What a significant use God had for Martin Luther in the history of His Church; the true bride of Christ, all those who know Him as Lord and Saviour! Church history is neat to study! As today marks 500 years since the historic event of Martin Luther nailing his 95 thesis to the church doors in Wittenburg, I thought you might like to join our family in watching the 1953 version of the movie
A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s meet the cast.
First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo.
When Albert of Mainz appealed for a papal dispensation, Leo X was ready to deal. Albert, with the papal blessing, would sell indulgences for past, present, and future sins. All of this sickened the monk, Martin Luther. Can we buy our way into heaven? Luther had to speak out.
But why October 31? November 1 held a special place in the church calendar as All Soul’s Day. On November 1, 1517, a massive exhibit of newly acquired relics would be on display at Wittenberg, Luther’s home city. Pilgrims would come from all over, genuflect before the relics, and take hundreds, if not thousands, of years off time in purgatory. Luther’s soul grew even more vexed. None of this seemed right.
Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church. The 95 Theses sparked far more than a debate. The 95 Theses also revealed the church was far beyond rehabilitation. It needed a reformation. The church, and the world, would never be the same.
One of Luther’s 95 Theses simply declares, “The Church’s true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That alone is the meaning of Reformation Day. The church had lost sight of the gospel because it had long ago papered over the pages of God’s Word with layer upon layer of tradition. Tradition always brings about systems of works, of earning your way back to God. It was true of the Pharisees, and it was true of medieval Roman Catholicism. Didn’t Christ Himself say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light?” Reformation Day celebrates the joyful beauty of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.
So we celebrate Reformation Day. This day reminds us to be thankful for our past and to the Monk turned Reformer. What’s more, this day reminds us of our duty, our obligation, to keep the light of the gospel at the center of all we do.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto
him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without
~ Ephesians 3:20-21 ~
Ten months ago marked the visible beginning of one of the
most amazing things that will ever happen in my life. That was a courtship with Johnny
Ingalls. But the Lord was working out
details quite a while before that.
I and my family have prayed for years, asking the Lord to
send the godly man into our lives that He intends me to be a helpmeet to, and
praying for that young man, even though I never knew his name.
We met Johnny when we started attending church full time at CollinsRoadBaptistChurch in the fall of 2014,
but it wasn't until 2015 that we started getting to know him. We talked with him at church and he came to
our home several times. He expressed
interest to Dad in possibly courting me.
After a good bit of talking with Dad, and some conversations between us
at church, I felt fearful of possible differences between us and didn't have a
peace about beginning a courtship with him.
That was in May of 2016.
After that we still talked with Johnny at church, and were
beginning to get to know him pretty well, but it was free of any expectations
of anything more transpiring. During
this time however, the Lord began to open my eyes to take more notice of this
young man. I began to see more of his
exceptional character, his true love and sincerity towards the Lord, his
humility, and his honorableness. I came
to see and appreciate very much that I could actually have an encouraging
spiritual conversation with him, truly focused on the Lord. It only took a few months before I began
feeling very sorry that I hadn't wanted to court this young man. He was amazing! I had never seen another young man like
him! What had I done!?!
At that point I began praying. And Mom and Dad were praying too. They had been observing Johnny more as well
during those months, and were thinking the same way I was about him. So we committed it to the Lord, and asked Him
to send Johnny back if he was the right one.
I was praying very specifically during that time. I was praying that the Lord would send Johnny
back only if he was the right man for me, and that He would only send the young
man to court me who He intended me to marry.
It seemed like a bold prayer, almost too much to ask. How would Johnny ever know that I had had a
change of thought towards him? I was
determined not to indicate it in any way to him, so that he would only come
back if the Lord placed those thoughts in his mind. So, I was asking, requesting from my heavenly
Father what felt to me nearly impossible.
Little did I know until later that Johnny had been thinking
and praying about me as well. The more
he observed me the more he felt like I was the right girl for him.
On January first, 2017 Johnny asked to talk with Dad after
church. He wanted to know if there was
any possibility at all of courting me.
