Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mother's Day

By Pastor William Bischoff
“A Woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised”
Proverbs 31:30

Christian News, Vol. 51, No. 17, April 29, 2013

By common consent the second Sunday in May has been set aside for a national observance of Mother’s Day. This movement was first initiated by Miss Anna Jarvis back in 1908 who observed the first Mother’s Day in this country in honor of her own mother. Believing that others would feel the same way she started a nation-wide movement to set aside this day to honor the others of our nation. Her idea struck a responsive chord throughout the nation. In 1913 Congress passed a formal resolution to set aside the 2nd  Sunday in May every year as a national Mother’s Day observance.

And such an observance is truly fitting and God-pleasing for a truly godly Christian mother is one of the best gifts that God can give you.

Years ago some of you will remember there was a popular program on TV entitled QUEEN FOR A DAY! During the program one contestant was selected out of the audience to be QUEEN FOR A DAY—and then all sorts of gifts and prizes were showered on this fortunate lady!

But certainly that program QUEEN FOR A DAY should not be the pattern that we follow in honoring our Christian mothers. On the contrary God himself has set the pattern for us in the 4th commandment: We should love and honor, serve and obey the NOT JUST ONCE A YEAR ON MOTHERS DAY when mothers becomes QUEEN FOR A DAY —- but every day throughout the year until finally God calls our godly mothers to their eternal rest to live and reign in heaven with HIM!

History tells us the story of Aggrippina, who married the Roman emperor Claudius and was the mother of the depraved, Nero. She was a harlot and a murderess - - and her son Nero was just as bad and even worse. He became a cruel and vicious tyrant as emperor. To satisfy a personal whim he once burned the city of Rome and when the enraged populace rose up against him then he blamed it on the Christians – and thousands were killed in the arena as a result. And if you asked what made this man the depraved and vicious tyrant that he became, you will find the answer in his mother. Her teaching – her example set the pattern for the dissolute and worthless life of Nero!

Or turn to the Bible and read about the life of Ahaziah. Ahaziah was the son of the wicked Queen Jezebel. She was Gentile and a stranger to the true God of Israel. And when she married King Ahab she brought her pagan gods with her to Israel. She then persuaded Ahab to worship these false gods with her – and it wasn’t long before King Ahab was promoting this idol worship throughout all Israel – and all Israel as a result fell into sin! And when Ahaziah came to the throne he followed the same pattern - - The Bible tells us: He did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his mother, Jezebel!

But the Bible also records the other side of the story and tells us about queen Esther, a beautiful young Jewish girl who became the queen of Emperor Ahazuerus of Persia. The Bible then goes on to tell us how this young queen willingly risked her life for the sake of her people and became the instrument that God used to preserve His people from race genocide!

But this morning we are more concerned with another form of queenship. The queens we want to honor this morning do not wear crowns and they don’t come from royal lineage. And all too often they are totally unheralded and unappreciated. I am talking of godly Christian mothers – and they serve they perform for God and for their family in the home!

What makes a mother a queen in God’s eyes and the most important link in the family social unit? The answer of course is Christian faith – a faith that the children can see and emulate and follow!  In our text for this morning King Solomon gives us a beautiful description of the godly Christian mother. Sometime today or this week sit down and read Proverbs 31 from beginning to end – and you will see just how important the role of the mother in the home really is in the eyes of Almighty God!

And the New Testament also is filled with the honor roll of those mothers whose godly character and Christian example caused their names to be recorded in Scripture.

To mention just a few, think of Mary, the mother of our Lord and how faithfully she filled her role as the mother of our Savior. Or of Lois and Eunice and the influence they had on God’s servant – Timothy. Or think again of the Syrpohenician woman whose preserving prayers won this word of Praise from Jesus: The Lord Jesus was so impressed with the prayers of this woman that He turned to her and said: “Woman I have not found so great a faith in all of Israel.”

Christian mothers – let others worry about the political situations in the world. Let others crusade for the ERA amendment and other related causes.

On this Mother’s Day – I want to remind you that your primary God-given responsibility is to train up your children in the home. So that they grow up knowing that Christ always comes first in the heart of their mother – and then by your example and direction —they too will learn to put Christ first in their hearts and in their homes.

Today from countless pulpits all over this country – MOTHER will be glorified. She will be praised for her character, her faithfulness and her patience. But very few pastors will point out that NOT ALL mothers deserve such praise. IT IS A SIMPLE FACT that many mothers should be down on their knees –seeking God’s forgiveness for the tragic neglect of their children. The world in which we live today is filled with mothers – who in all of their life have never prayed EVEN ONCE for their children or with them. And this is a tragedy that defies any adequate condemnation by me!

