Friday, March 11, 2011

Rise Up & Walk

This morning I heard a portion of this letter being read over the radio and it really ministered to me. Spalatin had given wrong advice to another pastor that was contrary to God's Word. Spalatin could not forgive himself for his sin and therefore became depressed and unable to move froward. Can anyone relate? I think so. Luther does not make little of Spalatin's sin, but rather boast in the grace of God. It's a rather long letter, but I think it's worth slowly digesting and processing.

Grace and peace from God in Christ and the consolations of the Holy Spirit to my worthy master in Christ, George Spalatin, superintendent of the churches in Misnia, most faithful pastor of Altenburg, my beloved in the Lord. Amen.
My dearest Spalatin, I heartily sympathize with you and earnestly pray our Lord Jesus Christ to strengthen you and give you a cheerful heart. I should like to know, and am making diligent inquiries to find out, what your trouble may be or what has caused your breakdown. I am told by some that it is nothing else than depression and heaviness of heart, caused by the matrimonial affair of a parson who was publicly united in marriage to the stepmother of his deceased wife. If this is true, I beseech you most urgently not to become self-centered and heed the thoughts and sensations of your own heart, but to listen to me, your brother, who is speaking to you in the name of Christ. Otherwise your despondency will grow beyond endurance and kill you; for St. Paul says, 2 Cor. 7:10: ‘The sorrow of the world worketh death.’ I have often passed through the same experience and witnessed the same in 1540, in the case of Magister Philip, who was nearly consumed by heaviness of heart and despondency on account of the landgrave’s affair. However, Christ used my tongue to raise him up again. I say this on the supposition that you have sinned and are partly to blame for the aforementioned marriage, because you approved it.

Yea, I shall go further and say: Even if you had committed more numerous and grievous sins in this present and other instances than Manasseh, the king of Judah, whose offenses and crimes could not be eradicated throughout his posterity down to the time when Jerusalem was destroyed, while your offense is very light, because it concerns a temporal interest and can be easily remedied; nevertheless, I repeat it, granted you are to blame, are you going to worry yourself to death over it and by thus killing yourself commit a still more horrible sin against God?

It is bad enough to know that you made a mistake in this matter. Now do not let your sin stick in your mind, but get rid of it. Quit your despondency, which is a far greater sin. Listen to the blessed consolation which the Lord offers you by the prophet Ezekiel, who says, chap. 33:11: ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’ Do you imagine that only in your case the Lord’s hand is shortened? Is. 59:1. Or has He in your case alone forgotten to be gracious and shut up His tender mercies? Ps. 77:10. Or are you the first man to aggravate his sin so awfully that henceforth there is no longer a High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities? Heb. 4:15. Do you consider it a new marvel when a person living this life in the flesh, with innumerable arrows of so many devils flying about him, is occasionally wounded and laid prostrate?

It seems to me, my dear Spalatin, that you have still but a limited experience in battling against sin, an evil conscience, the Law, and the terrors of death. Or Satan has removed from your vision and memory every consolation which you have read in the Scriptures. In days when you were not afflicted, you were well fortified and knew very well what the office and benefits of Christ are. To be sure, the devil has now plucked from your heart all the beautiful Christian sermons concerning the grace and mercy of God in Christ by which you used to teach, admonish, and comfort others with a cheerful spirit and a great, buoyant courage. Or it must surely be that heretofore you have been only a trifling sinner, conscious only of paltry and insignificant faults and frailties.

Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total.

Dr. Staupitz comforted me on a certain occasion when I was a patient in the same hospital (in the same situation) and suffering the same affliction as you, by addressing me thus: Aha! you want to be a painted sinner and, accordingly, expect to have in Christ a painted Savior. You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior and you a real sinner. For God is neither jesting nor dealing in imaginary affairs, but He was greatly and most assuredly in earnest when He sent His own Son into the world and sacrificed Him for our sakes, etc. Rom. 8:32; John 3:16. These and similar reflections, drawn from consolatory Bible-texts, have been snatched from your memory by the accursed Satan, and hence you cannot recall them in your present great anguish and despondency.

For God’s sake, then, turn your ears hither, brother, and hear me cheerfully singing—me, your brother, who at this time is not afflicted with the despondency and melancholy that is oppressing you and therefore is strong in faith, so that you, who are weak and harried and harassed by the devil, can lean on him for support until you have regained your old strength, can bid defiance to the devil, and cheerfully sing: ‘Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall; but the Lord helped me.’ Ps. 118:13. Imagine now that I am Peter holding out my hand to you and saying to you: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.’ Acts 3:6. For I know I am not mistaken, nor is the devil talking through me; but since I am laying the Word of Christ before you, it is Christ who speaks to you through me and bids you obey and trust your brother who is of the same household of faith. It is Christ that absolves you from this and all your sins, and I am a partaker of your sin by helping you to bear up under it.

