STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA A Monthly Publication of Bethesda Baptist Church June 30, 2016 Independence Day! Here are some words about the birth of our nation from our Founding Fathers. You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments: rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the universe. – John Adams We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. – John Adams The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected, in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. - John Quincy Adams Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants. – Benjamin Franklin A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins. – Benjamin Franklin The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 'that God governs in the affairs of men.' And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? – Benjamin Franklin A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district - all studied and appreciated as they merit - are the principle support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty. – Benjamin Franklin It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here. – Patrick Henry Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles. – Patrick Henry Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. – George Washington Providence has given our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. – John Jay We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future ...upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God. – James Madison …the belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the difference characters and capacities to be impressed with it. James Madison "He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who set himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country." John Witherspoon And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781 It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. ... I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." ~ John Adams We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence. BUSINESS MEETING; Wednesday, July 13th, 7 p.m. HAPPY BIRTHDAY… ! Happy Birthday to the following Bethesda family members: * Caitlin Brook on the 7th * DiAndre Wordlaw on the 14th * Rich Norvell on the 17th * Ellen Brook on the 18th * Georgia Baggett on the 26th * Elijah Mueller on the 27th * Nolan Brook on the 30th HAPPY ANNIVERSARY… ! and Happy Anniversary to: * Aaron & Cynthia Wordlaw on the 27th Church Progressive Dinner Saturday, July 23 beginning at 4:00 p.m. we’ll begin a progressive dinner fellowship! If you have never been a part of such a dinner, you will find it is a lot of fun. You’re encouraged to mark your calendar and plan on being a part of this fun fellowship in just a few short weeks. More specifics will appear in upcoming bulletins so stay turn for additional information. The Luther Monthly “This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” Pastor’s Postscript In the past 6 weeks I have found myself at the hospital twice. Apart from repairing a broken arm many years ago, I do not frequent hospitals as a patient! But health issues compelled me to go, once for 4 days and the other for just 1. Reflecting on these visits, I found myself mentally quoting an old saying: “It stinks getting old.” But that’s really not true. Getting old is not really the problem. Living a long life is not a bad thing. Longevity is not what causes us the various pains associated with old age. Per the Bible, the problem is not age; it’s sin. While not every one of our aches and pains is the result of our own personal sin, without sin in the world there would be no such aches and pains. Adding another year to our age would truly be a time of celebration if there was no sin. And, of course, for those of us in Christ, this will be the case one day. Because of Christ’s life and death, his followers have ETERNAL life. We will live on and on without pain, without illness, without death. Who said “It stinks getting old?” That born again slave trader turned preacher John Newton got it right when he wrote, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.” Let us praise our Lord for the many years we will all have together in glory! Pastor Bruce 636-233-0645 TheSaxonHus@hotmail.com Church phone: 636-447-2121 Church web site: www.bethesdabc.org
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA A Monthly Publication of Bethesda Baptist Church May 31, 2016 Church Picnic! The annual Bethesda Baptist Church Picnic begins at high noon on Saturday, June 18th at our church. The church will provide the meat as well as lemonade. Families are asked to bring a side dish or a dessert and, if you don’t want lemonade, something to drink. Come out and join us for some good Christian fellowship! Bethesda Church Picnic Saturday, June 18 Noon BUSINESS MEETING Wednesday, June 8th 7 p.m. HAPPY BIRTHDAY… ! Happy Birthday to the following Bethesda family members: * Ken Romans on the 13th * Samuel Bounds on the 16th * Austin Wildgrube on the 26th HAPPY ANNIVERSARY… ! and Happy Anniversary to: * Dennis & Pam DePriest on the 7th * Jeff & Alicia Mueller on the 12th The Book of James Having completed our exposition of Paul’s letter to the Romans, beginning this Sunday we turn our attention to what is likely the oldest of the New Testament books: James. Come and hear the Word of God this Sunday! The Luther Monthly Martin Luther was very much a theologian. He lived and breathed theology and loved teaching, preaching, discussing, and arguing the doctrines of the faith. His love of theology is one of the reasons he adored the Gospel of John, the Epistle to the Romans, and Paul’s letter to the Galatians. However, concerning the less theological and more practical book of James (which we begin this Sunday), here is what the good doctor had to say: “In fine, Saint John’s Gospel and his first epistle, Saint Paul’s epistles, especially those to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Saint Peter’s first epistle,--these are the books which show thee Christ, and teach thee everything that is needful and blessed