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 Prayer

During this time of separation I have made it my goal to suggest ways for the Calvary family to stay spiritually active. One way to remain spiritually active is to have regular conversation with the Lord, we call this prayer. One of my favorite prayer activities is to pray the Ten Commandments. Yes, I know that it sounds odd, and the first time I tried it, I struggled, but the following article written by LCMS President Harrison for the 2017 Reporter is an excellent primer on how to pray the commandments as Martin Luther taught in a letter to his barber. I have edited the article slightly, but kept the parts that will be helpful in adding this prayer technique to your prayer routine. God be with you all. I sincerely miss my Calvary family.  

How  to Pray the Ten Commandments  

Here’s a little piece I wrote as a preface to a collection of biblical texts. It teaches Luther’s method of prayer, which interestingly encompasses both rote and free prayer! — Pastor Harrison  

The method anchors prayer in the texts of Scripture or the catechism but allows the Holy Spirit to prompt thoughts via the Word, which may be chased more freely by the mind at prayer. . . .  

Luther explains his method, using the Ten Commandments:  

First, I think of each commandment as instruction, which is really what it is intended to be, and consider what the Lord God demands of me so earnestly. I do so in thoughts or words such as these: “I am the Lord your God, etc. You shall have no other gods before me,” etc. Here I earnestly consider that God expects and teaches me to trust him sincerely in all things and that it is his most earnest purpose to be my God.  

Second, I give thanks for his infinite compassion by which he has come to me in such a fatherly way and, unasked, unbidden, and unmerited, has offered to be my God, to care for me, and to be my comfort, guardian, help, and strength in every time of need. We poor mortals have sought so many gods and would have to seek them still if he did not enable us to hear him openly tell us in our own language that he intends to be our God. How could we ever—in all eternity—thank him enough!  

Third, I confess and acknowledge my great sin and ingratitude for having so shamefully despised such sublime teachings and such a precious gift throughout my whole life, and for having fearfully provoked his wrath by countless acts of idolatry. I repent of these and ask for his grace.  

Fourth, I pray and say: “O my God and Lord, help me by thy grace to learn and understand thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them in sincere confidence. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen” (Luther’s Works 43:200).  

Luther’s advice to his barber, Peter, is brilliant. You can pray texts of the Bible, hymns, creed, catechism, etc. Start with the Ten Commandments!   

LCMS Reporter Feb. 1, 2017  

Peace,  

Deacon Hurst 

 



Lectio Divina-Divine Reading 

I believe this time of extended separation and sheltering allows a great opportunity for us to grow in faith and try some new study methods and spiritual disciplines. One of my favorites is the practice of Lectio Divina. 

Lectio Divina is a meditative prayer, allowing God to speak through his living Word. It has been described as a way to “feast on God’s Word.” I’d like to suggest using Psalm 46 to practice this discipline. I have included the reading here for simplicity. Please note that I have used The Message translation as I believe its everyday language works well when focusing on specific words or phrases as we do in this technique. In the future, should you choose to continue this discipline, you can choose a familiar reading or even allow the Holy Spirit to direct you by simply opening your Bible and beginning to read. God Bless and keep you all. 

Here are the basic steps. To begin, you might open with a short prayer, asking God to guide your prayer time. You may choose to light a candle. Then do the following: 

1. Reading (lectio): Slowly and thoughtfully, read the Scripture passage several times, leaving room for the Holy Spirit to call your attention to a word, phrase, or line that God wants you to hear. 

2. Meditation (meditatio): Think about the word or words that the Holy Spirit has called to your attention, holding them in your mind and considering them from different angles. What is God saying to you in this passage? offering you? asking you? 

3. Prayer (oratio): Respond to these sacred words in prayer, either silently or out loud, or in writing. 

4. Contemplation (contemplatio): Possibly read the passage another time. Rest in God’s love, and listen. Rest in God’s presence, quieting yourself and listening for God’s response to your prayer. 

 Psalm 46 (The Message Translation) 

1-3God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-Angel-Armies protects us. 

4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. 

7 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-AngelArmies protects us. 

8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, oving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” 

11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-AngelArmies protects us. 

Peace, Deacon Hurst 

NEVER

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” These words from Hebrews 13:5 are a sure promise of God. We are certainly living in unusual and trying times at the moment, but God’s promise to never leave or forsake His children is a guarantee. 

While we continually fall short of keeping our promises or outright break them, our Heavenly Father keeps His. This is good news for us, His children, because it means that no matter the duration or outcome of these challenging times He is with us; loving and caring, building up and calming down, and keeping His promises. 

God keeps His promises, He will not forsake us. We have the gift of life found only in Christ Himself. Praise the One Who breaks the darkness! 

LSB 849 

Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness 

Praise the one who breaks the darkness with a liberating light. 

Praise the one who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. 

Praise the one who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease, calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace. 

Praise the one who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word. 

Praise the one who drove out demons with a piercing two-edged sword. 

Praise the one who brings cool water to the desert's burning sand. From this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land. 

Praise the one true love incarnate: Christ who suffered in our place. Jesus died and rose for many that we may know God by grace. Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done. 

Praise the one redeeming glory, praise the One who makes us one. 

Peace, Deacon Hurst 

Please know that God keeps His promises in many ways including using His people to love, serve, and comfort one another. Please call upon Pastor Dieterichs, Deacon Hurst, Calvary’s Elders and others in your Calvary family in times of need. We are here to love and care for one another

Boldly 

Lent is a penitential season for Christians; a period of time each year for us to examine ourselves spiritually. How have we failed our Savior Jesus over this past year? What have we done or left undone? What have we thought or said? What bad habits have we begun and good habits abandoned? Have we been in prayer, study and service and in the regular reception of the Lord’s Supper? 

