"Over against all that reason suggests or would measure and fathom, yes, all that our senses feel and perceive, we must learn to cling to the Word and simply judge according to it."

- Martin Luther

Luther's Rose

I wish most importantly to state a case for Christ and His Cross for the unbeliever, but I also wish to make the case for both the unbeliever and the "blessedly inconsistent" towards the true apostolic and catholic teachings of the blessed and orthodox Lutheran Church.


If you read an article and wish to comment, then please do.

Do not worry about the date it was written.

I promise that I or the articles author will answer.

When the advertising campaign for your Church is considered to racy for secular elementary schools, then maybe it's time to change focus. After all, isn't one of the goals of the Church to have the world transformed by the power of the Gospel, and not the culture conforming the Church to it.

Listen, I know sex sells, and for me to push those old-fashioned ideas of preaching the law and Gospel from the pulpit in place of "the most righteous sexual positions", or some such nonsense, is just not going to get through to the un-churched crowd and their "felt needs" the way sex can. However, shouldn't we trust God with the means of His Word and Sacrament to meet the ultimate need, the need for eternal life?

Special Offering--Sex--Puts Church At Risk
by: Rick Neale -Florida Today- 4-25-09

MELBOURNE -- Sermons about sex -- and advertisements depicting sockless feet snuggling between bedsheets -- have landed a church in hot water with Brevard Public Schools officials.

The school district's risk-management department has threatened to boot New Hope Church out of Sherwood Elementary, its new home for Sunday services.

Why? A worship series titled "Great Sex for You."

Last week, church leaders mailed 25,000 colorful fliers to Melbourne households, asking residents "Is Your Sex Life A Bore?" and inviting them to go to the school to "learn how to have the Great Sex that God created you to enjoy!"

The three-week program kicked off Sunday morning inside the school auditorium. Seated on stage in black jeans and an untucked collared shirt, Bible in hand, Pastor Bruce Cadle said the Christian church has been "shamefully silent" on the typically taboo topic.

"Sex between married believers is a holy activity. It's not a dirty activity. It's not a shameful activity," Cadle preached. "It's a holy activity. And the Bible is so clear about this. But it's still hard for us to get it."

But Mark Langdorf, the school district's director of risk management, said the "Great Sex for You" mailers generated complaints. He described the controversy as "obnoxious and inimical to the best interests of the school board."

"We believe the type of advertising used is not appropriate for students to read in any elementary school," Langdorf said. "If it is inappropriate for the students, then it should not be used to advertise any event held at an elementary school in Brevard County."

Cadle said Langdorf threatened to terminate the church's lease agreement. The church rents the auditorium and one classroom for $606 each Sunday, records show.

However, Langdorf said the contract remains under review.

"At present, no decision has been made as to the church's future use of Sherwood Elementary School," Langdorf said. "The question as to the revocation of use is presently under consideration."

Meanwhile, the second installment of the sexually themed sermon series is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Sunday.

New Hope Church is located on Post Road, right across the street from Sherwood Elementary. Formerly operated as Sherwood Park Baptist Church, this aging yellow structure's sanctuary can accommodate only 160 people, Cadle said.

Facing a capacity crunch, the ministry conducted its first Sunday service at Sherwood Elementary on March 29. Two weeks later, an Easter service drew 426 worshippers.

Last week, church leaders mailed the "Great Sex for You" fliers to residents within a 3-mile radius. These fliers also were distributed in FLORIDA TODAY as advertising inserts.

Sherwood Elementary personnel received six complaints, Langdorf said -- including a church member who apologized. The district office received one complaint.

Cadle said his church received one phone complaint, one in-person complaint and three online complaints.

But 23 newcomers attended Sunday's service, he wrote on his blog.

"Having grown up with a Christian mother and a Christian father and going to church every Sunday of my life as a kid, I grew up with the wrong perspective. I thought sex was dirty. I thought it was something you hid. I thought it was something you didn't talk about," Cadle preached Sunday.

"If we could be really honest, I think each and every one of us would say, 'I want a rich and satisfying life. I want a great sex life.' But it doesn't come from following Cosmo magazine. It comes from following the word of God. God is not against sex. It doesn't have to be boring. It doesn't have to be a chore. It doesn't have to be a drag -- if we do it God's way," he said.

New Hope Church also is offering "Exposed! The Naked Truth About Sex," a teaching series for middle and high school students. These Sunday evening sermons take place on church property, not the elementary school.