But sermons that fail to recognize this fact – do a disservice to mothers on this MOTHERS DAY! Sermons that just pat mother on the back and send her home feeling content and self-satisfied – do both God and our Christian mothers a great disservice!

God has given you your children as a sacred trust. And someday He will call for an account of that stewardship! Woe to those mothers who have been unfaithful to that sacred trust! And woe to those pastors who fail to sound the warning and remind every other of her God-given responsibility to her children’s spiritual welfare!

We are living today in a godless and morally depraved society that is becoming more godless and more immoral with every passing day. I personally am convinced that we are in the last period of the history of the world when the Bible tells us Satan will be loosed from his prison and permitted once more to go forth and deceive the nation of the earth again!

We see daily evidence that SATAN is again loose in the world! Your children are facing temptations that you and I never had to confront! The newsstands are filled with immoral, pornographic literature—and his material is readily available and accessible to EVEN children today! The drug menace is worse than ever before—with even little children it the grammar schools – exposed to his evil! The barriers seem to be completely down, and HUMANLY SPEAKING –there seems little reason to hope that those barriers will ever be raised up again! It’s Sodom and Gomorrah all over again in our society—and as the Bible reminds us: WHEN THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED WHAT CAN THE RIGHTEOUS DO?

There is often a disconcerting tendency on the part of parents to blame others when their children go wrong. So often we hear “it’s the schools fault. Or the Church has failed. Or its the permissive society in which we live that is responsible for my child going wrong.” But are such suggestions really valid? Do you realize that parents – particularly mothers—have by far the great influence on the early training and the direction that their children take?

We are told that by the time a child reaches the age of 12 he will have spent approximately 2,000 hours in his home, besides the time he spends for sleep. In the light of that inescapable fact—where does the fault lie—if a child goes wrong?

When we complain of outside influences, or what the school teaches or fails to teach, or the influence of a depraved society or the failure of the church, the influence of those 52,000 hours cannot be ignored. No one has the opportunity to shape belief, character, and attitudes more than does MOTHER and FATHER in the home. And parents better be ready and willing to do the job that God has preeminently called them to do.

George Sanderlin says: Children learn more by imitation than in any other way and the persons they imitate most blindly and trustingly are their parents. What a responsibility. God help those mothers in our midst today—and fathers too who neglect this solemn opportunity and sacred trust.

Christian mothers – AND YOU FATHERS TOO – God has given you children to prepare for heaven. Humanly speaking, the eternal welfare of your child rests with you! What are you going to say to God on JUDGMENT DAY—if almost all your time and effort in dealing with your children is centered around material things and earthly values – to the almost total exclusion of their spiritual needs?

God has given you authority over your children. May God help you if you fail to use that authority properly! It’s up to you to see to it that your children study the Bible – that they come regularly to church and Sunday School—that they become active in the work of their church.

Many times in my ministry when I talk to parents about their duty to send their children to church and Sunday School – to the Bible Class—and the Walther League – I have been appalled and amazed to hear them tell me: “But Pastor my children don’t want to go – and I don’t think it is right to force them.” They would never dream of applying that approach to PUBLIC SCHOOL ATTENDANCE but when it comes to the church – then suddenly they leave it up to the child to decide whether or not it wants to go.

Let me say it publicly from this pulpit—such parents are a disgrace to Christian parenthood! They are neglecting the only thing that really matters—not  only for time but for eternity. They are neglecting the ONE THING NEEDFUL! God gave them their children to prepare for heaven. What are such parents going to say to God on “Judgment Day” if any one of their children are eternally lost through their tragic permissiveness and neglect.

The Christian mother of Bartholomew Ziegenbalg—the first Lutheran missionary to India, had no material gifts to leave her son as a legacy. But she gave  him what she had—her own personal copy of Scripture—almost worn out from constant daily use—and she gave him the example of a lifetime of dedicated service to Jesus. On her deathbed she told her son: take my Bible.  Every page is stained with my tears. And Ziegenbalg never forgot her Christian example. His mother’s Bible was found in his hands when he died.

If you personally have been blessed by a godly, Christian mother – then God has given you one of the greatest blessings men or women can receive in this life.

But in spite of our national MOTHERS DAY Celebration few people really recognize this truth anymore. And this lack of appreciation for godly mothers is one of the great tragedies of our time.

