Tag Archives: Martin Luther

I don’t usually reblog posts from other blogs, but this one really touched me today. Bryan Lowe has written a great many encouraging and helpful posts, this is but one. I always appreciate his perspective as one who struggles himself with bipolar disorder and some anxiety issues as well. He shares today from what he knows of another great writer who shared from what he knew of the spiritual and emotional battle many face.

Broken Believers

martin_luther2 (1)Martin’s Depression

The hymn A Mighty FortressIs Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.

Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.

In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Reformation Sunday Hymn

Today is Reformation Sunday, and so of course we sang Martin Luther’s famous hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. I found this great video of it on YouTube and so decided I would share.

Martin Luther was passionate about God’s people trusting in faith alone in the grace of God alone as revealed by His Word alone. I am thankful for his service.


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Man of Conscience – A Poem

Last night we watched part two of a two-part show on PBS about Martin Luther. It was very well done and informative. It inspired me to write a poem about Martin Luther for Thankful Thursday because I am thankful for the reformation of the church for which Luther was responsible.

I am thankful for the truth he taught that salvation is a gift of God. Salvation is not something I must earn by my own deeds, or worse, by the purchase of indulgences from the church. I am also thankful for Luther’s translation of the Bible into the language of the people, the forerunner of our modern day Bibles that are translated into almost every language in the world so that all may learn of God’s love and mercy.

1/17/12 Update: Decided to link to this poem for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night as an example of a poem that, as Natasha says, “bears witness to our history.” I also made a small tweak to line 3, which never seemed quite right before.

Man of Conscience

Man of conscience who
Argued his point in the 95 Theses
Risking excommunication and death
Though fear was abolished by courage
Instilled by God, His Holy Spirit power
No man could make him recant

Lifelong pursuit of his God
Unable to find peace for his soul
Til the Word of God opened his heart
Heretic they called him for the hope he shared
Eternal life as a gift from the Lord, not earned
Reform turned revolution leads to truth

“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. May God help me. Amen.” Martin Luther, Diet of Worms.


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Advent Prayer

It’s going to be a busy day today hanging out with hubby and getting our Christmas shopping done. Since I don’t have time to write something original, I decided to post Martin Luther’s Advent prayer from my Lutheran Book of Prayer:

O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Son of the living God and Son of David, come. Come now to Your Church that You have purchased with Your blood. Come with Your gracious presence, that we may rejoice in You. Come and rule over us, that we may serve and follow You. Come with Your love, humility, and perfect obedience, and let Your lowliness become our glory. Come into the midst of Your people and bless us, for we are Your heritage. Forgive us our sin, and do not angrily cast away Your servants, for You are meek and gracious. Clothe us with the garment of Your righteousness, for You are the only righteous one and our helper. Satisfy us with the abundance of Your mercy, for You did become poor for our sakes, that by Your poverty we might be made rich. Hear us, Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your holy name. Amen.

May our Lord come into your life this Advent season and at Christmas time, blessing You with His grace and mercy.

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Psalm 28 – A Mighty Fortress

Going in order of Psalms I’ve not posted before, we come to Psalm 27. I have posted a few verses of this Psalm as parts of other posts, but never the whole Psalm for Psalm Sunday. I think it is an appropriate Psalm for today, Reformation Sunday, because in the last stanza is speaks of God as our fortress of salvation. This is appropriate because one of the most famous hymns written by Martin Luther, which we always sing in church on Reformation Sunday, is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” It is an awesome hymn, and as a bonus I’ve posted a video of it sung by Chris Rice below the Psalm.

Psalm 28

    Of David.

 1 To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
   do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
   I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.
2 Hear my cry for mercy
   as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
   toward your Most Holy Place.

 3 Do not drag me away with the wicked,
   with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
   but harbor malice in their hearts.
4 Repay them for their deeds
   and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
   and bring back upon them what they deserve.
5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD
   and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
   and never build them up again.

