Reformation Day: Something worth celebrating on Oct. 31

While the great majority of you out there will consider this day Halloween (and it is), there also may be some of you who are aware that it is also Reformation Day which, in the grand scheme of things, is much more important and good to know.

What is Reformation Day? Well, from a point of strictly definition, it is:

Reformation Day is an important liturgical festival that is celebrated by Lutherans and Christians of many Protestant denominations.  It commemorates Dr. Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.  This act triggered the movement in world history known as the Reformation. While the historical date for the observance of Reformation is October 31st, most churches celebrate it on the last Sunday in October.

But more importantly, Reformation Day marks the rediscovery of the truth of the Gospel. As Herman Sasse puts it in “Here We Stand”:

It is not, therefore, the return to the Scriptures in itself which makes the Reformation of the sixteenth century one of the great and unique events of church history. The nature of the Reformation must be sought, rather, in the particular kind of return to the Bible….How often has the church been reformed ‘according to God’s Word’!…[T]he…Reformation, in its essential nature, is nothing else than a rediscovery of the gospel….

The rediscovery of the Scriptural truth concerning the justification of the sinner by grace alone, through faith alone, is nothing less than the rediscovery of the Gospel. For, if this truth is forgotten, the Gospel must be interpreted as a system of morals or as a theory of religious metaphysics. Consequently, this discovery constitutes the reformation of the church. It revealed once again that truth by which alone the church lives.

For the church does not live by morals, by the knowledge and observance of God’s law. Nor does it live by religion, by lofty experiences of the divine and an awareness of the mysteries of God. It lives solely by the forgiveness of sins. Hence reformation does not consist, as the late Middle Ages believed, and has even been believed in wide circles of the Protestant world, of an ethico-religious correction, of a moral quickening and a spiritual deepening throughout the church. It consists, rather, according to its own peculiar nature, of the revival of the preaching of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake….

The [Reformation] understanding of the Scriptures, we say, came as a result of this rediscovery of the Gospel. At all events, it has been the conviction of the [Reformation] that the sola scriptura is conditioned by the sola fide, that a real return to the Scriptures was made possible only by a new understanding of the Gospel. It is in this sense that the Apology to the Augsburg Confession speaks of Justification as “the chief topic of Christian doctrine…which is of especial service for the clear, correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, and alone shows the way to the unspeakable treasure and right knowledge of Christ, and alone opens the door to the entire Bible.” This view alone guards against the false, legalistic conception of the Bible as a law-book ….[T]he Reformation was a renovation of the church brought about by the rediscovery and renewed proclamation of the pure doctrine of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.

And now for this kind moment

UPDATE: After seeing the video on SportsCenter several times, I can see that the play made an impression on more than just me. The player involved was Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard and his unintentional victim was 7-year-old Garrett Monroe. For his trouble, Garrett was interviewed during the game by ESPN’s Erin Andrews and then signed autographs for fans around him. No one interviewed Gilyard, but it was a classy gesture on his part. Click on the image below to see it. The play itself and the interview are a ways into the highlight, so be patient.

In this video highlight from ESPN, Cincinnati receiver Marty Gilyard shows some tenderness for a fan who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In this video highlight from ESPN, Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard shows some tenderness for a fan who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I just saw a college football player from the University of Cincinnati go crashing into the stands after trying to make a touchdown catch.

The cool part was when we realized that he had run over a small child he quickly removed his helmet and gave the tearful boy a hug to comfort him.

This gesture spoke volumes to me. Way more than any celebration, taunting, dancing or yelling. Just a beautiful moment.

And now back to the cruel world.

Daily Bible reading plans now as podcasts

You can know download the Bible to put on your iPod or else sign up for daily reading podcasts — for free!
You can know download the Bible to put on your iPod or else sign up for daily reading podcasts — for free!

All the English Standard Version (ESV) daily reading plans are now being offered as podcasts.  Or, if you don’t want to wait for a podcast to arrive but would like to listen on your own, you can buy the ESV in a download to put on your iPod or MP3 player. Either way, you need to get into your Bible — for your own good.

Mark Richt lives his faith

Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting this. I would echo Justin’s comments that it is an awesome thing when a public person like Georgia football coach Mark Richt so openly expresses his faith. I am not a Georgia football fan, but I am a huge fan of Mark and Katharyn Richt. God is good. Click on the image to view the video.

Georgia head football coach Mark Richt talked about his adopted children and his faith on ESPN GameDay recently.
Georgia head football coach Mark Richt talked about his adopted children and his faith on ESPN GameDay recently.

What purpose does suffering serve?

As a believers in Jesus, we are not immune to suffering in our lives? Because we crave comfort in our lives, this causes confusion? “Why would God do this to me?” is usually the conversation we have in our heads or maybe with others. After all, isn’t God love? What does the Bible, God’s word spoken to us, say about suffering?

