Heroes of the Faith~Martin Luther

  I am starting a new series called Heroes of the Faith. Every few posts I will post about a story of the life of an influential person of the Faith. Hope you enjoy!

Martin Luther

     Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, to Hans and Margarethe Luther, in Eisleben, Saxony; which was then the Holy Roman Empire; Luther was baptized the next day as a Catholic. In 1484 they moved to Mansfield, Germany. His father, a German cooper smelter, became wealthy by renting equipment to the mines, and later used this wealth to help put Luther through school. Luther’s mother was a hard-working woman. He had several brothers and sisters, and was very close to one of his brothers named Jacob. Hans wanted Martin to become a lawyer, and in 1497 Hans sent Martin to three Latin schools, in Mansfield, then known as Madgeburg. The three Latin schools focused on grammar, rhetoric, and logic. Luther later compared is time there to Purgatory and hell. In 1501, at the age of nineteen, he entered the University of Erfurt, which he later described as a beer-house and hoar house. The schedule called for waking at four every morning for what has been described as “a day of rote learning and often wearying spiritual exercises.” He received his master’s degree in 1505. Martin enrolled in law school at the same school that year, as his father wanted; but dropped out almost immediately, because law to him represented uncertainty. Luther sought assurance and a steady balance to life through philosophy and theology. He was deeply influenced by two tutors who taught him to be suspicious of even the greatest thinkers and to test everything he heard, which later helped spur him to start and lead the Reformation.

     On July 2, 1505, Luther was on horseback during a thunderstorm and a lightning bolt struck near him as he was returning to university after a trip home. Later telling his father he was terrified of death and divine judgment, he cried out, “Help! Saint Anna, I will become a monk!” He came to view his cry for help as a vow he could never break. He left law school, sold his books, and entered a closed Augustinian friary in Erfurt on July 17th 1505. One friend blamed the decision on Luther’s sadness over the deaths of two friends. Luther himself seemed saddened by the move. His father was furious over what he saw as a waste of Luther’s education. Luther devoting himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, pilgrimage, and frequent confession. He would later remark, “If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would indeed have been among them.” Luther worried about his salvation, so his superior decided that Martin needed to work more to distract him from his worrying, and ordered him to pursue an academic career. Luther was ordained into the priesthood and in 1508 began teaching theology at the University of Wittenburg.

     A Dominican friar named Tetzel began selling indulgences, which was supposed to get one out of Purgatory and in to Heaven. When Luther found out that Tetzel was doing this he became very angry, because indulgences are totally against the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Luther believed that if someone believed on Jesus’ death on the cross for their sins, that they did not need indulgences. Tetzel tried very hard to sell them to whomever was willing to pay. He would yell things like: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.”. On 31 October 1517, Luther wrote to his bishop Albert of Mainz, protesting the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as The Ninety-Five Theses. Many of the thesis attacked the Roman Church on several points including Thesis 86 which asks: “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

     In 1823, Luther married Katherina von Bora, a run-a-way nun she was 26, Luther was 41. They had six children. Luther wrote many hymns including his most famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” or in German: “Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott”. Luther was eventually called to recant or deny all that he had taught; his writings were banned and burned. He was put in prison until he was brought before the Diet of Worms, which was like the court of the Roman Church. He refused to recant, stating his famous quote: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me! Amen.” Orders were given that no German was to aid him and any one who killed him would not face legal consequence. Thankfully, Frederick III of Saxony pitied him and had masked men kidnapped him along the way, taking him to his castle. It was there in Fredrick’s Castle that Luther translated the Bible into German.

      Luther struggled with poor health in later life which made him short-tempered in his speech and writings. His wife was heard saying to him “Dear husband, you are too rude.” To which he responded, “They are teaching me to be rude.” his last sermon was preached in Eisleben, the city of his birth, on Feb. 15, 1546, three days before his death on Feb. 18 of a stroke. He was 62 years old. He was berried in Castle Church in Wittenburg, beneath the pulpit.

