The Glory Has Departed

Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on

May 25, Ascension Day Holy Communion,
7 PM Centray Daylight Time
NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

which works as too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jackson Out, Jackson In

We attended our oldest grandchild's graduation from our local community college, one week ago.

Today, the school informed me that I would be teaching English composition part-time there.

Online is strange in asking for a commitment to teach and then canceling a class for no reason. They have reasons, such as low enrollment for the class, but they do not share the reasons why. I happened to find out twice where my supposed class was switched over to someone's friend - not canceled at all. But they wrote - "Your class has been canceled, sorry."

Oddly enough, we live within walking distance of the satellite campus, which is expanding to a new, larger building. We moved here for another school, but something was very fishy there. I told them so when I quit. That small college president made the national news this year by being indicted by the federal government for fraudulent use of tax money and wire fraud.

He is the only boss I have had to garner felony indictments. However, in churchwork I have had many who deserved to be indicted!

Moves to Springdale neighborhood,
great neighbors, community college campus next door.

Coffee To Wake Up the Gardener and Garden

Today I was talking to a coffee expert on using coffee grounds in the garden. I used some extra coffee on some new plants and saw good results, especially with rainwater added. I began adding more used coffee grounds on other plants that needed attention.

My Crepe Myrtle twigs have various heights. The tallest receives regular rainwater and coffee grounds. In the front, the tallest is at the bottom of the slope and the shortest at the top. Today, the light went on. Although Crepe Myrtles are drought tolerant and sun-loving, any plant at the top of the slope will get less water than at the bottom. In fact, the back yards drain down where the myrtles are lined up in a row, the bottom one getting the best runoff and a big of soil as a bonus.

The rescue operation will consist of more grounds for the shortest myrtles, plus extra stored rainwater.

Benefits of Coffee Grounds
No, I do not think coffee grounds will drive slugs away and do other magical tricks. But the grounds are organic sponges, a convenient way to lighten the soil and add some nitrogen material.

I am more interested in their contribution to lightening and hydrating the soil. Coffee grounds as mulch on top of the soil will be pulled down by earthworms, contributing to water infiltration and the conversion of the grounds to castings.

Earthworms alone have a powerful effect on the soil, by tunneling, sweetening the soil with their Caltrate glands, adding nitrogen waste, and leaving their castings, which are considered the best of all fertilizer. Although they seem too tiny to make a difference, the earthworms on one acre of land add up to a one-ton creature moving a ton of soil every day.

To hold water longer for each myrtle twig on the slope, and to improve the soil below, I will add more grounds, dried leaves and grass around each plant. The initial effort will hold moisture in the soil. The long-term effect is to leaven the clay soil with organic material and to increase  microbe activity. Earlier I thought the wood mulch was having an anti-nitrogen effect, because wood absorbs nitrogen as it rots, then gives it up again. That may still be true, but the ability of the backyard myrtle to absorb water and grow made me think of the regular doses of rainwater turning that one plant into a champion when all the others were planted at the same time. And they varied by their position on the slope.

Plants have to be given their due, since each has different Creation gifts. Even the roses vary in what they like and tolerate. I failed with one Chaste Tree when I watered it all the time and left it in semi-shade. That is one bush that wants lots of sun, no water added, and enjoys pruning. I cut the Chaste Tree drooping branches, placed it in the sun, and banned all watering near it. The plant responded with health and steady growth.

This crisis reminded me of the couple whose roses, planted at the top of a small hill on their property, did not grow well. I said, "You planted them in the driest spot in your yard. Water drains downhill." One was a chemical engineer. He said, "Oh."

The myrtle fence was planned to keep some neighbor kids off the rose garden. It worked, because the family moved away.

Free Plants - Some of the Best Around
Our Army Ranger friend really liked the roses I gave him for the cemetery. He especially likes the Veterans Honor rose - glowing red, fragrant, long-lasting.

"Where did you get yours?" I said, "From the Net, but I can grow some on potatoes." He was startled, even though he had worked in landscaping. (Every time he has a landscaping story, it is enhanced by the toxic chemicals he handled - all very effective. I nod in agreement.)

