Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 27, 2016

Something Nice to Say

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
                                                                                                                         – 1 Thessalonians 5:14

In the United States we are about one month away from Election Day – and this year we elect a new president.

I wrote about the nastiness of American politics and elections here.

The sad part about nastiness in American politics is that it doesn’t have to happen at all.

gossipOur natural inclination – that is, our sinful human natural inclination – is to be nasty. By (sinful human) nature, we want to tear other people down so that we appear to be bigger and better.

But for the Christian, another way of life is not only possible, but encouraged.

Actually, its demanded by God. But because it isn’t possible to speak well of our neighbor to God’s standard, the Son of God died to forgive us this – and every other – sin.

With the power of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, we can speak well of our neighbors (remember, a neighbor is everyone around us).

With the power of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness we can refrain from slandering our neighbor by complaining and spreading rumors about them. Instead, we speak constructively about our neighbor.

Here’s what constructive speaking looks like:

  • We defend them when someone else speaks badly of them. We don’t lie about them, we don’t make up good things that are not true about our neighbor to defend them against attacks from someone else. But we do find something good about our neighbor to speak about. At the very least, our neighbor is someone for whom Christ died and rose again!
  • If possible, we point out the good qualities and deeds of our neighbor. If they have helped in a soup kitchen or donated clothing to help a woman’s shelter, point that out to people.
  • When our neighbor does something that is questionable to other people, try to explain what our neighbor has done in the kindest way possible and put the best construction on it. While it is a good thing our mothers have taught us: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all”, even better is to actually find something nice to say!

I think you probably know what it looks like when someone speaks ill of someone. You can turn on the TV or the radio and get a plethora of examples of people ridiculing other people, gossiping about them, labeling and demeaning them because of a particular fault or characteristic.

Today it isn’t limited to politics or to TV and radio – people are bullied on social media on the internet. In fact, sometimes it appears that the internet has been invented for just this very thing!

But let us – you and I – be different. Let’s set a new example and a new standard.

Let’s speak well of everybody!

Because Jesus Christ died to save everybody!

©2016 True Men Ministries

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 26, 2016

New Book Announcement!

inmyfathersfootsteps230x150In My Father’s Footsteps – the daily devotional from True Men Ministries – is coming in book form! We’re hoping it will be available through Amazon by the end of October or early November.

Your contribution to True Men Ministries here can help us get the devotions into print!

For your $20 donation, you’ll also received a free, signed copy of “In My Father’s Footsteps, Volume 1.” (Just make sure you let us know where to send it – you can email us that information if you want to make an anonymous donation here on GoFundMe).

To make a contribution – go to our GoFundMe page here.

If you would like to make a direct contribution, email Ed Blonski here.

Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 26, 2016

Steal

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. – Ephesians 4:28

I was a freshman in high school and I took Spanish I as my foreign language.

cheating-on-a-testI am admitting here and now to you, dear reader, that I cheated on my vocabulary tests in Spanish I. I didn’t put in the time to actually memorize the vocab words so I wrote the words and their definitions on a square of paper 1 inch by 1 inch. I would hide the piece of paper under my wrist watch and I would get an “A” on the vocab quiz.

But I was sinning doing that. I was breaking the Seventh Commandment – You shall not steal. I was stealing knowledge that wasn’t mine. That’s what cheating on tests is – stealing knowledge that isn’t yours.

By the way, I have since confessed this sin and have received absolution.

I also learned that it doesn’t do any good to cheat on vocab quizzes. How was I going to learn Hebrew and Greek later on in life? (I had different challenges with those languages not related to cheating).

God has blessed all of us with various possessions. Physical possessions like money, cars, homes, etc. Intellectual possessions like our mental acuity. God has blessed us with this very planet to take care of and use for our and our neighbor’s well-being.

The Seventh Commandment is given to us so that we take care of what we have been given and to help our neighbor keep what is theirs.

We also learn from this commandment that we are to respect our neighbor’s possessions and work which includes his physical property – house, car, money, and his intellectual property – his ideas and writings, music, software, movies, and personal information (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 33).