"We want our teenagers to be able to avoid making a lot of the same mistakes so many of us have made," Cadle said during Sunday's service.

(Hat-tip to Gregory Jackson over at his blog for the heads-up on this blog post from Herescope. It hits the proverbial "nail" squarely on its head.)

The Scandal and Malnutrition of Sermons for Sale

By Pastor Jeffrey L. Whittaker

I remember sitting in a popular restaurant chain with some friends several years ago, when the waitress came to take our order. One of my friends, when asked what kind of dressing he wanted on his salad, abruptly stated to the startled server, “And I don’t want any ‘dead bread’ on my salad.” After letting the comment sink in, the sweet but stunned girl replied, “Oh, you mean croutons!” To which my friend simply nodded in confirmation.

That analogy has stuck with me all these years, and I remember it every time I order a salad that comes with “dead bread.” I actually don’t mind croutons that much, and have even purchased a bag when passing through the salad aisle at the supermarket. There are so many flavors now: herb, parmesan, bacon-ranch, etc; all so conveniently located that I just reach out and take them as I pass by while filling my cart. However, when applying my friend’s unflattering adjective to preaching, my heart is stirred over a phenomenon which has gripped America’s pulpits in recent years.

I recall opening my mail one morning some years ago and reading my first advertisement for “dead bread”:

“Pastors, are you too busy to spend hours of preparation on your sermons? Tired of feeling the stress of having to come up with original ideas week after week? If so, for just $199.95 you can have 52 weeks of quality sermons crafted by homiletical masters, complete with illustrations! Your congregation is guaranteed to be thrilled with the results or your money back!”

Could this be true? Are there people who actually do this?

My next encounter with the crouton crowd was at a breakfast meeting with a group of ministers when three men from the same “high church” tradition began comparing how their Easter season was going. I was stunned when each one began sharing from the exact same text, outline, illustrations, everything! They chided me for my naiveté and how I could expect to come up with fresh bread week after week after week. The last straw was when I found “sermon seed” in the back of my own former fellowship’s ministerial journal, giving even Pentecostal pastors a shortcut to perfectly prepared and portioned seasoned sermons.

Little did I realize that there was an entirely new “evangelical liturgy” which had been created in the name of pragmatic programming and church growth. There are many websites available to pastors across America (which I refuse to list here) where they can tap into high carbohydrate ministries by simply “clicking and shipping” a veritable supermarket of pre-prepared and pre-packaged food.

This truth was originally proclaimed (in type) in the account of God’s warning to Israel that He wanted them to gather fresh manna each morning, and that they were not to hoard up one crumb until the next day. They were supposed to learn that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8). They failed to listen then, and the result was spoilage and worms instead of a miraculous manifestation of God’s power (Exodus 16). The Apostle Peter exhorted those of us who preach:

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;” (1 Peter 4:11a)

We are to work, weep, and wrestle with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to bring forth a fresh revelation of God’s mind and heart to His people DAILY. Today, all the over-worked and under-prayed pastor/CEO needs to do is click, ship, and unwrap the moldy manna, and sprinkle it liberally into the gaping mouths and itching ears of their “flock” (of pigeons not sheep).

Am I being too harsh? Please allow me to illustrate using the very words of some of the most successful ministry marketers and program exporters in America.

Bill Hybels' Self Feeders

Bill Hybels, pastor of the world-famous Willow Creek church in suburban Chicago, after taking an internal survey of his membership, was forced to admit in a recent statement that,

“I got the wake-up call of my adult life… parts of the data just ruined my day. That (“Reveal Now”) survey just rocked my world. Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars in, thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually; when the data actually came back, it wasn’t helping people that much.”

Pastor Hybels has been regarded as one of the foremost church growth gurus, having elevated drawing a crowd to both a science and an art. Thousands of pastors and churches have subscribed to the Willow Creek Association sermons, skits, and music; all with the hope of exponential increase in attendance. In addition to his initial confession, pastor Hybels continued by stating,

  • [The unsaved “pre-christians”] were giving us 9s [out of 10 on their survey].”
  • “When we got to growing Christians, the scores began going down. And then we get to fully devoted followers of Christ, and the scores got scarily low…. That really bothers me.”
  • “A lot of people in this category said that they’re not being fed… they want more of the meat of the Word of God…. That’s hard for me to hear.”
  • “We’ve made a mistake…. We should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self-feeders.” [emphasis added]

Isn’t it sadly ironic that the unregenerate audiences give Pastor Hybels his highest marks because his services are so “friendly” to them; but those who identify themselves as true followers of Christ are leaving hungry? Hybels laments that the problem is that the people are not learning to take responsibility for feeding themselves!