for thee to know even though thou never see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore is Saint James’s epistle a right strawy epistle in comparison with them, for it has no gospel character to it.” As far as I know, Luther never denied that James was inspired by God. Actually, on my bookshelves are some of Luther’s sermons. One that he preached and was first printed in 1536 is on James 1:16-21. I do not believe Luther would have used this text for any sermon if he did not believe it was the Word of God. In the above quote Luther says “in comparison with them” which I believe supports that opinion. His problem with James was likely two-fold. First, as I have already mentioned, James does not contain a great deal of teaching on the doctrines of the faith which Luther thoroughly enjoyed. That doesn’t mean there is an absence of theology in the book, rather, there are simply no extended discussions on the person of Christ, justification by grace through faith, or other doctrines. A second problem I believe Luther had with James is the fact that his Roman Catholic opponents misused James chapter 2 in their attempt to defend justification by works. For Roman Catholics, Luther’s idea that one could be saved on the basis of his faith in Christ alone was heresy. They read James 2 to imply that salvation required the performance of good deeds (e.g., baptism, observing the mass, confession, penance, etc.). James chapter 2, as we will see, is not at odds with Romans chapter 3. James is not teaching a salvation requiring works. The Roman Catholics are wrong in their understanding of the text and Luther was wrong to lessen the value of James when compared with other books of the New Testament. The Epistle of James is the inspired Word of God. It is far more practical and less theological than many of the Pauline epistles. Nevertheless, as Scripture it is profitable to us. So let’s see what we can learn from this small but very powerful book! Pastor’s Postscript As I mentioned at the beginning of my sermon on Sunday, while we spent over 2 years in the book of Romans, there is so much more gold to be mined from that book that I almost feel guilty leaving it! Yet I sense God wants us to move on to other texts. Given our society’s demand for “satisfaction now” and our short attention spans, I applaud you who regularly attend our worship and listen to the preaching of the Word. There are some (perhaps many based on what other preachers tell me!) who do not like preachers who preach from one book for many weeks. They believe such expository preaching “robs them” of other parts of God’s Word. Personally, I believe expository preaching is the best way to proclaim the Word of God. Some time ago I took some time and prayed about my future direction in preaching the Word. Given my age as well as my commitment to preach expository messages, I realized I will never be able to preach through every book of the Bible. So I decided to focus on the New Testament for my sermons. Do not misunderstand my decision to mean that I consider the Old Testament of no value. To the contrary, it has so much to offer. No, my decision to focus on the New Testament is simply based on the amount of time I have left to preach and the need to proclaim the message of Christ. The New Testament is the best place for doing that. There will likely be some Sundays when I take a “time out” and preach a message from the Old Testament. At the moment the adult Sunday School class is looking at an Old Testament book. So your pastor has not “disowned” the Old Testament! But until God changes my mind, I will continue to preach through New Testament books. Beginning this Sunday we turn our attention to the book of James. I do hope you make every effort to join us each week as we see what God has for us from this wonderful book. May the Lord bless your June! Pastor Bruce
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA
A Monthly Publication of
Bethesda Baptist Church
March 30, 2016
Game Night Fellowship
Friendly Christian competition begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 at the church. It’s our Game Night Fellowship! Attendees are asked to bring a finger food or a snack plus a drink.
Please mark your calendars for Saturday, April 30th, ladies. The annual Ladies Tea will begin at 2 p.m. More information will follow later.
Wednesday, April 13th, 7 p.m.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY… !
Happy Birthday to the following Bethesda family members:
* Jimmy Bartner on the 11th
* Karla Repperger on the 23rd
* Christi Bartner on the 26th
* Cynthia Wordlaw on the 29th
and Happy Anniversary to:
* Bruce & Debbie Walker on the 20th
Ladies Book Study
Pam DePriest leads another Ladies Book Study beginning on Tuesday evening, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. The ladies will meet each Tuesday evening into May with a brand new study on the book of Nehemiah. If you wish to participate, either sign up on the sheet in the church foyer or inform Pam of your intention.
The Luther Monthly
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” Attributed to Martin Luther
Spring is here and everywhere we look we see rebirth! The leaves are coming out, the flowers are blooming, and my lawn needs mowing.
April promises to be rebirth at Bethesda as well. One Saturday features friendly competition at our Game Night Fellowship. Another Saturday has the Ladies Tea. And the spring book study for the Ladies begins in only 2 weeks!
Also, we draw very close to the end of our exposition through the book of Romans meaning we will begin a new book in less than 2 months. Our weekly Bible reading from the book of Acts also finishes soon and that spells new readings from a new book. The adult Sunday school class completes its study of parables this month as well and a new study will begin in there.
Yes, April marks a rebirth at Bethesda. If you are not part of all that is going on, why not plan on joining us in the coming weeks? The Game Night is April 9. The book study begins on the 12th. The ladies tea is on the 30th. And the other changes take place throughout the month.
