Joke of the Week
A couple was having their Sunday morning breakfast when the wife went to get her Sunday church clothes on. When she returned, the husband was still in his bathrobe.
“Aren’t you going to church this morning?” asked the wife.
“No, I’m not going this morning. In fact, I’m not going to church anymore at all.”
“What do you mean, we’ve gone to church for years, so why the change?
He responded, “Look, there are people at that church who don’t like me, and frankly, there are people at that church that I don’t like, and I’M NOT GOING!”
She answered back, “I’ll give you two good reasons why you need to go to church. One, you’re 42 years old. Two, you gotta go, you’re the preacher.”
The Day I Saw Martin Luther King
Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and that always brings back memories. Fifty-five years ago, plus or minus a year, I saw Martin Luther King at the University of Washington. He spoke at Meany Hall to a large crowd. Now, I must apologize to the many pastors who have ministered to me, but I can recall no memorable phrase from those 2000 plus sermons. But I do remember one phrase from Dr. King’s speech. He said, “There are the facts, and there is the Truth that makes sense of the facts.” Dr. King was a Christian minister, and knew very well that the Truth is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The world remembers other things, good and great things, that he said; I have never seen quoted the line I still remember. But it is one every Christian needs to bear in mind. We live in a rapidly changing and confusing world, one where we are overwhelmed with information–facts (and fake news too). Only by knowing Jesus Christ better can we know their importance (or unimportance) and how they fit in with the other facts. Let’s read the internet and the media through the lens of the Gospel.
How to Let the Truth Make Sense of the Facts (see above)
As I said in the previous item, we live in a confusing, rapidly changing world. We need to see things through the lens of the truth of Jesus Christ. One practical way to begin is to study the Book of James, the New Testament’s contribution to the Bible’s wisdom literature. And one way to study James is with the help of Saluda Press’s book, James: A Study Guide: Practical Wisdom for Challenging Times. Less than ten dollars (OK, $9.95 ) + $4.00 shipping. Buy it on Amazon or (better) by going to the top of the page, clicking on Buy My Books, and proceeding from there.
Luther’s 95 Theses for 21st Century Christians
Last week we began a study of Luther’s 95 theses. The publication of those theses 500 years ago this year is generally recognized as the beginning of the Reformation. Last week’s lesson was a general introduction. Today we begin with Thesis 1. We will continue with one or more theses each week probably up till Reformation Day (October 31). No questions in this study; just read and think.
- Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
The Latin phrase, Penitentiam agite, literally means Do penance. The phrase comes from Matthew 3:2 (and parallel verses in Mark and Luke) in the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Vulgate New Testament was translated from the Greek New Testament by St. Jerome about 400 AD. Poenitentiam agite was an unfortunate rendering of the Greek word metanoeite, which literally means, change your thinking. The Greek refers to an inner change; the Latin means something external.
This first of Luther’s theses is as relevant today as it was when Luther penned it. To be sure, true inner repentance will show itself in external behavior: a penitent person will live differently than before. But it is all too easy to think that reformation of life is what God is looking for and to miss the truth that it is the inner person God sees. It’s all too easy to identify the Christian life as a code of behavior rather than a life stemming from sincere, heartfelt sorrow for sin. That is part of what Luther was affirming.
The second part of Luther’s proposition is that repentance is not a one-time thing, remorse and a decision to follow Christ at the beginning of one’s Christian life. Faith and repentance both have a beginning, but they are to continue till death. There will never be a time, from conversion to death, when we do not need to repent and believe. We continue to be sinners saved by grace; we always have something to repent of. If not, we would only ask for the forgiveness of sins at the beginning of our Christian life
 More accurately, Jerome revised the Old Latin translation of the New Testament in light of the Greek.