Dear Prayer Warrior
October is the month we celebrate Reformation. Is it a coincidence that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg Castle church, October 31, 1517, the same day as the pagans' all Hallows Eve? Or as it is referred to today as Halloween. Please refer to the article below.
The pagan Halloween consists of celebrating death and Satan with skulls, monsters, demons, everything ugly, creepy, and scary. A personal pet peeve of mine is seeing skulls as a fashion statement everywhere. I have been told it looks "cool" or "bad" as some like to say. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a meaning behind that. We see this "bad look" from shirts, skirts, hats, jewelry to tattoos. I mean, putting it permanently on your body? Really? They even have skulls now that are supposed to be "cute" by putting a bow on its head! I don't get it. Why are we celebrating death? That terrifies me. Jesus defeated death and the grave! That is what we should truly celebrate! There is an empty cross and an empty tomb! Jesus suffered death for us on the cross. He was buried in a grave! And the empty tomb shows his victory over the grave, hell and Satan!
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11. "Ah!" says Satan, "It is but a little sin--a little pride, a little worldliness, a little lust, etc. You may commit it without any danger to your soul. It is but a little one; you may commit it, and yet your soul shall live." Consider, that there is great danger, yes, many times most danger--in the smallest sins. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6). If the serpent sneaks in his head--he will draw in his whole body after him. "A little hole in the ship, sinks it. A little stab at the heart, kills a man." "A little sin, without a great deal of mercy, will damn a man!" (Brooks "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices") Submit yourselves then to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:6-8. In 1 Corinthians 15: 54-57 it reads: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
As Christians we have an alternate way of celebrating. Not with skulls, things of death, hell and Satan. But with sharing Christ's love by dressing up as our favorite heros, princesses, butterflies, and angels; eating and sharing cand, and food. We can still decorate with the season's pumpkins, apples, cranberries, corn stalks, hay bales, etc. Apple pie sounds good! Sharing Christian fellowship and showing gratefulness for God's blessings. And above all sharing the one truth, that Jesus died for all, so we don't won't have to experience the real death in hell, but have everlasting life with him who saved us. "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." Romans 16:19-21.
In need of our prayers:
Health Concerns: Inge Richardson, Donna Wagner, Gerry DeVita
Recovering from Surgery: Steve Larimore, Inge Richardson, Phillip White, Harry Schultz, Sharon Burden, Rev. Paul Schnelle, Doyle Davis.
Cancer: Jo Lussman, Mary Lou Peterman, Steven Larimore, Luke Stolarczyk, Bart Green, Simon Jones, LouAnn Thomas, Susan Freyer, Peggy Clay, Kiers Rowley, JoAnne Harder, Kim Purdon, Darlene Fields, Tonya Hunter, Kay Valentik, Mike Makenzie, Shannon Makenzie, Angela Hamilton, Ellen Mills.
Hospice: Barbara Brown, Liz Miller
Hospitalized: Bill Milborn
Those in Care Centers: Harry Schultz, Joan Simpson, Elnora Dammerman, Willa Davis
For Johnny Runyon, serving in Afghanistan, and for all our military personnel, that God would protect them and strengthen them to serve with honor.
For all who grieve, that they would have peace that passes understanding through Jesus Christ.
For those suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and mental illness.
For the unemployed and underemployed.
For our country in political and economic turmoil, that God would give our leaders wisdom to act and rule for the good of the people; for our country, that the Word of God would not be bound but would spread freely to fill people with hope and faith in Christ.
For the unemployed.
For those who travel: For Pastor Schwartz and others who are travelling to the Dominican Republic this week, that God would give them safe travels, success in their endeavors, and that God would continue to bless the mission work in that place.
For all God’s people who travel, that God would send his angels to guard them in all their ways.
For families experiencing division and strife, that God would bring healing through his grace.
Thanksgiving at the birth of Aleeya, great-granddaughter of Rick and Pam Cocke and granddaughter of Mike and Melanie Mason.