Today in my devotions I read Romans 5, where it says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

This past week, in Sunday school with 6- and 7-year-olds, we were talking about God’s glory and what it means. That is a hard thing to wrap your mind around even as an adult. The way we explained it was like a box of treasure that holds things too wonderful to imagine. So, in thinking about the passage above, the hope of one day seeing God’s glory and what that holds gives us a joyful hope. And that hope is produced through our suffering. In the end, something we dread, suffering as a believer in Christ, produces something that brings us hope and peace in God.

The Palin style of leadership

In a recent article, Byron York at NRO looked at how Sarah Palin governed in Alaska. What the article demonstrates is that she has learned quickly and governed more than ably and that the talk on the campaign trail is not empty rhetoric.

Of note, York describes her style of governing:

[I]t’s fair to say that overall, Palin’s time in office, from her swearing-in until the moment John McCain picked her to be his running mate, has been a success. And from her handling of the issues she has tackled, it’s possible to see a pattern in the way she approaches governing.

First, she hires well. “There was a pretty good team of people assembled right away to come in and start with her big-picture principles and develop a process and legislation to carry that out,” says Joe Balash. “I would say that her management style is to give her staff, her cabinet, a pretty long leash, but with very high expectations — and she’s not afraid to tell you that you didn’t get it right.”

Second, she is involved with details on some big things, but not on everything. “When it comes to issues that she cares about, that she knows the public cares about, she’s got all kinds of time and prioritizes things in a big way,” says one insider who has worked with her and asked not to be named. “For the mundane tasks of government . . . say, regulations for the Kenai River, she instead looks for recommendations from her cabinet and the regulatory agencies, but she’s not going to get in and argue specific details.”

Third, she is dead set on fulfilling campaign promises. “There was this absolute expectation that if it was an issue that had been talked about during the campaign and there was a particular commitment that she had made, then we had to live up to it, no matter how difficult,” says Balash, “because her big thing was restoring the confidence of the public in state government.”

From that same article, Republican state senator Gene Therriault sums it up best when he says: “She’s been in office for two years now and has been fairly successful, which either belies the argument that she was not prepared or is an argument for the fact that she is a quick study.”

Read the whole article here.

What is so appalling about Sarah Palin?

I have read more than once, from various sides of the political spectrum, how appalling John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate was. Perhaps they may have reasons, although I will point out that any serious student of presidential history will see that Sarah Palin is no less experienced than many people who served capably as president of this country. But appalling? Here is video of what kind of character Sarah Palin has and the nerve she has touched for one segment of our society.

I guess I can’t really understand that hatred that is being directed toward this woman. Perhaps it’s easier for people to direct that hatred toward her rather than come right out and say it’s Down syndrome people they really hate. Or, rather, would not want to see live in the first place. That is what is appalling.

Momentary Marriage

A Parable of Permanence
This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence

In the first half of 2007, John Piper preached a series of messages at Bethlehem Baptist Church on marriage. They were powerful and inspiring and now have been summarized in a new book called “This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.”

As usual, Piper does an outstanding job, this time explaining that marriage is much more than what we think is about. From the Desiring God Web site:

Romance, sex, and childbearing are temporary gifts of God. So is marriage. It will not be part of the next life. And it is not guaranteed even for this life. It is one possible path along the narrow way to Paradise. It passes through breathtaking heights and through swamps with choking vapors. With marriage comes bitter providences, and it makes many things sweeter.

There never has been a generation whose view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the common human vision is now, and has always been, gargantuan. Some cultures in history respect the importance and the permanence of marriage more than others. Some, like our own, have such low, casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes toward marriage as to make the biblical vision seem ludicrous to most people.

Reflecting on his forty years of matrimony, Piper explains:

Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It displays the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people to the world in a way that no other event or institution does. Marriage, therefore, is not mainly about being in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with our lives. And staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love on display.

“If you are married, this is why,” says Piper. “If you hope to be, this should be your dream.”

The Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative

While many go into the polling booth ready to vote for the people at the top of the tickets i.e. president, senator, governor, etc. there are often other measures that deserve attention as well.

Here in Nebraska, we will be voting on the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative, which would amend the state constitution to prohibit the state from discriminating on the basis of race. Opponents call it anti-affirmative action while proponents say it would ban racial preferences. Already, similar measures have passed in California and Michigan and measures like this are on the ballot in several states. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has gone on the record as a supporter of a similar measure in his home state of Arizona.

Helpful to those who may not have considered this measure, Ward Connerly (who is considered the man behind California’s Proposition 209, that state’s anti-affirmative measure) discusses the impact that California’s passage of that measure in 1998. Click on the image to see the interview.

Former California regent Ward Connerly discusses the impact of that state's Proposition 209, which banned quotas.
Former California regent Ward Connerly discusses the impact of that state.