If you are a member of our church, then be a member who is engaged with what the church is doing. Get involved! Use your gifts and abilities to serve Christ through our church. There is so much we can do, so much we should do, so let’s get busy doing it!
May our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, richly
bless you this month!
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA A Monthly Publication of Bethesda Baptist Church January 31, 2016 Valentine Fondue Party Bethesda will celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 13th with a Fondue Party in Fellowship Hall. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Parents’ Day Out On Friday, February 26, babysitting services will be provided at the church for Bethesda couples who would like some time alone. The services will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be available until 11:30 p.m. So drop off your children and have an adult night out! BUSINESS MEETING: Wednesday, February 10th, 7 p.m. HAPPY … ! Happy Birthday to the following Bethesda family members: * Kate Bounds on the 9th. * Marilynn Norvell on the 17th. * Jeff Mueller on the 22nd. * Steve Brook on the 28th. The Luther Monthly Formerly a monk, Luther married a former nun in 1525, Katherine (Katie) Von Bora. Over the years, he frequently spoke and wrote on his marriage, his wife, and marital love. In recognition of Valentine’s Day, here are a few quotes on these subjects. On marriage: “There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage. One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.” On his wife Katie & his children: “To the rich lady of Zulsdorf, Mrs. Dr. Katherine Luther, who lives in the flesh at Wittenberg but in the spirit at Zulsdorf.” “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.” “My lord Katie greets you. She plants our fields, pastures and sells cows, et cetera. In between she has started to read the Bible. I have promised her 50 gulden if she finishes by Easter. She is hard at it and is at the end of the fifth book of Moses.” “To my beloved wife, Katherine, Mrs. Dr. Luther, mistress of the pig market, lady of Zulsdorf, and whatsoever other titles may befit thy Grace.” During his wife’s illness: “Oh, Katie do not die and leave me.” “All my life is patience. I have to have patience with the pope, the heretics, my family, and Katie.” “My dear Katie brought into the world yesterday by God's grace at two o'clock a little son, Hans Luther. I must stop. Sick Katie calls me.” “Hans is cutting his teeth and beginning to make a joyous nuisance of himself. These are the joys of marriage of which the pope is not worthy.” “Child, what have you done that I should love you so? You have disturbed the whole household with your bawling.” “This is the sort of thing (a baby crying for over an hour) that has caused the Church fathers to vilify marriage. But God before the last day has brought back marriage and the magistracy to their proper esteem.” “Good God, what a lot of trouble there is in marriage! Adam has made a mess of our nature. Think of all the squabbles Adam and Eve must have had in the course of their nine hundred years. Eve would say, 'You ate the apple,' and Adam would retort, 'You gave it to me.'” Katie to her husband: “Doctor, why don't you stop talking and eat?” Martin’s response: “I wish that women would repeat the Lord's Prayer before opening their mouths.” On marital love: “The first love is drunken. When the intoxication wears off, then comes the real marriage love.” “Union of the flesh does nothing. There must also be union of manners and mind.” Pastor’s Postscript 2016 is a month old and we have observed a baptism as well as several visitors in our worship service. Please continue to pray that the Lord would open up the opportunities for us to minister to those who need Christ as well as provide opportunities for believers to serve the Lord! This Sunday is our pizza party followed by Valentine card-making. Those who shared in this ministry last year had a great time making the cards. We can fellowship while we do so and we know the residents of the Lake Charles Retirement Center appreciate receiving the “work of our hands”. You might be thinking you are not “crafty” but, I can assure you, you are more “crafty” than I will ever be and I had a good time making cards last year! So, there’s no excuse for missing this fun activity. In just over a couple of weeks we’ll have our Valentine’s Fondue Party. And, at the end of February, those parents who have children may take advantage of a ministry of some Bethesda members who have volunteered to watch your children while you have a date night! While often considered much more mundane than our fellowships, there are practical business matters which the church must address from time to time. Next Saturday (February 6) is our first church council meeting of 2016. The church council meets once a quarter and reviews the upcoming schedule of church activities. Our constitution requires certain church office holders to be a part of this meeting and, of course, permits any member to attend. If you hold one of the following church positions, you are a member of the council and I encourage you to be at our first meeting. * Pastor * Chairman of Deacons * Worship Leader * Sunday School Director * Church Clerk * Treasurer * Chairman of Finance Committee * Youth Director * Chairman of Outreach Committee * Chairman of Fellowship Committee * Chairman of Trustees Let us continue to serve our Lord through our church with the gifts He has given to each of us! May the Lord richly bless each of you in the coming month! Pastor Bruce