Mark Beeson's Self Feeders

This sentiment was parroted in a similar rant by Pastor Mark Beeson of Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana, who experienced a similar rude awakening at the hands of his own congregation’s “reveal now” survey. Mind you, these numbers are attributed to “Christ followers” in the words of Beeson, and not to unconverted “men on the street.”

  • 47% do not believe in salvation by grace,
  • 57% do not believe in the authority of the Bible,
  • 56% do not believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life,
  • 41% do not believe that God is personally involved in their daily life, and
  • 71% don’t believe that a Christian should live a sacrificial life, instead of being driven by the pursuit of material things.

Listen to the evaluation of this nationally known purveyor of mass marketed spiritual croutons.

“Let me tell you something that the survey revealed, the people of Granger Community Church simply do not have a Biblical worldview…. We don’t know how to feed ourselves; we just don’t have any idea… The majority of Christ followers of this church said that the number one barrier to growth is that it is not a high priority to you… it’s just not really important. In case you have forgotten, you are the leaders."

See how he shifts the blame onto the 6,000 members? What is his solution to this travesty?

“We’re going to increase the length of our weekend services, just a little bit… We are not going to try and hold that [“real ministry”] experience to Thursday night; it will be on the weekend with 6,000 people. We’re not going to stop teaching, but we’re going to add to that the experience of the risen Christ… We’re going to program for it, and it’s going to take an extra two or three minutes.”

That long eh? They are also planning to…

“Add adequate transition time between services to enhance the guest experience… Give 45 minutes between services so that guests, they don’t have to fight, scream, and hate people when they’re parking their car.” [all emphases added]

Do you see the absolute blindness and directional destitution created by a steady diet of “dead bread”? Granger, by the way, has become infamous for very deliciously sprinkled sermon series based upon spandex, R-rated movies, immoral television shows, and many other elements of the fallen pop culture (www.gccwired.com). He also boasts new church plants using local movie theaters where the audience can sit in comfort and watch a prepackaged church service from beginning to end via video, with one of the main drawing cards being popcorn and cup holders!

If these pastors want their surveys to reflect a truly healthy church “body,” then they must feed it Manna and not Madonna. Unfortunately, they would then risk losing their customers who thrive on such apostate appetizers, thus reducing the impressive attendance figures which they routinely use to validate their “success”! Douglas M. White wrote in his inspiring book, The Excellence of Exposition (Loizeaux Brothers Pub. Neptune, New Jersey, 1977),

“A modern congregation is not disposed to show any depth of appreciation for exposition. Again, we are forced to acknowledge the correctness of the indictment. At the same time, this lack of knowledge is largely due to the fact that the pulpit has failed to instruct the people and thereby stimulate such an interest and desire for Biblical knowledge and understanding.” (p. 42) [emphasis added]

The Prophet Amos put it another way in the eighth chapter of his oracle when he wrote,

“11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”

Churches built upon this malnourished diet of “dead bread” instead of the living Word of God continue to resort to the very thing that led to their famine… more surveys and opinion polls. Dead bread for dead flesh; with no power to nourish or save, no matter how much is consumed. The Apostle Paul urged the young pastor, Timothy,

“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”
(1 Timothy 4:6)

He would later plead with the young pastor,

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Timothy 4:1-3)

The Apostle Peter also had a similar warning to the young preachers under his leadership.

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”
(1 Peter 5:2a)

Peter didn’t scold the sheep for unfavorable survey numbers, but instead demanded that the shepherds “take the oversight thereof,” leading the church to green pastures filled with the life-giving Word of God! Sheep will eat what is put before them, so the wise preacher must lead the flock to hot, fresh bread instead of mass-produced, dried up garnishes.