The process of penitential examination may be uncomfortable at times, but it can be quite a blessing as we learn to rely more and more on our Savior than ourselves. Writing to the Corinthian Christians the Apostle Paul was quite blunt when he asserted simply: 

              “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.                                            Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?                                              —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5). 

The season of Lent allows Christians to practice this examination annually and purposefully. In all reality, approaching penitence as Paul suggests allows us to boldly celebrate the great gift of our Savior every day. Certainly, we carry sinful garbage that we should not. Jesus has already paid the price to remove that garbage from our lives. To be penitent is to acknowledge our failures, but even more, to boldly proclaim that Jesus has removed the stain of my sin from me for eternity. His victory is won; the deed is done. 

Boldly I approach Your throne                                                                                                                     Blameless now I'm running home                                                                                                               By Your blood I come.                                                                                                                                 Welcomed as Your own.                                                                                                                           Into the arms of majesty.                                                                                                                           This is the art of celebration.                                                                                                           Knowing we're free from condemnation                                                                                                 Oh praise the One, praise the One                                                                                                           Who made an end to all my sin.

 The Art of Celebration (Boldly I Approach) Rend Collective 

Peace,

Deacon Hurst


Filling Up

Have you seen the video of the young driver attempting to fill up her car at the gas station only to find that she had pulled in on the wrong side and the filler door was on the opposite side of the pump? 

The driver re-enters her car and drives around in a half circle only to find that the filler door is still on the wrong side and the hose will not reach. This scene continues on for a few more drive arounds before the driver ultimately drives away unfilled and unfulfilled. 

Free Old Fashioned Gas Pump, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art ...

I have had a chuckle or two at the expense of this young driver, but as think about the whole scene I realize there is a lesson to be learned here. How many people do you know that have pulled up to the spiritual gas pump only to be frustrated that the hose doesn’t fit or fill their tank with what they believe they need. Make me rich, a pro-athlete, or accept me as I continue on my own path (God should accept that because He loves me). They want something else from God. Sometimes they may have even pulled up to the wrong filling station all together. Imagine a spiritual gas station of options: Buddhism, mysticism, humanism, new-age, spiritualism, Hinduism, kabbalah, hedonism, wicca, even satanism are just a few options that are easily accessed at the spiritual fill-up stations today. The sad fact is that if anyone expects to have their tanks filled by any of these options they will soon find themselves driving around in circles searching for more and ultimately leave unfilled and unfulfilled. 

Hear the Good News. We don’t need to search for the truth because Christ has revealed Himself to us as Lord and Savior of humanity. We have no need to search for other spiritual fill-ups. Jesus is all we need and He is all we will ever need. May you find yourself filled to overflowing with Jesus Himself as we walk this earth filled and fulfilled in Him. Peace, Deacon Hurst 

Love Never Fails

Love never gives up. 

Love cares more for others than for self. 

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. 

Love doesn’t strut, 

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

 Doesn’t force itself on others, 

Isn’t always “me first,” 

Doesn’t fly off the handle, 

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 

Doesn’t revel when others grovel, 

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 

Puts up with anything, 

Trusts God always, 

Always looks for the best, 

Never looks back, 

But keeps going to the end.   

(The Message)

I’ve heard these words from I Corinthians chapter 13 often referred to as the ‘LOVE’ chapter. It is often quoted as a favorite verse in relationships and has been used as a scripture lesson at several weddings I have attended. 

I have to admit that when I really think about these words, I struggle with them. I know I’ll never reach these lofty standards of love in Christ. I know I’ll let people down and hurt them. I know that my intentions are to be Christ-like in my love, but my actions are far too often very Jim-like. Luther’s teaching about us being saint and sinner at the same time is very real to me. So, what’s the answer? I could give up or I could try harder; maybe pretend I never read these verses? I believe the answer is to pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to transform and strengthen me to become more and more like Jesus. If left to my own devices I will only fail, but led by the Spirit of God I will mature and grow in Christ-like love as I pray, study, and live as His child. This is a promise that God keeps for all of His children. Seek His promises because God’s love never fails. 

 Peace, 

Deacon Hurst



Epiphany 20/20

 January 6, 2020 found me sitting in the chair at my optometrist’s office for an annual appointment.  Between ‘1 or 2?’, puffs of air in my eyeballs, blinking lights, and eye charts I found myself almost laughing out loud at the circumstances and this reading from The Message:  

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem!     Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight.     God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness,     all people sunk in deep darkness, But God rises on you,     his sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light,     kings to your sunburst brightness. Look up! Look around!     Watch as they gather, watch as they  approach you: Your sons coming from great distances,   your daughters carried by their nannies. When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles!     Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!”     Isaiah 60:1-5  

“Look up! Look around!” How perfect!  Arise, shine, get out of bed! Your light has come! Unfortunately, we are too often blind to the Light that has come. We want to live our lives for ourselves and make our own way out of the miry pit. We want to believe we can somehow contribute to our own salvation. But our Father knows better, and He knows us. He sent the Light into the darkness so humanity could be rescued. In Jesus we can live in the light of eternity. In Jesus we find hearts filled to bursting and smiles for our huge family of believers. In Jesus there is hope. Let us ever look to Jesus, the giver of life. May our 2020 be 20/20 toward Him. 

Peace,  

Deacon Hurst

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