Be a Good Fish

Be a Good Fish

The Parable of the Dragnet, Matthew 13:47-50

by Dr. G. Steve Kinnard

           47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and all kinds of fish were gathered into it. 48After it was full, the fishermen pulled it onto shore. They sat down sorting the fish–keeping the good and throwing away the bad. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and gather the wicked from the righteous 50casting the wicked into the furnace of fire. Where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”

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The parable of the dragnet is also a parable about the end of time. Unlike the parable of the wheat and weeds, which precede it in Matthew’s gospel, it does not focus on good and evil existing side by side (although that is inferred from the parable). It contains the same lesson as the parable of the weeds among the wheat—at the end of time God will separate good from evil. So choose to be good.

The parable is short and simple. A net is thrown into the sea and it gathers all types of fish. This is the common dragnet, which was used in the first century and is still used today. The net doesn’t discern what it catches. It catches anything within its reach. As the net is pulled to shore, it becomes full of fish. Once on shore, the fishermen begin to look through the net and separate the good fish from the bad. They keep the good and throw away the bad.

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Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he is talking about judgment at the end of days. In verse 49 he says, “This is how it will be at the end of the age.” At the end of the age, angels will appear. They will separate the wicked from the righteous. The wicked will be cast into a furnace of fire. The righteous will escape the flames.

In this short parable, Jesus continues to explain what will occur at the end of time. The Jews were very confused over what was going to transpire at the end of time. One group, the Sadducees, believed there was no resurrection. They believed that after you died, you were dead and gone. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but there was much discussion among this sect as to what was going to happen at the resurrection. Jesus wanted to take the confusion away, so he spoke often about the end of time.

Jesus is very clear on what will happen to the wicked. They will be cast into the fiery furnace. Will they feel pain as they enter this place of torment? Yes, there will much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus makes it clear that hell is a place of pain and torment, a place to be avoided at all costs. Although we are not given quite as dramatic a picture of hell as Dante gives in his Inferno, Jesus gives us a clear enough picture to let us know that we don’t want to be bad fish.

There isn’t much worse in life than bad fish. They aren’t edible. They stink. They make everything around them stink. You can use them for fertilizer, but the smell of fish fertilizer destroys your day; and if you are around the putrid smell long enough, it will destroy your olfactory nerves. I’m not sure that Febreze can handle the smell of rotting fish. Bad fish are, well, for lack of a better word, BAD.

The other night my family was in New York City enjoying a nice birthday dinner for our daughter by marriage, Corinne. We all met at Union Square Park. There were six adults and two grandkids.

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–My favorite picture of our daughter by marriage, Corinne, and our grandson, Bradley

It was a crisp November night, cold, but not freezing. The buildings were bright. The lights were sparkling. The Christmas season had begun, and NYC at Christmas is magical.

Our meal was fantastic. We enjoyed amazing ramen noodles and pork buns at a restaurant just off of 14th Street, and then we went to Max Brenner for dinner. Yes, it’s true, Max Brenner makes chocolate pizza. My son by marriage, Rob got some. It’s fantastic when you can end a birthday celebration with chocolate.

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The only problem was the walk back to our van. We parked on Thirteenth St. between 5th and 6th. The next day, Monday, was garbage pickup day in that neighborhood. So in the early evening on Sunday, everyone started lining the sidewalks with their bags of garbage. It’s amazing how much garbage can come from one New York City apartment building.

As we reached the van, we had to wait a few minutes to get the grandchildren situated. In those few brief minutes, we were stifled by the smell of rotting fish. There must have been a garbage bag filled with discarded fish, and it stank to high heaven. There isn’t much worse in life than the smell of bad, stinky fish. We couldn’t get away from the reek of bad fish quickly enough.

The moral of that story is the same as the lesson from the parable—Don’t be a bad fish. Be a good fish.

And, how do you become a good fish? Imitate Jesus. Love him. Study him. Learn from him. Think like him. Act like him. Be him.

Imitating Jesus is always the right choice to make in life. And by making that choice, you prepare your heart for the next life.

So, be a good fish. Be like Jesus.

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My Dad. Glen Edward Kinnard

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                                                                                                           Glen Edward Kinnard

My Dad passed in September. I shared the following at his funeral:

My Dad was my hero. I loved him beyond words. But I want to try to find a few words to honor him.

Dad loved God, his wife, his boys, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved the Graymere church, Maury County, golf, football, and Cracker Barrel.

Dad loved to talk and tell his stories. And retell his stories. And retell his stories. He loved people. He was generally positive and upbeat. He rarely complained. He expressed his gratitude for others. To me, he was easy to be around.

Dad loved his mom, Carrie Mae, his dad, Horace, and his little sister, Ruth. He was a family man.