Dr. H. Jeffs stated in his famous work, The Art of Exposition (Pilgrim Press, Boston, 1910),

“The Bible is the preacher’s book and the preacher’s glory. Bible exposition is the preacher’s main business. If he cannot or will not expound the Bible, what right has he in any pulpit? He is a cumberer of the ground that might be occupied by a fruit-bearing and soul-nourishing tree. If he does not expound the Bible, what else is there for him to do? He may deliver addresses out of his own head on any subject that occurs to him, and may do it well, but why do it in the pulpit? Is it his own gospel, or has he a gospel that can just as well be preached without the Bible, as with it? He is presumably a preacher of a Christian church, but there would have been no Christian church today if there had been no Bible…. Humanity that has once known the Bible will turn away, after the novelty has worn off, from every flashy substitute for the Bible that our modern Athenians push as the latest thing in the spiritual market.” (Ibid, p.35)

To be charitable, I do believe that many such spiritual restaurateurs are offering their bite-sized gospel because they truly do want to “meet the consumers where they are.” But it must be realized that true conversion is a miracle that can be performed only by the Holy Spirit Himself, and the only thing given to the church through which this miracle can take place is His Inspired Word!

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
(Hebrews 4:12)

When the church proclaims God’s Word instead of its own ideas of cultural relevance, then true saving faith can come! (Romans 10:17) The God of Israel is, however, raising up a generation of passionate lovers of eternal Truth who will not be intimidated nor seduced by these prophets of pragmatism, and who will give fallen humanity what they need, instead of what they want!

Our Lord Jesus gives us such an example of His strong and uncompromising leadership in The Gospel of John, chapter 6. After feeding a crowd of 5,000 men, He then turns around the very next day (not after months or years of stringing them along in a spiritual “bait and switch” routine) and challenges their motives; changing the menu from fish and chips to His flesh and blood. The horrified clientele became offended and decided to find another establishment more to their particular tastes and liking.

Once again the words of Paul ring through the centuries, calling the preacher to this deeper quest:

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
(1 Timothy 4:13-16)

When men and women of God labor over the hot oven of prayerful preparation, they are the first to taste the fruits of their labor. I always say that the first sinner to the altar each week is me, due to being confronted with the Lord’s divine demands repeatedly throughout my preparations. Perhaps we would see less moral failure and spiritual shallowness in both the pulpit and the pew if the first priority became the deep searching out of Truth and doctrine, instead of making sure all the smoke and mirrors were ready for the next dinner show. We are called to give the “sincere milk” and “strong meat” of the Word, not to merely click on the notes of someone else’s “30 days of this” or “40 days of that” in the hope of packin’ ‘em in.

They need the cross… we give them croutons. There is much idolatry to answer for from the pulpit to the pew, as well as within the front offices of number-crunching denominational bureaucrats.

Is there any hope? Oh yes! God is on the throne and has the situation well in hand. In the Book of Ruth we read of a time of famine in Israel, much like the conditions spoken of by Amos. However, after a long ten year exile in Moab, Naomi “arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread (Ruth 1:6). After returning, Naomi (who had taken the name “bitter” while in exile) introduced her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to a redeemer who would bring her into the very bloodline of the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus!

When the spiritual exiles and pretenders who have been surviving on the crumbs and croutons of Moabite menus hear that there is freshly baked bread in the Father’s promised land, they will seek out its source and usher in a new season of fruitfulness! Let us all strive to stay true to His call, and to honor His eternal Word! Bon Appetit!

The Truth:

"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?" (Isaiah 55:2a)

Today we shall look at Luther's fifth thesis in the Heidelberg Disputation, which states:

The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.

Oops! It seems I did thesis six before doing thesis five, and subsequently labeled it thesis five as well. Please note the correct order (which makes more sense) when reading through these articles.

Anyway, onto thesis five! Both this thesis, and thesis six are once again inverse reflections of each other. Thesis five basically states that from our perspective, when we speak of any “good works” of man in any active sense being evil, we do not mean that they are abhorrent crimes such as murder, theft, adultery, etc. We, from our terrestrial perspective can easily see a difference in acts that seem altruistic and beneficial for many, versus acts that seem selfish and only beneficial to the criminal, so to speak.

However, when contrasted with thesis six, we find that when God works through us, the deed in appearance may seem to be good, for certainly nothing but good comes from God, and to our senses we can easily perceive and comprehend this, yet the acts is, nevertheless, not a sinless act for man, because man, even after his salvation and renewal in Christ can only sin in an active capacity, and consequently, regardless of the acts appearance, good or bad, is still nothing but sin as far as mans involvement is concerned. For further clarification on thesis six please read this article.