About 15 years ago some smart computer programmers figured out how people could “share” their music collections on the internet. I never thought it was a big deal. I likened it to buying an LP and then making a cassette tape of that LP and giving it to my friend. That’s no big deal, everybody did that, right?

Since then, however, I’ve become friends with a few musicians whose livelihood is dependent on music sales. If I were to make a copy of their music and give it away that deprives them of a sale of their music and they receive no money for their work.

That’s stealing. That’s wrong. That’s breaking the Seventh Commandment. That’s sin.

I do not do that kind of thing. Instead, I recommend to you that you listen to my friends’ music and – if you like what you hear – purchase their music.

Two musicians I recommend are Dennis Hendricksen and Richard Souther – click on their names to go to their websites.

Protect your neighbor’s possessions, that’s what a child of God does in response to the salvation won for us by Jesus Christ!

©2016 True Men Ministries

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 25, 2016

The Gift of Marriage

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Mark 10:6-12

Not since 1974’s Roe v. Wade has the Christian Church and the Federal Government be at odds with each other so vociferously and vocally.

Since the creation of man and woman it has went without saying that “marriage is defined as the life-long union of a man and a woman for their mutual help and joy and for the procreation and nurturing of children” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 32).

But maybe it has gone without saying too long, since that Biblical definition is no longer accepted by the Federal Government and many state governments.

The Bible is crystal clear on the topic of marriage, man, women, and sexuality. To say that it is not is ludicrous.

But to say that the Bible is outdated is exactly what spurs on the decisions made by the Supreme Court and the Federal Government in 2015 and before.

You can read what the Supreme Court ruled here.

As a Christian, I will not debate the issue as the Bible is crystal clear about it.

But I will try to convey how a Christian should respond to these rulings and what others think and feel about it. And I will intend to speak with people about these topics as Christ would – speaking the truth in love.

God created the gift of gender.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:26a-27

God also created the gift of sexual relations.

wedding-dayAnd God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…. – Genesis 1:28a

And God reserved sexual relations to the confines and context of marriage.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. – Hebrews 13:4.

“Therefore we should respect our identity as male or female as indicated by the body God gave us; respect God’s intentions for us as male and female; remember and be obedient to God’s command that all desires for genital sexual activity are to be curbed and disciplined until we are married; remember that while most people will marry, God’s Word also praises and blesses those who serve Him by living chastely without marrying; seek the assistance of pastors, counselors, or other Christian professionals where that is needed or beneficial” (Field Test Edition, pg 36).

Holy Lord, You instituted marriage in Eden and by Your Word You uphold and protect this blessed union of man and woman in one flesh. Cause us to honor marriage and put away from us all sinful thoughts, words, and deeds which would dishonor and distort the gift of marriage. Bless all married couples with faithfulness. Hear the prayers of all who seek a godly spouse, and give to us all purity and decency in all things; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

©2016 True Men Ministries

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 24, 2016

The Gift of Life

 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Murder is defined, in the Google dictionary, as “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.”

As far as I can determine (and I haven’t done exhaustive research) murder – by this definition – has always been wrong.

However, God leaves nothing to chance about murder and makes it the subject of the Fifth Commandment.

Yet, the Fifth Commandment, “You shall not murder,” is more than just the prohibition of the premeditated killing of one human being by another.

If it were not more, this would be one commandment that nearly all human beings on the planet could keep perfectly.

But Jesus revealed just how high a standard God has:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” – Matthew 5:21-22.

This reveals just how important human life is to God.

So important, actually, that Jesus Christ laid down His life – died a horrible death on a Roman cross – to save all the lives of every human being. Why would He do this? Why is human life important to God?

This can be answered in one word: love. God loves all people so much He gave them life. Even when people refused God’s love by rejecting Him, Jesus died to save all from this sin of rejecting God.

So, let’s look at the Fifth Commandment as more than just a prohibition against murder. It is also a commandment to respect life and protect life.

We do this by “looking after the physical well-being of our neighbor – by coming to the aid of our neighbor; speaking in a way that helps and defends our neighbor; and treating our neighbor with kindness and compassion” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 30).