I will root roses and some other plants in potatoes - by drilling holes in the spuds. A rooting compound is supposed to help, so I will try that. The cane goes into the potato and forms roots. The potato is planted in the soil, possibly in a pot before transferring it to the garden. The potato provides moisture and food for the new plant.

Elderberries Ten Feet Tall
Almost Eden sold me two Elderberry plants last year, and they grew and formed fruit. This year they grew much taller and formed even larger berry umbrellas.

I found a plant that grows faster than weeds and spreads, too. Like Blackberries, the Elderberries sprout along runners. I may have botched the transplant, but I took some sprouts and moved them deeper into the Wild Garden, to make an attractive, green, bird-feeding screen.

 Photo source.

Monday, May 22, 2017

This Romans Quotation Proves the Folly of Justification without Faith

Romans 4:20 He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed [counted] to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Notice that Romans 4, which is an essay on Justification by Faith, featuring Abraham, concludes with Romans 5:1-2. Or one might call the opening of Romans 5 a transitional sentence.

Romans 5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

But the LCMS and others have made this nonsense canonical - 

Holy Scripture sums up all its teachings regarding the love of God to the world of sinners, regarding the salvation wrought by Christ, and regarding faith in Christ as the only way to obtain salvation, in the article of justification. Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 4:25

GJ - Abraham's faith was not simply in his ability to have a son through Sarah, but his faith in being the father of many nations, as he became through the Messiah and the ever-growing Kingdom of God.

Genesis And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
The befuddled UOJ experts, who think they glorify God's grace by denying and denigrating faith, repudiate the Gospel and replace it with a rationalistic philosophy.

The leaders of the LCMS, WELS, ELS, and CLC (sic)
join ELCA and Christian News in their slippery
evocation of Universal Objective Justification.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rogate (Prayer) Sunday - The Fifth Sunday after Easter, 2017

Rogate 2017 - The Fifth Sunday after Easter. 

 Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 202                         Welcome Happy Morning                           
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 
The Gospel 
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #454        Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire

Prayer Is the Fruit of Faith

The Communion Hymn # 207            Like the Golden Sun  
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #457                What a Friend We Have in Jesus

KJV James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

KJV John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

Fifth Sunday After Easter
Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy Son didst promise us that whatsoever we ask in His name Thou wilt give us: We beseech Thee, keep us in Thy word, and grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may govern us according to Thy will; protect us from the power of the devil, from false doctrine and worship; also defend our lives against all danger; grant us Thy blessing and peace, that we may in all things perceive Thy merciful help, and both now and forever praise and glorify Thee as our gracious Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer Is the Fruit of Faith
KJV John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

1. We are accustomed to read today’s Gospel on this Sunday because it treats of prayer and this week is called Rogation (Supplication) week, in which we give ourselves to prayer and to processions with crosses. Those who first instituted it, no doubt, meant it well, but it has proven to work harm. For, in the processions heretofore, many unchristian things have been practiced, and there has been no praying at all or very little; so that the processions were rightly abolished and discontinued. Often have I admonished that we should persevere in prayer, for there is great need of it. Since the outward prating and muttering of prayer is done away with, we no longer pray in any way. This is a good indication that we heretofore, notwithstanding our many prayers, never prayed.

Today there are also many abuses, especially when people make a public display of prayer. At the LCA seminary they organized a 24 hour of prayer, with someone posted at a given spot. I think they were creating a demonstration for peace. The organizer said, "We need you to fill in a slot. You don't have to pray." I declined to join them in their sanctimony.

Luther's statement about St. Stephen, the first martyr, should be remembered for all things that are undertaken in the Name of Christ. That must begin with faith in Him, which means setting aside our wisdom and letting the wisdom of the Scriptures supplant our wise-foolishness. In many circumstances, people mix man's wisdom with God's, and that is just like gardening. When it is a matter of weeds versus valuable plants, bet on the weeds. The weeds will always win in the untended garden, which is their goal, to reclaim and build up the soil, not to be pretty.

Man's wisdom is the same. We naturally have our own way of thinking, and it is influenced by people around us. A lot of common wisdom is slowly merged with God's Word and then we give credit to man's wisdom for good outcomes. The cross is always attached to the Gospel, so that discourages people. We are like those who see the thorns on the rose instead of the rose on the thorn bush.