Dad, Mom, and I talked on our way home from church about it. We all knew that the answer was yes. We had been praying for this. We knew that this was from the Lord, and we
all had a complete peace about it. So,
Dad called Johnny and said that we could begin a courtship. He had that Monday off, so he came to our
house and we began talking. There were
just a few things we knew we needed to talk about and make sure we were on the
same page, that we really believed the same things about, and we were relieved
after talking through them all that first day that we really were on the same
page on all the important things.
We spent the next two weeks talking very seriously about
what we believe and what is important to each of us. After those two weeks Dad and Mom and Johnny
and I sat down and decided that we had discussed everything that was necessary
and important and that we were free to begin developing a friendship.
The months that followed of developing a true friendship
went very well. We found friendship and
really connected because of our similar hearts spiritually and in many tastes
and preferences. Our friendship was
moving along so well that on May 27th Johnny told me that he loved me, and I
told him that I loved him too.
Our relationship continued to blossom over next couple of
months, and then, on August 2nd, with Dad's permission, Johnny asked me to
Johnny came over for dinner that evening, and after the meal
he and I and Breanna and Mark went to a beautiful little place about twenty
minutes from our house. Johnny and I
walked up on the walk way overlooking the river. He got down on one knee and asked me if I
would marry him. I said yes, and he gave
me the most beautiful ring I've ever seen that he picked out for me. We smiled, I cried, we laughed, we
talked. We stood there, just amazed at
all the Lord had done.
And we still stand amazed, at how our Lord and Father has
and is working out all the details.
Details that we could have never known.
He had been preparing us for each other long ago. He orchestrated every circumstance to bring
us together. And now, after all those
years of waiting, He has brought about what He intended. And it was well worth waiting for.
It's easy to lose perspective short term, but we are told in
the Word: "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh,
shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:1,8). Will we trust Him, even when we can't see the
end of the road, or even what's around the next bend? Or when we don't understand things that
happen in our lives? Will we trust that
it is all part of His beautiful, perfect plan?
A verse that I have clung to for several years has been,
"Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down
from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of
turning." (James 1:16-17). By the
Lord's grace, I have sought to wait patiently and to trust Him to bring the
right young man at the right time, knowing that when He did, it would be
exactly what it was suppose to be. And
now I can see clearly that the Lord has brought my good and perfect gift into
my life in Johnny. He is not perfect,
and neither am I, but I am so thankful that together we are able to seek to
walk faithfully with the Lord, to obey Him and to love Him, and that we can be
an encouragement to each other in walking through this life for His glory and
honor, as we are both recipients of His grace and love.
"This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our
This is an amazing picture of God's grace and goodness that began 28 years ago, as He picked two young and selfish people up out of the miry clay and sat our feet upon the ROCK!
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!
What do I mean? Seth and I were not Christians when we married. Our marriage would have never worked had God, in His mercy and grace, not drawn us to Him and saved us. Saved us from what? The world may promise life, freedom, joy and happiness, but it CAN NOT deliver! Had it not been for the working a God's mercy and grace, through Jesus Christ, this family picture would look oh so different; mainly because there would be no family any more. Praise be to God for His works are marvelous!
Dad and I saw this pretty cow bird this morning drinking some water from our little pond.
Nature and all the unique animals that God had made are truly amazing. It's neat how creation points us back to the creator. It's a good reminder that just as the animals point us to God we who are also his creation, should point others to our creator just as this little cowbird does.
So, I (Breanna) would like to share with you all the newest exciting news in the Alexander's house and introduce to you all to...
Mark Barry, the love of my life and the amazing precious man who asked me, on April 8th, if I would marry him!!!
Oh God has worked in such amazing ways to bring us together and it has been, truly, watching God work a miracle right before our eyes! So, if you all feel up to a story, let me share with you at least a little bit of how God has worked "exceedingly abundantly" in our lives! :-) There's so much to the whole story, but I'll share at least a little bit of my side of it with you.
We first met the Barry family, my precious soon to be in-loves! :-), back in October of 2013 when we visited for the first time the church that we are now members of, shortly after we moved from Ohio to Georgia. But actually we didn't get to meet Mark until at a friends wedding in January 2014. Over the past several years we've enjoyed so much getting to know the Barry's and fellowship each week with them at church!