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA A Monthly Publication of Bethesda Baptist Church December 30, 2015 BUSINESS MEETING: Wednesday, January 6th, 7 p.m. HAPPY … ! The Bethesda family has some congratulations this month! * Steve & Ellen have an anniversary on the 3rd * Brenda has a birthday on the 18th * Julie has a birthday on the 23rd Learn to Crochet! The ladies are meeting on Thursday, January 7th at the church to learn how to crochet! This time of fellowship will allow the ladies to crochet edges for dish cloths which will later be included in next year’s gift bags to Powell Terrace. If you want to learn how to crochet and have a great evening of fellowship, join us on January 7th at 6:30 p.m. as Glenda and Rachelle provide the instruction. January Bible Study During our Discipleship Training Hour on Sundays at 5 p.m. in January and February, Dennis leads us in our “January Bible Study”. This year our study is on the book of 2nd Corinthians and is entitled “The Church’s Ministry Handbook”. Join us this Sunday evening (January 3) as we begin our journey through this great book! The Luther Monthly From a sermon on Luke 2:21 preached by Martin Luther on New Year’s Day. ”So we see that the Scriptures in all places urge to faith, but only to faith in Christ. Therefore circumcision was not given by the law of Moses, nor to the fathers before Abraham, but to Abraham, to whom Christ, his seed, was promised for a blessing, so that the bodily circumcision might everywhere be in accord with the spiritual circumcision. Why then has it ceased, if that same faith in Christ, to which it points, still remains? The answer is, God has always, from the beginning of the world to the end, maintained one faith in Christ; but he has not given only one sign of it. If all the signs which refer to faith remained, who could keep them? But since faith is inward and invisible, God has foreshadowed it to men by many external signs, in order that they might be incited to believe as by many examples, and has permitted each to continue for its time. How many signs did Moses alone do in Egypt and in the wilderness, which have all passed away and lasted during their time, and still were all signs of faith? So when God promised to Abraham the blessings in his seed and gave to him a sign of it, namely circumcision, it could not exist by virtue of that promise longer than the fulfillment of the promise. But when Christ, the blessed seed, came, the promise was finished and fulfilled; it was no longer to be expected. Therefore the sign also necessarily was finished and fulfilled; why should it continue any longer, when the promise on which it depended was finished? But that which it signified, faith, remains always, whether the promise with its sign passes away or remains. Pastor’s Postscript A new year is upon us and, for many, another attempt at resolutions are underway. Most resolutions are broken before the end of January. Nevertheless, resolutions can be of great value, especially if one knows Christ and resolves to change their behavior to be in line with the will of God! Here are 4 simple resolutions for 2016: 1. Resolve to study the Word of God daily, at least for a few minutes. Reading the Bible through each year is a great objective. But, simply reading and meditating on small portions of the Bible each day is also a worthy goal. 2. Resolve to memorize more of the Word than you have in the past. Maybe you wish to set a specific number of verses (or books) you will memorize. I simply challenge you to increase the number of Scriptures you have stored in your heart & mind. 3. Resolve to join your brothers and sisters in worship each Sunday unless providentially hindered. Be present, sing, pray, give, and listen to the Word as often as you can. 4. Resolve to share the Gospel with the lost when the opportunities arise. I know that, for some, sharing Christ is an extremely difficult task. Nevertheless, God has called each of us to do so. Ask God to grant you the courage you need in 2016. May our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, bless you in 2016! May He also bless Bethesda Baptist Church! Pastor Bruce
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA November 30, 2015 A Monthly Publication of Bethesda Baptist Church HAPPY … ! The Bethesda family has several Happy Birthday wishes this month! * Debbie on the 4th * Meghan on the 6th * Rachelle on the 11th * Jon on the 15th * Rick on the 21st * Pam on the 31st BUSINESS MEETING Wednesday, December 9th 7 p.m. Merry Christmas! The Luther Monthly On Christmas Eve of 1538, one of Martin Luther’s students recorded the following: “All his words and songs and thoughts were of the incarnation of our Lord. Then with a sigh he said, ‘Oh, we poor men that we should be so cold and indifferent to this great joy which has been given us. This indeed is the greatest gift, which far exceeds all else that God has created. And we believe so feebly even though the angels proclaim and preach and sing, and their song is fair and sums up the whole Christian religion, for glory to God in the highest is the very heart of worship. This they wish for us and bring to us in Christ.’” Christmas Fellowship Our annual Christmas Fellowship will be on Saturday, December 12 beginning at 5 p.m. Every family is asked to bring a finger food and a drink to share. We’ll fellowship together, snack together, and maybe play some games as well. Make plans to join us! Bethesda will host a Christmas Eve service on Thursday, December 24 at 6 p.m. We’ll sing some songs and recount the story of the birth of Christ as we worship our Lord and celebrate His birth. If you would like to participate in the service (e.g., perhaps sing a song, read some Scripture, etc.), please let the pastor know as soon as possible. Since we will meet on Thursday that week, our normal Wednesday service for December 23 is canceled. Pastor’s Postscript Christmas time seems to “sneak up” on me faster with every passing year. My clocks appear to speed up beginning at Thanksgiving and do not slow down again until the 1st of the year! I believe the many activities in which we participate at this time every year help to contribute to this illusion. There are parties, family gatherings, Christmas cards, cookies to make, presents to buy, carols to sing, etc., etc., etc. Before you know it, December the 25th has arrived! Despite all the activities during this season, there are 4 I strongly encourage you to be a part of leading up to Christmas. 1. Bethesda’s Christmas Fellowship. We have held it on Saturday evening for a few years now and each year has been great fun. This year we gather on December 12. 2. Bethesda’s Christmas Eve Service. Over my years as your pastor, we have hosted a few such services and I have been blessed at each one. This year we are meeting once again on December 24th and would love to have every member present. 3. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. We begin collecting this Sunday and every penny goes to support our international missionaries & their work. 4. Remembering Christ. Let’s not forget why we celebrate! Worship Him each and every day. May Christ grant you a wonderful December and terrific Christmas! Pastor Bruce
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA
A Monthly Publication of
Bethesda Baptist Church
October 27, 2015
HAPPY … !
We wish a very Happy Birthday this month to the following Bethesda Baptist family members:
* Noah on the 6th
* Sandy on the 17th
BACK to Standard Time…
Daylight Savings Time ends this Saturday evening/Sunday morning. Please remember to turn your clocks BACK one hour before you go to bed on Saturday.
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. As is our tradition, we, as a church, will gather together on Sunday, November 22 after morning worship for our annual Thanksgiving fellowship dinner.
More information will follow in future church bulletins.
Men’s Book Study
Brother Dennis is leading the men in a weekly book study over the next couple of months. The study, entitled, “Living the Life” begins this Thursday, October 29, at 7 p.m. at the church. If you wish to attend but did not sign the sheet at the church, please contact Dennis as soon as possible so he can make certain he has enough books for those coming.
Reminder: CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING THIS SATURDAY MORNING AT 9 a. m.
The Luther Monthly
Saturday marks the 498th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That act is considered by most historians as the spark that lit the flame of the Protestant Reformation. Below is the opening paragraph of that document, announcing Luther’s desire to debate. That “debate” lasted for the rest of his life!
“Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”
October 31st has been called Protestant Reformation Day for many, many years. For some time Martin Luther, a German monk, had been greatly convicted by his own personal sins as well as by the abuse he read and saw among many Roman Catholic church leaders. On of these abuses was the sale of indulgences. The Church proclaimed that by contributing to the building of St. Peter’s in Rome, you could buy complete forgiveness for you or a loved one presently in purgatory.
Luther did not believe in indulgences and that all the church was doing was stealing the money of the German people. November 1, a Sunday in 1517, was a holy church day still known as “All Saints’ Day”. In his town of Wittenberg, many church relics would be on display. The Church promised a reduced sentence in purgatory for those who viewed them. Therefore, there was a large crowd in town by “All Hallow’s Eve”, October 31 (“Halloween”).
The door of the local church served as a bulletin board. With a good crowd in town, Luther decided to announce he wanted to debate his thoughts and beliefs on indulgences, so he posted his notice and his theses for debate on that church door 498 years ago this Saturday.
Luther never intended to split the Roman church. A year before his death, he even admitted that, in 1517, he would have killed anyone who fought with the pope! His remark was probably a bit of hyperbole but nevertheless it reveals that, at the time, Luther was a Roman Catholic and intended to remain one.
The original theses, written in Latin, were taken from the door, translated into German, and, with the help of the recently invented printing press, distributed throughout Europe. The fire storm which ensued almost cost Luther his life and ultimately resulted in a seismic split within the church. In less than 5 years, Luther had been excommunicated from the church and was deemed an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor.
The 95 theses Luther posted were 95 matters he wished to debate. Some of them have little to offer in terms of debate. Some of them are mired in the teachings of the church of that day and require knowledge of church doctrine in order to understand what he was debating. But some of them are priceless! How about #86?
86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
You can be certain that was political incorrectness of the first order back in 1517! I wonder how deeply the Pope gasped when he read it?