But let’s get even more specific.

The Fifth Commandment covers “any type of harming our own life or someone else’s life such as engaging in reckless and unhealthy behaviors; expressing hatred and lovelessness (sic) toward other groups of people; acting violently or abusively toward a spouse or child [or anyone, really]; killing ourselves (suicide) or seeking help in killing ourselves (assisted suicide); aborting an unborn child (Field Test Edition, p 31).

This being said, there are circumstances when the ending of a human’s life is not prohibited by the Fifth Commandment.

“When someone is near death, certain treatments may only prolong suffering and not enable either recovery or physical well-being. In such cases it is important to note that allowing death to occur when someone is irretrievable dying is different from causing death (which is forbidden by God)” (Field Test Edition, p 31).

Also, the government, in acting justly as God’s servant, “may at times need to take a life in order to protect the lives of others (e.g., just wars or capital punishment)” (Field Test Edition, p 31).

How much does God love life? Just remember:
“God creates, preserves, and protects all life. He is caring and compassionate toward all He has made, and He calls us to be so also. God gives special dignity (or worth) and protection to every human life. God created humanity in His own image. God’s Son became man and shared our human nature. God has redeemed every human life by the holy, precious blood of Christ.” (Field Test Edition, p 30).

©2016 True Men Ministries

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 23, 2016

Music Review – Dennis Hendricksen

A few weeks ago, Dennis emailed me – out of the blue – after reading one of my blogs about worship (actually it was this very post What We Do When We Do Church – Hymnody)

Dennis is a musician as well as a fellow Lutheran Pastor.

He sent me two of his CDs:

dv-cover-2015Dreams & Visions
Very Nearly a Whisper

He composes and performs the kind of music that I’ve been listening to all my life.

Some of it ambient electronic music that I like to listen to while praying and reading.

Some more progressive jazz-rock fusion that I like to listen to while I’m writing.

The CD Dreams & Visions also comes with a booklet of poems, quotations and Scripture readings – and a refrigerator magnet!

I think you should give a listen to Dennis’ music.

Go over to his website and check him out!

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/6483558?url=http%3A%2F%2Ftruemen.podbean.com%2Fe%2Ftrue-man-podcast-leadership-from-the-biggest-brother-episode-8%2F%3Ftoken%3D64f0c751a8ad77a29077593053aca7f5&skin=1&download=1&share=1&auto=0&fonts=Helvetica

Explore the True Men Ministries Website here or go to http://www.truemen.org

Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 23, 2016

Government and God

 

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. – Hebrews 13:17

This is a follow-up to the devotion “Mom and Dad and God.”

In the Fall of 1976, I was in the 6th grade. Our social studies class was learning about the presidential election process in the United States and we were watching with growing interest the campaigns of the current president Gerald Ford and his challenger Jimmy Carter.

In my 6th grade mind, the decision was an easy one to make. I even promoted a little poem that, in rhyme, said it all (or so I thought).

“Ford – straight as a board!”

“Carter is a f******!”

Hey! I was in the 6th grade! This is the kind of thing 6th graders did in presidential campaigns back in 1976.

Or so I thought.

2016politicsFast-forward to the presidential campaign of 2016 – 40 years later. By most appearances, 6th graders are still running presidential campaigns!

Making fun of the government, candidates, and current office-holders is nothing new in this country.

In 1796 John Adams was branded as a “monarchist” in the election against Jefferson.

In 1800 Jefferson was branded an “un-Christian deist” in his election against Adams.

In the 1828 election between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, Adams was branded as a decadent aristocrat, who had procured prostitutes for the Russian Czar while serving as ambassador to Russia. They also accused him of spending taxpayer money on “gambling” equipment for the White House (which turned out to be a chess board and a billiards table). Jackson was accused of being a violent frontier ruffian and the son of a prostitute married to a mulatto.

And just one more. In the election of 1840, the contest between William Henry Harrison and Martin Van Buren included such slogans as “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” “Van, Van, Van/Van is a used-up man,” and accusations of Harrison living in a log-cabin and drinking hard cider.

