Sadly time got away from me last week, so I'm doing a combined blog post this week.
Second Week of Lent Reflections: During the Second Week of Lent, we celebrated both Faith and being "born again," which is another way of saying experiencing water Baptism aka Holy Baptism. In last Sunday's Gospel Reading, a famous Pharisee called Nicodemus came and visited Jesus under the cover of darkness, because he wanted to talk to Jesus. Nicodemus wanted to learn more theology from Jesus, but sadly in this reading Jesus baffled Nicodemus. Nicodemus could not understand, how a person could be born again. Jesus explained to this confused Pharisee, that being born again simply means, that one must experience water Baptism. Jesus said, we must "be born of water and of the Spirit" and we must have Faith in Him, His Father Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit, Who are the Holy Trinity and Who are the Triune God. Yahweh sent Jesus to save every single person. Jesus is the Savior of the world and that world includes Christians, Jews, Pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, and basically everyone, but no one can be saved without the preaching the Gospel of Jesus or water Baptism. If people do not hear the Gospel, then they cannot be saved and they cannot be drawn to the waters of Holy Baptism.
Let us read the Holy Gospel according to St. John Chapter 3:1-17:
"3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, 'Rabbi, we know, that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles, that thou doest, except God be with Him.' 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.' 4 Nicodemus saith unto Him, 'How can a man be born, when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?' 5 Jesus answered, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. 6 That, which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that, which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. 7 Marvel not, that I said unto thee, 'Ye must be born again.' 8 The wind bloweth, where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell, whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone, that is born of the Spirit.' 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, 'How can these things be?' 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak, that we do know, and testify, that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to Heaven, but He That came down from Heaven, even the Son of man Which is in Heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That, whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have Eternal Life. 16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that, whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have Everlasting Life. 17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved'" (KJV 1611).
Third Week of Lent Reflections: During the Third Week of Lent, let us focus on our lower sinful nature and what Yahweh, Jesus, and the the Holy Spirit are doing and what they have done in response to our lower sinful nature. Our reading for the Third Week of Lent Reflections is Romans Chapter 5. During the Mass on Sunday March 15, 2020 at Immanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Lima, Ohio, we only read verses 1 through 8, but for this blog post we shall read the entire chapter.
This chapter of Romans appears in my latest Christian romance novel called The Rising of The Moon Book 1: Changing Tides Part 2 in Chapter Four "The League Cross-Country Meet." In this particular chapter of my novel, my main fictional character Richard McMurphy is being mistreated by his crazy girlfriend Reggiena Fisch. Richard's twin sister Victoria fears, that Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are punishing Richard by allowing Reggiena to mistreat him and They are punishing Victoria by making her watch it. Victoria fears, that she and Richard are not going to Heaven during their afterlives, because Victoria fears, that Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit hate her and Richard. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit assure her, that They love her and Richard and both she and Richard will go to Heaven, when they die, in spite of the troubles, which she and Richard are facing at that point in the novel.
We are all sinners, who must deal with consequences of God's Law. As we looked at during Week One of Lent, Adam and Eve were the original sinners, who gave us Original Sin. Adam and Eve ushered death and destruction with Original Sin. Our world continues to be a mess even after 6,023 years of existence. We deserve death and Hell, but Yahweh did not want us to experience Hell, so He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus the Messiah, to atone for the sins of every single person. Jesus objectively justified every single person, but people must also be subjectively justified. "What does this mean?" as many translations of Luther's Small Catechism phrase it. Objective Justification is another term for Universal Atonement. God's Grace is universal and Jesus' Death on the True Cross universally atones the sins of every single person. However, Salvation is not universal. People must be still be experience water Baptism, believe, that Jesus died to save them from their sins, and confess the Holy Trinity to be the one True God. With this blog post being so long now, I shall now turn our attention to St. Paul's words in Romans Chapter 5.
Let us read Romans Chapter 5:
"5:1 Therefore being justified by Faith, we have Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By Whom also we have access by Faith into this Grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in Hope of the Glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, Hope: 5 And Hope maketh not ashamed; because the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth His Love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the Death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His Life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the Atonement. 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the Law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed, when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him, That was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the Free Gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the Grace of God, and the Gift by Grace, Which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one, that sinned, so is the Gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the Free Gift is of many offences unto Justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the Free Gift came upon all men unto Justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the Law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might Grace reign through righteousness unto Eternal Life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (KJV 1611).
March 2020 Book Signing:
1. I'll be having a book signing at the Jen's Furniture and Collectible (JFC) on the corner of High Street and Chestnut Street in St. Marys, Ohio on Saturday March 28, 2020 from 11 AM to 3 PM. (This event is postponed due to my car needing repaired.)
April 2020 Book Signings:
1. I'll be having a book at The Menagerie at 1178 Indiana Avenue in the St. Marys Business Complex in St. Marys, Ohio on Saturday April 4, 2020 from 11 AM to 5 PM. (This event is postponed due to my car needing repaired.)
2. I'll be having a book signing at the 2020 Arts Place Literature Festival held in Dicke Hall at Wright State Lake Campus in Celina, Ohio on Saturday April 18, 2020 from 9 AM to noon. (I still plan on having this book signing, but the venue might have to be changed.)
October 2020 Book Signing(s):
1. I'll be having a book signing at the Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show at the Vaughnsville Community Center in Vaughnsville from 11 AM to 5 PM.
Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show: I will be hosting the 2020 Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show on Saturday October 31, 2020 from 11 AM to 5 PM at the Vaughnsville Community Center on State Route 12 in Vaughnsville, Ohio. I'm looking for vendors to come and sell their merchandise. I'm pretty much open to anything legal and clean, but homemade baked goods and craft items are preferred. Please see my "2020 Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show: Vendor Entry Form" blog post for more information:
My Green Irish Angel Statues: My Green Irish Angel Statues are really cute! They are only $1 each and they make great gifts. I have three kinds: 1. Cross-Bearing Angels, 2. Praying Angels, and 3. Angels Holding Butterflies. I like the Cross-Bearing Angels the best, because they are carrying Crosses. Each one bearing a Cross reminds us, that Jesus died on the True Cross to save every single person from death, Hell, Satan, Satan's Demons, Original Sin from Adam and Eve, and their personal sins. They're available exclusively at Jen's Furniture and Collectibles (JFC) on the corner High Street and Chestnut Street in between Circle K Gas Station and Zion Lutheran Church (NALC) in St. Marys, Ohio.
Stores Carrying My Books: My books, which I’ve written and published, are also available at the following stores: Brunner News Agency on Flanders Avenue in Lima, Ohio, Jen’s Furniture and Collectibles (JFC) on High Street in St. Marys, Ohio, The Menagerie at 1178 Indiana Avenue in the St. Marys Business Complex in St. Marys, Ohio, Readmore Hallmark Stores out at Eastgate Plaza and on Elm Street in Lima, Ohio, Wagner’s IGA Grocery Store in Minster, Ohio, and in the Shop section of my website ohioirishlutheranpress.com .
Thank you and St. Patrick's Day!
James W. O’Flannery, President and Founder of Ohio Irish Lutheran Press (OIL Press)