Saturday, January 25, 2014

Relief For The Weary - God Comes To Save

If you are like me, battling an afflicted conscience and having more questions than answers, I pray this is of comfort to you. Luther believed that all of theology was for nothing if it did not bring consolation to troubled consciences.

Prince Joachim of Anhalt was twenty-six years old when Christmas came in 1535. For months he had battled with deep melancholy and depression. Luther had spent time with the prince, praying for him and speaking the Lord’s words of consolation and peace into his ears the previous summer. 
We must be weak, and are willing to be,” writes Luther, “in order that Christ’s strength may dwell in us; as Saint Paul says, ‘Christ’s strength is made perfect in weakness’ ” (Tappert, p. 98). There are no shallow encouragements to muster up strength or to develop a more positive attitude. There are no calls in Luther’s letter for Joachim to pull himself out of despondence and get in tune with the spirit of the season. Joachim is not counseled to get some help with his self-esteem issues. Luther comforts him instead with the words of the apostle. In weakness God puts His power to save on display. From the lowliness of the manger to the humiliation of the cross right down to the pit of Joachim’s depression, God comes to save. God works in the depths. Luther once offended Erasmus by asserting that Christ Jesus is with us even in the sewer. Jesus is not ashamed to be found in the midst of barn flies and manure. He is not ashamed to be found in the company of weak sinners.
Good pastor that he is, Luther does not try to lift Joachim’s spirits with an appeal to the Law. “Don’t you know that you should be rejoicing, after all it is Christmas, dear Prince.” There is none of that in Luther’s letter. Instead, there is the comfort of Christmas. It is the consolation of a Christ who makes Himself to be a friend of sinners, joining Himself to them in their weakness and misery.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Modesty, Women's Ministry and Idolizing Our Kids

A quick look back at Set Free... from 2013 includes the four most popular posts.

Skirts were a topic of conversation, but not short skirts. Longer skirts got our attention when we asked, "Will wearing them protect our daughters?" For a gospel take on modesty, read more here. But, it was not just the girls we were concerned about. The question is one for the guys too - will that same long skirt protect them? We talked about that here.

Another favorite topic was the truth about what women think of Women's Ministry. Did you know that if you are a pastor's wife, you must play the piano, lead Bible studies, and be at most church functions? NOT. However, that is what one woman was told. It is no wonder that many women inside the church commonly feel like they don't measure up. Read more here.

Finally, does God shake a pointing finger at moms, waiting for them to shape up, stop focusing on their kids so much and start focusing on Jesus? We talked about idolizing our children here.

The gospel really does free us from all that the Christian culture throws our way. Interestingly, these posts are talking about expectations WITHIN the church, not outside of the church. Jesus said, that is why I came. To set free those who are enslaved and bound by the legalistic requirements of the Law. He set the captives free by fulfilling the law and all of its righteous demands by living perfectly for us.

That is the good news of the gospel. Freedom for captives. Rescue for sinners. Amen.