Friday, November 29, 2013

An Extra Hymn To Cover My Procrastination

I know it's not Sunday. But I need to focus attention on  drawing Christmas clip-art for our annual newsletter and assorted Christmas cards. As usual, I'd promised myself I'd draw Christmas stuff throughout 2013, and as usual, I broke that promise. So here I am, taking time away from blogging, Facebook and Twitter in order to make drawings that I could have (and most definitely should have) been making for the past eleven months. So, though it's only Friday, I've decided to post an extra hymn today, before I begin posting Christmas hymns on each Sunday of Advent.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Puritans I Won't Invent

Did I promise a post discussing the faith of they Mayflower Puritans? Well, yeah...in my cockiness and self-assurance, I thought such a post would flow from my headstick with relatively little effort, particularly since I identify with Calvinist theology. But as I started researching their beliefs, noting several differences between 1620 and 2013, the Lord used my studies to humble me.

In short, I'm not sufficiently acquainted with the Puritan's doctrines to offer an explanation of them. Not now.

This inadequacy on my part doesn't mean, however, that I am permanently disqualified from writing about their beliefs. Rather, it means merely that I need to read more, with the goal of representing them accurately. What I'd like them to be, I learned today, differs from who they actually were. Most of these differences, admittedly, touch on relatively minor points such as their rejection of hymns in favor of singing Psalms, though I feel disturbed by their practice of infant baptism. But clearly, these Puritans defy my idealized vision of who they were, so it will be a while before I can portray them honestly.

Be assured that I will continue studying the Puritans of New England, and that I look forward to introducing them to you. Let's just be sure that I introduce you to real Puritans, and not Puritans that I invent to suit my own agenda,

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Wonderful Problem Of Digital Art

I've been working on my watercolor project in Painter Lite. You remember the preliminary pencil sketch I made for this project, don't you? If not, I'll post it again to refresh your memory:


Since doing that initial sketch, I've decided the nose was too big, the mouth was odd, the eyes were too small and the chin was much too long and pointy. I spent three hours today modifying those features and painting in the skin base color.





She looks better, huh?

With Christmas fast approaching, I should set this painting aside to work on Christmas card illustrations. I also have our annual newsletter to illustrate and write. For both of those projects, I'll use Paintshop Pro. I'm familiar with PSP, so I'll be able to work a little more quickly...and with more confidence.

Trouble is: I downloaded CorelDRAW Home and Student-Suite x6 last Friday, and all I want to do is play with it! What a happy dilemma!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pure "Hypocrites"

Freedom Trail guides, Duck Boat drivers and drivers of the various trolley tours in Boston pretty much all take apparent pleasure in pointing out the "hypocrisy" of the New England Puritans. "They came to America seeking religious freedom," these guides announce in voices tinged with disdain, "yet they persecuted Baptists, Quakers and members of other churches." (When John tells them that he and I subscribe to many of the doctrines the Puritans held, they fall all over themselves assuring us that they appreciate the Puritans' contribution to America's beginnings.)

To better understand the Puritans' intolerance of other Christian denominations, we must go back to Elizabethan England. The Church of  England  had rejected the Papal authority of Roman Catholicism, but did so primarily in order for Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The Anglican Church retained many vestiges of Catholicism, much to the dismay of the Separatist Puritans who adhered to the reformed teachings of John Calvin.


These Puritans sought to "purify" the Anglican Church. Of course, their attempts at reform resulted in persecution so severe that they fled to Holland, settling in Leyden for twelve years.

Life in Leyden challenged the Separatists, who struggled to learn the Dutch language. They were mostly farmers in England, so Leyden's textile mill based economy proved difficult for them in terms of securing employment. Additionally, political tensions between Holland and Spain engendered concerns about another Spanish Inquisition targeting non-Catholics.

Yet the freedom of religion in Holland posed the greatest threat to the Puritans. Dutch culture, as a result of its religious tolerance, produced a morally lax atmosphere,  causing the Puritans deep concern that their children would stray from the faith. Consequently, the eventual migration to America promised an opportunity to establish a community centered on their understanding of the Bible, as well as opportunities to evangelize American Natives.