The Least of These

  “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of THE LEAST OF THESE my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Mt 25:35-40 AV)
When I think of Africa, I think of lions and hippos, elephants and giraffes, crocodiles and wild dogs. Or I think of the vast deserts and the Nile river with all its perils. I used to take little time to really think of all the people there. Yes, I knew they were there; yes, I may even feel sorry for them; but, I never really thought about what they go through every day of their lives. I never really cared, until now.
Recently, a series of events have occurred, that have brought them to my mind, and brought what they endure every day, to light. What I see, is shocking, and saddening. A few friends of mine went to Africa not long ago, on a missions trip; the stories and pictures they brought back made me both laugh and cry. The people of Africa are both beautiful, and frightening, sweet and fierce. As I watched videos the team brought back, I laughed as I saw little children running next to the cars and boats the team was in, wave their hands and shouting; I saw little orphan children, who had survived the perils of their past few months.
That story was especially gripping. The Christian Africans in Nigeria where the team went, are constantly persecuted for their faith. The villagers are attacked by the Muslims with a three-pronged attack. First, the Muslims sneak into the Christian’s villages and set their houses on fire at night; then, when the villagers run from their homes to escape the fires, the are beaten and hacked with machetes; last, if they are fortunate enough to survive that, as they run from the village, there are men surrounding it with machine guns waiting to shout anyone who tries to escape. Few make it out, and many that do, die soon after from their wounds. The few children for each village that survived are taken to or just go themselves to a nearby orphanage where there are children all the way from four or five to eighteen.
I also saw a documentary about a movie star who in all seriousness, has taken several trips to Africa and continues to go. He traveled to various countries in Africa collecting facts about the state of life there, then came back to the USA to talk to the president about helping them. What he saw there was devastating. The wars between the Christians is brutal and violent. Men are killed or taken as slaves, women and children are raped and either take as slave or burned to death. To protect themselves they have made up their own army, which includes boys as young as twelve or thirteen carrying AK 47s and machine guns, going out with the men to protect their people, and kill the enemy. Their fate is very indefinite, their goal very definite. Life for them all is like a thread, it breaks or it doesn’t break.
At least seventeen times in the Bible God speaks of caring for the widows and orphans in this world! We can do no less than our best to obey. There are many, many orphans in Africa, and in many other parts of the world, with sad stories similar to these. I heard a statistic once that if only SEVEN PERSENT of the families on this earth would adopt just ONE child, the orphan crisis in the world would be gone. Imagine, what would happened if each family adopted two or three. But even if they can’t adopt a child, if they just support a child, or fund someone else to adopt, imagine the impact we could have! Even if we can’t give money, we can most certainly give our time to pray for them, pray for God’s safety for them, pray for their salvation, pray for a family for them. Also we can write a letter to a child in an orphanage, they always love receiving letters for someone in America who cared enough to take time to write to them.

Remembered Today

  I normally post on Friday, but considering this special day I thought I would post early. This is a poem I wrote for everyone, but especially those now in , or who have been in the military.  Enjoy, and God Bless.

Have we remembered today?

Have we thought, pondered,

Do we pray?

For the men and women,

So far away,

That risk their lives each day?

In oppressive heat and scorching sun,

they fight day by day.

And from their goal they never stray.

“What is that goal?” you ask.

Well let me tell you now,

To save a country and a people,

from those who mean it evil.

They offer their lives,

They give their all,

They serve with strength and pride.

They leave family,

Friends and loved ones dear,

to serve our country,

Far and near.

And yet some say, “In vain

They serve, and home

They must return.”

Then, we said we’d never forget,

But now, is that still true?

Have we forgotten,

The people that were lost?

And the lives forever changed?

This, my friends,

Is why they serve o’er the world today,

So let us ne’er forget, that for our soldiers,

We must pray.

Have you remembered today?

In loving memory of all those lost on 9-11,

and since then in the war on terror.

Little Treasures

  My post is kinda short today, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less prevalent. Hope you all enjoy, and take to heart.

Little Treasures” of God, each one specially created for His glory. Each one specially gifted to be who He wants them to be, when and where He wants them to be, to touch people’s lives. To some, they’re “different”, to others they’re “weird” or “strange”, hopefully, to most of us, they are precious. But all of them are…

SPECIAL.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me well; for years, I have loved kids. To me there’s no better way to put it than Psalm 127:3- “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”

But over the past few years, a certain group of children have caught my eye, and captured my heart. They are often the least noticed or cared about, often the ones left to live lonely lives, unless someone comes along, someone willing to be different, willing to care about them, willing to love them. The children I am referring to, are the disabled, or handicap children. These children live all around us, and go to our schools, churches, and play at our local playgrounds. They are all around us and yet most of us know very little about them as individuals or about their disabilities.

The one day I was walking by a lake near my home, it was a very long lake so there was a medium current. As I walked by the water, I saw a small duck swimming against the current. The strength of the current, and the size of the duck, made it so the duck had to really work to swim in the direction it wanted to go. A little farther up stream, I saw a stick floating in the water, just going where ever the current took it, and as I thought about it, that scenario is so much like real life. I mean think about it for a minute. The current represents the “in crowd” and we are ether the stick or the duck.