 6 Praise be to the LORD,
   for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
   my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
   and I will give thanks to him in song.

 8 The LORD is the strength of his people,
   a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance;
   be their shepherd and carry them forever.


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Works of Service Don’t Earn Salvation

It is clear in scripture that God has work for His people to do, but what is the purpose of those works and what do they accomplish? In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains the purpose of works:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV).

The works that God has given us to do are not for the purpose of earning our salvation. Paul is talking here to those who are already God’s people by faith in Christ before the works are appointed. But the work He has appointed for us – that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are called to prepare us for – are for the purpose of building each other up, for strengthening the faith and knowledge of His people so that they might know the fullness of the blessing of salvation and eternal life. The works of service that God has set before us are for the purpose of helping His people to trust in Him each day and to bring us together in unity.

There is nothing in the whole of scripture that suggests that our works of service will gain for us salvation or peace.

I am thinking today about Martin Luther because tomorrow is Reformation Sunday. Martin Luther was a monk who is considered the father of the Reformation. Of his years as a monk he remarked, “If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would indeed have been among them.” Yet throughout this time he felt no peace with God and believed that he was far from Christ. He lived in constant fear of God and hell, wondering if he had done enough, if he had been good enough, to earn salvation. He tried, in vain, to find an assurance of salvation in his works of service.

His superior at the monastery ordered that he pursue an academic career and so Luther began his academic career, as a student and then professor, at the University of Wittenberg. It was during this time that he studied the book of Romans and came to understand the doctrine of justification by faith. It was only then that he found peace with God as he understood the assurance of salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He came to the point where he could honestly say, “Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?” And it is wonderful news, indeed, that we need not earn our own salvation.

That is what the Reformation was all about. The Church had become corrupt. The common people were denied the ability to read the scriptures for themselves and were taught that they would pay for their sins in purgatory when they died. But they could avoid such penalty by paying indulgences to the Church, in essence buying their own salvation. Luther opposed this practice and fought for the Gospel when he hung his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church, calling for a public debate of his arguments made in that document.

Because of his actions, and his refusal to recant what he believed the scriptures clearly taught, Luther was eventually excommunicated from the Catholic Church. But he had found peace with God, knowing that he was justified by his faith alone and so his excommunication did not matter to him. He certainly did work as a pastor and teacher so that the body of Christ might be built up and God’s people might attain the full measure of the fullness of Christ, but he never again worked to earn his salvation. He knew that it was a gift of God.


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Three Random Quotes

I have come to a point where the post-a-day challenge I took last Jan. 1 is becoming truly difficult for me to maintain. I think this is in part because I have come to expect too much of myself in terms of what I write and post. My desire is to write some pearl of wisdom that will really touch those who read it, but I have not the strength or time to do so. This week in particular is filled with too much physical pain to be able to focus on much else, and I don’t really want to write about that today.

So for My Tuesday Three I decided to take the easy way out and share three random quotes that I have received in my Quotemeal email from Heartlight.org. They are not connected in any way other than that they came to me in an email. Perhaps one will be just what someone reading my blog needed to read today.

“Pride is the utter poverty of soul disguised as riches, imaginary light where in fact there is darkness.”
      — John Climacus

“Unless the gospel is preached with contemporary relevance it has not been preached.”
      — Martin Luther

“God is in the business of restoration, and he’s been doing it for a long, long time. We’re merely his partners, his apprentices. We’re working with a pro! Today open your heart and let God’s touch bring restoration to those areas of your life that need repair. Then go and touch others with his restoring love.”
      — Amy Nappa


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Thanksgiving Prayer

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. I took the day off yesterday and spent the afternoon making pecan pie and macaroon cookies, and brining my turkey for today. Then today I spent 4 1/2 hours making Thanksgiving dinner for just the three of us. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed peas and carrots, and jellied cranberry sauce. (Actually, my husband was the only one who ate the cranberry sauce, but it only required opening a can.)