So, although the Separatists originally left England to seek religious freedom in Holland, twelve  years in Leyden taught them that too much religious freedom threatened the purity of their faith. Certainly, their tactics in dealing with other expressions of Christianity upon settling in  New England failed to exemplify God's compassion, the charge of hypocrisy that Boston tour guides so enjoy making  betray an ignorance of history. Let the record show that, far from being hypocrites, the Puritans sought to maintain the purity of their faith.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

He Forgets Not His Own

Living in Massachusetts has deepened both my understanding and my appreciation of the Separatists who landed in Cape Cod on the Mayflower in 1620. In the coming week, I plan to write about their reasons for coming to The New World, their beliefs and their Thanksgiving feast after that first brutal winter. The main story, of course, will be familiar to my American readers. But I believe I can offer some lesser-known facts that, because they're as politically incorrect as most Christian facts are, few people know.

Sunday, however, is a day for worship. So, please enjoy this charming video of a beloved Thanksgiving hymn:


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Green Parasol And John Singer Sargent

Our friend Linda, for various reasons  not important to this blog post, owns a wheelchair van that allows her to take me and John on outings. This past Thursday, the three of us went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the John Singer Sargent Watercolors exhibit. Normally, I associate Sargent with oil paintings such as The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit.
The idea of Sargent working with the medium of watercolor so intrigued me that I could hardly wait to see it!

The exhibition was huge, covering his renderings of Italian architecture, the canals of Venice, Bedouins in Jerusalem and rock quarries where sunlight flashes off white marble. Since it's late today, I'll limit my discussion to three paintings he did of his niece and her companion, all set at Simplon Pass in the Swiss Alps.
Simplon Pass: The Tease amused me with its playfulness. The young girl tries to distract her friend, who clearly would prefer to read her book in peace. Reclining figures fascinated Sargent, so he apparently enjoyed capturing their girlish interaction.
Sargent continues the theme in Simplon Pass: Reading, this time cutting away all but a suggestion of the Alps to concentrate attention on the girls. Both girls look up from their books as the reclining girl invites the viewer into the conversation.
Finally, Simplon Pass:  The Green Parasol betrays Sargent's fixation with his niece's parasol. And who can blame him? It catches the summer sunlight with its translucence, creating a romantic backdrop for the girl. I love it!

All Sargent's watercolors, though different from his equally wonderful oil paintings, show his romantic side. But these three especially communicate that part of him. I've come away loving his work more than ever, and grateful to have seen him in a way I never had before.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Completely Unoriginal, Praise God!

If I think I can write something truly original, I merely demonstrate an inflated ego. Naturally, I'd love to believe I have a unique contribution to make to humanity, and most writers probably harbor similar hopes of producing new insights that will "rock" the world. That's part of why we write. Sure, we claim we simply love the craft of placing word together in interesting patterns. In some respects, we indeed do. But secretly, each of us dreams of saying something entirely new.

Scripture flies in the face of such hubris:

What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us. ~~Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 (ESV)

Who am I to presume that I can press the right combination of keys on my computer to fabricate an idea that has never occurred to another person in the entirety of human history? Don't people who claim such revelation generally end up forming false doctrines? Although it could, I suppose, be interesting to concoct some sort of philosophy or theology that took on the appearance of novelty just to see how many people would actually fall for it, I really don't want that sort of notoriety.

Let me go down as someone who wrote out of a desire to reinforce and honor what God has already said in His Word. I bring no fresh perspective to it. In fact, shame on me if I dare to think that there could possibly be a fresh perspective on anything as timeless as God's Word.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Disdain Of Squirrels

Boston reached 67 degrees yesterday. The rain ended well before 10:00am, prompting us to catch the bus and then the subway for a day downtown. Despite the pleasant temperature, breezes kept it cool enough that we concluded Back Bay would most likely be more comfortable than the parts of the city near the water. So we took our wheelchairs along Boyleston Street to have lunch at the Prudential Center.