He loved growing up in Columbia, Tennessee.

My Dad was a great athlete. He loved playing football. Once he kicked a 72 yard punt. Bill, Mike, and Doug, my brothers, got those football genes. Dad could crush a golf ball. I loved going to the range and watch his drives sail through the night air. Dad won local golf tournaments. I think Mike and his children got those golf genes.

When his boys were young, Dad gave up golf to be at church with his boys. He also stopped smoking. He chewed on toothpicks most of his life to overcome the habit. I used to chew on toothpicks, not because I smoked, but because that’s what dad did.

He was part of “the greatest generation,” a generation known for hard work and sacrifice. Because of a knee injury playing football, he didn’t have to fight in WW II, but he signed up anyway. He joined the Marines. He shipped out from San Diego to the Pacific on the James K. Polk. Dad said he laughed when he walked up to the ship and saw its name, because he grew up around the corner from the James K. Polk home in Columbia. He re-injured his knee in the Marines. Not while fighting, but while playing football on a navy carrier. He used to love wearing his Marine cap around Columbia. Strangers walked up to him and thanked him for his service.

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                                                                                                         My Dad’s WWII Marine Uniform 

Dad loved my Mom. He adored her. He’d come home at the end of the day and give her a kiss and ask her about her day. He expressed gratitude for her cooking, for her house work, and for her watching the boys during the day. He often did the dishes. I never saw Mom and him fight or argue.

When Mom passed, I wasn’t sure how he’d do. But he did okay. He passed his love for Mom onto his grandchildren. He attended their sporting events, often sitting away from the stands in his car because his knee wouldn’t allow him to climb the steps of the stands. When we talked he’d tell me about how each grandchild was doing at their sport. He loved bragging about his grandkids.

He loved his boys. Everything was about his boys. He’d say-I sure have four fine boys. He’d add-and each of them have fine wives. He loved our wives. My wife, Leigh, called him by his nickname, Slick. She loved my dad as if he were her dad. She’d listen to his stories. He said he picked her out for me on one of his trips to Freed-Hardeman College. He probably did. He always wanted the best for his boys.

He could tell stories. One story was about how he met his wife, Anne. Which would lead to another sorry and another story, but somehow Dad would end up where he began-And that’s how I met your mother. Like a perfect circle. I was always amazed at how he did that.

My Dad worked hard all his life. He was a cobbler. He repaired shoes. He and my Uncle George owned Champion Shoe Shop, a short walk from here. He worked from 7:00 to 5:30 six days a week. That’s over sixty hours every week. He stood on his feet most of the day and hammered heels on shoes and boots. One of his favorite lines was, “I fixed more soles (souls) than any preacher in Muary County.”

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My Dad’s work hammer. Notice the groove in the wooden handle that was caused by years of years of Dad hammering on shoes.

He gave me his hammer. He used it so long, his thumb wore a groove into the wood. This is how he provided for his family–hammering on shoes one tap at at a time until over time he had worn a groove into the wooden handle of his hammer.

I loved going to work with my Dad. I still love the smell of leather. I’d wake up early to drive to work with him. He’d wake me up around 6:30. Every morning my Dad would sit at the kitchen table, eat a bowl of all-bran cereal, and read his Bible and go over his Sunday school lesson. I’d sit opposite him eating Coco Puffs and stare off into space. He never pressured me to read the Bible with him.  He simple set the example. And without saying a word, Dad taught me the importance of Bible study.

My Dad took one week off of work each year for vacation. Five days a year. For his one-week summer vacation he volunteered to be a counsellor at Maury Christian Bible Camp. This was not an easy way to spend one’s summer vacation. My Dad would sleep in a bunk inside a cabin in the heat and humidity of the Tennessee summer watching over ten to twelve adolescent or pre-adolescent boys who were out-of-control. I know because I was was of those kids. So were by brothers. My Dad volunteered for camp because he wanted his boys to go to church camp, and he wanted to be with them at church camp.

When we were cub scouts, Dad became the Scout Master. When we joined little league, dad became the Official Scorekeeper. This was one way that he could be there for all our games.

When I was just old enough to read, I went on evangelistic Bible studies with Dad. My Dad was the personal work deacon at church. That means he set up Bible studies with people. When he did those studies, I’d tag along.

My Dad showed Jules Miller filmstrips to teach the Bible. My job was simple. When it was time to advance study, I’d turn the film strip. My Dad also used Mid McKnight’s Bible charts to teach people. My job with the Bible charts was a bit more challenging. While Dad was explaining a verse, I would look up the next verse and be ready to read it. Since I could barely read, this was a tough job. During those years of partnering with my Dad in these Bible studies, I learned my way around the Bible. I also learned to love the lost. My Dad taught me by example.