Committing crimes is simply man violating the laws of his land or what is simply accepted as common decency. Now, that is not to say that they do not come from God, for the laws of man derive themselves from the Law of God as written in his heart. This use of the Law of God, at least according to Lutheran theology, is what is know as the “curb”, or the second use of the Law. That is, the Law of God as written on the hearts of all men bearing witness that it is good for him to live in civility with his neighbor, and the best way for that to happen is for man to obey his conscience in outward actions so as to achieve the best outcome for all. This is what some would call altruism, and this thought is common or “common sense” to all civil people.

However, what makes a sin mortal is not necessarily what is so obvious. Here is what Luther has to say about it in the proof for this thesis, he states:

“For crimes are such acts which can also be condemned before men, such as adultery, theft, homicide, slander, etc. Mortal sins, on the other hand, are those which seem good yet are essentially fruits of a bad root and a bad tree. Augustine states this in the fourth book of Against Julian (Contra Julianum).”

What Luther is saying is that crimes are something which are obviously wrong, for it is just as easy for one man to see and understand a crime or evil deed than another man. However, here Luther introduces what makes a sin mortal. What does make a sin lead unto death? I bet it's not what you think.

St. Paul says in Roman 7:5,6:

For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

As Luther stated, “For crimes are such acts which can also be condemned before men,...”, which is in full agreement with Paul in regards to the Law awakening evil desires in us, and this basically means we know what's obviously wrong, which causes us to repent, that is unless our heart is hardened, with little to no resistance. What makes sin a sin is obvious, however, what about sins that are not so obvious? According to Luther (which is affirmed by God's word through Christ and his condemnation of the Pharisees) good works are also sin, and not just sin, but a deceptive sin, the type of sin the devil loves to tempt us with, because we can so easily fall into it and are so blind to what a “good work”, at least from the human perspective, actually is.

The evil that is awakened in the heart by God's Law is not always one which lusts after that which it cannot have, but lusts for a righteousness other than the one provided for us in Christ, the only righteousness our Father wants us to have or will accept for that matter. When our hearts accuse us of our sinfulness by God's Law, we, in turn, respond with a “will” to make ourselves right naturally with God. Yet, the only thing we can will in our life on earth in any active capacity is sin, so even our righteousness which we attempt to flaunt before God, is really us attempting to wave our filthy rags at him. This type of sinning is compounding sin upon sin making us doubly guilty. This is nothing but an abomination in his sight, for the moment we do this, we are very far from what God actually wants for us, and far from a saving faith.

So, what does He want for us? Well, He wants nothing for us to do, but wants us to believe much in His Son who has done everything for us already. You see, Christ died on the cross in our place atoning for our sins, and has made available his righteousness to be our own possession made available through faith in Him and His atoning work. However, this line of thinking is antithetical to our natural reason, for we trust only ourselves and our reason most certainly, and to give credence to something greater than ourselves is an abomination to us, but we must surrender this stubborn tendency within us and let the Lord of Lords reign supreme in our hearts in hopes of gaining the life everlasting!

A Harry Kalas Tribute

I'm feeling sad and very nostalgic today.

In Philadelphia, and more specifically regarding the Philadelphia Phillies and their respective play-by-play caller Harry Kalas, the two to most Philadelphians are synonymous. As is known by many, Philadelphia sports fans are particularly a rabid breed. To the stalwarts and the faithful in an otherwise "championship-challenged" city, Harry Kalas was a "rock" who transcended the changing faces of both management and players of a sports organization. He was the binding factor to the many seasons of baseball for most Philadelphians, and certainly the best that sports announcing has to offer, and for that reason he will be missed.

It almost feels like yesterday we Philadelphia sports fans lost our collective grandfather.

May Harry hopefully rest in Christs eternal peace!

(john xx. 19-31.)

19Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.

21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

30And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The Prayer

Most merciful God and Father, receive, we beseech thee, our hearty thanks for thy great goodness ; and especially for the blessings and mercies bestowed upon us this day. "We bless thee for the preaching of thy word, and for the administration of thy holy sacraments. We bless thee for thy gracious condescension, in having thy habitation among the sons of men, and in dwelling in the midst of the assemblies of thy people. Let thy blessing rest, we beseech thee, upon those whom thou hast called to minister in holy things; let them be clothed with righteousness; and let thy people rejoice in thy salvation. Grant that the words spoken in thy name may not be spoken in vain. Grant us grace so to hear and receive the godly counsel and instruction of those who are set over us in the Lord, that in all our words and deeds we may seek thy glory and the increase of thy kingdom.

We bless thee, heavenly Father, for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ as the resurrection and the life, and for the gracious declaration, that whosoever liveth and believeth in him shall never die. Grant us grace to humble ourselves before- thee, knowing that thou art able to exalt us in due time. May we follow the example of thy dearly-beloved Son, in patience, meekness, and humility. And as he died and rose again for us, so may we, who are baptized into his death, die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living.

We commend to thy rich mercies in Christ Jesus, all the nations that are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. May the Sun of Righteousness rise upon them, and the light of the everlasting gospel shine into their hearts, to give them the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Have mercy on the house of Israel, and teach them by thy Spirit to know that thou hast made that same Jesus, whom their forefathers crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Awaken the impenitent to a sense of their danger, by putting them in remembrance that thou hast appointed a day in which thou wilt judge the world in righteousness, by him whom thou hast ordained, whereof thou hast given assurance unto all men, in that thou hast raised him from the dead.

O Lord, I thank thee for this opportunity of worshiping thee in thy holy temple; pardon the wanderings of my heart, and accept my prayers and thanksgivings. Let thy word be profitable to my soul, and bless me and all who have waited upon thee, for thy dear Son's sake, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And now, 0 God, we commit ourselves, and all who are near and dear to us, to thy holy keeping. Let us go to our rest in humble trust and confidence in thy unfailing mercy. And let us remember, as we close our eyes in sleep, that the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth— they that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. And may we be so prepared by thy grace for this event, that, when our mortal bodies shall be committed to the ground, they may rest in sure and certain hope of a joyful resurrection to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee, 0 Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end.


Retrieved from: Prayer Book, for the Use of Families and Individuals, By Benjamin Kurtz D.D., LL.D


(john xx. 1-18.)

1The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

2Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

3Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

4So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

5And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

6Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

7And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

8Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

9For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

10Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

11But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.

14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

The Prayer

Almighty God and heavenly Father: we praise thee for the glorious resurrection of thy blessed Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, whom we acknowledge as the very Paschal Lamb foreshadowed in the Scriptures, and offered on the cross as a propitiation for the sins of the world; who, by the shedding of his own precious blood, has overcome death, and, by rising from the grave, is made the first-fruits of them that sleep, and has opened unto us the gate of everlasting life.

We confess that we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, and cannot, by our own power, raise ourselves to newness of life. But blessed be thy name that thou hast, of thy abundant mercy, begotten us again to a lively hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefined, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for all those who are kept by thy power through faith unto salvation.

Give us grace, heavenly Father, so to bewail our sinfulness, and so to meditate on thy wondrous love, that we may find our hearts dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We beseech thee, gracious God, to grant us thy special blessing this day. May the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in us, and direct us in all our duties. Raise our thoughts from the things of this world, and fix them upon those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at thy right hand.

Since Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast: not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. May we fervently join in the prayers and praises of thy people in the courts of thy sanctuary.

Grant also to all those who shall assemble with us in thy house of prayer, that they may be plen- teously endued with thy heavenly grace, and be prepared, with meek heart and due reverence, to hear and receive thy holy word, and to be meet partakers of thy holy mysteries.

Blessed Lord, impress my mind with a solemn sense of thy presence. May thy Holy Spirit assist me in my devotions; and enable me to hear thy word with profit to my soul, through Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen.

Pour down thy Spirit from on high on the ministers of thy blessed gospel: and, while they preach Jesus and the resurrection, let thy word, in their mouth, be as life from the dead; that so they who are sleeping in their sins may awake, and arise from the dead, that Christ may give them light.

And now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us that which is well- pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever.


Retrieved from: Prayer Book, for the Use of Families and Individuals, By Benjamin Kurtz D.D., LL.D


O Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, the most high over all the earth : thou art the only wise God. Thou art holy in all thy ways ; even the heavens are not clean in thy sight.

How shall we come before the Lord, or bow before the high God? Blessed be thy name, thou hast shown us what is good ; we behold the Lamb of God, who is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Here a foundation is laid for our hope, in connection with the highest glory of all thy perfections; and we rejoice to think that, while pleading for salvation by the blood of the cross, we ask thee not to deny thyself, or to trample on thy holy law : for here thy law is magnified and made honorable ; here all thy attributes are developed and harmonized: mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Here, weary and heavy-laden, may we come for relief and find rest unto our souls. May we take fresh views of this adorable sacrifice under a sense of our constant unworthiness and ill-desert; and in all our approaches to thee may we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith, of him.