Coming back through the Public Garden on our way to catch the Commuter Rail home, we spotted a couple feeding some squirrels.
Now, in our experience, the squirrels in Boston can be less than cooperative, so their willingness to eat from the gentleman's hands somewhat surprised us. Then again, not many acorns have fallen this year,  so perhaps the little varmints feel forced to comply with any humans generous enough to offer free food. At any rate, their uncharacteristic humility definitely warranted a photo!

Seeing us, the gentleman decided to attempt luring a squirrel to eat off my shoe. One squirrel, although somewhat interested in the food, had reservations about approaching a strange woman in a yellow wheelchair.
Unruffled by the squirrel's disdain, the gentleman persevered in his attempts to interest the squirrel in taking food from me. Patently, he made gentle sounds to attract the animal's attention, encouraging it to investigate the situation. After lengthy and careful deliberation (making me nervous about missing our train), the squirrel allowed the gentleman to persuade it.
How often do we, like obstinate squirrels, scorn what the Lord offers us?



Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's Still Now

November has brought a dullness to New England. The brilliant  foliage that lit up the woods outside our living room window faded two weeks ago, leaving some trees bare and others void of any real color. The clouds stretch a gray canopy above, deliberately accentuating the glum mood. Winter is approaching,

What a fitting metaphor for turning 60! The splendors of my last decade, when marriage and the joys of discovering Boston blazed with enchantment, now begin to fade as I witness the complications of aging with a disability. I know my years on earth are dwindling, and that I may not have many more Boston adventures with John left. Low oxalate, low fat dietary restrictions erode the pleasure of eating, and the specter of cancer returning to John never quite leaves.

Today, my pastor's sermon broke through my melancholy, reminding me that I still have much to offer the Lord. He hasn't yet called me Home because He has more for me to do here. Through the dullness, with my years of more vigorous ministry behind me, the Lord reminds me that He also makes winter snow sparkle.

So I close with this hymn that celebrates the wonder of loving Jesus:


Saturday, November 16, 2013

In The Beginning Was The Pencil Sketch

I've begun a digital portrait using Painter Lite, and I thought it might be fun to let you watch its progression. Here's my pencil sketch:


Friday, November 15, 2013

Reason And Ego

It had probably been a year since I'd read her blog. And I only noticed her blog yesterday because Google, after signing me out, took me to my Reading List. She had both changed the name of her blog and decided to use her given name in place of the pseudonym I'd always known, arousing my curiosity. I clicked the link, finding that she'd changed much more than mere names.

She's on a journey, she says, away from Christianity.

A few of my readers also read her blog, so I'll respectfully ask them not to post comments specifically about her. She needs our prayers.

This post concerns itself with the bigger issue of seemingly committed Christians falling away from the Lord in varying ways and degrees. Some, like the blogger I've mentioned, no longer self-identify as Christians. Others, however, merge error with truth and insist that their new-found versions of Christianity is  more "authentic."

All these people have fallen for the same old tired lie that truth goes beyond Scripture, and that we can attain it by our human reason. Certainly, the Lord blessed us with minds, and He wants us to employ our reasoning abilities as we study His Word in ways that build our faith. The apostle Paul, in fact, evangelized by reasoning from the Scriptures (please click this link for examples). Good, honest thought should always be encouraged as we approach the Bible.

Danger comes, not in thinking in and of itself, but in presuming that our human intellect surpasses God's wisdom. Our opinions seem reasonable, but His truth trumps any theories and suppositions we care to make. The humility of confessing that He is God and we are merely His creations must remain guarded, lest we fancy ourselves to be His equals. As much as it pains our pampered little egos, His thoughts greatly exceed anything our puny minds can conjure up.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~~Isaiah 55:6-9 (ESV)

God the Holy Spirit made His thoughts known to the men who, under His inspiration, gave us Scripture. We do well to actively meditate on Scripture by studying, applying and sharing it. Let's choose that approach instead of judging its validity against the false standard of our own ideas, remembering that, as our Creator, He has the final say.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Cessationist And The Holy Spirit

Charismatics often charge that cessationists don't believe in the Holy Spirit. This charge, not surprisingly, has intensified considerably since the Strange Fire Conference last month. Charismatics assume that believing that certain gifts ceased at the close of the  Apostolic Age necessarily means a rejection of the Holy Spirit Himself.