For expectant mothers and their unborn babies, including Sarah Pettengill, Melanie Bramon, Erin Jennum, Courtney Boor.
That God would provide all that is needed – the time, talents, and treasures – for BSLC’s growing ministry.
That God would bless all who teach and all who learn in all our Christian education classes, Bible studies, and small groups, that we all might learn and grow in our faith.
That God would bless all the discussions and work that will lead up November’s Voters’ Assembly, and that BSLC would glorify God in the process.
Thanksgiving for those enrolled in Abounding Love Preschool and Parents Day Out program and that God would bless this ministry with even more enrollments as the year continues.
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, that God would continue provide all they need.
That God would richly bless local and international mission efforts:
Rev. Bob Malone at Peace Lutheran in Kansas City, Missouri
Almighty and ever-gracious God,
By Martin Luther
Martin Luther was born into a musical family. As a boy, he joined a boys' choir and became proficient with the flute. Later, he became an Augustinian monk and struggled to meet the demands of a holy God. It is said that "he fasted until his cheeks caved in." He confessed his sins for hours at a time. But he soon began to see that man could not, even at his best, satisfy the almighty God.
Through his study of the Bible, he found that a person can only be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ; not through the purchase of indulgences, which were widely sold in the Catholic Church of his day. For purposes of discussion, he wrote a paper with ninety-five points and tacked it to the church door at Wittenberg. Those theses started the Protestant Reformation.
Luther became known in particular for three things: the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, the belief that Scripture should be translated into the people's language, and the birth of congregational singing. He felt that music was of God, not of man. And he was determined to restore congregational singing in the German language to the Church.
So strong were his beliefs about music and worship that he wrote these fiery words: "Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our hearts, minds and spirits. A person who does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs!"
His passionate beliefs led Luther to write both words and music for several hymns, including "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Luther's first hymnal was published in 1524. It contained eight hymns, four written by himself. Later hymnals were also published for congregational use. He urged people to use the hymns at home and encouraged parochial schools to teach them to their students.
Working with skilled musicians, Luther also created new music for church choirs, organ, and other instruments during his life. And after his death in 1546, the first line of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was inscribed on his tomb. The hymn was sung at the funeral of President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, March 1969. And it was also included in the National Service of Prayer and Remembrance, held shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks against America.
The one hymn that most symbolizes the Protestant Reformation is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." In it, Martin Luther proclaims his confidence in God and rallies all Christians to war against evil. Basing his words on Psalm 46, he victoriously states "We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us." Those persecuted and martyred for their convictions during the Reformation sang these words.
Luther understood the power of evil: After he posted his ninety-five theses on the door of Wittenberg's Castle in 1517, he faced years of trials and persecution, he was excommunicated from the Roman church, and he continually faced threats against his life and his freedom. Other reformers had been persecuted and burned at the stake.
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.
Should you and I be involved in the celebration of Halloween? Finding the answer to this question has been an interesting journey in itself. I interviewed several people and then researched what many leading Christian writers, authors and spokesmen have written about the subject. I also searched various websites such as christianitytoday.com, focusonthefamily.org, and cbn.com to read what others might be saying. What I found was an agreement on the origins of Halloween, but a mixture of recommendations about allowing our children to participate in this super-charged media driven holiday.
The origins of Halloween are Celtic in tradition and have to do with observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods in Druidic tradition. In what is now Britain and France, it was the beginning of the Celtic year, and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Believe it or not, most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these old pagan rites and superstitions.
But what about today? Perhaps we can still learn from history. In the fourth century, Christians attempted to co-opt the holiday by celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints the day before Halloween. This was a conscious attempt to provide an alternative and re-focus the day away from ghouls, goblins, ghosts, witches and other “haunted” experiences. Since that time many Christians have decided to allow their children to dress in more “innocent” costumes of pumpkins, princesses, Superman or as a cowboy. Part of this is due to the simple reality that in today’s Western culture it is nearly impossible to “avoid” Halloween.