The stick, is like the person who just wants to fit in, won’t be different, won’t stand out, they just go with the flow. Maybe they don’t tease or nag the kids, they just would rather die than be seen actually talking to them! The duck, is the person who is willing to be different, and stand out, to go against the flow. They don’t mind being seen talking to them, or playing with them, or helping them.

These days people are so wrapped up in doing what ever makes them look go, they miss so many opportunities to do just that. Really, we should be more interested in doing things to help others, doing things to glorify God, than making us look good.

So which are you? The duck, or the stick?

 I hope you’re the duck, I know I wanna be…

 

In God We Trust

  In God We Trust, God Bless America, One Nation Under God, it is words like these that our nation was founded on. It is these words that kept the pilgrims going on those endless days and nights at sea and the long cold winters in Plymouth, they gave Washington and his men hope in the Revolutionary War and strengthened Lincoln in the Civil War when he felt like giving up.

The words are everywhere, on our money, license plates, plaques and Lady Liberty too. They’re in the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and they are the motto of this country. Our forefathers fought and died so that this nation could be free to worship Him, and now that very nation is slowly but surely, quietly but effectively slipping God out of the picture, until we now hardly want to have anything to do with the very reason we exist.

A couple of years ago, I visited Tallahassee, the Capital of Florida. I was standing in a hall, in the Capital Building, in front of me, a secretary at a desk; behind me, seats and the elevators; to my left, the House of Representatives; to my right, the Senate; and above me, an opening so the people on the floor above could look down. As I looked around in awe, still not quite believing what I was looking at, I saw that there was writing on the sides of the opening. I read the writing through, it was facts about Florida, state bird, flower, tree,mammal, etc. You name it we have it, some even seemed repetitive.

But then I got to the end of the list, and something caught my eye, the state motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST”, right there in big letters, “IN GOD WE TRUST”. At first, I felt proud not only to live in a country, but also a state that bears that as it’s motto. But, the more I thought about it, the less proud I felt. I asked my self, Is that true, are we as a nation trusting in God, and Him alone to fix all our problems?” I thought about it, and I had to say, no. Yes, we as Christian individuals do look to God in trust, most of the time, when things are easy. But in these though economic times, who do we as a nation look to, to get us out? The president and his stimulus packages? Congress, and there bailout money? That’s not what I would call trusting in God. We need look to no man for our help, but only to God. The writer of Psalms 121 said it best, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The Lord, not the president, not congress, the Lord.

Earlier, I mentioned Abraham Lincoln. Now there was a man who knew how to trust in God through anything. Through all the death and dying in the Civil War, Lincoln could have despaired and given up at any time, but he, through it all looked to God for strength and victory. It was Lincoln, not the pilgrims, who made Thanksgiving a national holiday. The pilgrims thanked God and celebrated, but he made it a holiday. He knew what was happening to this nation when he wrote; 

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. We have become to self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, to proud to pray to the one who made us.”

Abe recognized a problem that still goes on to this day,, we have forgotten God. One former slave tried to kneel to him once, but he rebuked him and said; “Don’t kneel to me! You must kneel to God only.”

There are many other stories of people who trusted God, no matter what. But we need to our selves; “Are we trusting in God?”  “Am I trusting in God?”.  No, our faith and trust in God will probably not be remembered through history as Lincoln’s was, but you never know who might be watching you, who’s lives might be changed forever because of your faith and trust in God. It is my prayer that we will return to being a nation that trusts in God. Because, unlike men, He will never leave us or forsake us.

As someone I know aptly put it, “God never promised, that the cross would not get heavy, and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered a victory without fighting but He said help would always come in time. Just remember when your standing in the valley of decision and the adversary says give in! Just hold on! Our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again!”

Defined or Refined

  Lately, as some of you might already know, I’ve been going through a lot of hard times. I’ve always had my share of troubles, but lately it seems like my life has gone crazy. It would be easy for me to stress, freak out, go berserk, what ever you want to call it, and I must confess, sometimes I have.

But right in the middle of the worst time in my life, I got to thinking, and praying, and reading my Bible, and I realized, I was letting this hard time in my life define me. I was letting the hardships, pain and difficulty, affect my family life, and my friendships, but most important, my walk with my Savior. It was destroying me from the inside out.

I was reading my bible, and a couple of verses popped out at me, and I realized, instead of letting my problems define me, I needed to let God use my problems to refine me. I needed to ask myself, “What is God trying to teach me through this?”, and “How might God be trying to use the hard times in my life to help others?”

Zechariah 13: 9 (NLT) I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.'”

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as …the arrival of dawn or the coming of rain in early spring.”

So our busy lives today, lets all stop and ask our selves, “Are we letting our problems define us,or are we letting God use them to refine us?”