I want to express my gratitude to my brother Bill. If Dad were here he’d say, “Bill has taken good care of me.” I never talked to Dad when he didn’t say that. Bill has been amazing. Dad had to wear tight, knee-high leggings to help the circulation in his legs. Bill went over to my Dad’s house ever morning to put on those socks, and he went over ever night to take them off. He bought dad his groceries, took him to the doctor, and paid his bills.

Bill’s one of the good guys. He was not only a good son to my Dad, he was also a good friend.

My daughter wrote this about her Grandpa Glen, “I have always dreaded this day and teared up just thinking about it. Grandpa Glen was so special to me. He was always my favorite grandparent because he was just such a special man. I loved his gentle-spirit, his deep love for his family (especially his wife), his love and devotion to God, and his service to those around him. He was such an inspiration. I wish he could have met my boys.”

I’m so grateful that I arrived back home in time to say goodbye to Dad. I told him I loved him. He said, “I love you, too.” I’ll cling to that last “I love you, too” for the rest of my life. I expressed my gratitude to him for all his sacrifice over the years. I was there when he slipped away to be with God. It was so peaceful.

My Dad used to ask, “When you coming to see me?” I’d usually answer, “I don’t know dad, but when I get a chance, I’ll come.” I can hear him now, “When you coming to see me?”

“I don’t know Dad. But get my room ready. Someday soon I’ll be there. And I’ll sit and listen while you tell your stories. And we will hit some golf balls and throw the football.”

I always planned on making it to heaven. Now I have extra incentive to get there.

“I love you Dad. I’ll see you when I can.”

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A few of my Dad’s items: From left to right beginning with the back row, Graymere Tournament golf trophy, 8mm camera he used to film Christmas mornings, his picture above my Mom’s Bible, his Marine Corp belt, a shoe stretcher from his shop, my Mom’s measuring spoons, his Long Rifle award from the Boy Scouts of America, his cobbler’s hammer, and a private’s strip from the Marines. 

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TEAMwork

TEAMwork

A Bible Talk for Athletes (and everyone else)

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Opening question:

Name someone who has been a great teammate to you.

Explain why.

I think of a couple of guys. These men help me lead a student athletes’ Bible discussion. The first is Mike Santory. Mike is a committed disciple who loves people. Mike loves to study the Bible with people. He will often start studies with people, and then he’ll call me in to get involved. So we collaborate well in that way. Mike is a busy guy. He has a job as a fitness and conditioning coach, and he is married and has a couple of college-age children. But he makes time for students, and I appreciate the work he is doing on campus.

Then there is Scott Muscat, who is the head coach of the Saint Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) baseball team. Scott is a super busy guy. He teaches history in high school. Manages a team that finished third in the nation last year among Division II schools. And he is married with three children. That means he has a lot on his plate. But he had this idea for a Bible discussion for student athletes, he gets this room for us, and he’s here participating. He is a great example of commitment and discipleship.

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Coach Scott Muscat (right) with Hall of Fame Pitcher John Smoltz

The discussion:

Did any of you watch the US Open Tennis Championship in August of 2017?  Sloan Stevens won the women’s championship and Rafa Nadal won the men’s. When they were interviewed, they both thanked their team. These were individual trophies they hoisted into the air, but they still talked about their team. Why is that?

What are some of the positions on a team, and why is that position important?

  1. Coaches. Various coaches. ****In college football they had gotten serious about coaches being on the field. They will flag a coach for stepping too far on the field. I noticed in college football there are people who are assigned to keep other coaches off the field. The defensive coordinator for Clemson is very passionate. He constantly approaches the field to coach up his players. There is a big guy who stands behind this coach. When the coach is about to step on the field, this assistant coach will put his arms around the coach and pull him back. That’s his job.
  2. Team leaders. Team captains. Senior leadership. Quiet leaders who lead by example.
  3. Utility players. They play many positions and are ready to play when their number is called.
  4. Strength and conditioning coaches. Coach Santory. He loves torturing athletes.
  5. Team sponsors. It cost money to play sports. Someone plays for the field time, for the buses, for the equipment.
  6. The water person. The equipment person. **I went to a middle school football game and the water boy was there working hard on the sideline. I thought, What an inglorious job. But someone has to do it.

Watch the YouTube video-The Power of Good Teamwork. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd8y2Lvxmo4

Questions:

  1. What did that video demonstrate about teamwork?
  • When you work together as a team, you can defeat a bigger, more intimidating opponent who isn’t working with a team.
  • Also, teams still need leadership. With the ants, one of the ants had to help the team get organized.
  1. How important is teamwork to success in sports?
  1. What are the most important ingredients of teamwork?
  • Everyone must know their role and do their job.
  • You must keep ego out of the picture. “No ‘I’ in team.”
  • Teammates encourage each other.

