Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Luther on Hymns and Spiritual Songs

From:  Luther's Works Volume 76, pp. 299-302. (American Edition)



"Let the Word of God dwell among you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual, sweet songs in grace."  [Col.3:16]

This properly follows what he said about thankfulness, as if he would say:  See to it that you honor teachers and preachers and are thankful to them, so that they can attend to the Word and offer it to you richly. I think that St. Paul is not talking about how God's Word was given from heaven, for that is not in our hands; rather, God alone must give it so that it dwells in us.  As He has done and still does whenever He has the Gospel preached, He pours it out richly, so that He keeps nothing back which is necessary for us to know.  After He has given it to us, we ought to be thankful and attentive to read, hear, ponder, sings, and speak it day and night, and to procure many teachers who present it to us richly and without ceasing.  That is what it means that God's Word dwells in us richly.

But the satiated, lazy spirits soon become tired and let the preachers go wherever they go.  Then the preachers have to work and support themselves, so that God's Word is neglected and becomes meager and rare.  So Nehemiah complains that the Levites had to leave worship and the temple and live on the land, because they received no support from the people--or they had to set up false worship and fables to mislead the people, because in that way they were not only supported but also became rich.

... I think that the distinction between psalms, hymns, and songs is this:  By "psalms" he means properly the psalms of David and others in the Psalter. By "hymns" he means the other songs here and there in Scripture made by prophets, such as Moses, Deborah, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel, Habakkuk.  Similar are the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), and the like, which people call "canticles."  By "spiritual songs" he means the songs people sing about God apart from Scripture, which people can make at any time.  He calls these "spiritual" more than the psalms and hymns because he certainly knew that those are already spiritual.  With these songs he restrains us from using worldly, fleshly, and improper songs;  rather, he wants our songs to be about spiritual things which are able to teach and admonish us, as he says here.

What does it mean when he says "in grace" (Col. 3:16)?  Whoever wants can explain that this is said about the grace of God, that is, that such songs should come without coercion and Law, from pure delight and love. It should not be like the hymns now which are extorted by commandments and laws, where no one preaches, sings, or prays because of God's kindness or grace but only because of profit, stipend punishment, injury, and shame. It should not be as the holiest of all do, who out of obedience let themselves be bound and forced to the worship service through which they want to gain heaven, and not at all so that God's Word is understood richly and with all wisdom, as St. Paul wants.  [Italics mine]

But I think that St. Paul is talking about the grace or pleasantness of the hymn and song, just as he says: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is useful for building up, where it is needful, that it may have favor and grace among everyone who hears"  (Ephesians 4:29). So also here the songs should be capable of having grace and favor among everyone who hears them, so that there are no worthless, weak, and indecent words or otherwise awkward things which neither taste good nor smell good, which have neither strength nor savor. There should be rich, delightful, and sweet songs which everyone likes to hear.  That is what "sung in grace" really means in Hebrew, as St. Paul says.  That is also the nature of the psalms and hymns in Scripture, which contain good things and are sung with beautiful words.  Some songs have very beautiful words, but they are worldly and fleshly;p on the other hand, some songs contain good things, but in such awkward words that they have neither favor nor grace.

"Singing in your hearts to the Lord." (Col. 3:16)

St. Paul does not mean that the mouth should be silent, but that the words of the mouth should come from wholehearted belief, earnestness, and fervor, and not be hypocrisy, as Isaiah says, "this people praises Me with their mouth, but their heart is far from me" (Isaiah 29:13).  St. Paul wants to have the Word of God dwelling so commonly and richly among Christians that everyone speaks, sings, and meditates on ti everywhere; and yet all fo that should happen with understanding and spiritual fruit, be very dear to everyone, and be sung from the bottom of the heart, to the praise and thanks of the Lord.  he says, "Let it dwell with you", not lodge as a guest for a night or two, but to settle down and never leave.  He is always concerned about human doctrine.

"And what you do in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Col. 3:17)

The works of Christians have no names, times, or places, but whatever they do is good.  Whenever they do it, it is right. Wherever they do it, it is well-done.  For that reason St. Paul here names no work and makes no distinction, but grasps all of them together and makes them all good.  Eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, walking, standing, speaking, being quiet, working, or being idle are all precious things, because they all happen in the name of the Lord Jesus, as St. Paul teaches here.  They happen in the name of the Lord Jesus when we believe with firm faith that Christ is in us and we in Him, so that we stop working, and He lives and works in us, as St. Paul says, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).  On the other hand, if we do something as if we had to do it, then it happens in our own name, and there is nothing good in it.

