Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lenten Disappointment

This year I feel cheated by the season of Lent. Actually, I feel cheated by the circumstances that have led me to cheat myself during the season of Lent.

Circumstances have forced me to have to apply so much energy regarding running my business and earning a living that I have had to set aside the usual midweek Lenten services. Even for Ash Wednesday I was unable to muster the energy to prepare a sermon and to prepare for a service. This is most regrettable to me.

The office of preaching is truly a blessed office, and the season of Lent is, in my estimation, the most wonderful season for preaching. It is the time in the Church Year that most clearly focuses upon the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The texts are so richly laden with the preaching of our need for repentance unto faith and with the Lord’s endless calling to us to bring us to repentance unto faith that I truly regret missing these extra opportunities for preaching.

Preparation for preaching is truly a wonderful blessing. Those entrusted with the preaching office are truly blessed. For studying in preparation for proclamation is considerably different than ordinary study of the Scriptures. Sermon preparation forces a very deliberate and unavoidable subjugation to the Scriptures as the record of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It forces a subjugation to the will of God for the world and for the saints. If forces an attitude of humility to turn from one’s own thoughts to listen to the voice of God.

Sermon preparation is a very special time of struggling intensely with God in connection with what He intends to say through the Scriptures to His Church. The preacher is richly blessed through this struggle, and then is doubly blessed to be commanded and commissioned to share this blessing publicly to all who will receive it.

Yes, I feel disappointed that I found it necessary to set aside the usual blessing of midweek Lenten services this year. This is a fast that I hope never to need to observe again. Yes, this year for Lent our fast was to give up the midweek services, and for me especially, the giving up of preparing the service and preaching the midweek proclamation. Truly this has been one of the most difficult fasts that I have observed. Yet it nevertheless has served the purpose of a fast, namely, that it made me hungry for the Word and has directed my heart to my need for the Gospel. Still, when I choose to fast, I would much rather give up desserts or chocolate or meat or whatever else.

Oh Lord Jesus, come soon, and put an end to all fasting and bring us to Your wedding banquet that never ends! Amen!

The Annunciation of Our Lord

The Annunciation of Our Lord is March 25. It is nine months prior to Christmas, December 25. Aardvark Alley has a nice post on this day of the annunciation or announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would carry the Lord in her womb and bear Him into the world.

One of the striking things about this is that in most years it falls during the season of Lent. This seems to me to be especially wonderful in accord with Gabriel’s words concerning the One to be born of the Virgin, first to Mary and then to Joseph.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:18-21)

The announcement to Joseph especially emphasizes the Lenten theme: and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

How wonderful! The preaching of Jesus Christ is always the preaching of Him crucified, for us and for our salvation. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Toxic Surprises

On her morning walk, my wife saw some left-over garage sale items set by the curb as free for the taking. She found a couple of pullover shirts that would fit me and brought them home. They are really quite nice.

Upon examining them I immediately noticed something very foreign and offensive to my senses. These clothes were full of toxic chemicals. Most people are not aware of these smells as they have accepted them as part of their daily lives. Yet in our household, these are mostly foreign smells.

The clothes reeked of the perfumes and other chemicals commonly found in laundry detergents and fabric freshener dryer sheets. Additionally they reeked of cigarette smoke that was somewhat overpowered by the other chemicals in the clothing.

We both were amazed that this is what people bombard their bodies with continually. For most households, these chemicals are coating every washable piece of clothing, the bedding, the nighttime clothing, even the dishes.

For more on the toxicity of these chemicals and the levels at which people are daily being poisoned, see Toxic Chemicals Found in Common Household Products.

We have not used laundry detergent for over a decade. We have used Earth Smart laundry disks, with spot treatments of natural products like Simple Green. UL put the company out of business by decrying their product as a farce. Yet we have used the disks for over a decade and our clothes are clean, last longer, lose less dryer lint, and are free of the toxic chemicals.

Another product that we have found useful as a spot treatment is OxiClean. But even if a person chose to use the other spot treatments, the level of toxicity would be greatly minimized.

I suspect that even without the laundry disks, which add absolutely nothing to the water or clothes but claim to “restructure the water molecules’, even if only water with a tiny amount of bleach were used, most laundry needs would be satisfied without the toxic chemical residue.

Considering the fact that these residues are in direct contact with the skin, generally on a 24 hour basis, imagine the effects over long periods of time. Then add the fact that most people apply such chemicals to their underarms and other areas of very high absorption directly into the bloodstream, and the answer to many of the ailments that people today experience is found. Then to counter these daily or at least frequent ailments, various other chemicals, such as drugs for pain and respiratory complications, are purchased and consumed. Then these, taken regularly, often cause stomach and liver ailments. Again, more chemicals are purchased and consumed.

Thankfully, many of these ailments can be lessened or even eliminated by simply restricting the use of toxic chemicals in laundry and dish detergents and other commonly used sources.

Moreover, many natural remedies can be used for such things as heartburn, headaches, nasal and bronchial congestion, coughing, hemorrhoids, dry skin, burns, dry eyes, and many others.

Then is the list of things that are being added to prepared food products and even non-prepared foodstuffs. For information on some of these visit TruthInLabeling.Org.

For those who care, I post this information. On our part, we avoid these toxins as much as we are able. In case if you ask, the answer is: Yes, we have noticed a difference in our general health.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Antivirus and Firewall News

Firefox has an FAQ page regarding suggested Antivirus protection called Best Antivirus Software & Internet Security Software. On this page they link to PC Antivirus Reviews where very helpful reviews are posted regarding this group’s opinions regarding the best Antivirus software companies. PC Antivirus Reviews also provides discount coupons for the products that they review and suggest.

In the past I have used Norton and Zone Alarm. I have used Zone Alarm for quite a few years with good success. But in the last couple of years I became very frustrated with the problems that Zone Alarm caused on my system, and even more frustrated with the very poor technical support.

This week I decided to give the Sunbelt Software products a try. I checked other reviews of their products besides PC Antivirus Reviews and found much praise reported for their company and software. So I purchased the products and installed them. At first I thought, “Oh No!” I did encounter some problems. But that is not unusual with new software installation. I called the next day and spoke with a delightful fellow who was extremely helpful. The next day I had some more issues and I again received superb assistance.

Most tech support would have told me that the problems that I experienced were not areas that they covered as they were not directly related to their product. But the Sunbelt support person went out of his way to help. Moreover, he understood English as his FIRST language and therefore understood me and my issues. It was a rare delight!

Both the VIPRE antivirus and antispyware product and the Sunbelt Personal Firewall are up and running and doing very nicely. The software and hardware that was previously encountering interference from Zone Alarm is functioning beautifully so far. Moreover, my system is performing more quickly.

It is still very early in my experience, but so far I am very pleased. For anyone experiencing frustrations like the ones that I have mentioned, you may want to check out the Sunbelt Software for yourself.