3. Let’s look at a passage about Jesus. Let’s look at Mark 2:1-12.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Questions:

  1. Vs. 1. What is the first thing we see about Jesus in this passage? He came home to Capernaum.

The text says Jesus came home to Capernaum. Where was Jesus born? Bethlehem. Where was Jesus raised? Nazareth. But during his ministry, Capernaum was home.

Capernaum was a fishing village in Galilee. It was Jesus’ base in his

northern ministry. Jesus came home. He had a team. Who made up the

team of Jesus?

  • His disciples,
  • the women who supported his ministry,
  • his followers.
  • You could even say the Father and the Holy Spirit.  These three have been teammates for all of eternity.
  • If Jesus had a team, then certainly we need a team.
  1. Vss. 2-5. Where do you see teamwork happening in this story?

The friends of the paralytic.  What do you notice about these guys?

*Committed friends.

*Perseverance.

*Radical.

What attributes do you appreciate in a good teammate? Or a good friend?

*Someone who will tell you the truth. –I called Phil Garrison today because I needed someone to tell me the truth.

*Someone who will encourage you when you are down. –I had lunch with Don Hanson. Talked to Ryan Erbe on the phone.

  1. Vss. 6-12. Who were these “teachers of the law” and what were they doing in the story?

***They were critics. Negative voices.

Even when you do something really positive, people will still be negative. You need to do your best to keep negative voices out of your head.

4. What are some of the negative voices we hear spiritually?

*You can’t do this.

*You’ll never grow. You’ll never change.

*This is too difficult. Being a follower of Jesus is challenging. But why would you back down from a challenge?

*I don’t know enough Bible to make a solid, spiritual decision. This might be the case right now, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Read the word. Learn what the Bible says.

5. How did Jesus react to these negative voices?

He called them out. Verse 8 reads, “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things?’”

Jesus says, “What’s up with you guys?” He doesn’t allow their negativity to keep him from doing what is right.

***In the martial arts, one of the aspects of our school was that it was so positive. Negativity had to be checked at the door.  “I can’t” became “Yes I can!”

You can’t control how people are around you, but you can control your reaction to negativity.

Conclusion:

  1. Be a good teammate. What is your role on the team? A great role is to be an encourager, the person who lifts the spirit of the team.
  2. Build a life team around you who will encourage you to grow to reach your full potential.

3.   Be positive. Stay positive. Expel voices of negativity.

4.   You can be your best for God, for others, and for yourself. Decide that you will be your best.

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The Shaolin Athlete by Sifu Karl Romain and Dr. G. Steve Kinnard

Remember: The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

Remember

The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

October 31, 2017

By G. Steve Kinnard

Toward the end of the second Star Trek movie,The Wrath of Khan [spoiler alert], Spock, who is about expose himself to lethal doses of radiation in order to save the Enterprise and her crew, incapacitates Dr. Leonard (Bones) McCoy’s with a Vulcan nerve pinch. Spock then does a Vulcan mind meld with McCoy and places his spirit (his katra) inside McCoy. Spock says one word to McCoy during this Vulcan ritual, “Remember.”

Remember.

Our memories make us who we are. When our memories begin to fade, we don’t recognize the world around us and we stop growing. When we are able to reflect on our memories, then we can learn from our wise and unwise choices in life and become better people.

Remember.

On October 31st (Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve) many people in the US, if not most, will don costumes, parade around their neighborhoods, knock on doors, and say, “Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat” with the expectation that their neighbors will open their doors, and hand them candy. The day will come and go without many, if not most, realizing that October 31st is also the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. They will fail to remember a seminal event in human history that happened half a millennium earlier on All Hallows Eve in 1517.

This was the day when Luther nailed (or perhaps glued) a handwritten document his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. Luther wrote against the Catholic Church and its sale of indulgences. Luther never planned on starting a revolution. He simply wanted to discuss grievances against the sale of indulgences with the hierarchy of the Church of Rome. (An indulgence was a pardon from sin granted by the pope for both sins in the past and in the future. A person could also buy an indulgence to release a deceased family member’s soul from purgatory. Indulgences were sold to fund the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.)

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Martin Luther, posting his 95 Theses

Luther wrote his document in Latin. He meant for other priests to read his grievances and discuss them. But someone translated his 95 Theses into German. Then, because of the invention of the printing press in 1450, publishers printed Luther’s complaints, and they spread across Germany and his voice of protest against the sale of indulgences swept across Europe.