... From this it follows that we should praise and thank God, to whom alone the honor and glory for every good thing belongs, as St. Paul says here.  Also St. Peter, soon after he said that we are to do everything by God's strength, goes on to say, "in order that you all unanimously praise the Father through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4:11; Rom. 15:6.  But whoever does something by his own strength, even if he thanks God with his mouth, nevertheless lies and is false, like the hypocrite in the gospel (Mark 10:17).  thankfulness is the only sacrifice and work which we should and can do for God, and yet not through ourselves, but through our Mediator, Jesus, without whom no one comes to the Father or can be accepted (John 14:6).  We have often spoken about that.


This Colossians passage is one that I once pulled out of the hat on New Year's Eve, as a young person on retreat, to be a special verse for the year.  I kept it around for a long time and it still resonates.  What I understood only later is the grace in these words, that when done in the Lord, it is all good.  Everything, even the most banal things, or so-called banal, that we do, are good.

There is the reason for gratefulness and singing. He has done it all, and what we do in him, is good because of him.

The other reason I copied out this section is because of the part I indented, some good words about spiritual songs and spiritual song creation and singing.  He speaks about the pleasantness of them.  I wonder what the German is for "pleasant" and "pleasing" here.  Maybe "Gefallen", which would just mean that people like it. This would be in accord with singing from the heart and without coercion.

They should teach and admonish us according to God's word, and should be rich and well done, with strength and savor.

CBC Radio and Amatonormativity

I tried to send a comment to CBC radio on its one-sided interviewing, but I could not find the place to comment. This is what I almost posted to Facebook, but then I thought "Why ruin more people's days?"

--CBC radio is usually my preferred listening choice, but even I am beginning to resent the tax payer money spent on it. During my kitchen clean-up this morning, during 15 min. in several interviews over Valentine's day morning, it was a verbal diarrhea of expressions such as: "disempowering speech that reinforces the status quo" (on matters of love), (she repeated that twice in two minutes), on the people who don't understand the "new narrative", "moving towards new social structures", learning what "love was, and what it can be in the future", "it is time to stop recycling the same script of what love is", "relationships configurations that were considered radical in the past" need defending against put-downs, We must work against "amatonormativity". -- Guess what: married couples have another label now; we are amatonormativitists. -- The person interviewed holds a research philosophy position at the University of British Columbia and promotes a polyamorous lifestyle. Loyalty is a damaging concept to her, as it may lead some individuals to remain in abusive relationships. Uhum. And how many people in polyamorous relationships are in abusive situations? Where will women experience more safety?--in a situation of loyalty, or in a situation not expecting loyalty? And what is the normal consequence of being amorous? And what is the better situation to raise children in? (Loyal or not loyal?)

I note that in the pictures on Google images on "polyamory", there are no children.

Image result for polyamory

Monday, January 2, 2017

Persecution of Christians





Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sin Against the Holy Spirit--not believing that Christ has made you clean and is now your brother

Luther in an Easter Sermon:

Therefore, I will say:  "I know very well that I am an unworthy man, worthy to be the devil's brother (not Christ's or His saints').  But now Christ has said that I (as the one for whom He died and rose again, as well as for St. Peter, who was a sinner like me) am His brother, and in all sincerity He wants me to believe Him without any doubting and wavering.  He does not want me to consider or pay attention to the fact that I am unworthy and full of sin."

He Himself does not consider or remember, as He justly could do;  He has sufficient cause to take revenge and punish His disciples for what they have merited from Him.  Rather, everything is forgotten and blotted out of the heart (Isa. 44:22; Acts 3:19)--indeed, put to death, covered, and buried.  

Now He can say nothing about them except everything delightful and good.  He greets them and speaks with them as kindly as with His faithful, dearest friends and good children, as if they had done nothing wrong and had not troubled the water, but had done everything good for Him, so that they have no worry or care in their hearts that He would remember it and reproach them or take revenge on them.

Because He does not want to know about that, but has it put to death and covered up, why would I not let that be true and thank, praise, and love my dear Lord from my heart that He is so gracious and merciful?  Even though I am burdened with sins, I still should not go ahead and all these kind words which I hear about Him a lie and arrogantly cast away the brotherhood He has offered,.  If I do not believe it, that is not good for me, but there is not for that reason anything false or lacking in Him. 