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing

This is one of those abrupt verses that make us take notice. We can see that in its context. They were with the Lord for three years and asked Him about many things, all the time. When they were troubled, they asked each other, of course, because that is the way we are.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

So here we have the other part of the abrupt change. From now on they will be asking God the Father directly, but in the Name of Christ. And He promises that He will give whatever they ask.

This is a absolute in the Scriptures - when God urges us to pray, He also moves us to pray through His Promises. The olde English is especially good in this regard - whatsoever ye shall ask. There are no maybes, no qualifications. Because God does not operate in our time system, that means it will happen.

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

The wise guys of rationalism like to pit John against the first three Gospels, but this is exactly. But Jesus taught the same in Matthew.

Matthew 7:7-8King James Version (KJV)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
We can see that Jesus always taught this because He wanted His disciples to enjoy the blessings of the Faith.
That is why the Law salesmen are always so miserable. They believe that the sins from the works of the flesh can be forgiven through their good works, which always seem especially self-serving. They find no joy in that, so they become more bitter and angry as time progresses. They may actually make themselves bleed in their profession of holiness, but they receive no forgiveness and no satisfaction from those acts - except the praise of men. For example, there are works-saints who crawl on their knees , those who whip themselves, and others who do similar foolish things.
The most powerful but sick groups are those who urge such measures in the Name of Christ when they are really tools of their Father Below. Opus Dei is one such secretive cult, and there are many others.
That is a great form of motivation from Christ, that this one act of faith will always bring about divine results. The proof we get is the failure of our own efforts and the answers that come "out of the blue" as many say. It is only in looking back that we find this to be true, so that builds faith, too, seeing how sure and reliable God's Promises are.
Someone said to me, "I don't know how this will end, what lies in the future." I said, "Nothing that happened to me was in the realm of my imagination." In fact, most happened from outwardly negative circumstances. If I had enjoyed my own dreams, I would have been a book editor, and that would have ended my craving to write about the Faith. Editors never write - they just edit. 

25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

We live in that era promised by Jesus. He teaches us openly about Father, and all the mysterious passages are clear if we spend some time with them. As everyone must remember from the passage about "a little while," that expression is going to define everything God does. It is always a little while. Lat night our Army Ranger friend said, "It takes forever to reach the age of 21. And then it seems like a week later, and we are 35 years old." My other neighbor said the same thing, still shaking his head that we have been next door for years.
During the waiting for God, it is not a little while. But looking back that is true, which is why we should enjoy every moment He gives and and look for the Promises to be fulfilled in a little while. 
If we know the Gospel, then we also comprehend how gracious God is, because we share one common characteristic, being sinful. If justice were measured out toward us, instead of mercy, we would have terrible, miserable lives. But forgiveness is healing and bears fruit at the same time.
Some get this mixed up because they urge others to pray Jesus into their hearts. If they believe in Jesus enough to pray to Him, they already have faith. The Gospel Word creates faith in our hearts, and prayer is the fruit of faith. 
When people teach wrongly about faith, they place the burden on man - pray hard enough, pray long enough, pray with certain characteristics - such as tongues. Those outward qualifiers of man take away from the foundation, which is faith in Christ.
Following Luther, the five standards of prayer are:
  1. The Promise.
  2. Faith in Him.
  3. Asking for specific spiritual needs.
  4. Asking.
  5. Asking in the Name of Christ.

26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

This is a very important passage, because it emphasizes a truth, and this truth should move us always to trust in Him for answers. When everything seems dark and hopeless. unbelievers see God as angry, punishing them for their mistakes and sins. But God loves us for loving His Son, and we do not hesitate to approach someone who loves us.
Our grandson was being a typical boy his age at lunch yesterday. His mother and two sisters were urging him to have better manners. I said, "He knows he is protected by an invisible shield. He is sitting between two grandparents."
Therefore, all Christian believers are loved by God the Father, who not only answers in the Name of Christ, but also because He loves those who love His Son. Why hesitate?
Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen has a great line that is suitable for his lesson. She prays to God, "Do not judge us according to our sins, but according to our love." With some adjustment, that is what is being portrayed here. God does not condemn us for our sins, since we believe in His Son, but sees our love and loves us in return.