All of you have heard of the famous portrait entitled: WHISTLER’S MOTHER. There is a very interesting and revealing story behind this famous painting.

The mother of James Whistler was a remarkable Christian lady. Her husband died suddenly while her two sons were very young—and she was left with the responsibility of raising those boys alone. And she did a remarkable job. Every day her boys were assigned a Bible passage to memorize. The following morning before breakfast they were expected to recite that verse. And Anna Whistler kept right up with them. She never asked them to do anything that she was unwilling to do herself. She too memorized the same Bible passage every day.

And James Abbot McNeill Whistler never forgot that early Christian training. In later years he painted a picture of his godly, Christian mother which has become one of the most famous portraits in the world. It is currently valued for insurance purposes at better than 3 million dollars.

But when that painting was first exhibited it was not at all appreciated. In 1872 this painting was put on display at The Royal Academy in London. People actually stood around and ridiculed and laughed at this painting—considering it drab and dull. Whistler was so upset by this that the refused to put this painting on display for a full ten years. Then in 1882 he consented to display it again at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in America. But the sponsors were so unimpressed that it was placed in a dim corner. And even though the sale price was only $350 there were no buyers.

Finally in 1885 it was displayed at the Paris Salon. Here its value was finally recognized and it won third prize. George Clemenceau of France was deeply impressed by it and arranged to buy it for the French government for $600. Not long after this painting was placed in the Louvre—where it is still on display today.

Today this painting which no one at first appreciated or valued is not for sale at any price and is considered one of the outstanding masterpieces of the world. More than 5 million copies of this painting have been made. It has even been reproduced on a United States Postage Stamp.

In very much the same way a truly godly Christian mother may not be fully appreciated or properly valued in this life by either her husband or her children.  But eternity will tell the full story—of the godly Christian woman who not only performed the  biological function of giving birth to their children—but then taught them their first prayers—prayed for them and with them—taught them right from wrong – and faithfully brought them up in  the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

240 years ago during the French and Indian War- little 9 year old Regina Hartmann was captured by a band of marauding Indians. For the next 9 years she grew up among the Indians forced to serve as a slave to an Indian squaw. The harsh Indian way of life greatly changed Regina. But one thing she never forgot—the Christian prayers and hymns that her godly mother had taught her. In spite of all her trouble she never let a day go by without praying those prayers.

Finally after 9 years of captivity - - the Indians were defeated and as part of the peace treaty the  Indians had to return all of the children taken as captives. Eagerly, the parents who had lost children hastened to Carlisle, Pennsylvania where the children were to be restored. But most of the children had been captured so early that they no longer recognized them. Finally someone suggested that the mothers move among  the children and sing the songs and say the prayers they had taught their children. Just as soon as that happened Regina recognized her mother – and the same thing was true of others.

How much more glorious it will be in heaven – for a godly Christian Mother- NOT ONLY TO BE IN HEAVEN HERSELF BY FAITH ALONE IN JESUS – but to see and recognize ALL OF HER CHILDREN SAFELY GATHERED THERE. And to know that it was largely through her influence and direction that these children were brought to Christ and eternally saved.

God grant all of our Christian mothers the grace to know and experience that joy of seeing all of their children gathered with them in the corridors of God’s heaven. Such a woman who fears the Lord - -she shall be praised!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jesus Christ - The Creator, Redeemer

Presentation by Nasa Astronaut, Colonel Jeffrey N. Williams
Christian News, April 22, 2013

Jesus Christ is both Creator and Redeemer, NASA Astronaut Colonel Jeffrey N. Williams, told some 450 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Washington, Missouri on April. Williams had spoken earlier to the children at Immanuel’s Christian day school. Dr. Mark Bangert, pastor of Immanuel, has led a group from Immanuel to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Books by Ken Ham and others at the Genesis Institute are promoted at Immanuel.

Colonel Williams is the author of “The Work of His Hands,” published by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Concordia Publishing House in 2010. It was reviewed in the September 27, 2010 Christian News. After Williams spoke, a long line came forward at a book signing. Many took photos with themselves and their children gathered around the astronaut while he signed books.

In 2006 Colonel Williams in a six month mission at the International Space Station orbited the earth more than 2,800 times. He worked hundreds of experiments while suspended in microgravity. Twice he walked in space, spending more than twelve hours hanging by a tether in the astropheric void outside the spacecraft. While doing this he took more photographs of the earth than any astronaut in history.