Luther has become a fabled character in church history. There is much to appreciate about him and much to learn from him. As far as historical figures go, he’s one of my personal favorites. He kinda like the Batman of church history. He was courageous, bold, learned, and earthy (but not Batman rich).

What do I appreciate about Luther and what can we learn from him?

First, Luther was a student of God’s Word. He believed that the authority of Scripture was primary over the authority of the church. He was a student of the Word. He had a working knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. When he was in exile in the Wartburg Castle, he translated the New Testament from Greek to German in about nine months. His believed regular people, not just the religious hierarchy, ought to be able to read the Bible in their common language. He was an expert on the Book of Psalms and the book of Romans. In fact, his preface to Romans led to the conversion of John Wesley who shaped the face of the Methodist church and thus framed the portrait of the American frontier some 250 years after Luther.

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John Wesley

Second, Luther stood against hypocrisy and corruption in the church. Luther went to Rome in his early twenties to visit the center of Catholicism. Early in his visit, Luther became disillusioned with the Catholic church, especially with the papacy and the priesthood. Luther himself was a priest. When he said mass to a congregation, he proceeded slowly through the ritual to allow the congregants to meditate and focus. The priests of Rome hurried through the mass to move as many people through their services as possible. Local priests criticized Luther for taking so long in mass. They pushed him to speed up the mass. Luther did not agree with their criticism.

When Luther went to confessional, he liked to mention any and every sin that came to mind, no matter how big or small. The first time he said a confession after becoming a priest, Luther confessed his sins for six hours. The priests in Rome did not want to take time to listen to such long confessions. Luther was criticized for the amount of time he spent in the confessional.

Luther observed the lives of the priests of Rome. They had taken the vow of chastity, yet some had families on the side. They had taken the vow of poverty, yet some had accrued wealth and lived in luxurious apartments. Some simply went through the motions of being a priest, but their hearts were not engaged. Luther was offended by the attitude and lifestyle of these priests.

Luther left Rome with a heavy heart. He tended toward depression, and his experience in Rome exacerbated his dark, heavy mood (like Batman). He decided he would speak against what he saw in Rome. This would make him an enemy of the pope. Luther was okay with that. He decided that someone had to take a stand against the corruption of the papacy. Luther would be that person.

Third, after studying the book of Romans, Luther elevated and appreciated the role of faith in salvation to heights that had not been seen in over a millennium. Luther protested against the works-righteous approach to salvation of the Catholic Church. Luther believed that salvation was by faith alone, and works proceeded from an appreciation of salvation. In 1532, Luther wrote,

“At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, ‘In it the righteousness of God is revealed,’ as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ Here I felt that I was all together born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.” (From Luther’s Works, Vol 34, p. 337 as found in Eric Metaxas’s Martin Luther.)

Luther allowed the phrase “the righteous shall live by faith” to fuel his church work, his writings, and his personal choices. He believed that righteous acts and a righteous life must proceed from faith.

I don’t believe Luther perfectly understood the connection of faith and works. I’m not sure I understand that connection perfectly either. I am grateful that Luther struggled to counteract the human tendency toward legalism and works-righteousness by emphasizing the role of faith in the life of a Christian. I personally need to be reminded that my actions need to be centered in proper motivation. And that my motivation ought to be to please God and to make him happy. I need to remember Paul’s word, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Am I a faithful person? Does faith proceed my actions? Am I guided by faith to live a righteous life? How can I increase my faith? These are questions I need to consider.

Fourth, Luther believed he was engaged in a spiritual battle against the devil and his minions. Legend states that while Luther was in exile in the Wartburg Castle (living under the alias of Junker George (kinda like Bruce Wayne had the alias of Batman) he threw his ink well at the devil. Tour guides point out ink stains on the walls of his one-room study. The stains don’t date back to the time of Luther, so it is unlikely that Luther literally threw ink at the devil. But Luther did throw many uncharitable epitaphs at the devil with ink on paper. He believed the devil was real and the devil was after his soul. He believed this because the Bible said it. Luther believed Paul admonition in Ephesians 6:11-12 to, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

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The Wartburg Castle

In our modern, humanistic society, it is easy to shrink back from this language. That’s a mistake. Luther knew he was in a battle against the accuser of humanity. He knew it because the Bible said it. He also knew that God had equipped him through Jesus to fight against satan and his demons. Luther wrote, “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know one who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, son of God, and where he is there I shall be also!'” To that, I simply add, “Amen.”

Fifth, Luther loved his wife and his family. Later in his life, Luther became a family man. He never planned on marriage. As a priest, he was married to the church. But after he was excommunicated, he helped liberate a dozen nuns from the Nimbschen convent. He helped find husbands for many of these nuns. And, he fell in love with one of the nuns named Katherine. Luther called her, Kate. They had several children, and Luther relished in his married life and his family.