Or, read this one:
82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and 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 reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
I suspect the Pope AND those preaching indulgences were quite upset with #82!
And, for a final sample, here is #53.
53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others. We see in that thesis the importance Luther placed in the preaching of the Word. Preaching the Word would become a hallmark of Protestant Christianity, a clear, distinguishing mark of separation with the Roman church.
So, maybe on this Saturday we should set aside our candy for a moment and have a sausage for our supper in honor of the beginning of the Reformation!
May Christ richly bless you this coming month!
STIRRINGS at BETHESDA
A Monthly Publication of
Bethesda Baptist Church
September 28, 2015
BUSINESS MEETING, Wednesday, October 13, 7 p.m.
We have several October celebrations! Happy Birthday to:
* Gene on the 1st
* Glenda on the 4th
* Christy on the 6th
* Brady on the 20th
* Dan on the 28th
Also, we say Happy Anniversary to the following couples:
* Dan & Karla on the 9th
* Jimmy & Christi on the 23rd
Annual Church Bonfire! Our church bonfire will be held on Friday the 9th beginning at 6:30 p.m. The church will provide the hot dogs. You bring some munchies, drinks, and a lawn chair!
The Luther Monthly
The book of Romans teaches the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Martin Luther said much on this subject. Here is one sample from his commentary on Galatians (written 1531).
“Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair. Much less is sin taken away by man-invented endeavors. The fact is, the more a person seeks credit for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God. In actual living, however, it is not so easy to persuade oneself that by grace alone, in opposition to every other means, we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God.”
For reasons I do not comprehend, when football season begins, I hear TV ads, radio commercials, and newspapers talk more about gambling than they do other times of the year. So I thought I would share some thoughts on the subject with you this month. WARNING: if you are buying lottery tickets, visiting the boats, or putting down wages on games, I simply say to you, “STOP IT!” The remainder of this column may make you mad!
Gambling is a “big deal” in our country these days because such activity is no longer isolated to a few communities in Nevada. Even here in St. Charles we are faced with gambling not only by means of the various lotteries but also from local casinos. Is it wrong for a Christian to be engaged in the gambling industry by participating in lotteries and casino games? Is gambling contrary to Godly principles?
I believe the Bible does speak on the subject. First, though, what is meant by gambling? How does gambling differ from, say, spending $100 to go to a Cardinals game? The Oxford Dictionary’s primary definition on gambling states: “playing games of chance for money”. Obviously, when you attend a sporting event and pay a considerable price to do so, you are not involved in a game of chance and you are not looking for a financial gain. You are truly going for entertainment.
But is that ever the case with gambling activities such as lotteries, slot machines, or blackjack tables? Certainly these games are “games of chance”. And are you truly playing them for entertainment? What entertainment is there in pulling a slot machine handle? While I can never fully judge someone’s motive, I would seriously doubt there are many people purchasing lottery tickets at convenient stores for the fun of it. No, they are buying those tickets with some hope of gaining wealth. These games are gambles, not entertainment: you pay your money to play a game of chance in hope of financial gain. If an individual believes they gamble only for entertainment then please just go ahead and give me the money you were going to spend in the casino.
Often gambling is compared not only to forms of entertainment but to investments such as the stock market. Some will defend their stance on gambling by noting anyone who has money in the stock market is also gambling. But such arguments as these fail to understand the “guts” behind gambling.
All gambling involves: (1) putting something of value at risk (usually money), (2) chance involved in determining the outcome, and (3) something of value belonging to someone else as the possible prize. The bottom line: (1) no new wealth is created and (2) for every winner there are one or more (usually many) losers.
Now, if you want the Bible to say “Thou shall not gamble” then you will not find it. But this does not mean the Bible does not call gambling a sin.So, here are some reasons why I believe the Bible teaches against all forms of gambling and why Christians should not participate in such activities.
1. Gambling leads to destruction.
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
2. Gambling is driven by covetousness.
Reread the above verses. People gamble with some hope (either great or small) that they might make some money. They covet some level of financial gain.
3. Gambling is a form of stealing.
As noted above, gambling does not create new wealth. Rather it takes the money of the losers and gives it to the winners. This is nothing like the investment world. If a stock goes up, ALL investors win. If a stock goes down, ALL investors lose. But gambling takes the money of some and gives it to another. We know what the Bible says about stealing.
4. Gambling is improper stewardship of God’s possessions.
All that we have belongs to God. We are simply a trustee of those possessions and that includes the money in our possession. We are the stewards of the Master’s finances. Through the parable of the talents, Jesus taught that the good steward wisely invests, not gambles, the master’s money (Matthew 25). God calls on us to work and labor with what He has given us (1 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 4:28). Gambling the Master’s money is never acceptable.