28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 
We take this knowledge for granted, perhaps, but it was new to the disciples and beyond their imagination. Yes, they knew the power of Christ, seeing it so many times. But to see Him as the eternal Son of God, the Creating Word, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that took some time.

29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

This shows us how much the disciples appreciated the divine mission of Christ before the crucifixion. So they were daunted, confused, and frightened almost to death. But they stayed together and were united as apostles.

Praying for Ourselves and for Others
Sometimes I think back to earlier decades when loyalty to employees was a given, so nationally it was thought that big companies owed something to employees, congregations owed loyalty to ministers. That has been blown to pieces and few think that way. Instead, highly skilled people think, for good reason, that they can be replaced by non-citizens, legal or illegal.
So many get set aside today and suffer for it. When employment situations cause agony, there is no fault in praying for a solution for ourselves or for others. I recall several circumstances when all seemed bleak at the moment, yet great abundance followed, beyond all hope, as the Hobbits say in The Lord of the Rings
And many have very difficult circumstances. We should always remember those in our prayers. I have seen so many good things happen to others that I never hesitate to pray for them. In this age of written communications on the Net, it is easy to compose a prayer and send it to the person. 
I had the ugliest front yard in the region, a few weeks ago. I had brown mulch, brown to black tree stumps, a few weeds, and the straggly profiles of roses that were not even leafing out. My neighbors had lush green grass fertilized by plenty of rain, with patches of typical lawn flowers (weeds) like Speedwell.
Now the sunlight has send the roses into bloom, not all at once. But the survivors have green up and started to bud. The Veterans Honor, Queen Elizabeth, KnockOuts, and Easy Does It roses are making our frontyard the most colorful. I would love to see everything in the yard in bloom at once, but God has his own timetable. The Elderberries and Blackberries are fruiting now, but the Beautyberries will fruit in the fall, to feed the birds late in the season. God's wisdom spreads out the fruiting of all the plants, so we can enjoy and harvest from each one.
So in life we can see how God gives us blessings for each stage in life, even during the most painful times. I am often reminded of Luther saying, "God is so powerful that He can turn the greatest evil into the greatest good, as He did with Christ dying on the cross for our sins."

Luther's Sermon on Prayer - Rogate Sunday

Historic St. John Lutheran Church, Milwaukee.


Text: John 16:23-30. And in that day ye shall ask me no question. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name. Hitherto have ye asked for nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.

These things have I spoken unto you in dark sayings: the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, but shall tell you plainly of the Father. In that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father. His disciples say, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark saying. Now know we that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee; by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.


* An opinion on the Passion Week of the papists 1.


A. Of These Five Requisites In Particular.

1. The first requisite. a. Its nature 2-3. b. How is condemned the unbelief of those who are hindered to pray by their unworthiness 4.

2. The second requisite. a. Its nature

5. b. Its benefit and application 6-7.

3. The third requisite 8.

4. The fourth requisite 9.

5. The fifth requisite 10.

B. Of These Five Requisites In General 11.






* What it means to believe in Christ 18.



1. In this Gospel we have a promise and Christ does not only promise, but he even swears that our prayers shall be heard; but through himself as mediator and high priest.

2. We should pray that we may have peace through faith, which St. Paul says, is a true and perfect peace.

3. When Christ says: “These things have I spoken unto you in parables (dark sayings), it is as much as to say, hitherto you have been unable to understand my Word, it all appears to you dark and hidden; but the time will come, when I send the Holy Spirit, that I shall speak plainly by my Spirit, that is, publicly in your hearts, of the things that belong to my father.

So the sum and substance is, that without the Spirit one does not understand the Word.

4. But when the disciples said: “Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark saying,” that is presumption and no reason, they do not know what he desires to teach in this discourse.

1. We are accustomed to read today’s Gospel on this Sunday because it treats of prayer and this week is called Rogation (Supplication) week, in which we give ourselves to prayer and to processions with crosses. Those who first instituted it, no doubt, meant it well, but it has proven to work harm. For, in the processions heretofore, many unchristian things have been practiced, and there has been no praying at all or very little; so that the processions were rightly abolished and discontinued. Often have I admonished that we should persevere in prayer, for there is great need of it. Since the outward prating and muttering of prayer is done away with, we no longer pray in any way. This is a good indication that we heretofore, notwithstanding our many prayers, never prayed.