If anyone now wants to burden himself with new sins and not let what He has forgotten be forgotten, He certainly will be sinning in a way which can no longer be forgotten or be helped.  The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks about those who fell into sin by falling away from God's Word and calling it lies (Hebrews 6[:6]; 10 [:26]).  This is called the sin against the Holy Spirit, which means holding the Son of God up to contempt, trampling Him underfoot, and profaning the Spirit of grace.  May God preserve from this all who want to be Christians!

Unfortunately, there is too much of the former blindness and folly in which we have previously tarried, which ought now be gone and forgotten, since we have been made His brothers, if we will only accept it.  If we cannot believe as strongly as we ought, then we should begin (like young children) to suck up at least a little spoonful of this milk (1 Peter 2:2) and not at all push it away from us until we become stronger.  

(Luther's Works.  American Edition.  Church Postil III, pp. 30-31)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Post-American Election / Silver hair / Presence

Really, who would have wanted to add to the clamor that the US election was and still is. It is good enough to have stayed silent on the matter.  I am comforted that some of the facts of life are being stated clearly now, having been obviously repressed before by those who consider themselves above speaking straight.  I have learned a thing or two about deceit, malice and guile, in media and in my own communications, and feel that somehow by engaging I have done the thing of the fall of the garden of Eden.  I have come to know good and Evil.  It can't be undone.

There are just two insights I wanted to jot down before I forget.  One has to do with letting your hair go grey, or "au natural" or "silver".  Mine actually is silver under the layers of brown color.  Once upon a time my hair was dark brown, for real.  Once a upon a time.--It only takes an hour to color your hair but it takes months to get the color to go and still have hair. It is a journey, and maybe I will write about it next time.  One person who inspired me was Christine Lagarde, Manager of the International Monetary Fund.  She is the most high profile woman I have seen pictures of that wears her silver extremely well.  I can live with that.  You need something pretty on your ears, and other bling (but not too much) and the right amount of make-up (not too much, but definite), and an up-to-date hair-cut.  I am working on it.  Yesterday, I was offered the Senior's Discount.

Image result

The second thing on my mind is, before I forget, is how people say "I so very much want to live in the moment."  And other people say:  "I am walking with the Lord."  And then others ridicule: "People live with their imaginary friends."  And others say:  "I am always craving intimacy".  And then there is the Christian greeting:  "The Lord be with you", and "And also with you."  And then some people like to talk about a "presence".  And some say:  "May the Force be with you."   And then others talk about their muse and their daimon.  The daimon does not sound very good, and to be honest, the people who have talked about their daimon, have also been the deceptive ones.

There I have noted it down, but that's all the time for right now.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Saudi Arabia Uncovered


"Saudi Arabia Uncovered"--Watch it.

The Jews had a temple, where the lambs were slaughtered and there was needed some management of the blood that flowed.

The Saudis have a "Chop-Chop" square, where people are beheaded and crucified.  There are drains in the middle to capture the blood that flows.

Image result for chop chop square

The butchering of Jews and Christians is called for in the books for children.  Shia also don't fare well.

What the video does not dare say is that it is not just the Saudi branch of Islam that promotes this butchery, but the Koran itself.

The Koran must be criticized also.

Hamed Abdel Samad steps out to protest the lack courage of our cultures to engage in critique of the Koran.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Yoga and the Bible

In my old age, (I am exaggerating), I have found that I have some trouble with joints on the left side.  The Alberta Health care system provides for some face to face counselling on health related matters, and my counselor encouraged me to get involved with yoga classes.  I progressed from the extremely gentle Realignment Yoga, to the Power Yoga offered at lunch time.  With some practice, I am finding that I am actually quite flexible.  It is a lot of fun and I feel that the yoga class is my candy dessert exercise class.  I am also feeling that I am getting stronger in ways that help me move, during day to day demands on the body.  I can feel that my muscles and joints are there for me when I need them.  This is a great blessing.

In sitting and thinking about it, it occurred to me that there is something similar in the spiritual realm.   Many people nowadays, have very little knowledge of the Bible, the Bible stories, about faith in God, about the Ten Commandments and the Creed, daily and weekly worship.  They have become very, very weak in this area.  And they don't know it.  Until they muscle up and practice it, they are not aware of what they are missing, of what is not there for them when they are in crisis situations, or ethical conundrums, how to teach their kids, or how to pray.  They need to take their Bible class, the way they take their yoga class.

