Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Wordless Book

This past Sunday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at Sidney Luthren Brethren Church in Sidney, Montana, and share about Child Evangelism Fellowship, the children's ministry organization that I work for. Along with sharing about our ministry I was also given the opportunity to give the message. The following link is for the podcast of my message which was a presentation of the Wordless Book. Using the five colors of Gold, Black, Red, White and Green we are able to share the Gospel message with people. This presentation is the version I use when speaking to adults instead of children. The Wordless Book is a very easy witnessing tool that you can use in your own personal evangelism.

The Wordless Book, November 14th, 2010, Sidney Luthren Brethren Church, Leif E. Halvorson presenting 

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Jesu Juva
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Children Of The Kingdom

Leif E. Halvorson 11/6/10
1) Text: Matthew 18:1-14 ESV
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
 5 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
 7"Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
 10"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
2) A Child is Humble (vs. 18:2-4)
            A. Turn (v. 3)
                        i. turn around, change, change one’s thinking
                        ii. O.T. use can also mean “repent”
            B. Humble (v. 4)
                        i. has humility
                        ii.  does not consider one’s self sovereign
                        iii.  does not consider one’s self better than others
                        iv. is void of self
                                    a. an adult is “full” of his own thoughts,
                                       own w
ords, own deeds, looking to
                                       himself (not humble) The disciples are
                                       asking Christ “Which one of us is the
                                       greatest (v. 1) possibly considering things
                                       of which they had done that might warrant
                                       an elevation of status. (not humble)
                                    b. a child is “empty” and can therefore be
                                       “filled” or led by it’s superior (Christ is
                                        our superior) which directs and changes
                                        its thoughts, words and deeds (humble)
                                    c. the child responded to Christ and came
                                        to Him simply because Christ called the
            C. Dependant
                        i. must rely on someone to provide for them as they
                           are incapable
                                    a. requires loves but cannot produce it for
                                    b. requires things for sustenance (i.e. food,
                                        shelter) but cannot produce it for
                                    c. cannot survive on its own, will die
3) A Child is Valued
            A. We know this when Christ says: "Whoever receives one
                 such child in my name receives me”
(v. 5)
                        i. a child who is received or welcomed by someone
                           is likewise receiving the parent because the
                           child is of the parent. A child is the parent’s own.
                        ii. a believer in Christ has been redeemed and
                           justified by Him. The believer is Christ’s own.
            B.  We know this when Christ gives us stern warnings:
                        i. …but whoever causes one of these little ones
                           who believe in me to sin…”
(v. 6)
                                    a. It would be better to experience this type
                                        of hopeless drowning than to cause
                                        (tempt) “one of these little ones” to  sin
                                    b. In other words it would be better, for us,
                                        to be dead than to tempt and lead one to
                                        to sin.
                        ii. “…woe to the one by whom the temptation
(v. 7-9)
                                    a. “woe” –  doom to anyone who cause,
                                        tempts, others to sin
                                    b. it is very evident how much God hates
                                        temptors, temptation and sin
            C. We know this when God has his children watched over
                 (v. 10)
            D. We know this when He seeks to save that which is lost
                 (vs. 12-13)
                        i. He rejoices when He saves his children
            E. We know this because God does not wish His children
                 to be lost to eternal death. (v. 14)
4) A Child of the Kingdom
            A. Must become like a child or we will be lost (v. 3)
                        i. The only way to become like children is for the
                           Law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) to expose,
                           convict and destroy the worldly adults that
                           we a
                                    a. We are selfish, self-centered, self-
                                        -relient, self-pleasing, full of our thoughts,
                                        our words, our deeds and like a sheep
                                        have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)
            B. We are saved by Christ
                        i. Christ seeks after us like the shepherd who
                           searched for the lost sheep
                        ii. Lost in the wilderness due to our own choosing
                            of self, Christ saves us by grace through faith
                            when we are broken and have and contrite
                        iii. He has redeemed us and has justified us before
                            the Father
            TLSB (Concordia)
          Commentary on Matthew (Lenski)

Jesu Juva
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reformation Week - Tuesday

Tuesday's Reformation Week post at CLB is about the Bible and has a collection of excerpts from chapter one of the book We Believe: Commentary on the Statement of Faith by Dr. Timothy Ysteboe. We are currently going through this book at Sidney Luthren Brethren at our Wednesday night study. The excerpts are: The authenticity of the Bible, God speaks truthfully and  The Word of God as the story of salvation. We are also going to take a look at the 95 Theses.

Martin Luther tacking up the 95 Theses from the film "Luther"
The Editors' Note from gives us a little background on Luther's 95 Theses:
 "The Ninety-Five Theses, composed originally in Latin, were posted by Martin Luther on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. The Castle Church was used by the university as its "campus church" and as such the door served as a sort of public bulletin board for the academic community. The theses were a proposal for a discussion about the practice of indulgences. October 31, 1517, the day before All Saints Day, was chosen because the Castle Church was also home to one of the largest collection of relics in all of Western Christendom, owned by the Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise. Indulgences were granted to the faithful for viewing the many relics that were put on display on All Saints Day."

Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences Commonly Known as The 95 Theses by Dr. Martin Luther

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter. In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.

11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

20. Therefore by "full remission of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of those imposed by himself.

21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.

33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;

34. For these "graces of pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.

36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

49. Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.

52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.

53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.

55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The "treasures of the Church," out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that treasure;

61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.

62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.

67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.

68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.

71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!

73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.

75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God -- this is madness.

76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.

77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.

78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.

79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.

81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.

82. To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."

83. Again: -- "Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"

84. Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul's own need, free it for pure love's sake?"

85. Again: -- "Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?"

86. Again: -- "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"

87. Again: -- "What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?"

88. Again: -- "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?"

89. "Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?"

90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace!

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!

94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
Jesu Juva
Soli Deo Gloria

Reformation Week - Monday

Monday's Reformation Week post deals with reformation media, including: a documentary from PBS called "Martin Luther: A Reluctant Revolutionary",  a presentation on Law and Gospel by CLB, audio from Issues Etc. and a clip on Justification from Todd Friel's video "On the Shoulder's of Giants" which is about how the reformation fathers would have dealt with some of today's issues. (I would highly encourage anyone who wants to have a birdseye view of the reformation and how to practically apply the lessons learned to check out Todd Friel's "On The Shoulders of Giants")

Law and Gospel from Church of the Lutheran Brethren on Vimeo.

Today's exerpt from the Book of Concord is from the first of the three Ecumenical Creeds:

The Apostles' Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

* catholic means "universal" and is not a reference to the Roman Catholic Church.
Now, I've run into more than one situation where people can get "cautious" over "adhering" to the Apostles Creed because it's "not in the Bible". Actually, just to clarify, it is in the bible. You're familiar with Cliff's Notes? Well, the Apostle's Creed is essentially that for the Christian Faith taken straight from the bible. Check out this link to see the references from the Bible that the Aposle's Creed is taken from.

Jesu Juva
Soli Deo Gloria