2. The Lord points out here five things necessary to constitute true prayer.

The first is God’s promise, which is the chief thing and is the foundation and power of all prayers. For he promises here that it shall be given us if we ask; and besides he swears: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name.” He promises that we might be sure of being heard in prayer; yea, he censures the disciples for the reason that they are lazy and have not therefore been praying. As if he would say: God is ready to give more quickly, and to give more than you ask; yea, he offers his treasures if we only take them. It is truly a great shame and a severe chastisement for us Christians that God should still upbraid us for our slothfulness in prayer, and that we fail to let such a rich and excellent promise incite us to pray. We let this precious treasure lie there, and seek it not, nor exercise ourselves to receive the power in such a promise.

3. So God himself now founds our prayer upon his promise and thereby encourages us to pray. If it were not for this promise, who would have the courage to pray? We have hitherto resorted to many ways of preparing ourselves to pray — ways with which the books are filled; but if you wish to be well prepared, take the promise and lay hold of God with it. Then your courage and desire to pray will soon grow, which courage you will never otherwise get. For “those who pray without God’s promise, imagine in themselves how angry God is, whom they wish to propitiate by means of their prayers. Without faith in the promise, there is then, neither courage nor desire to pray, but mere uncertain delusion and a melancholy spirit; there is, therefore, no hearing of prayers, and both prayer and labor are lost.

4. By these words Christ now chastises the unbelief of those who, by reason of their foolish worship, consider themselves unworthy to pray, and gauge the worthiness of their prayer according to themselves and their own ability, and not according to the promise of God. There is then, to be sure, nothing but unworthiness. However, you should, by all means, be conscious of your own unworthiness, taking confidence not from your own doings, but from the promise of God, and be so completely conscious, that if you were all alone, and no one else in the world prayed, you would nevertheless pray, because of this promise. For you can point me to no true saint who prayed, depending upon his own worthiness, and who did not rely only upon God’s promises, be he Peter, Paul, Mary, Elijah, or any one else. All of them have been unworthy. I would not give a nickel for all the prayers of a saint if he prayed because of his own worthiness.

5. The second requisite of true prayer, following that of God’s promise, is faith — that we believe the promise is true, and do not doubt that God will give what he promises. For the words of the promise require faith. But faith is a firm, undoubting confidence in God’s promise that it is true; as James says: “But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” James 1:5-7. Moreover, he who doubts and yet prays, tempts God; for he doubts in respect to God’s will and grace. Therefore, his prayer is nothing and he gropes after God like the blind for the wall. John also speaks of this assurance of faith in 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.” John describes with these words how a truly believing heart is disposed in prayer, namely, that it is concerned about nothing else than that its prayer be heard, knowing that it has even then obtained its petition. That is also true. Such faith and definite assurance, however, the Holy Spirit must impart; therefore, without the Holy Spirit, surely no prayer will be offered.

6. Try it, now, and pray thus. Then you will taste the sweetness of God’s promise. What courage and consolation of heart it awakens to pray for all things! It matters not how great and high the petitions may be. Elijah was a man of like passions with ourselves; yet when he prayed, it did not rain for three years and six months, and when he again prayed it rained. 1 Kings, 17:1; 18:45. Notice, here you see a single man prays and by his prayer he is lord of the clouds, of heaven and earth. So God lets us see what power and influence a true prayer has, namely, that nothing is impossible for it to do.

7. Let everyone now ask his heart how often he has prayed during his whole life. Singing Psalms and saying the Lord’s Prayer is not called praying. These are instituted for children and untutored people, as exercises, to make them athletes in the Scriptures. Your prayer, however, no one but yourself sees and feels in your heart, and you will truly know it, when it hits the mark.

8. The third requisite of true prayer is, that one must name definitely something that he brings to God or for which he prays; as for strong faith, for love, for peace, and for the comfort of his neighbor. One must actually set forth the petitions; just as the Lord’s Prayer presents seven petitions.

This is what Christ means by the words: “If ye shall ask anything of the Father.” “Anything,” that is, whatever you are in need of. Besides, he himself interprets this “anything” and says: “That your joy may be made full.” That is, pray for all things you need, until you have acquired even all and your joy is made full; and his prayer will first be fully answered on the day of judgment.