Yet Scripture demonstrates that God deals with His people differently at various people at different points in history. For instance, for the 400 years between Malachi and John the Baptist, He remained silent. Similarly, during the Apostolic  Age, He spoke to the apostles to instruct them on the doctrines of the  New Covenant. So despite the fact that  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), it's equally true that God varied the ways  He spoke to people (Hebrews 1:1-2). With Jesus as His final Word, God needed only for the apostles to complete the  canon of Scripture.

The gifts of healing, tongues and prophecy authenticated the apostles' authority to bring   God's Word. Interestingly, those gifts diminished, even in the book of Acts, as the apostles built the  Church. Additionally, 1 Corinthians (the only epistle to discuss the functions of these gifts) was written in about 55 A.D., still quite early in Paul's ministry. As he wrote further epistles under the direction of the Holy Spirit, those gifts became less and less necessary.

Yet, the waning of those gifts by no means indicates a cessation of the Holy Spirit's activity in the Church. First of all, He alone causes regeneration (John 3:1-8). Without Him giving us the ability to understand and believe the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:14-15),  we could not hear the Word of Christ which saves us (Romans 10:14-17).

Beyond salvation, the Holy Spirit lives within believers (Romans 8:9-11), empowering us to resist our sinful inclinations in favor of displaying His fruit (Galatians 5:16-24). Those who battle against temptation (as I do) absolutely depend on the Holy Spirit to keep us pure and obedient because we know all too well how desperately weak we are apart from Him.

Believing that the Holy Spirit has ceased to operate in certain ways now that the Bible has been completed certainly shouldn't be misconstrued as a denial of His power and activity. Charismatics focus on outward  manifestations of His ministry--manifestations that were only temporary, having the specific purpose of establishing the apostles' authority. But, as a cessationist, I cling to the Holy Spirit, fully dependent on Him  for both my salvation and the ability to live the Christian life. Deny Him?  Never!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Expanding My Art Studio

Two weeks ago, Corel sent me an email offering Painter Lite (which is normally priced at $69.99) for $9.99. I hemmed and hawed for about an hour, knowing that the program was primarily designed to be used with a Wacom Tablet. Of  course, a tablet and stylus wouldn't work for me, but I finally looked at the Tech Specs and found that a PC with a mouse could operate it...just not with the same nuances which stylus pressure achieves.

The kaleidoscope feature intrigued me, so I played with it as soon as I installed the download. Within two days, I'd created the tile that forms the basis for my blog's new background.





Once I'd designed the tile, I saved it to my PaintShop Pro tile folder. Then, in PSP, I set it to a 45 degree angle, reduced its size to 25% and created white blinds to provide texture. I really liked the result!

After having that fun, however, I realized that I needed to back up and start learning the program. When I first got Paint Shop Pro 8 back in 2003, it took a while before I created anything of note. So I figure that now I should acquaint myself with Painter Lite's brushes, features and effects before attempting any serious projects.

And today, I learned that CorelDRAW is on sale...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

See His Banners Go

In recognition of Veteran's Day tomorrow, I decided "Onward Christian Soldier" would be the appropriate hymn to feature this week. As you  listen and reflect on the lyrics, please remember that Christ defeated sin and Satan when He shed His blood on the cross, and when He rose from the dead!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Unsatisfactory Scripture

Mostly in those years when I accepted Charismatic theology (but also in later years), I considered the Bible to be less than satisfying. Oh, with my mouth I'd insist that Scripture possessed everything Christians needed to know, but when I struggled with personal issues, I'd search its pages and find my heart yearning for something "deeper." Prophecy, psychology, or "words of knowledge" promised to augment God's Word.

