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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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A Journey

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There was once a little boy who was eager to get it all right. He was so scared that he would get something wrong and people would laugh at him that he spent all his time studying and reading. Growing up, he hung out with a lot of cerebral people. Even in the large Baptist Church he attended with his mother, his sister and his grandmother, his Sunday School class would constantly discuss science and try to square the miracles of the Bible and God's omniscience with observable phenomena. Whenever he would bring up something like tradition, or a more literal understanding of the Bible, his classmates would laugh at him and inundate him with scientific terminology that he found difficult to understand, but he would cover it with a haughty air, although his armor cracked once or twice. He felt a drawing to the communion table beneath the pulpit one Sunday in 1988, when his minister issued the weekly altar call and after excusing himself from the people he was sitting with, he went up. The minister asked him if he was ready to commit his life to Jesus and if he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and his own Savior. The teenager nodded.


He had a workbook to fill out and turn in before his baptism and that went over basic Christian doctrine, such as the Holy Trinity and the importance of Scriptures, a little bit of Baptist history and such. He completed his assignment on time and was baptized in the baptistry at the back of the church, behind the choir loft. Rather than sit with his friends, he chose to sit apart, with some elderly people. He kept researching Christian history and certain things about what he was reading as history and what he was taught as a Baptist began to tug at him. The mysticism and ritual of Roman Catholicism had already begun to draw him and he would go through the Rite of Christian Initiation during his freshman year at college, around 1995. The rituals and heritage enthralled him. He felt vindicated by the Catholic doctrine of Jesus' Body and Blood being really and truly present during the Holy Eucharist. It was quite a jump from the memorial that the Baptist Church proclaimed it to be.


He was a loner in the Catholic Church, though. He did everything he was supposed to do, but he did it by himself. He sat by himself at Mass every week and stood alone in line during the monthly Confession. He fell away from the church many times and experimented with many different religions. The Devil had a stranglehold on him. When this aging man got married in 2008, he chose to marry somebody who was financially well off and who was not a believer. That was no problem, because neither was he. So he thought. He knew he was doing wrong, but he did not care. he wanted company and he needed his female companionship. As an afterthought, he had his marriage convalidated by the Catholic Church, to the strenuous objections of his in- laws. He already had a daughter from a previous relationship who was baptized as a Lutheran of the liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church. Her mother had refused to marry him and she instead made sure his wages were docked and he paid child support, which he paid willingly.


His marriage lasted for nearly six years and unraveled a couple of years after he, his wife and his wife's parents had moved down to Florida. He attended a couple of Catholic churches down in Florida and their financial focus, together with the perpetual arguments he had with his wife, led him to depart the Catholic Church, with no one's regret and apparently no one's notice. Then, he and his wife agreed to try Presbyterianism, as she was raised in the PCUSA. Their liberalism was a shock, to say the least. The traditional miracles of Jesus recorded in the gospels were reduced to metaphor and it seemed that after a couple of months in the Presbyterian Church, USA, was more than enough to convince this couple that they needed to go elsewhere.


Then, this unemployed fellow from Virginia, who was living on food stamps in Jacksonville, Florida, began to pray. He said " Not my will be done, O Lord, but yours." The Holy Spirit began to lead him and He led him right through the doors of a Lutheran Church that was meeting in an old office building off of Baymeadows. This Lutheran Church was affiliated with the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. He got involved with some of the ministries that the Lutheran Church had to offer and he and his wife agreed to take new membership classes. After about six weeks, he and his wife stood before the altar of this small church and swore fidelity to the Lutheran Confessions after reaffirming their beliefs in the main points of the Apostle's Creed. Then, the Holy Spirit began working on this man full time.


One casualty of this conversion was his marriage. He grew to understand that he had been guilty of placing his wife before his God and God will have no rivals. She initiated divorce proceedings and for all that he wanted to remain in Florida, his family called him home to Virginia. He reaffirmed his faith before the local LCMS congregation shortly after he came back home and was equally immersed with the Church, teaching Sunday School and being involved with the Church Council as a secretary. He was employed in a swift fashion. He tried substitute teaching for a year, but rather disliked the school atmosphere and started to work retail. A few months ago, he began to feel another pull of the Holy Spirit. This pull is currently calling him to a role in the Holy Ministry. God had been intensely good to this man and only by His grace were the scales able to fall from his eyes and he could behold the Light of the Gospel.

Edited by ConfessionalLutheran
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