Mysteries Come in Threes


Wherefore Saint Bernard declared there are here three miracles: that God and man should be joined in this Child; that a mother should remain a virgin; that Mary should have such faith as to believe that this mystery would be accomplished in her. The last is not the least of the three.  The Virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is that this maiden should credit the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin had been chosen to be the mother of God.

Martin Luther, in Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, ed. Roland Bainton (Kindle Locations 133-143).

The State of the Blog, 12/12/2015

Hi all,

Things have been busy on my end recently, and I don’t want you to think that this has just become a place for me to re-post things I find interesting (though, of course, that is one of the aims of this site).  I just finished an online course in public speaking that has eaten up a surprising amount of my time, while at the same time, I’ve been working on developing a New Testament Greek curriculum (see the update Greek page for a new worksheet!) while also trying to finish a publication draft with a colleague.  Add to that Thanksgiving travel in the interim, spotty internet, interviews, and Christmas and Advent preparation, and it’s a busy season!

But, I want you to know that new, original(ish) content is on the way.  In the next week or so I hope to record a new chapter from Gerhard and post it over on the AudioGerhard/t Podcast page, with better audio quality than the first one.  I also have two articles for the site underway.  One, following a discussion I heard on the radio between two pastors about Christian responses to gun violence and the right to bear arms, hopes to look at Lutheran responses to the question of whether or not a Christian should bear arms or make use of deadly force (I started it a month ago, but it’s still quite relevant given recent events in the news).  The other looks at the annunciation to the shepherds in Luke 2, specifically at who those shepherds were and why it matters that they received the Good News first out of all people apart from the Holy Family.  I’m not holding myself to a timetable on these what with Advent going on now and Christmas coming, but I want to let you know they’re both on deck.

Anyway, I’m still here, plugging away.  Since tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, here’s some appropriate music:


Reblogged: “Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those Who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation”

The linked below is an excerpt from Wilhelm Löhe’s Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians (trans. H. A. Weller, Benjamin T. Mayes; Orwigsburg (1916), Kansas City, Emmanuel Press (2006, 2010)) posted by my friend T. David on his blog at Pseudepigraphus last month (check it out–he finds a lot of great theological writing).

From Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those Who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation:

141. Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation

1.) Stand not unto thyself, and govern thyself not according to thy feelings; for he that dependeth upon his own heart is a fool.

2.) Dwell not upon thine own thoughts nor sink and en- tangle thyself into them, else thou castest thyself into the camp of theenemy that besieges thy soul.

3.) Keep not thy sufferings thyself; but seek and confide fully and quickly in thy more experienced pastor.

4.) Cleave unto the words which are spoken to thee in God’s name. Consider them in thy heart. Repeat them again and again anddirect the thoughts and emotions of thy heart to them.

5.) Especially, let nothing make thee forget nor doubt these three passages:

a. The word of Isaiah, 49:14-16; concerning God’s faithful remembrance of us:

“Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that sheshould not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graventhee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

b. The word according to John 10:28; concerning the security of the soul in the hands of Jesus:

“I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

c. The word according to Matthew 10:28-31; concerning the security of the body in the hands of Jesus:

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both souland body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without yourFather. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than manysparrows.”

6.) In moments of sore temptation, above all other times, neglect not the preaching of the Gospel, which is the power of God,rejoicing the soul.

7.) Neglect not to pray, even if it seem unto thee as if thou wert attempting to draw a load that is too heavy. James says, 5:13: “Isany among you afflicted? let him pray.” Especially pray the 51st Psalm, vv. I2-I4: “Uphold me with Thy free spirit;” and Psalm 142.

8.) When thou feelest as if courage were at an end, begin to sing Psalms and spiritual hymns. This is very offensive to Satan and exertsa wonderful power upon troubled souls. Especially to he recommended are the Hymns of Praise. The prayer of praise will oft’ attainwhat no prayer of entreating sighs may gain. At times it immediately draws one out of his distress. If thou canst not thyself sing, letothers sing for thee.

9.) When thou prayest take heed lest thou in any wise desire to be released of thy trial without or against the will of God. Sayjoyfully, or at least firmly, “If I shall drink this cup, dear Father, let Thy will be done.”

10.) Do not for one moment conceive that thou art the only one under so great trial. In Peter’s first Epistle, 4:12, thou learnest thatsuch trials are common; and, in the same Epistle, 5:8, 9, that like sufferings come upon thy brethren which are in the world. When aman begins to imagine that he alone is suffering, or that his sufferings are greater than those of others it is a sign of secret vanity.

11.) Thou shalt thank God for His visitation upon thee. Temptation teaches to give heed unto the Word, and blessed is the man thatendureth (James 1:2, 4, 12). Many one, if he but knew how great good unto him is hidden under his trials, would gladly giveup all his days of joy for them.

12.) Meet thy temptations not idly. Idleness breeds and multiplies many temptations which had otherwise never come, not abodelong if they came. Small is the hope for recovery of an able man tempted, if, when his temptation comes, he leaves the work of hiscalling undone or but half done.

13.) When thou art tempted, flee from solitude and seek the companionship of godly, joyful people. Few people can, without injuryto themselves, live constantly in great companies, and less are they who can live in constant solitude without harm. God created menfor each other.

14.) Many trials have their origin in a diseased body. If, therefore, an experienced pastor advises thee to seek the services of aphysician, do not neglect that advice; but use the treatment prescribed with a prayer for God’s benediction upon such use.

15.) Consider these recommendations diligently. Let them guide and comfort thee; and may God grant thee peace. Amen.

Follow the link above to read more from Löhe on Pseudipigraphus.

If you would like to read more of Löhe’s advice and devotions, you can purchase a copy of Seed-Grains of Prayer from Emmanuel Press here.  There is also a page-scan of the 1914 printing on