It took us about 15 minutes to eat dinner! It was really delicious. Now there is a pile of dishes in the kitchen. Which reminds me of the plaque I having hanging in my kitchen that says, “Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell. While others may go hungry we are eating very well.”

But Thanksgiving is a day to remember all that we are thankful for, not just the dirty dishes with a tale. My Lutheran Book of Prayer includes a wonderful Thanksgiving Day prayer that I wanted to share today:

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Lord God, Heavenly Father, You have created me and endowed me with all that I am or have as a pure gift of Your “fatherly, divine goodness and mercy,without any merit or worthiness in me.” You sustain me from day to day with the gifts of daily bread in the food that I eat, the family that surrounds me, the friends I enjoy, the country where I live, and countless other benefits that I constantly receive from Your open hand. On this day of Thanksgiving, cause me to gratefully remember the good gifts that You shower upon me. Deepen in me the knowledge of Your goodness, and awaken my heart to praise You for all Your gifts, especially the forgiveness of sins that You have purchased and won for me and the whole world in the atoning death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Keep me mindful of Your mercies every day, and grant that I may thank, praise, serve, and obey You not only with my lips but also with a life dedicated to the service of my neighbor. To You, O Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, praise and thanksgiving, now and forever. Amen.

Oh, and I’m also thankful that there is still pecan pie for dessert! Praying for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day for all!


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A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

One of my fellow bloggers post a hymn every Sunday, and I love checking out which hymn he has chosen. Often it is a hymn I have never heard, but the lyrics are always wonderful. Because it is Reformation Sunday, I thought I would post a hymn of my own, one that is always sung in the Lutheran church on this day. It was written by Martin Luther, originally in German, and has been translated into English.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He.
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers
Not thanks to them, abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also.
The body they may kill,
God's truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever...


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Remembering the Reformation

Tomorrow is Reformation Day, the day we remember and celebrate the work of Martin Luther and others to expose non-Biblical theology and practices of the church in the 1500s. It is an important day to be grateful for the fact that we have God’s Word available to us and for the gospel of grace that His Word shows us.

My Lutheran Book of Prayer includes Luther’s prayer for the Reformation Festival, as he called it, and I wanted to share that prayer because it remains a good prayer for the church today, 400+ years after the Reformation.

Lord God, who after long ages of darkness delivered the Church from the bondage of error, we thank You for those faithful witnesses through whom You restored the Gospel of Christ to men, and we praise You that this blessed light has been preserved for us to this present age. We thank You for making known among us the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, our only Mediator. Defend Your Church against all her foes. Seek and save the lost and all who have gone astray. Preserve among us the pure Word and the holy Sacraments, turn our hearts from false and pernicious doctrine. Direct and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may abide in the confession of Your Word all the days of our lives and in the end, by Your grace, obtain everlasting life. This I pray in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We cannot become complacent about the teachings of our churches. We must continue to pray that Jesus defend His church against those who would set aside His Word and lead God’s children astray. We must rely on the direction and strength of His Holy Spirit to help us stand firm on the truth of scripture. We must cling to grace and lift high the cross of Christ as the only means of salvation.

The Reformation was an important stage in the history of the Church, but that doesn’t mean we can sit back on our laurels and not remain vigilant. False and pernicious doctrines still creep in from time to time. We need to guard our hearts against them.

We need to guard against the doctrine of the progressive Christian  movement that says that other religions are just other paths to God and that Jesus is not the only way. We need to guard against the doctrine of legalism that says we need to follow all the rules in order to be saved, essentially requiring that we save ourselves. We need to guard against doctrine and theology that says the Bible is not the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

There are many warnings in the New Testament about false teachers within the Church. Heresies were not new when Martin Luther and the other reformers fought against them in the 1500s, and they will always be something we must guard against until the Day of Christ Jesus. The Apostle Peter warned:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3.

When asked to recant his faith in Christ and the Gospel, Luther said, “Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” Let us stand firm as Luther did and not follow the shameful ways of false teachers. This I pray in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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