, the day after Easter, three weeks before Easter, or 1984 years after Easter changes nothing. Jesus is alive. The tomb is empty and all those who die in Christ shall live. He keeps His promises.

Bonhoeffer is alive. Its going to be a thrilling conversation beyond the grave when you and I get to meet saints like Peter and Paul, and Mary and Mary and Magdalene, and Augustine and Anselm, and all your family that died in Christ, along with Bonhoeffer and get to learn from them all that they have learned by going on before us.

Live out a resurrection hope today. It is the reason Jesus asked the question, “Do you believe this?”