Have you ever helped a young child with a glittery craft project? Or perhaps you have gotten a Christmas card covered with sparkly glitter? We all know the hellish struggle of trying to get glitter out of clothing and carpet. I remember a meme that said: “Forget the vacuum, the only way to get rid of glitter is to burn your house down and move.” There is a silly truth in that; once glitter gets on you it never seems to go away.
Last night on the radio, I heard the story of a young woman who found out her boyfriend was being unfaithful to her. Instead of keying his car or slashing his tires, she decided to enact revenge by “glitter bombing” his apartment. In nearly every inch of his apartment, this scorned women dumped multiple containers of glitter. This two-timing guy had glitter all over his bed, couches, clothing, carpet, throughout the kitchen… everywhere. Even with the most thorough and deepest attempts at cleaning his apartment, this man will still be finding sparkling reminders of this event for years to come. Every time this man vacuums or does laundry, he will be reminded of his infidelity. I can only imagine the number of days he will walk out of his apartment with a spec of glitter on his face or embedded in his clothing. For the rest of his life, the mere mention of glitter will remind him of his cheating ways.
Thank goodness God doesn’t deal with us in such vengeful ways. Without question, sin clings to us far deeper and more permanent than glitter does. Try as we might, we can’t clean it up. We can’t scrub it off. It will always be there. Sin is far too invasive and stubborn to disappear quietly and with ease. The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the Old Testament people to convict them of this sad fact: “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD.” (Jeremiah 2:22) This is the reality and damning nature of sin. It distorts and destroys. It blots and blemishes. We cannot remove it—no matter how hard we try. No amount of soap or good deeds can remove the sin that stains. But within this disgraceful problem, lies the beautiful heart of the Gospel. God invites us to the foot of the cross so that He can do what we cannot do. “Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
The Lord cleanses and forgives. God removes your sin. You are not stained any longer. He has settled the matter. The horrific glitter of sin is completely removed; no more specs can be found. We must no longer constantly dwell on the reminders of sin that once covered our old lives. We are different now. We are justified. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are restored to a new life. Hear this same good news from the words of the Apostle Paul, “… But now you have had every stain washed off: now you have been set apart as holy: now you have been pronounced free from guilt; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11 WNT) Praise God for his cleansing power. In Jesus we are made new.
Friends, what are we to do? Please read, it’s lengthy but worthwhile. Remember the One who is really in charge!
(adapted from letter of fellow pastoral colleague)
I pen this letter in a time of cultural turmoil. The people of our nation are angry and divided. More than 150 years ago, as the dark clouds of civil war began to gather on the horizon, Abraham Lincoln warned a nation of angry people that a house divided against itself cannot stand. This Biblical principle stands today.
The genius of our nation’s founding is proclaimed in its motto, “E Pluribus Unum”—“Out of Many, One.” Gathered on our shores are peoples of different origins, different trades, different creeds, different colors, different dreams. The social experiment called “The United States of America” was designed to offer all people the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We don’t seem very happy these days. We have lost the sense of “oneness,” as we prefer to identify ourselves with the people who look like us, sound like us, think like us and agree with us. When we come across those that differ from our worldview, we shut them out, slam the door, and ostracize them. Our divide grows wider, deeper and more dangerous.
The intent of this letter is not to share with you my personal opinions and political views, but to express what Christians, are called to do as members of this society. Those of us who are Christians, who are in the world but not of the world, must first and foremost identify ourselves as followers of Jesus—disciples of the Savior. Recall these words from the Apostle Paul, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (3:20-21) We are alien residents here on earth; but we dare not shy away from having an impact or bearing fruit. We are dedicated to the principles of His Word and are
Happy Epiphany to you all!
That’s right, today is a party day in the life of the church. This is the church calendar day known as “The Epiphany of our Lord.”
Every year on the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6th, this commemoration is observed in the church as a celebration of Jesus’ manifestation (in Greek lit. epiphany) to earth as both 100% God and 100% man. “From heaven above to earth He comes, to bear good news to every home!” (LSB 358) If Christmas celebrates the Father’s giving of the gift of Christ Jesus to us sinners, then Epiphany might be said to be the Father unwrapping this gift for us. During the weeks of Epiphany the Father is making His Son known to the world. The redemptive and saving work of Jesus shines forth from heaven and is revealed to all mankind. Throughout this Epiphany season we rejoice over and declare loudly that Jesus is the Savior of ALL people—Jews and Gentiles alike.