I noticed Mark from the very first, and thought he seemed like such an amazing guy, very serious about his walk with the Lord, focused, passionate and very purposeful in seeking and serving the Lord and serving others, strong and confident, a people guy, always looking for a way to serve. Struck me as a "wow"!, but I committed before the Lord to seek to guard my heart with all diligence and just pray and wait on Him to reveal His perfect will. Elisabeth Elliot's book Passion and Purity was extremely shaping in my life, as I learned from it not to pursue a relationship with a guy, but to simply pray about it and leave it with the Lord and wait on Him, quietly and obediently, surrendering all of my own hopes and desires. My goal was to be "asleep" in the will of the Lord, His willing handmaiden, wanting only His will to be done, whatever that might mean. He always knows what is best! Seeing this amazing guy each week at church made it difficult. For 2 years I prayed earnestly about Mark and waited and, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to this, struggled to wait and say nothing and do nothing but simply leave it in the Hands of Him who works all things according to His will. The Lord gave me in a very clear way in November of 2014 the passage in Ephesians 3:20-21a in regard to Mark, "Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly
abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh
in us, unto Him be glory." The message was clear...just trust God and let Him work and WAIT! Another very shaping book in my life was "When God Writes Your Love Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy, where I was first so struck by the concept of giving God the pen of my life and allowing Him to write His story for my life, including my love life, surrendering my will and dreams and desires in His hands. As I later came to see...He writes the BEST love stories! :-)
So not only was there this amazing guy in my life that was truly the most amazing guy I'd ever met, who totally didn't seem to notice me at all, was nice and everything, but it was pretty obvious there was no special interest there. But also, the years keep passing, and for the girl who thought getting married around 18 seemed perfect, I was wondering about if maybe God didn't have marriage for me. Discouragement was a constant enemy that had to be battled against. Can I surrender the desire of my heart for marriage and be His joyful and willing servant and serve Him faithfully however He would have me to as a single woman? Each time I thought I had reached complete surrender, the Lord uncovered yet another level of surrender to be learned and laid down on the alter. In October of 2016 I went through another one of those, but each time finding more and more peace in resting in the will of God and finding communion with Him sweeter and sweeter as He took me to new depths of understanding Who He is and to trust Him with my life.
On October 21st, on the other side of the battle, I was sharing with Mom and Dad about how the Lord had been working in my heart. Dad seemed so touched. He asked me about when the
Lord did this work in my heart.When I
shared with him when it was, he blessed me so much by what he
shared with me. He encouraged me that God is at work
and to take comfort in that even though I can’t see it right now.He shared with me that someone, he couldn’t
remember who, often when they prayed would thank the Lord for what He is about
to do.We can thank Him for what He is
about to do.He is at work, even when we
feel the pain of silence and waiting.
Little did I know that the reason Dad was so touched was because... around September God had laid me on Mark's heart and Mark had been praying about beginning a relationship with me and had approached his parents about me. Then in October Mr. Barry had taken it to Dad. Here I was struggling like crazy as God took me through another lesson and level in surrender and here at the same time God was at work to bring us together, and I had NO idea! Mom told me about it on November 2nd and November 12th Mark asked Dad to begin a courtship with me and we began courting, taking an 8 mile walk as we talked and began the most special journey of getting to know each other, sharing our hearts and seeking out God's will for our lives! As I shared with a friend soon after Mark and I began our courtship, "This guy is everything and so much more than I
could ever have dreamed of and hoped for! He's very serious in his walk with the Lord, is very strong
in his desire to serve the Lord and be purposeful in that in life, is
definitely a family man and is very close with his parents and 7 siblings, he
is a very strong leader, displaying amazing and beautiful leadership skills, a
man of conviction, is very honest, open and transparent, is an amazing servant,
a really hard worker, lots of energy, outgoing in his personality, definitely a
talker. Though not perfect, his character is outstanding and his heart is
very sincere. We're just beginning the journey together, but I am
overflowing with thankfulness to the Lord! He has worked in such amazing
ways! Far beyond what I could ever ask or think!"