See that you accept and appropriate to yourself the comfort I am offering you; for it is true, certain, and reliable, since the Lord has commanded me to communicate it to you and bidden you to accept it from me. For if even I am cut to the quick by seeing you in such awful distress because of your deep melancholy, it gives God a far greater displeasure to behold it; for ‘He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.’ Joel 2:13. Therefore do not turn away from him who is coming to comfort you and announce the will of God to you and who hates and abominates your despondency and melancholy as a plague of Satan. Do not by any means permit the devil to portray Christ to you differently from what He is in truth. Believe the Scripture, which testifies that He ‘was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.’ 1 John 3:8. Your melancholy is a work of the devil, which Christ wants to destroy if you will only let Him. You have had your fill of anguish; you have sorrowed enough; you have exceeded your penance. Therefore, do not refuse my consolation; let me help you.

Behold my faithful heart, dear Spalatin, in dealing with you and speaking to you. I shall consider it the greatest favor that I have ever received from you if you allow the comfort which I am offering you, or rather the absolution, pardon, and restoration of the Lord Christ, to abide in you. If you do this, you will, after your recovery, be forced to confess yourself that you have offered the most pleasing and acceptable sacrifice to the Lord by your obedience; for Ps. 147:11 it is written: ‘The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy’; again, in Ps. 34:18: ‘The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart and saveth such as are of a contrite spirit’; and in Ps. 51:17: ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.’ Therefore let the accursed devil with his despondency scamper away like a whipped dog. He wants to make me sad on your account; he wants to blast my joy in the Lord; yea, if he could, he would swallow us all up at one gulp. May Christ, our Lord, rebuke and chastise him, and may He strengthen, comfort, and preserve you by His Spirit! Amen.

Comfort your wife with these and your own more effectual words. I have not the leisure to write also to her.
Given at Zeitz, August 21, A. D. 1544.
Your Martin Luther.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Open Palms

This lenten prayer is my heart's cry, but too often my flesh cries out for something entirely different. 

The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
and worship only thee…

William Cowper, “O For a Closer Walk with God

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Coming

The Village: God of Victory "Teaser" from The Village Church on Vimeo.


The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.
Oswald Chambers

On My List

Leaving on a boat for 6 days on Monday and I am drooling just thinking about lounging on the deck under the sun and READING.  Lots of books on my wish list right now. Which one should I pick to read while we are circling the gulf?

Christa Black is a wonderful recording artist and I fell in love with her song titled, God Loves Ugly, several years ago.  Now that she turned her lyrics into a book makes my heart happy!

Ann Voskamp may be one of my favorite authors of all time. She has an unbelievable way with words and most often leavings me yearning for more of Jesus. You can find her blog here.

The Pioneer Woman tells her love story?! Yes, please!

I have dying to read Angie's book since it was available for pre-order. I still have yet to get my hands on it. I blame Amberton University. I can't even believe that Angie is already about to have another book available for pre-order. I want this one too!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Every Season

This week I have been painfully aware of people in my life who are hurting. And yet, many are rejoicing under the same sky.

Tonight there will be:

Tears caught by pillows.
Prayers uttered for mercy.
Depression that wraps round like a blanket.
Anger that swells like the sea.
Sadness that seems to bury the soul.
Selfishness that has the sting of a scorpin.
Darkness that takes away years of smiles.
Loss that shakes the foundation of faith.
Devestation that crushes flat the mountain.
Dignity stripped away in the clap of thunder.
Confusion that steals any glimpse of rational.

And there will be:

Glasses clinking in celebration.
Hearts discovering one another.
Flowers blooming after the long winter.
Cries of new life.
Joy that bubbles like boiling water.
Peace that covers life snow.
Long embraces wrapped in lovers arms.
Rejoicing that comes with the morning.
Healing that has been long awaited.
Glowing that outshines the sun.
Warmth that thaws the hardest of hearts.

Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mercy & Goodness | Devotion

From Devotional Classics, written by Brother Lawrence from The Practice of the Presence of God.
I imagine myself as the most wretched of all, full of sores and sins, and one who has committed all sorts of crimes against the king. Feeling a deep sorrow, I confess to him all of my sins, I ask forgiveness, and I abandon myself into his hands so that he may do with me what he pleases.
This king, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastening me, embraces me with love, invites me to feast at his table, serves me with his own hands, and gives me the key to his treasures. He converses with me, and takes delight in me, and treats me as if I were his favorite. This is how I imagine myself from time to time in his holy presence. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

'Round the Bend

Several weeks ago, I arrived to class early just as I always do. I had been fighting off nausea all day and just felt miserable. I went to my professor's office early to let him know that if I left class early, it was due to a weak stomach.  He sent me home and said that several other classmates had reported the same thing and he did not want me spreading the love to anyone else.