5. Gambling argues against the sovereignty of God.
When folks gamble, they are risking their money on what they believe to be luck or chance. To do so denies the Biblical truth of the Sovereignty of God:
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)
6. Gambling takes advantage of the poor.
Statistics and common sense bear this out. Those who make the least are far more likely to gamble and to risk a higher percentage of their income than those who make more. The poor desire to quickly and easily end their poverty and become wealthy. A recent survey found individuals in the United States making less than $13,000 a year spend 9% of their income on lottery tickets. Gambling appeals to greed and the false hope of quick riches rather than a dependency on God and hard work.
7. Gambling is foolish.
The odds of winning in any gambling event are very, very low. This is especially true in the lottery. If you have extra money to spend on gambling, it is far better to place it in some interest bearing account and, ultimately, create wealth.
“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” (Proverbs 21:20)
8. Gambling provides an improper testimony of God.
A Christian who is gambling in a casino, for example, is not honoring God by his action. He communicates to those who are watching him that he believes it is proper and right to win the money of others, mostly the poor, by playing a game of chance. He is teaching the lost around him that God approves of gaining (NOT MAKING) wealth in such a manner. Yet God clearly indicates we are to work and labor for such wealth as noted above.
There are other things I could say. I close with this thought: Jesus is standing before the boat on the Missouri River with a $100 bill. You finish the story.
May our Lord and Savior bless your October!
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA
A Monthly Publication of
Bethesda Baptist Church
August 31, 2015
Please note the changed dates.
* Fellowship BBQ: Immediately following the morning worship on Sunday, September 13, we’ll join together for a BBQ fellowship downstairs. The church will provide the buns and the meat. You provide salad, side or dessert and drinks.
* Family Campout: This fellowship is now scheduled for Friday and Saturday, September 18-19. For more details contact Jeff or Karla.
* Coming in October! Our church bonfire will be held on a Friday night this year. The fun begins on October 9 at 6:30 p.m. The church will provide the hot dogs. You bring some munchies, drinks, and a lawn chair!
HAPPY … !
September celebrations! Happy Birthday to:
* Dennis DePriest on the 2nd
* Aaron Wordlaw on the 3rd
* Brida Lovett on the 26th
The Luther Monthly
Politics have been heating up in our country over the past couple of months. Luther had some words on that subject as well. Here are three of his thoughts concerning government.
“You ask whether the magistrate may kill false prophets. I am slow in a judgment of blood even when it is deserved. In this matter I am terrified by the example of the papists and the Jews before Christ, for when there was a statute for the killing of false prophets and heretics, in time it came about that only the most saintly and innocent were killed. … I cannot admit that false teachers are to be put to death. It is enough to banish.”
“There are lazy and useless preachers who do not denounce the evils of princes and lords, some because they do not even notice them. … Some even fear for their skins and worry that they will lose body and goods for it. They do not stand up and be true to Christ!”
“The spiritual government or authority should direct the people vertically toward God that they may do right and be saved; just so the secular government should direct the people horizontally toward one another, seeing to it that body, property, honor, wife, child, house, home, and all manner of goods remain in peace and security and are blessed on earth. God wants the government of the world to be a symbol of true salvation and of his kingdom of heaven, like a pantomime or a mask.”
Two More Weeks to Contribute to the Missouri Missions Offering!
We will be collecting gifts to the MMO for two more weeks. Our church goal is $500. The church will match up to $500.
For several months I have been filling in as the adult Sunday School teacher. We worked our way through the book of Ecclesiastes and will wrap up the book of Esther in two weeks. IF you’re not attending class, I urge you to consider joining us. If you have any thoughts on what we should tackle next in class (whether you are a part or not), please met me know.
The men have been looking at J. C. Ryle’s book “Holiness” for several months. Although we are NOT having our study this month (I will be out of town), I am hopeful we will finish the study in 3 to 4 months. With that thought in mind, I am appealing to the men for some input on our future men’s meetings beginning in 2016. Do you still want to meet on the first Saturday of each month at 8 a.m.? Is there a better day or time? What would you like to do at these meetings? I would love to know why more men do not attend our meetings and change that trend in 2016. So, PLEASE, if you have any thoughts on how to improve our monthly time together, please let me know!
May Christ grant you a terrific month!
STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA
A Monthly Publication of
Bethesda Baptist Church
July 29, 2015
* Roller Skating Fellowship: Let’s meet at Great Skate in St. Peters on Saturday, August 8 for two hours of fellowship! We have the rink from 5:15-7:15 p.m. that evening. Even if you do not intend to skate, come out, watch the others skate, and share some Christian fellowship!