Presidential politics has not really changed much since the campaigns after George Washington (who ran unopposed for both of his terms).

But that still doesn’t make it right.

Just as we are to honor our parents, as the Fourth Commandment says, we are to also honor all those who have authority over us.

Martin Luther – the 16th Century Reformer – spelled out what the Fourth Commandment means to Christians: We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them (emphasis added).

As men and women who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit so that we can live godly lives here in time and for eternity in heaven.

This includes respecting those who have authority over us – including elected and appointed governmental officials!

We should remember that we are not required to actually do all the things our parents or government may demand of us. In fact, “we must disobey them if they exceed the limits of their God-given authority by requiring us to disobey God’s Word” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 27).

However, we must also “distinguish between what a government permits people to do and what it compels them to do. When it compels us to act contrary to God’s Word then we must disobey and live as God intends. When government permits activities contrary to God’s Word (e.g. abortion, no-fault divorce, same sex marriage) we bear witness by living as God intended” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 28, emphasis added).

I think it is time to make a change – to stop all the jokes, coarse comments, and bitterness aimed at all those in authority over us or who want to be in authority over us. It is time to speak and act as men and women of God. If we disagree with what those in authority say and do, we can say so in respectful and mature ways. If what those in authority over us say and do is contrary to God’s Word, we respectfully and maturely disobey them – making a point to proclaim that “we must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).

©2016 True Men Ministries

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 22, 2016

What Will Last Forever

Workers have showed up to take down the KFUO building on the campus of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. This is what I wrote when I first heard that they were going to do so.

The True Man

The things we build out of brick, mortar, wood and plaster, will not last. But what God builds in us through Jesus Christ will last forever!

As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down”Mark 13:1-2 (ESV).

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been battling some feelings of melancholy and sadness for a couple of months now.

I believe that it has its basis in buildings. Structures of brick, mortar, plaster and wood.

Change is a strange thing. Something that is, for all intents and purposes, rock solid is suddenly gone. When that “something” has been around for years, decades, or even centuries, the…

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | September 22, 2016

Mom and Dad and God

Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. – Proverbs 23:22

My earliest and first memories involve my parents. I remember cutting down a family Christmas tree when we lived in California. I was five when we moved from California to Illinois, so I was four or younger. I don’t remember it clearly, but I do remember climbing a hill and that it was very muddy.

My childhood was pretty “normal” – I grew up with my mom, dad, and brother. We did “normal” things – went camping, went to baseball games, visited my grandparents at Christmastime, shot off fireworks on the Fourth of July.

It wasn’t until I started studying the Small Catechism in the 7th grade that I realized that my parents were more than just “mom and dad.” They were ambassadors of God to me.

And that is why God tells us to “honor your father and your mother.” They are representatives of God to us – usually the very first representatives.

It is only when we are older that we truly realize just what our parents do for us.

Image result for parentsThey fed us when we were hungry. They changed our diapers when they were in need of changing. They picked us up when we fell down. They saw to it that we had a warm bed and a roof over our head when we slept.

And how do most children repay their parents for all this? Remember how you acted when you were a teenager?

I’m profoundly embarrassed and sad that I treated my parents as I did back then. I have apologized to them on several occasions for not honoring them as I should and as God taught me.

But I am also so very thankful that God has enlightened me as to just how wonderful my mom and dad were – and are – in time to be able to tell them face-to-face.

There are profound examples of men and women honoring their parents in the Bible.

Ruth takes care of her mother-in-law.

Joseph took care of his father by bringing him to Egypt when there was a famine in Israel.

Jesus provided for His mother’s wellbeing as He was dying on the cross.

It would be enough for God to just tell us to honor our father and our mother.

But God even goes further by tacking on a promise: “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.

But with that promise, we are given insight into the mind of God – that He is not just talking about our parents, but all those in authority over us.

Including the government – the most favorite target of derision and jokes in the United States today.

We’ll explore that part of this commandment next time.

©2016 True Men Ministries

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