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Katherine Luther

Luther said many great quips about marriage. One was, “It is impossible to keep peace between man and woman in family life if they do not condone and overlook each other’s faults but watch everything to the smallest point. For who does not at times offend? Thus many things must be overlooked; very many things must be ignored that a peaceful relation may exist.” Well said, Martin.

Sixth, Luther was a prolific writer. During his most productive period, the outcome of his written efforts equaled a book every fortnight. That’s unbelievable, but true. He wrote over 100 books. Phenomenal. And he never got paid for a single page. This was before the day of copyrights. Printers got rich publishing Luther’s works, but Luther didn’t. Luther believed in the power of The Word, and thus published many works elucidating The Word of God.

Luther wrote hymns. He believed in the power of music to move the soul. His most famous hymn is “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” I love that hymn. It is majestic.

Luther wrote, “The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God….Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.”

Seventh, Luther was not perfect, and he knew it. No human is perfect, therefore, we should never deify leaders. Luther knew the pope and church councils had made mistakes. Therefore, he did not put his faith in the pope or councils. And, Luther did not want anyone to put their faith in him.

Luther drank too much, ate too much, and cursed too much. On drinking beer, Luther wrote, “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” Luther was earthy. Perhaps earthy to a fault.

Luther picked intellectual fights with people like the reformer Ulrich Zwingli (another personal favorite of mine). He wrote disparaging epitaphs about his enemies, like the Pope Leo X, Johannes Tetzel, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and any and every Anabaptists within throwing distance. When you read Luther, it is as if he has the attitude, “I’m right; you’re wrong; so away with you.” He was crude and brutal in this way (like Batman).

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Luther committed egregious errors. Later in his life, Luther wrote anti-Semitic rants that Hitler and other Nazi officials would use 450 years later to fuel their persecution and desired eradication of the Jewish people in Germany, Poland, and Europe. He also sided with the German nobility during the Peasant Revolts in Germany, and called on rulers to wipe out the peasants by any means necessary.

Luther was unable to reconcile the Epistle of James with his own view of faith and works, so he called James’ letter “a strawy epistle” and stuck in the back of his Bible. This was an overreaction to the works-based religion of the Catholic Church. By doing this, Luther picked and chose one passage of Scripture over another and in essence produced his own canon of Scripture. This hermeneutic has plagued the Reformation Movement throughout history down to today.

Luther’s followers founded the Lutheran church in Germany. The Lutheran church would become the state church of Germany. This led to Protestant denominations cropping up all over Europe. Calvinism rose up in Geneva. The Anglican church became the state Church of England with Henry VIII as sovereign. The Church of Scotland with John Knox as its leader became, well, THE Church of Scotland. Catholic leaders criticized this obvious lack of unity among Reformation leaders and Reformation churches. It was and is a valid criticism. In the early 1800s in the United States, Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell cited this disunity among the reformers as a reason to restore New Testament Christianity, and thus the Restoration Movement began.

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Barton W. Stone

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Alexander Campbell

So, Luther wasn’t perfect. But who is? However, he stood up and spoke out against the failings of Catholicism. He stood against the powers that be to expose the wrongs of the sale of indulgences and the corruption of the Catholic hierarchy. Luther did this at his own peril. He never expected to live into his sixties. And if the Catholic officers could have gotten their hands on him, he wouldn’t have lived to be married, have children, and see those children grow.

Luther never planned on starting a revolution that would spread across the Western world. He had a conviction that what was happening in the world around him wasn’t right, and someone ought to do something about it (like Batman). He wanted to discuss a set of grievances that he had against the Catholic Church, and he would not be silenced. This led him to ignite the fire of the Protestant Reformation.

Remember.

Remember Luther.

Remember the best of Luther. Remember the worst of Luther.

Remember.

Who will be like Luther in the twenty-first century? Who will be like Luther in the modern church? Who will step out on biblical conviction and ask hard questions that will lead to revival in the church? Who will allow the Holy Spirit to lead them on a quest to restore Jesus’ ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing? Who will stand against the policies of evil that continue to devastate the lives of countless innocents around the world? Who will “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God”? Who will stand against violence, racism, hatred, and injustice? Who will lead the way in planting churches in areas of the world where Christianity is not only unwelcome but is looked upon as the enemy? Who will rise up and lead others to rise up and change the current landscape of the modern church?

Who will remember? And who will build on the memories of history and go out and write another chapter of history, a new Holy Spirit-driven and Jesus-centered chapter of history for God and his church?

Remember.