* Business Meeting: Our monthly meeting is on Wednesday, August 12 beginning at 7 p.m.
* Rascals Game: Join your Bethesda family at T. R. Hughes Field as manager Steve Brook leads the River City Rascals against the Lake Erie Crushers on Saturday, August 29 at 6:35 p.m.
HAPPY … !
Here are the celebrations among our membership in August!
Happy Birthday to:
* Lacey Mueller on the 22nd
* Isabel Mueller on the 29th
* Zachary Mueller on the 31st
BUSINESS MEETING: Wednesday, August 12, 7 p.m.
The Luther Monthly
Writing on Muslims (Turks) and Islam, Luther had the following to say:
“The Turk wants to put his Muhammad in the place of thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, for the Turk blasphemes him and asserts that Christ is no true Son of God and that Muhammad is a greater prophet than he. … We are fighting that the Turk may not put his devilish filth and the blasphemous Muhammad in the place of our dear Lord, Jesus Christ. That is the real reason and serious purpose for which we now fight, die, or live. Therefore we are fighting a just war against the Turk and are Christ’s holy saints and will die a blessed death.”
THANK YOU to Everyone Who Contributed to Our Backpack Collection!
“It is the Word from whence you had your life. That’s the immortal seed of the Word by which you are begotten. If your souls are begotten to God, it was by the Word. I appeal to you, either you are begotten again or not. IF you are begotten, it is the Word that has begotten you, and it is that which is the object of your faith, for your souls, and eternal estate. Surely that must be reverenced by you.”
In the July 14th edition of the Pathway, Dennis Fletcher published a cartoon which grabbed my attention. It shows two of the framers of our Constitution discussing a dream Franklin, Washington, and Hamilton each had the evening before. The dream contained 3 individuals apparently screaming their stance on different issues:
* “I will determine if I’m Male or Female!”
* “I will determine if I’m Black or White!” (her shirt reads “NAACP”)
* “I will determine what’s moral and immoral!” (his shirt, with rainbow sleeves and neckline, reads “Marry Whoever You Luv!”)
Humans love to be in control. Many believe they can be or do whatever they choose to be or do. But that philosophy belongs to one living in a Fantasyland. In reality, we don’t have that much control over the affairs of life. For example, consider your birth. You had no say if you would be born. You had no say when you would be born, who would be your parents, the country of your birth, the wealth of your family at your birth. And those are only a few aspects of your birth over which you had no control.
This is true of our gender. You may call yourself a male even if you are a female. But that does not change who you are. You may undergo multiple surgeries, be injected with tons of hormones, and change your name but your internal structure, which comes from God, still reveals your true gender. Gender selection is out of your hands no matter what you think or say or do. God made us male or female.
This is also true concerning your race. A white man can not be changed into a black man or vice versa no matter what one tries to do. It is absolute foolishness to believe one can call themselves a black female when they were born a white male. Common sense tells us so, our genetic structure tells us so, and God tells us so.
Finally, while man, via governments, may determine the laws which govern his behavior living within an earthly nation, the only true morality is that which has been established by the only perfect moral lawgiver in the universe: God. When a nation establishes its moral laws based upon God’s moral law, then society is better off. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Our country has lost its way. If you claim one cannot pick their own gender, then you are considered to be a hater. If you claim one cannot select their own race, then you are considered to be a hater. And if you do not believe men may marry men and women may marry women, you are a hater. That is the nature of our society today. Political correctness says we must understand those seeking their “true” gender or race and accept what they decide. We must permit homosexuals to marry. Those who do not bow are deemed wicked, evil, racist, bigoted, and hateful.
Unless God does a great work of revival throughout our land, the situation will only get worse. And that means each of us who confess the name of Jesus are going to be faced with choices sooner or later. I know of Christian county clerks who have resigned their position because they cannot, in good conscience, grant marriage licenses to homosexuals. This is only the beginning.
The United States is more like Babylon than Jerusalem today and we are Daniel and the Hebrew children in exile. Will you eat the food the pagans provide or only eat the bread of life? Will you bow to their idols or face the fiery furnace? Will you yield to their religious restrictions or will you continue to bow your head in public and pray to the one true God, knowing the den of lions is ready for you?
Now is the time to prepare for the trials to come. Stay in the Word. Draw close to God in prayer. Take advantage of the time and opportunities available to hear God’s Word preached and taught and to share with your brothers and sisters. Memorize His Word. Follow closer to Christ each day. Do so now for when the trial comes it will be too late to prepare.
May Christ be more real to you today than He was yesterday. May His Word be more clear today than it was yesterday.
God bless you and keep you!