May we not only rely upon his cross, but glory in it. Yea, may we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. And may we be able individually to say, I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We are thankful that as he atoned for our guilt, so he procured for us the grace of life. May we prove that he gave himself not only for our sins, but that he might deliver us from this present evil world; yea, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.*

And oh that in every future moment of our existence we may be constrained to live not to ourselves, but to him that died for us and rose again. As he so loved us, may we also love one another, and never deem any thing too great to do or to suffer while endeavoring to seek and to save that which is lost.

Smile upon our rulers and our country. Let all the churches of the faithful be edified and multiplied. Bless all the ministers of the everlasting gospel, and may they increasingly determine to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Increase the number of those who love his salvation; and as he gave himself a ransom for all, may it be testified in due time; that he may have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, and reign King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Hear us, O Lord, in mercy, and save us forever, through Jesus Christ, our only hope.



Retrieved from: Prayer Book, for the Use of Families and Individuals, By Benjamin Kurtz D.D., LL.D


O Thou King eternal, immortal, and invisible! We bless thee for the revelation which thou hast given us, and that in thy word we can view thee as the Father of mercies and the God of all grace. We praise thee for the displays of thy goodness in the productions of nature and the bounties of thy providence; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. Herein thou hast commended thy love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We find ourselves this morning at the foot of his cross, where angels are desiring to look into these things; and if they who need no repentance study the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, how much more should we, to whom they are not only true, and wonderful, and sublime, but all-important and infinitely interesting! Help us, O Lord, to turn aside and see this great sight, and not suffer a dying Savior to address us in vain. Behold and see if ever there was sorrow like unto my sorrow.

Here may we see the value of our souls in the price paid for their deliverance. Here may we contemplate the evil of sin, and abhor it; here look upon him whom we have pierced, and mourn. Yet, remembering that he was not only slain by us, but for us, may we rejoice in our tears, and, by believing, enter into rest.

With humble and holy confidence may we be enabled to say, Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.

May we never degrade his death, by fearing that it will not be available for guilt so great and aggravated as ours, even if we depend upon it, and plead it before God; but be fully persuaded that his blood cleanseth from all sin, and that by once offering up himself he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.

Yet, 0 God, never suffer us to sin that grace may abound. May we never crucify the Savior afresh, and put him to an open shame. May he never be wounded in the house of his professing friends. Rather may we live only and wholly for him who died for us, and adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

May our old man be crucified with him, and the body of sin be destroyed, that henceforth we may not serve sin. As he suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps, may we learn of him submission, and meekness, and forgiveness of injuries: when reviled, may we revile not again; when suffering, may we threaten not, but commit ourselves to him that judgeth righteously.

As thou hast made his soul an offering for sin, may he see his seed, and prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord prosper in his hand. May he wee of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; and by his knowledge may he justify many, having borne their iniquities.

Yea, having been lifted up from the earth, may lie draw all men unto him. May all kings fall down before him, and all nations serve him; and in all the earth which he has purchased with his own blood, may there be one Lord, and his name one.

And when he who made himself of no reputation, but took upon him the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, shall come in his glory, with all the holy angels, may we be enabled to say, Even so, come Lord Jesus, and unite with those who will be eternally employed in saying—

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, and to his Father, be glory and dominion forever and ever.



Retrieved from: Prayer Book, for the Use of Families and Individuals, By Benjamin Kurtz D.D., LL.D


A Maundy Thursday Hymn

Twas On That Dark, That Doleful Night

by: Isaac Watts

'Twas on that dark, that doleful night
When powers of earth and hell arose
Against the Son of God's delight
And friends betrayed Him to His foes.

Before the mournful scene began,
He took the bread and blessed and brake.
What love through all His actions ran!
What wondrous words of grace He spake!

"This Is My body, broke for sin;
Receive and eat the living food";
Then took the cup and blessed the wine:
"'Tis the new covenant in My blood."

"Do this," He said, "till time shall end,
In memory of your dying Friend.
Meet at My table and record
The love of your departed Lord."

Jesus, Thy feast we celebrate;
We show Thy death, we sing Thy name,
Till Thou return and we shall eat
The marriage supper of the Lamb.