Copyright © 2017 by G. Steve Kinnard

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Martin Luther

For further reading:

Patrick Collinson, The Reformation: A History, Modern Library, 2003.

Eric Metaxas, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, Viking Press, 2017.

 

 

Thoughts on Greed by Peter Walpot

Peter Walpot was a second generation leader so the Anabaptist movement. He wrote in 1577. He believed that Christians could not own personal possession, but that Christians must live in community with each other and share all their possessions. He worked his way through the entire Bible and pointed out every scripture that he believed spoke to this belief. He found around 140 of them. 

He also spoke of other topics related to possessions, such as greed. The following quote is from his “True Yieldedness and the Christian Community of Goods” as found in Early Anabaptist Spirituality: Selected Writings. 

Walpot writes:

Greed is a serious and evil sickness which blinds a person’s eyes and stops up his ears. Nothing is more wretched and vexing to such a one than to hear about community and yieldedness. The disease of greed withers the hand so that it is useless in helping others. The greedy lose their reason and do not know what or why they are here on this earth. Greed allows neither the self, the conscience, nor the soul to know salvation. For the most corrupt kind of metal commands them and rules them. All the while they think they are commanding and ruling over others. Therefore, there is nothing more senseless and more adverse than to serve and cling to money and greed. Their joy is to be tangled up in bondage, and they are happy and jubilant to see themselves be pressed under by a greedy dog. They give that dog all the more to gorge on so that it becomes even stronger and in this way make for themselves countless roads into hell. For greed is like putting more wood on the fire to make it greater. The more a person brings to it, the more it rises up. The greedy do not care what they already have. They put it behind them and snap after more in front of them. And finally they come to the same fate as Aesop’s dog.

That is why we should ponder this and flee from it with highest diligence. We should search out the antidote for this disease with which we may kill this terrible beast and pull all greed out by the roots. This pestilent disease has spoiled the earth. This sin has mixed things all up so that while one dies of hunger, another bursts from being too full. One must go around naked while another piles clothes upon clothes, only to be eaten by moths. That is why there are so many vagrants and beggars on all the streets, knocking on doors and crying for alms. This affliction of Belial has filled the streets with blood and the towns with weeping and wailing. It has taken us away from the most holy service of Christ and eats away our hearts from the word and seed of God. Even when we do something good, greed comes along and spoils it, the longer the more wicked. Greed is such a hateful affliction before God that if “anyone calls himself a brother, but is greedy, have nothing to do with him and do not even eat with him,” said Paul (1 Corinthians 5). Greed is counted as one of the cursed, deadly afflictions that separates a person from the kingdom of God. It has spoiled the glorious image of God in humans, who made us of honorable standing, so that we could look up toward the heavens. Greed strikes human beings down to the earth so that they cannot get up, but rather like a sow are drawn toward the mud by the devil, choosing to live like worms. This craving made Judas into a betrayer, ruined Ananias and his wife and covered Gehazi, who could have been a disciple and prophet, with leprosy. Indeed, it is a general plague in the world, which allows no one to be satisfied with what he has. All eyes and hearts are set on nothing other than greed, caring for nothing else than how much money they can get. And they never even think about how they may justly invest it. They dress their mules and horses with gold and let Christ and his own go unclothed.

Annelein of Freiberg: Song #36:

In the Anabaptist hymnal, Song #36 was written by Annelein of Freiberg. Not much is know of Annelein. We do know that like many of her fellow Anabaptists she died as a martyr. It is believed that was only seventeen years old when was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. The year was 1529. On that year Annelein was drowned and then burned.

This beautiful hymn stands as a testimony to her conviction and as an upward call to all of us who live by faith today. 

1.

Eternal Father in Heaven

I call to you from deep within 

Do not let me turn from you

Hold me in your eternal truth

Until I reach my end

2.

O God, keep my heart and mouth

Watch over me, Lord, always

Do not let me part from you

Whether in anguish, fear or need

Keep me pure in joy

3.

My eternal Lord and father

I am your poor, unworthy child

Teach me and make me know

So that I can observe your ways

That is my truest desire

4.

To walk in your strength in death

Through tribulation, martyrdom, fear and need

Keep me in your strength

That I may never again be separated

From your love, O God

5.

There are many who travel this path

On which stands the cup of suffering

And also much false doctrine

With which they try to turn us away

From Christ our Lord

6.

I lift up my soul to you, Lord

I hope in you in times of danger

Let me not become a disgrace

So that my enemies have the victory

Over me on this earth

7.

They have me here locked up

I wait, O God, from my heart

With great desire

If you would only stir

And save your ones in prison

8.

O God Father, for your kingdom

Makes us like the five wise virgins

Who were alert

In waiting for the bridegroom to come

With his chosen band

9.