Little did I know just how precious the heart of my man is, but over the next several months I got to see deeper and deeper into the depth of his heart and those months were filled with so much...joy, nervousness, excitement, discovery, emotions, and growing as we got to know each other more, share life together and grow together in the Lord! Though it may seem like just "the right thing to say", I can truly honestly say that being in a relationship with Mark has drawn us both closer to the Lord and with the help of the Lord, Christ truly has been the center of our relationship and it has brought so much joy and peace through it all! We have shared so much together, our hearts, joys and triumphs, happy times, discouragements and defeats, struggles and tears, God using everything He brought into our lives through that part of our journey to draw us nearer to Him together and bring our hearts closer together. It has been such a precious journey and I could not be more thankful for the precious man that God brought into my life to walk down this road together with! It has been such an amazing blessing and sweet journey by Mark's side seeking the Lord together!
Then...on April 8th... :-) Mark was here for a visit. It was an absolutely perfectly beautiful day, clear blue skies, bright sun, a slight breeze, 72 degrees...amazing! Mom had the "random idea" ;-) of going to a park near us in the afternoon to walk and then to later all go out for dinner. Sounds fun. :-) We all cleaned up for "pictures" that they wanted to take later and for "dinner" later, then all headed to the park. We pulled up and Mark's like, oh, look who's here?! His family was there from two hours away! Surprise! Mrs. Barry said it was just too nice of a day to stay inside! :-) Mark quickly took me off for a walk and we enjoyed walking and soaking in the beauty of the day, talking about all that God has done in our lives together, how blessed we are, and just honestly lost in each other!
He didn't seem to be in any hurry, but casually asked if I wanted to walk up by the lake. There was a beautiful white veranda right in front of the lake that we walked up to and Mark asked if I'd like to sit down for a while. With him??? Absolutely!! :-) We walk in and there on the bench is a beautiful bouquet of red roses that he picks up and hands to me and says, these are for you! :-) Yes, he's super sweet! :-)
Then we sat down and he asks if I'd like to take a walk down memory lane with him.
He then proceeded to pull out a laptop and began
playing a picture music video of our story that he wrote special memories and
so many sweet things and special moments and fun times we’d shared
together.The first screen that pulled
up said, “To the Love of my life” with “our verse” from Ephesians 3:20-21a
below it, with the song from “our CD” playing, Faithfully.I started crying.It was so precious to sit side by side together and begin at day one and walk down memory lane of
our journey together of 4 days short of 5 months, listening to our favorite
songs, seeing the sweet pictures, reading what he wrote, he poured so much into
putting it together!It created such a
peaceful, joyful, emotion and love filled, close together, tender moment!
After it finished playing, he
stood up and gently asked me to stand up with him.I then stood up and
he promptly turned and faced me and went down on his one knee and held a ring
in his left hand and looked up straight into my face with tears in his eyes and
asked me if I would marry him.I started
crying the moment he went down on his knee, so just lost and overwhelmed with
joy and happiness in the awe and specialness of this moment, of his love, of
the years of waiting and crying and trusting and hoping and praying and holding
on, all became so beautifully worth it as God so faithfully and beautifully was
unfolding the perfectness of His ways and timing as His gift of this amazingly
precious man in front of me, that God so amazingly worked to bring us together
and begin a relationship together 5 months ago, that I’ve been growing closer
to each day and fallen in love with, adore and admire, have shared so much joy together and the
closeness and deep tender things of our hearts together, so everything and so
much more than I could ever have dreamed of, our hearts so specially shaped by
God for each other, here he is, on his knee, loving me and asking me to marry
him, to spend the rest of our lives together!I cannot even begin to accurately describe and put into words the emotions
that went through me in that moment, the tenderness, the love, the joy, the
peace!It was overwhelming.It took me but a second to respond with a
yes!, which he later told me I whispered it.
He then stood up and wrapped his arm around me and
we hugged for the very first time and shared happy tears together, so filled
with love and emotion and joy and rejoicing!
We then went to our precious family's who were eagerly waiting for us (and surrounding us at a distance snapping pictures :-)!) with hugs and lots of love and rejoicing! It was such a blessing to have both of our family's there, all sharing in that special moment together with love and rejoicing! The blessing of the Lord and the beauty and goodness
of His ways was so manifest as He allowed us to get to live it out that day, together, with the love and blessing of our families!