Among the photographs he showed on the big screens at Immanuel, Washington, were the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Nile and Pyramids of Egypt, New York City, Washington, D.C. the Sahara Desert, Sand Dunes in Mongolia, Forests in Washington, Agricultural patterns, irrigation in Saudi Arabia, and New Mexico, volcanoes, glaciers , Mt. St. Helens, the Middle East and Israel. Throughout his presentation, the NASA Astronaut pointed out God’s order in creation.

Colonel Williams often quoted Scripture. He frequently noted that the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is both Creator and Redeemer. John 1:3,10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; He emphasized that Jesus Christ has creates, sustains, and redeemed the world. He noted after showing various photos he had taken in space that God created order in the universe. His favorite photos were those showing where the history recorded in Scripture, both the Old and New Testament actually took place. According to him Christianity is not some human fabricated religion but it began already in the Garden of Eden when men first believed in the coming Messiah. He points out the Dead Sea and the Lake of Galilee.

The NASA astronaut was asked about his schooling. He grew up on a farm in the rural community of Winter, Wisconsin. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1980 and then served more than 27 years in the U.S. Army. Williams became an astronaut in 1996 and flew on the 10 day Space Shuttle mission STS-101 in 2000. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UMSA and master’s and aerospace engineering degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a master’s degree from the Naval War College. He and his wife, Anna Marie, reside in Texas and are members of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston. They have two grown sons.

Colonel Williams quoted some of the same passages from which Dr. David Kaufmann uses in “Scientific Observations in Scripture” in this week’s Christian News. He commented on Job 26 which says: “God stretches out the north over empty spaces and hangs the earth on nothing. He binds the waters in His thick clouds, and the clouds don’t tear under its weight. He covers the face of the moon by spreading His cloud over it. He inscribes a circle on the surface of the water at the outline where light meets darkness.” Flying around the earth 2,000 times he found “no strings attached.” While mentioning order and harmony in the universe, he noted Isaiah 45 which says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other. There is no God besides Me” (5). “The LORD made the heavens. He is God. He formed the earth and made it” (18).

The NASA astronaut writes in book “The Work of His Hands:”

“The experience on the Space Station also intensified my faith by helping me consider God’s providence and origin of His creation—that is, God as the Sustainer and Providence is a term not used much in modern times, but I love the richness of it. The reality of God’s providence transcended the entire experience of Expedition 13. Psalm 139 speaks to providence and the manifestation of God’s ever[present care, and verses 9-10 took on special meaning: ‘If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.’ In Colossians 1:16-17, Christ is acknowledged as the Creator and also the one who sustains— that is upholds and governs –His creation. While in orbit for six months, I grew in appreciation of being sustained and upheld day by day.

“Of course, the special revelation found in the Scriptures climaxes in the redemption of sinners—that is, God as Redeemer. And that redeeming work is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ—the good news of the Gospel. That reality of God as Redeemer also became more vivid form the spaceflight experience as a direct result of the deepened perspectives of God as Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.

“In hindsight, I have come to realize anew that viewing and living out life through that lens intensifies the trust, confidence, and sense of contentment that comes in living out our faith in even the most challenging times. That perspective also invokes an intense humility and grows gratitude. It causes one to slow a bit and contemplate life issues in a new way. Additionally, it magnifies the sense of responsibility and stewardship that comes with getting such an experience. I have an obligation to share the experience and bring it back to those on Earth.

“With all of that in mind, among my favorite portions of the Earth to observe was the Middle East. The significance of redemptive history recorded in the Bible was brought to mind what I could see, in a single panorama, the entire area in which it took place. All of the history— from Abraham to Moses to David, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent journeys and work of the apostles in the spreading of the gospel—was, in a sense, made visible in a fresh, tangible way when the biblical lands were in view out the window. I know I will never look at the maps in the back of my Bible the same way” (149-153).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Faith of Our Fathers

By Dr. Walter A. Maier
Lutheran Hour Speaker

Christian News, April 15, 2013, Vol. 51, No. 15

The Bible, in at Genesis and out at Revelation, is God's inspired, errorless Word. A sacred record which from its beginning, describing paradise here on earth, to its end picturing paradise in heaven, was written, for our guidance, Instruction, and salvation. Believe and trust every word of Scripture, every Gospel promise concerning your Savior! Then you will have the foundation that can never be weakened or shaken, because you have the divine, life-giving, heaven-bestowing Christ.

These, then, are the Bible's five fundamental truths concerning Christ which you should believe.