Just before reaching a conclusion on the subject, I was struck with the thought that I ought to further my search and find out what Wicca, the official religion of witchcraft, has to say about Halloween. Perhaps they viewed the day as a simple fun and innocent neighborhood activity?
“Shock” is the only word to describe what I found. Halloween is a real, sacred day for those who follow Wicca. In fact, it is one of two high and holy days for them. The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day. There is no question in my mind that to those who believe and follow the practices of witchcraft, Halloween represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
So after discovering this, what is a reasonable conclusion? As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries.
My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that:
To counter the evil influence of Halloween, we need to join together and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints over the evil in their day. Many leaders in the past -- and present -- have fulfilled the mandate of destroying the works of the devil through their sacrificial commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.
Too, rather than “hide” in the face of evil, we should unabashedly and boldly create an alternative that is positive and uplifting; that celebrates good over evil and the triumph of God over Satan. We need to provide an environment that also makes room for heaps of fun while using the day as a “teachable moment” to celebrate God’s protection, provision and purpose for our lives.
What was the Lutheran Reformation?
By Dr. Richard P. Bucher
The Lutheran Reformation was an event in 16th Century Germany and Europe in which God used the monk Martin Luther (1483-1546) to reform the Christian Church of that day. By "reform" we mean to correct abuses and to restore it to what it should be.
However, it is important to understand, that this was not the first or only reformation. Over the fifteen hundred years of church history prior to this, there were many reformations. Heiko Oberman is quite right when he says that in the Middle Ages the word reformation was as popular as the word democracy is today. Many pushed for reforms in the Church of one kind or another.
A reformation in the 11th Century, led by Pope Gregory VII, attacked lay control of the Church, simony (buying church offices), and clergy immorality. In the 14th Century John Wyclif (d. 1384) sparked a reformation in England when he attacked the power and corruption of the Roman Church, rejected celibacy and transubstantiation, and stressed the reading of the Scriptures in the vernacular. In the 15th Century, the Bohemian, Jan Hus (d. 1415), influenced by Wyclif, initiated a reformation among his people by directing the people to obey God rather than the Roman Church authorities. By their false teachings and immorality, they had forfeited the right to be called Church. These are just three examples of the many reformations throughout church history.
Yet, none of these reformations were like Luther's Reformation. Luther also sought to reform various abuses in morals. He also attacked the Pope and the domination of the Roman Church. What made his reformation unique was that it was more concerned with doctrine than life. The heart of the Lutheran Reformation was a recovery of sound New Testament doctrine. In one of his table talks, Luther remarked:
Doctrine and life are to be distinguished. Life is as bad among us as among the papists. Hence we do not fight and damn them because of their bad lives. Wyclif and Hus, who fought over the moral quality of life, failed to understand this . . . When the Word of God , remains pure, even if the quality of life fails us, life is placed in a position to be what it ought to be. That is why everything hinges on the purity of the Word. I have succeeded only if I have taught correctly (WA TR 1:624; LW 54:110).
God's Reformation of His Church through Martin Luther began as a rediscovery of the main teaching of Christianity, that we are declared righteous (justified) by faith in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is not our righteousness (created by our works, efforts, and obeying God's laws) that saves us; Christ's righteousness saves us. And His righteousness is credited to our account when we believe that He died for us.
Put very simply, Luther's Reformation was a matter of taking this rediscovered Gospel, showing that it was Scriptural, and then reforming the Church by it. Whatever in the Church was found to contradict this Gospel of salvation by grace through faith was to be reformed. Anything else (if it edified) could be retained.
Luther's Reformation was concerned with essentials, with the very heart of Christianity. It is for this reason that it swept through Europe and had such amazing results. Without this Reformation, there would have been no salvation, for the Gospel would have remained largely hidden. When we celebrate the Reformation, we are celebrating this rediscovered Gospel that we believe in; and we are celebrating our salvation through Jesus Christ.