My battle to tame my temper provides an example of my dissatisfaction with Biblical principles. I dutifully read all the passages condemning anger, as well as the ones encouraging self-control. Yet they didn't seem to offer guidance on how to keep  from exploding into fits of rage when I'd feel irritated or threatened. I believed I needed to understand childhood trauma that caused my root of anger. Additionally, I went through "deliverance" from a demon of anger that had supposedly possessed me. I read Christian books and articles, looking for mystical experiences with Jesus that would free me from my anger and transform me into a woman of inexhaustible patience.

What I really needed, of course, was to obey the Holy Spirit, Who has given me a spirit of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). I could choose to walk in the Spirit's ways, which He outlined in the Bible, or I could choose to walk in the flesh. Walking in the Spirit doesn't erase my fleshly feelings of indignation, but it trusts the Spirit's power to help me respond to irritations as He would have me respond.

God's Word not only teaches us what the Lord expects, but it points us to the power of God's Spirit, Who enables us to obey. We need no "deeper" knowledge, nor do we need psychology. Scripture guides us to the risen Christ, Who in turn raises us from bondage to our sin natures. Really, what more could we possibly need?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Facebook Faces Me Toward Eternal Blessiings

Over on Facebook, people have resumed the November ritual of making daily Status Updates citing reasons we're thankful. The exercise certainly has its benefits, especially in this culture which encourages complaining over gratitude. And, because I struggle with feelings of entitlement which foster ingratitude, I've joined the club by making my daily posts. I hope the practice will help me cultivate a grateful heart toward the Lord.

I've noticed, in scrolling through all the Facebook posts, how often my friends and I express thanks for temporal blessings like jobs, husbands, children and help finding car keys. All our temporal blessings do, of course, come from a generous and gracious God Who deserves our acknowledgement and gratitude, so I do believe it's more than appropriate to thank Him. In fact, woe to us who take His kindnesses and provisions for granted. And even more woe if we dare to imagine that we've provided for ourselves!

Although we should thank the Lord for the many wonderful blessings He gives us in this life, I've started wondering whether or not I understand the value of eternal blessings. Actually, the Holy Spirit used a study I did on 1 Peter over two years ago to begin the slow process of shifting my focus from temporal to eternal treasures.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ~~1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)


Like all too many 21st Century Christians, I readily lose sight of eternal blessings by over-focusing on what the Lord does for me in the here and now.  Yes, God should receive thanks for His abundant care for me in this life, but He wants me to take even greater delight in His kingdom, and in spiritual blessings.

As I said, my progress in shifting my attention from this life to heaven has been slow and unsteady. So in my Status Updates on Facebook this Thanksgiving month, I'm making efforts to thank the Lord for salvation, Scripture and other eternal blessings. Occasionally, I'll post thanks for my PCAs or my husband, and such posts definitely have merit. But I want to train myself to gaze past temporal blessings so that I set my mind on eternity.  Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Boston's Wicked Good

Several weeks ago, ABC's Emmy Winning reality show Shark Tank updated viewers on Wicked Good Cupcakes In A Jar, saying that the company had a location at Faneuil Hall as a result of partnering with Kevin O'Leary (one of the Sharks). Being the Boston lovers that we are, John and I eagerly rushed to Faneuil Hall, intrigued with the concept of jarred   cupcakes and excited that they were in "our own backyard." But we circled the first floor of Fanueil Hall, not finding any cupcakes in jars or otherwise among the merchants.

John also searched the food vendors in Quincy Market's main colonnade. Again, no cupcakes showed themselves. We figuratively scratched our  heads, bewildered by our inability to find Wicked Good Cupcakes. Once my doctor asked me to go on a low-fat diet, we started eating at B'Good and Viga during our Boston visits--choosing turkey burgers and grilled chicken (both without cheese). We'd get a mini frozen yogurt from the Pinkberry stand at South Station as an alternative to  cannolis. Quite honestly, we'd forgotten about Wicked Good Cupcakes.

Yesterday, as much as I wanted clam chowder, I understood that a turkey burger would be in my best interest. B'Good, however, teemed with people, so I suggested getting a turkey burger at the Cheers Replica in Quincy Market. As I drove down the South Canopy toward Cheers, a pale pink kiosk caught my attention...I'd found Wicked Good Cupcakes!