Truth No. 1: Jesus Christ is your God. Who says this? Your heavenly Father, when repeatedly He calls Christ "His Son"! The writers of the Old Testament, when they foresee Jesus, the Messiah, as "the mighty God"! The writers of the New Testament when they call Jesus, "God blessed for ever," or kneel before Him to worship Him as "My Lord and my God!" Christ Himself proved that He was the Almighty, for the miracles which He Himself performed are plainly the work of God.

Here He is in the Lord Jesus Christ, "very God of very God." His triumphant "all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" is a personal guarantee of strength and victory to those who entrust themselves to His care. Don't be satisfied with any compromise or with any denial of Scripture which makes Jesus good and godly, high and exalted, but still a human being, even as you and I. A human Christ can never help you, but a divine Christ can always deliver you.

Truth No. 2: To save you, the Son of God was born of the virgin Mary and became man to take your place in suffering the guilt of your sins. Of course, you cannot understand Christ's being born a child. Even the Bible calls it a great "mystery"; but if you cannot explain a hundred other marvels of nature which surround you in everyday life, why should you refuse to accept God's own revelation concerning the birth and incarnation of Jesus? An American church leader can rise up to contradict God's Word and to declare flatly, "I do not believe in the Virgin Birth:" but are you going to trust men or God? Build your faith on the faultless foundation of the prophets and the apostles, "Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone."

Truth No. 3: Moved by a limitless, heightless, depthless love for you, the son of God, made the Son of Man, gave Himself on Calvary's cross as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. This, indeed, is the fundamental of all fundamentals, the unsearchable mercy of Jesus' love which led Him, sinless and stainless as He was, to become sin for us, first by removing the guilt, the curse, the punishment of all our rebellions against God, then, by loading all their sentence, punishment and pain upon His innocent soul and body, finally, by suffering in our stead the full punishment of our rising up against God and for each of us dying the death we deserved. In this blood-bought atonement of Jesus Christ, full and complete because it wipes out every sin, even the scarlet vices and the black crimes which distress many of you; in this cross-gained redemption, free because in Heaven's highest mercy it is granted you by grace and through faith; in this atoning mercy, final, because it has left nothing required for your redemption undone, you have the heart and center of the Christian creed. Believe it, and you are saved; reject it, and Jesus will reject you.

Don't let anyone keep you from this foundation fact of faith! The Bible puts a curse on all who contradict Christ's redemption. Paul declared: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed!"

Truth No. 4: To prove that His sacrifice for the sins of the whole world has been accepted, and to give every believer the victory over the grave, Christ on the third day after His crucifixion publicly triumphed over the tomb. If you want the assurance that the gruesome grave is not life's end, that through Jesus you shall live in a resurrected, radiant body, far too marvelous for human understanding; that the Son of God has opened the door of heaven for you, trust the foundation promise of Christ, "I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (Jn 11:25, 26)

Truth No. 5: The Savior, risen, ascended, exalted at the right hand of His Father, will come again in glory to judge all unbelievers, but to bring His believers safely home to heaven. The day of that judgment is rapidly approaching. Scripture records for us the signs which are to foretell the beginning of the end and the approach of Christ's return. Never previously have these warnings been fulfilled so frequently and exactly as in the present moment. The time is drawing close, the Bible teaches us, when the earth will be destroyed by fire, and "the elements shall melt in fervent heat." Don't listen to those who say that the globe will not be consumed by fire, that matter is indestructible, that the world will go on forever! Even scientists who have no interest in the Bible as God's Word are writing and speaking about the end of the world as never before; and if some claim that man himself will be able to blow up the earth, why should anyone doubt that the Almighty will keep His Word and make an end of this unbelieving, sin-saturated sphere?

When we invite you to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ your Savior, we do not hesitate to warn you that as soon as you stand up for Jesus, you will have to stand up against assaults on your faith. Yet the battle is worth the fighting. Make the "foundation... that is laid" for you, "Jesus Christ!" Sing out with unswerving loyalty:
"My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus Blood and Righteousness;" then, no matter how many know-it-all opponents of the faith ridicule your trust, you will find joy in Jesus and the guarantee of peace in your heart, love in your soul, praise on your lips and courage in your mind to meet the worst that life can bring with the confidence that since you are Christ's, purchased by Him at the price of His precious blood, you can be His forever, blessed with the assurance that everything which happens to you comes as the evidence of His love.

Dr. Walter A. Maier
[Excerpts from the sermon, "You Too Should be a Fundamentalist," September 25-1949.] [Note: The five truths just stated are summarized in the Nicene Creed, 381 AD]