9. The fourth element in true prayer is; that we must desire, or wish that the petition be granted, which is nothing but asking; as Christ says, “Ask.”

Others have called this “Ascensum mentis in Deum,” when the soul ascends to God and desires something from him, and sighs from its depths, saying: Oh, that I had this or that! Such sighing St. Paul praises in Romans 2:26. It is an intercession of the Spirit that cannot be uttered.

That is, the mouth wants to, but cannot speak as rapidly and strongly as the heart desires; the yearning is greater that any words and thoughts. Hence it is, also, that man himself does not feel how deep his sighing or desire is.

When Zacchaeus sought to see the Lord, he himself did not feel how strongly his heart wished that Christ might speak with him and come into his house. However, when his desire was fulfilled, he was very happy, for he had succeeded according to all his wishes and prayers; he had received more than he had dared to ask by word of mouth, or desire. Luke 19:2ff. Moses, likewise, cried so that God spoke to him: “Wherefore criest thou unto me?” Exodus 14:15, and yet his mouth kept silence; but his heart, in its extremity, sighed deeply and that was called crying unto God.

In like manner St. Paul writes to the Ephesians: “God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20.

Now, temptation, anxiety and trouble induce this sighing; they teach us what true sighing is.

10. The fifth requisite of true prayer is, that we ask in the name of Christ.

This is nothing more than that we come before God in the faith of Christ and comfort ourselves with the sure confidence that he is our Mediator, through whom all things are given to us, without whom we merit nothing but wrath and disgrace. As Paul says to the Romans: “Through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2. It is praying aright in Christ’s name, when we thus trust in ‘him that we will be received and heard for his sake, and not for our own sake. Those, however, who pray in their own name, who presume that God will hear or regard them, because they say so many, such long, such devout, such godly prayers, will merit and obtain nothing but wrath and disgrace; for they wish to be people whom God should regard without a mediator. To them, Christ here is of no consideration, nor is he of any service.

11. We observe that all five requisites of prayer may be complied with in the heart, without any utterance of the mouth. The oral part of prayer is really not to be despised, but it is necessary to kindle and encourage prayer inwardly, in the heart. The additional conditions, however, of which I have written enough elsewhere, should and must be omitted that we specify to God the time, person, place, and measure. We must leave all that to his own free will, and cling only to asking; we must not doubt that the prayer is heard, and that what we petitioned is already ordered — that it will be given — as certainly as if we already had it. This is pleasing to God and he will do as he here promises: “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing. The Gospel lesson continues: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name.”

12. It may be that they knew, as yet nothing of such prayer, and of this name; besides they felt no need that urged them to pray in this name. They imagined that so long as Christ was with them they needed nothing and had enough of everything. But, now that he is to separate from them and leave them, trouble immediately comes and they will have reason enough to move them to pray. “These things have I spoken unto you in parables (dark sayings).”

13. When he says, “these things,” he means that which he had just before spoken: “A little while, and ye behold me not; and again a little while, and ye shall see me;” and, “Because I go to the Father;” also, the parable of the woman in travail. For these were nothing but parables, that is, darkobscure sayings, which they did not understand. John calls these dark, hidden sayings “parables,” although the German language does not designate them so, but calls them enigmas or veiled sayings. We are accustomed to say of one who has uttered an enigmatical saying: “That is a covered dish or a covered meal,” when the words have a meaning not on the surface. In parables, the meaning to be conveyed is expressed in a way that not everyone understands. Of this nature were all the sayings of Christ, which he spoke to his disciples on the night of his farewell and his going to the Father; they could understand nothing of them. They thought his going would not be dying and coming into another existence; they thought of it as a pleasure walk and that Christ should return in the body, as one journeys to another country and returns. Therefore, although he spoke plainly and clearly, yet going and parting were a “covered meal” to them.

Hence, he adds: “The hour cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings (parables), but shall tell you plainly of the Father.”