Eternal king of heaven

Give us eternal food and drink

Feed us with your truth

Which never spoils

For it is of spiritual nature

10.

If you hold back your food from us

Then all is lost and for nothing

We can accomplish nothing without you

We hope in you through your grace

That we have not been mistaken

11.

I do not doubt the power of God

Truthful is his judgment

He will forsake no one

Who is firm in faith

And remains in truth

12.

Be comforted, you Christians

And always be joyous through Jesus Christ

He gives us love and faith

God comforts through his holy word

And we must trust in it

13.

I bid God and his church

That he be today my guardian

For his name’s sake

My Father, let it be so

Through Jesus Christ, Amen
*Found in The Classics Of Western Spirituality: The Early Anabaptists. 

“A Short Meditation on the Lord’s Prayer” (1526) By Balthasar Hubmaier

This is a short devotional piece written by Balthasar Hubmaier who was an AnaBaptist leader in Moravia in 1528 where he lead a group of congregation with over 12,000 members. Like many of the early Anabaptists Hubmaier was arrested, tortured, and executed for his faith. 

“A Short Meditation on the Lord’s Prayer” (1526)Balthasar Hubmaier

Our Father. Gracious Father, I am not worthy to be called a child of yours or that I should be able to call you my Father. I have not always done your will. I have often done the will of the Father of Lies. Forgive me, merciful Father, and make me a child of yours in the faith.

Who Art In Heaven. Father of goodness, look upon us, we who live in this miserable state of woe. We know that children cannot find a better condition than to be with their loving father, who feeds them, gives them drink, clothes them, protects them and shields them from all needs. Gracious Father, take us, your miserable children, to be with you in heaven.

Holy Is Your Name. Merciful Father, we know that we are guilty of continually dishonoring your name with our words and actions. The suffering of Christ, which for us is medicament for eternal life, we make into an eternal reproach by our cursing and rebuking. Forgive us, Father, and give us grace so that your name will never come from our mouths unprofitably. Help us to cease all blasphemy and swearing so that your holy name will eternally be glorified, enhanced and praised.

Your Kingdom Come. Gracious Father, we know that we are captives to sin, the devil, hell and eternal death. But Father, we cry out and call to you as our loving Father to come quickly with your kingdom of grace, peace, joy and eternal salvation. Come to our aid, gracious Father, for without you we are totally miserable, afflicted and lost.

Your Will Be Done On Earth As In Heaven. Good Father, we confess publicly that your fatherly will does not suit us earthly people. Our will is completely and totally hostile to your divine will. We ask you to send your Holy Spirit to work in us authentic faith, steadfast hope and ardent love, so that our will is conformed to your divine will in all things.

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread. Compassionate Father, we live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your holy mouth. Therefore, we humbly pray that you will feed us with the bread of your holy word. This is the bread of heaven, and whoever eats it will be eternally filled. Make it a living presence in our souls. Make it grow and bring forth fruits of eternal life. Give us diligent Christian workers who will spread this bread among us in pure, clear and untarnished manner so that your Fatherly will, which is known only from your word, will be fulfilled.

Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors. Kind Father, we know that we are guilty of having sinned in words, deeds and evil thoughts. We do not even know the number, portion or extent of our sins. Father, forgive us and give us power to better our way of living, even as we forgive those who have caused our suffering. Father, forgive them too, for they do not know what they are doing. Enlighten all those who misunderstand your holy word, who abuse and persecute us, so that they might come to the true way that leads to eternal life.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation. Heavenly Father! Look on the fear, barrenness, misery, persecution and hardship which we must endure here on earth, and ponder also our human weakness. For this reason, sweet Father, we ask of you, through your Fatherly love, that you do not forsake us in our anguish and suffering, that we not be defeated nor fall away from your holy word. Do not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can endure. We are weak and frail, while our enemies are strong, powerful and heartless. You know these things, merciful Father.

Deliver Us From Evil. Deliver us from evil, from sin, from the devil, from our own lust, which is our greatest enemy. Deliver us from all that keeps us far from you. Moreover, give us all that brings us closer to you. For dominion, power and glory are yours forever in eternity.

Eternal Father, as we have prayed to you here, bring it to fulfillment according to your Fatherly good will. These things we pray through your mercy and through your gracious promises which you have given to us consistently through Moses, the prophets and the apostles. But we pray this especially, pleading with you, through your most beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He has surely promised us, and proved it through his bitter death, that whatever we pray for in your name you will give us. Father, we place our bodies, lives, honor, possessions, soul and spirit into your hands. All that we have received from you we offer back to you, for you give and your take away. Praise be to your name. Amen and amen.

From The Classics of Western Spirituality. The Early Anabaptists.