Then proceeded an engagement photo shoot :-)...
Ah, this picture makes me laugh! :-)
And...the ring! It is so beautiful and such an honor to have his ring on my finger, all that it means, the blessing of being Mark's girl forever!
We all went out to supper together and enjoyed the evening celebrating all together! It was so special!
He has done exceedingly
abundantly above all that I could have ever asked or thought, writing the most
beautiful love story ever, making all things so beautiful in His time!Oh the faithfulness of our amazing God, oh we
can so trust Him and just give to Him the pen of our lives, surrendering all we
have and all our hopes and dreams into His hands!He does exceedingly abundantly amazing
things, ALL His ways are SO good!!!We
are so excited to be heading towards the special day when I’ll walk down the
isle and he’ll take my hand for the first time and we’ll promise ourselves to
each other, into God’s keeping, to seek and serve Him side by side together,
until death do us part, sharing life and love together, forever, as one in
Him!Oh how great is our God!One of our sayings during courtship was "how big is our God?" Oh how He has shown us over and over again just how BIG He is! THIS is our God…we have waited on Him!!!
For the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but he Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
"I can't understand why this contrary horse won't let me hitch him to the buggy." Silas said to his wife, as they prepared for a trip to town. Irene climbed into the buggy. "Guess he wants to be stubborn this morning."
Silas struggled with the horse for several more minuets before he finally accomplished his task. "Sure hope he doesn't act up on the way to town." He took his seat in the drivers seat, picked up the reins, and gave them a flick to get the horse moving.
Nothing happened, the horse didn't budge. Silas tried again, this time offering a few words of encouragement to the stubborn animal. "Get up there boy," " lets go now!" The horse whined and pawed at the ground. Silas looked at Irene and frowned. "I may have to use the buggy whip, but I never had to use it with this horse before."
Another horse and buggy came rolling in the drive just then. Silas's friend Levi was in the drivers seat. "How are you?" Levi called "I'm doing fine," Silas replied. "I wish I could say the same about my horse."
"You mean MY horse don't you?"
Silas's forehead wrinkled. "Is your horse acting up too?"
Levi pulled his buggy up beside Silas's rig and climbed down. "The horse you've got hitched to your buggy is mine and I've got yours." Silas sat there several seconds, letting Levi's words sink in. "I wonder how that happened."
"We must have taken each other's horses when we left the Yoder's place after church yesterday." Levi stroked his own horse behind the ear, "They do look almost alike." Silas chuckled, "no wonder I had such a hard time getting him hitched to the buggy, I should have realized he wasn't mine by the way he was acting." "The poor horse wasn't really being stubborn, Irene put in, it was just a case of mistaken Identity."
As he did with Silas and Levi's horses, God makes each of us unique. while we might look similar to someone else, the way we act is proof of who we really are and whose we are. It's important for Christians to do and say things that bring glory to God so the world will know we belong to him. If we live as God wants us to, there will never be cause for mistaken Identity.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
"Others may be deaf to our words but they are never blind to our actions."
I read this a few years ago and Breanna shared it with me afresh this morning. What a precious illustration to me, as a parent, with my children. I hope it will be an encouragement to you as well as you pray over your children and loved ones. ~Karen
Consider the lilies, how they grow (Matt. 6:28).
I need oil," said an ancient monk; so he planted an olive sapling. "Lord," he prayed, "it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers." And the Lord sent gentle showers. "Lord," prayed the monk, "my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray Thee." And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds. "Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues," cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.
Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience. "I, too, planted a little tree," he said, "and see! it thrives well. But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me. I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. 'Lord, send what it needs,' I prayed, 'storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.'"
Yes, leave it with Him, The lilies all do, And they grow-- They grow in the rain, And they grow in the, dew-- Yes, they grow: They grow in the darkness, all hid in the night-- They grow in the sunshine, revealed by the light-- Still they grow. Yes, leave it with Him 'Tis more dear to His heart, You will know, Than the lilies that bloom, Or the flowers that start 'Neath the snow: Whatever you need, if you seek it in prayer, You can leave it with Him--for you are His care. You, you know.