14. That is, what I now speak to you, while in the body, and my parables ye understand not, which I will thoroughly explain to you through the Holy Spirit. I will plainly speak of my Father, that you may then understand who the Father is and what my going to the Father means. You will clearly see how I ascend through suffering into the Father’s life and into his kingdom; that I sit at his right hand and represent you and am your mediator; that all this is done for your sake, that you may likewise come to the Father. “I shall tell you plainly of the Father” is not to be understood to mean that he will tell us much about God’s divine nature, as the sophists fancy; for that is unnecessary and the divine nature of God is incomprehensible. But Christ will tell us how he goes to the Father, how he takes upon himself the kingdom and government of the Father; as a king’s son returns to his father and assumes the government of the kingdom. Christ says further: “In that day ye shall ask in my name.”

15. For then, in your many tribulations, you will have not only reason to pray, but will also know and perceive what my name is and how you should esteem me. Then will you be taught by praying itself what you now do not at all understand, and that hitherto you have never prayed.

Therefore, he adds: “And I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.”

16. How, then? Will Christ not be our mediator? Shall we not pray in his name? How lovingly and sweetly the Lord can speak, and woo us to himself, and, through himself, to the Father! Here he, himself, explains how it will be when we pray in his name: “Ye,” he says, “have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” That is, ye love me and know me; have me and my name and are in me as I in you. For Christ dwells in us, not because we can think, speak, sing or write so much about him; but because we love him and believe in him. We know that he is come from the Father and returns to the Father; that is, how he emptied himself, in his passion, of all his divine glory and returned again to the Father in his kingdom, for our sake. This faith brings us to the Father, and thus all then is done in his name.

17. So we are sure that Christ needs not to pray for us, for he has already prayed for us. We, ourselves, may now approach through Christ, and pray.

We no longer need a Christ who prays for us. This one Christ is enough, he who has prayed for us and accomplished this work. Therefore, he says: “The Father himself loveth you.” It is not your merit, but his love. He loves you, but for my sake, because you believe on me and love me, that is, he has regard for my name in you. Hence, thereby have I fulfilled my office, and you are now brought, through me, to where you may yourselves, in my place, appear in his presence and pray. It is not necessary that I still pray for you. These are marvelous words, that we, through Christ, become like Christ and are his brethren, and may glory in being children of his Father, who loves us for Christ’s sake. He says in John 1:16, ‘Grace for Grace,” that is, God is gracious unto us, because he is gracious to Christ, who is in us and we in him.

18. And here we also see that to “believe in Christ” does not mean to believe that Christ is a person who is both God and man; that does not help any one. But that this same person is the Christ; that is, that he went forth from the Father and came into the world, and again leaves the world and goes to the Father. The words mean no less than that this is Christ, that he became man and died for us, rose again and ascended to heaven. Because of this office of his, he is called Jesus Christ, and to believe this concerning him, that: it is true, means to be and to abide in his name. There follows further in this Gospel: “His disciples say, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark sayings.”

19. Here you see that to speak “plainly” (“frei heraus”), or to speak in clear terms, means to speak without parables, or without dark and covered words. And the good disciples think they understand very well what he tells them, that Christ Comes from the Father and goes to the Father; but they do this as good, pious children of Christ. They are easily able to understand it, and in love they tell him so. In ordinary conversation, people sometimes say to one another Yes or No, or give assent, saying, It is so, and in a sense one understands, even though he is still far from the meaning of another’s words. In such case the conversation is without hypocrisy and in true simplicity. The Evangelist hereby shows what a beautiful, plain, friendly and loving life Christ led with his disciples, since they were so very able to understand him. Then the disciples say further: “Now know we that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee.”

20. That is, you anticipate and explain yourself and speak no more in parables, concerning which we must question you; for you know in advance where we are lacking in understanding. All this reverts to the fact that they wished to ask what the “little while” meant, and he noticed it and explains by saying that he must go to the Father; which they still did not understand, and yet it was clearer than his words: “A little while and ye will not see me.” Now, because he saw their thoughts — that they wished \o question him — they confessed that he comes from God and knows all things, so that we need not to ask him, for he himself sees very well where the trouble is.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Six Inches of Rain - Or More - After I Watered the Front and Back

On Thursday, the clay soil was white from lack of rain, so I watered. On Friday we had at least three inches of rain, plus another three inches on Friday night. More sprinkling followed today and the water was standing in he backyard as the sun was setting.