The turkey burger, even with the added sauteed mushrooms, wasn't very filling. I suppose we should have waited until we got to South Station and had Pinkberry, but we really wanted to try Wicked Good. I know my doctor occasionally reads my  blog, and I know she'll disapprove, but I had to give in...just this once. Perhaps I was wicked. But oh, that cupcake was good!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

And Anyway, It Helps Maintain My Girlish Figure

Physically, I'm tired. Today, blogging is pretty much the last thing I want to do (sleep being the first). I guess the sudden release of pressure regarding the PCA situation signaled a message to my body that it can relax now, so the adrenalin let go.

As much as I love typing, it's really hard physical work, as I use my legs, back, arms and neck in concert with each other  to maneuver my headstick around my keyboard. I choose this exercise willingly, despite the effort (which, in the past few weeks, is intensified by different positioning in my wheelchair while a potential pressure sore heals) because I love blogging. This blog helps me reach out beyond the walls of my apartment to a vast world, allowing me to share my love for the Lord. And He is worth it!


Relief

We just interviewed a woman who has a stable living situation in our town, only an adult daughter, is available for the hours needed (as well as to back up my weekday morning attendant), and could get here in a blizzard. We related well, and she understood my speech. Her reference checked out. So...WE HIRED HER!!! Thank all who prayed. Pray that we can be a good witness to her.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hiccups And Hurricanes

This latest trial regarding a weekend PCA, with its numerous false hopes, sharp detours and time consumption, has me internally screaming, "I want my life back!" And I laugh at myself, thinking that I should know, after 36 years of dealing with the constant and bothersome responsibilities of  adulthood (adulthood being defined, for me, as beginning the day after my college graduation), that these problems are my life!

I thought I understood by now that life consists of fun and despair, of pleasant meadows and stormy seas. Struggles and hardships don't interrupt life; they contribute to its texture. Indeed, Jesus said:

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world, ~~John 16:33 (ESV)

My disability presents abundant opportunities for frustration, but I'd guess that everyone else has trials equally heavy and copious. Real life, this side of heaven, surges with hiccups and hurricanes, all meant to show us how powerless we are. In our desperation, more than in our joy, we cry out to the Lord, fully cognizant that He alone  can calm the storms. And knowing that the storms make us long for eternity with Him.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Bulwark Never Failing

I love God's timing! It's been a discouraging weekend, with three wonderful prospects for the weekend PCA job all needing to bow out of accepting the position and The RIDE giving us an impossibly early pick-up time that forced us to cancel going to church for the second week in a row. All  extremely discouraging. Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to be disabled!

In the midst of all this frustration, I went to YouTube to find "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," the most famous of the hymns that Martin Luther wrote. I knew it would make a fitting end to my celebration of Reformation Day. As I considered the lyrics, I felt encouraged to see the Lord as my fortress during this latest siege of trouble.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit will also minister to  you through this majestic hymn:


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Big Deal Worth Celebratiing

Why is the Protestant Reformation such a big deal? Okay,  most of my readers take it for granted that I won't celebrate Halloween. But gee whiz, I've  devoted pretty much the entire week to Reformation Day, even though very few people have even heard of it...and fewer people care, Aren't Catholics and Protestants learning, almost 500 years after Martin Luther's act of rebellion, to minimize their differences, and even to learn from each other? What's the point of bringing  division?

The point hasn't changed since Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Whittenberg Door. Despite the curtailing of selling indulgences, the Catholic Church continues to insist that sacraments and good
works throughout adult life are necessary to ensure salvation. Further, the Catholic Church still officially believes in Purgatory, where souls must complete their atonement before entering heaven.

There are, of course, other doctrinal departures from Scripture inherent in Catholic teaching, but time constraints prohibit me from enumerating them today. My concern presently is with Luther's restoration of Bible-based Christianity to the world. He triggered a movement which, with the help of the printing press, made the Bible accessible to laity (he himself rendered a German translation). Thanks to him, Christians no longer are at the clergy's mercy. And, most importantly, we can rest in the assurance that Jesus made complete atonement for our sin. The Lord's atonement is definitely a big deal!

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