They will suffer a spiritual breakdown, a psychological breakdown, an existential breakdown, fall into cynicism,  skepticism, nihilism, drug addictions, anxiety, neurosis, etc. and not quite know how it hit them.  Their spirit is weak and untrained, like my body was weak and untrained.  I don't want to say that I am better than those people.  But I work at keeping the message of hope, love, grace, forgiveness, in my mind, through going to sermon, to communion, and reading my Bible.  Also, we are all going to age, lose everything and die.  How are we preparing for that? How will you cope and how will you cope when your loved ones die? --Sit in lotus position?  Hardly.

Some might think that the Eastern Yoga and consciousness raising provides a kind of spirituality.

I find that all the business with calming yourself and getting into your body and out of your mind, is a healthy exercise.  I don't pray or chant to any gods, etc. I focus on the stretches and what I can stretch better, and how I can get circulation into tissues that don't get a lot of circulation.  It's good.  Thinking more about what you are doing and why you are doing it, is also a healthy exercise.

I would recommend, however, to all those who think that yoga and mindfulness is the answer, that they are missing out on forming their spirit.

Don't just shape your body, shape your spirit, too.  Read your Bible.

And then there also is the "Kindness Muscle":  http://www.businessinsider.com/lasting-relationships-rely-on-traits-2015-11   Boy, we can all learn a lot there, working on the kindness muscle in our relationships.

Clever Journaling Bible idea!  Use tracing paper or another thin and transparent paper, create your design on it, then insert it using washi tape!:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Versions" of the Bible / Atheists and Jews

It has happened to me several times now that someone thought that the various "versions" of the Bible are all different and products of various edits over the years.  Every time some editor (I don't know who they would mean) has picked away at the literature, there is a new version.

Some rabbi, whose talk a friend of mine liked on Facebook, went on for about half an hour tying to distinguish the "a son of man" in Daniel, from the "the Son of Man" of the Gospels.  In the middle of that he laughed in scorn at the King James "version".  First of all, it was a great travesty to go from "a" son of man to "the"son of man.  Then it was ridiculous that there could be "versions" of this.

We must be grasping at straws, me thinks.  Messianic Jews find this passage extremely compelling.

The fact is that the manuscripts are ancient and have been treated with reverence and care.  The different versions, deal with changes in our contemporary language and expression.  All try to be faithful to the original.

For an example of different "versions" of the Bible see this: http://biblehub.com/
for the Bible in different languages and editions.

---------------  Also from Facebook below:  Comedian wrong about the Bible.

"The moment an atheist or critic of the Bible (or comedian, in this case) uses this ridiculous telephone canard, you can be sure they have zero idea what they are talking about, and are farting hot wind for rhetorical effect.
The Bible did not come to us through a process of editing, rewriting, or multiple translations. Every, single reputable translation we have comes directly from spectacularly well-attested Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. And in general, the newer, more literal translations (ESV, NASB, etc.) are drawn from the very oldest manuscripts, which long predate the sources for older English translations, like the King James. And of course, the Bible's manuscript evidence is stronger than virtually any other work of antiquity, including the works of philosophers like Plato and authors like Homer, whom no one seriously disputes as authentic and essentially true to their autographs.
In other words, when someone uses the telephone argument, you can dismiss them, and suggest they come back when they know what they're talking about."
~@Gregory Shane Morris

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Clio's Bastards / Study of History

My husband wants me to buy this book, "Clio's Bastards":

There was an article by Barbara Kay in the National Post this weekend about the new book by Canadian author about Canadian Universities: "How Progressives perverted the study of history."

I ordered it for my husband.  He does not ask for much.  XOXO.

Perspicuity vs Commentary


The other day, on some anti-Christian thread, someone made claims about how things about Jesus did not get established until so many centuries and so many commentaries after.

I said, why don't you just read the Apostolic witness.

To that thread came a man who is converting to atheistic Judaism who said that we should follow the rabbis and their well established commentaries.  Reading things at face value was the worst and most dangerous thing to do.

I told him about the perspicuity of scripture.  But that seems to be ok with nobody.

In the end it was me who was "stupid" and "insulting" and a whole host of things.

Wow.  woah.

Image result for jesus in the synagogue