I was thankful to go home and rest, but I also knew that I would have to fight rush-hour traffic to make it there. I decided that I would try to take the back roads. I had done it once before, with the help of my GPS. I looked down at my phone - it would die any minute. But I decided to risk it. I tossed my phone into my purse, knowing there was no time to pull up directions.

As I started home, things looked somewhat familiar. I kept looking for landmarks and roads that I had seen on my previous journey. Eventually I ended up in an area that I couldn't say I had seen or hadn't seen before. I kept driving straight. "Surely this will lead me to the tollway", I thought to myself. But it never did. As I headed into the hills of uncharted territory and back country roads that are idyllic for a Sunday afternoon drive, I said a prayer. "Lord, lead me home. Let me be still and quiet enough to hear your voice. Don't let me take one, wrong road.".

I pushed my nausea down, along with the volume to my radio and I paid careful attention to my drive. It was so quiet and peaceful. There was something beautiful about knowing that only the Lord and I knew where I was in that moment. Not a soul out there knew that I was twisting and turning into towns not my own.

I never became completely confident that I was headed in the right direction, let alone was on the right road. But I pushed on, determined not to stop to ask for directions. Not because I didn't want to, but because I wanted to hear from the Lord more. And not some audible voice that guided me to turn left or to turn right, but to just hear something in my heart from Him.

I encountered dozens of streets. Dozens of decisions. And on my final stretch home, I passed a street that had I taken five turns backs, would have put me in my driveway much earlier.

And there it was. So quiet, that I might have missed it as quickly as my car passed by the street sign.

He spoke.

I did not get home the quickest or shortest way available, but I got home just the same. At the end of the night I sat parked in my garage in awe that He had granted my plea,  I had not taken one wrong road.

Every twist and turn along the way led me to the place I so desired, home.
He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. Deuteronomy 2:7
For a deeper look: Hinds Feet on High Places


Larry and I spent Sunday reading excerpts from Jeremy Taylor's, The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living (regarding humility). Everything we read was powerful. I would stop reading every few sentences with jaw dropped open. Taylor has much insight into the motives of our hearts, and at times I felt completely stripped down and naked. The quote below is a good example. I strongly encourage you pick up this book for more.
Never say anything, directly or indirectly, that will provoke praise or elicit compliments from others. Do not let your praise be the intended end of what you say. If it so happens that someone speaks well of you in the midst of a conversation, you are not to stop the conversation. Only remember this: do not let praise for yourself be the design of your conversations. (Devotional Classics, page 270)
-Jeremy Taylor

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's In a Name? | Blog post from Superwife Productions

Here is a post that wrote for SWP on how we decided on the name Superwife Productions. :)

Since we launched Superwife, we've received a number of questions related to it's name. We are often asked, "How did you come up with the name Superwife?" As Larry's wife, this can be a difficult question to answer, as I immediately want to make a disclosure statement assuring people that I am by no means "superwife". So, here is a little story of how SWP came to be.
Larry and I were married in May of 2009. About a month after being married, I noticed that Larry still had me programmed in his phone as Courtney Coker and this just did not seem fitting. So, with batting eyelashes I hinted that an adoring nickname was in order since I was after all his new blushing bride. A couple of weeks later I noticed that he had changed my name to Superwife. Ah, much better, I thought to myself.
Fast forward to October. Larry threw me my very own surprise party and premiered our long-awaited wedding video. At the end of the video, Superwife Productions flashed across the screen, along with the sound effect of a big, wet kiss. [Swoon]. I loved it and it meant something really special to me - and he knew that it would.
Okay, fast forward again. Last year Larry was asked to do a wedding video for his friend Dustin Maddux and his bride-to-be, Heather Cunningham. We were thrilled about the opportunity. As we began to prepare for their wedding, it made sense that we could use Superwife Productions for their big day as well. It was during this time that we were beginning to brainstorm about building Larry's freelance business. As time went on and the business began to take shape, we had many, many discussions about potential business names, but we just kept coming back to Superwife.
And that's it, really. It's just a name, born out a husband wanting to encouraging and spur on his wife with a silly nickname.
But to prove I am no superwife, I will first direct you to Proverbs 31. Nothing will humble a woman quicker than this Proverbial woman. Secondly, I will leave you with a quick top-ten list of some of the things that keep me in superwife-in-training status:
1. I leave mounds and mounds of clothes piled up for weeks at a time, rather than hanging them in their rightful place.
2. Larry does way more dishes than I do.
3. I leave the toothpaste cap off - always.
4. A go to bed at 10p. And I have a night owl husband.
5. I can be a very bad listener, particularly when Hoarders is on.
6. I have been known to be much more temperamental than Larry. Who isn't though?
7. I might do leave hair on the shower wall occasionally.
8. I regard macaroni-and-cheese as a complete meal.
9. I leave a trail of my belongings from the bottom of the stairs on up.
10. I spend a lot of our hard-earned money on coca-cola at Sonic.