Time Travel

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:24

There are some great stories about time travel.

The classic The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. There’s also one of my favorites, The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein.

Of course, the Back to the Future movie trilogy has to be one of the most popular time travel stories of all time.

Alas, time travel is not possible. At least not yet.

Or is it?

Actually, the Christian Church has the closest thing to time travel that I’ve seen so far.

It is the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Yes, you read that right. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is spiritual time travel!

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:3-4

When I was baptized, I traveled back in time – spiritually – to Jesus’ cross. I was crucified along with Jesus. I was buried along with Jesus. I was resurrected along with Jesus.

Everyone who is baptized by water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit experiences this spiritual time travel.

We are crucified with Christ. Jesus Christ took all our sins (and all the sins of all people) on himself and paid the penalty for them on the cross.

Our sinful nature was then buried with Christ in the tomb.

But when Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised with a new nature. Instead of sin, through Baptism we have the righteousness of Christ!

Our sinful human nature rears its ugly head from the grave every day. We are tempted to sin by the devil, the world, and our sinful human nature.

By the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Means of Grace we can overcome these tempters!

But if we don’t overcome them, if we choose to live accord to the sinful human nature, according to what Lutherans have believed, taught, and confessed for nearly 500 years, “Those who walk according to the flesh retain neither faith nor righteousness” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession Article V Love and Fulfilling the Law, quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, p 135).

When we were baptized, we traveled back in time to Christ’s death and resurrection in the First Century AD.

But every day we must, by contrition and repentance, drown that old sinful human nature and walk by faith!

Again, as Lutherans have believed, taught, and confessed for nearly 500 years: “Faith must be the mother and source of works that are truly good and well pleasing to God, which God will reward in this world and in the world to come” (Formula of Concord – Solid Declaration Article IV, quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, p 548).

We can do this! By the power of the Holy Spirit! We can walk in the righteousness of God! We do not have to give in to our flesh’s passion and desires.

I realize that this is the exact opposite of what the culture has been telling us for generations now.

But really, who do you want to listen to? The culture that is going more insane by the minute? Or God who clearly loves you and wants what’s best for you?

Crucify your sinful human flesh – not literally, but spiritually – by using the Means of Grace.

It is possible and it is the best way to live!

I implore you, O Lord, in your kindness to show me your great mercy that I may be set free from my sins and rescued from the punishments that I rightly deserve; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Walk in Newness of Life

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

“Newness of life” usually reminds me of summer on the Illinois prairie.

A couple of times a week I walk a couple of miles in the forest preserves here in Lake County. The groomed paths meander through groves of maples and oaks, over marshes and ponds, and across prairie land.

On a day like today, it is as near to the Garden of Eden as I can imagine this world to be at this point!

It reminds me – and brings peace to my heart – that someday we will enjoy an eternity of such newness in heaven.

Because of Jesus Christ, the new heaven and new earth will be perfect – just like it was for Adam and Eve before the Fall.

Speaking of the Fall, it is flabbergasting to me that they willingly gave up paradise in order to live their own way.

True, Satan tempted them with lies and half-truths (which are really just more lies). But Adam and Eve had a choice. They could have told Satan to go to hell (literally, I suppose).

But instead, they listened.

And they ate.

And they discovered the difference between good and evil.

They also discovered that they could no longer choose good, not on their own they couldn’t.

Yet in the goodness and unconditional love of God, they were given the power of repentance and sanctification that would allow them to walk, again, in “newness of life.”

A Savior was promised to them. A Savior who would be a human descendent of Adam and Eve as well as be the Son of God. That Savior would be Jesus Christ and he would be born of a Virgin, live a perfect life, die on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sin, rise from the grave three days later, and ascend into heaven but not before promising to always be with us “in Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit would be ours! Giving us the power for living according to the love of God.

The Holy Spirit using the Means of Grace would give us the power to walk in newness of life on this earth.

That walk leads us into worship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with brothers and sisters in Christ. That walk leads us to the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, life and salvation. That walk leads us into the world to engage the people we meet with the Gospel of Christ.

That power comes from a splash of water combined with God’s Holy Word – what is called Baptism. In Baptism we are buried with Christ. Our sinful human nature is drowned and dies with Christ. Our sins are buried with Christ.

The power to walk in newness of life comes from the resurrection of Jesus Christ – he came back to life bringing us with him in a newness of life! We walk with Christ to tell others the Good News of Salvation.

Today, I’m hoping to take a walk in God’s creation here on the Illinois prairie and I’ll be thinking about the newness of life that is mine – and yours – and will be praying that we can all walk together, engaging our culture with the eternal love of God!

Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have called us to walk in newness of life and have poured out on us your grace and all manner of spiritual and eternal gifts. Help us to live unto you with humility and patience, to hope in your pure grace and faithfulness, to abide in your house, and to praise and magnify your glorious grace forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Salt Is Good

[Jesus said], “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away.”
Luke 14:34-35

Summertime! Here on the Illinois prairie it is a time of warm, humid days. Sunshine and wind rustling the corn fields.

Picnics and backyard BBQ’s with hamburgers, hotdogs and watermelon.

Ah, watermelon. I love a sweet, juicy, chilled watermelon on a hot summer day.

I have fond memories of sitting in my grandparent’s yard along the banks of Squaw Creek in Ingleside, fishing for bluegill and crappie and eating watermelon in the shade of their huge and ancient willow tree.

As I look over to my right in my memory I see my grandmother – Nana – sitting there with a cane fishing pole eating a big slice of watermelon.

Before she takes each bite, she sprinkles a little salt on it!

Now, I like salt. I like salt on my popcorn, on my salad (along with lemon juice), on my potatoes and chips.

But on watermelon?

It was a delicacy to her, but I never understood it.

Salt is an important part of a person’s diet. According to the website fitday.com salt helps retain water in the body, stimulates muscle contraction, and contains nutrients vital to the digestive system while low levels of salt in the body, along with low blood pressure, leads to shock.

It is also known that salt, like just about everything else, is only good in moderation. Excessive intake of salt is very bad for a person.

Salt has also been an important economic commodity, especially in its importance in preserving food. So much so, it is thought by some, that early in the Roman era soldiers were paid in salt.

Both the words salary and soldier have their roots in the Latin word for salt.

The benefits and commodity of salt seem to be on Jesus’ mind when he tells us that “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away.”

He would go on to call his followers the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).

Our faith is what makes us “salty” – that is, what makes us beneficial and precious to others. As long as we have faith and continue to grow in our faith, we can be of benefit to others in this world. A benefit by sharing the Good News of Jesus with them.

We are precious because of our response – in faith – to God’s love for us. Our response is to love and serve others. Loving and helping others is how we are “salty.”

Like real salt, we can lose our saltiness. If we do not strengthen our faith through the use of the Means of Grace (most notably the reading of God’s Word regularly and receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion regularly – if appropriate) we can suffer from weakened faith that will not be considered “salty” by Jesus’ standards. See what Jesus says about what to do with such salt!

Let’s stay salty! Let’s continue to be a benefit and precious to the people of our world by salting their lives with the Gospel and the love that responds to the Gospel!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

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