More rain could come on Tuesday, which is great for roses, mint, berries, Butterfly Bushes, Crepe Myrtle, and Buckwheat.

We may even have enough berries this year to eat. The Triple Crown Blackberries are loaded with flowers, even in the deep shade behind the house.

Tonight I cut roses for the altar. Two Veterans Honor were in full bloom, so I took them to a neighbor.

For the altar I cut Queen Elizabeth roses and Easy Does It. Earlier I was frustrated with the short stems of Easy Does It, because it is a floribunda, more known for color than for long stems. Now the same plants are boasting long-stemmed roses with various degrees of bloom, from opening buds to prune-worthy.

The cover crop is Buckwheat, which I will sow more generously wherever we have mulch. Although Almost Eden told me Buckwheat can suppress weeds, now I understand how to use the plant to attract beneficial insects near the roses while improving the soil and supplanting weeds.

The worst and fastest spreading weed is Bermuda grass, which has the habit of extending itself and planting new plants from tip rooting. Therefore, sun and rain are a bonus for its growth. Now I can see how the shallow roots of Buckwheat simply deny a place for similar plants to grow.

Buckwheat has many virtues
and no vices for the Creation gardener.

The divine engineering of soil improvement is beyond comprehension, with so many complications. Here are some notable examples of God's Creation at work in ongoing soil renewal:

  • Fungus needs organic carbon for its growth, so the value of leaf and wood mulch is infinite. I carry large pieces of bark and wood chunks fallen from trees, simply because daily supplements add up.
  • Every single plant creates a little universe of energy and dependencies: fungus, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, springtails, sowbugs, pillbugs, centipedes and millipedes, earthworms and moles. 
  • Insects and spiders join the birds in an everlasting battle of the prey becoming prey, from the dead earthworm dragged away by the ants to the bird consumed by bacteria, mites, and creatures of decomposition.
  • Plant roots plunge into the soil and expand their network through fungi, adding carbon to grow the fungus that grows the plants in the soil. 
  • Plants shed organic matter to feed the soil. Like the earthworm, the slug will shred the plant material, speeding its reduction to basic organic chemicals for the plants. Unlike the earthworm, the slug will merrily chew, disfigure, and destroy the young plants, which only escape by becoming stronger.
  • Good soil accumulates more carbon, more organic matter, and supports more roots that improve the soil and feed the vast soil population, from the microbes to the moles.
Buckwheat for Hover Flies

The adult Hover Flies need plants like Buckwheat
in the adult stage to lay eggs around the pests,
where in a role reversal, the eggs have pest insects for breakfast.

How ironic that most of us grew up and reached Social Security age without knowing or appreciating the tiny Hover Flies, aka Flower Flies, aka Syrphids.

Likewise, the tiny Ichneumon Wasp carries out its duties without our knowledge or appreciation.

Buckwheat, Mints, and the tiny weeds of the lawn provide extra pollen and nectar for adult beneficial insects. Most of us were taught Ladybugs are great and devour bugs while young and in maturity. But there are vast numbers of other beneficial insects that do this work.

Designed for a Purpose
Every single plant and animal has a purpose, which is shown in its design. Scientists often describe this in their studies, by showing the mutual dependencies, now explained by this strange escape clause: co-evolution. Together, in harmony, these unthinking living things developed ways to help each other so that one strengthens and protects the other. I consider that mighty intelligent of the fungus to help almost all the plants on earth. There are exceptions, like Goosefoot, but there are always exceptions.

Likewise, God has given each one of us a purpose and a design to achieve that purpose. Often we long to have the talents, looks, money, or circumstances of another person. We would like to wish away the difficulties, too. But the entire mix of good and bad helps us see our purpose and pursue our strengths.

Few would want my employment history, but that has allowed me to help hundreds of students and adults establish new or improved careers. I will be teaching a class tonight of adults who would rather work in a pleasant environment. Some are worn out by stress. I have done this for years. Suddenly, one university said, "Hey instructors, why not include career planning in your courses. Share some experiences and insights to help your students find fulfilling work." 

If we can see the purpose of the tiny and overlooked Flower Flies, then we can certainly understand that God has a purpose for us.