Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wrong Number

Yesterday a call came from a number that appeared on the caller ID several times previously. As with numbers of this type, automated calls, a disconnect occurred on the previous calls. This time, the caller asked for a person whose name was totally unfamiliar to anyone at this number. Surprise was the reaction of the caller when he learned that the number was given or received falsely/wrongly.

The caller sounded like a debt collection person, but did not identify himself, only stating that he would remove my phone number from the records.

This is the result of calling upon someone without being certain that the right means of calling upon that someone is being used. Apparently, as is often the case, this caller had the right name. Apparently he had been assured that the means of contacting this person was correct. The caller apparently used this information more than once, calling upon the name via incorrect means. Finally the person learned that all of his attempts were in vain.

There is a point of comparison to be made to those who call upon the name of the Lord via incorrect means. They call and call and call, using the correct name, but with the same results as the debt collector who called using the right name but the wrong phone number.

It is puzzling to me that among those calling themselves Christians that it is hard to find anyone who truly acknowledges that calling upon the Lord involves more than simply using the name of the Lord. It amazes me that people forget that the Second Commandment was given as a warning against the false notion that using the name of the Lord is without defined parameters. Through Moses the Lord declares,

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

The Lord Jesus states this even more powerfully to His disciples in Matthew 7:21-23,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Is this not the same as what the caller heard from me when he asked for someone by name but calling for that person at the wrong phone number? Is the Lord not warning that He will hold everyone accountable who calls upon His name not in accord with the way that He has ordained?

Will people calling themselves Christians not listen to this warning from the very lips of the one that they claim to be calling upon? Will they continue with eyes, ears, and hearts closed to His warning? Will they endlessly cry that all that matters is that one “believe in Jesus” even though Jesus Himself sternly warns that this belief must be according to the faith that the Holy Spirit works and not according to what individuals or even churches declare from their own hearts and minds?

James writes in Chapter 5:

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
(James 5:15-20)

How often do people quote this passage while ignoring the point of this admonition? The point is that we be converted from our errors of doctrine and errors in practice of that doctrine so that our prayers are truly prayers of righteousness, prayers that are moved by the Holy Spirit and thus are truly righteous and heard by God. Otherwise it is as though we are simply dialing the wrong number and calling out for one who is not at that number. Calling out more frequently and more loudly and more fervently does not make the wrong means effective anymore than if the debt collector keeps calling my number calling upon the name of a person who is in no way connected with that number.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Born Alive

Quite a remarkable comparison to the Christmas story:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)

Monday, December 14, 2009

In the Womb

Don’t you know who I am? Can you not see me? Can you not feel me? Will you not acknowledge me for who I am?

This is National Geographic’s “In the Womb” video.

On a couple of other blogs the following video is presented. I present it here as well.

Thanks to Happenings and Mary Matthew for sharing this video.

Here is the full 89 minute video of “In the Womb.” This video tells more about the marvelous mystery of reproduction in humans.

This video makes some amazing observations and statements. One such amazing observation is the fact that from the instant that the first sperm penetrates the cell wall of the ovum the membrane of the ovum changes so that it is impenetrable to all other sperm. From this moment, the new human individual has come into being. This is the person that shall be ejected from the mother’s womb when the gestation is complete.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Flu Season

Do you remember last year’s flu season? How about the flu season before that? How about the flu season that occurred every year of your life?

The flu season comes every year. Yes, every year!

Every year the stores' shelves have many varieties of flu and cold remedies.

Every year the schools have had brief periods during the flu season when it seemed almost as though more students were home sick with the flu than were in class.

Why is it treated so differently this year?

All the publicity regarding this so-called (and redefined) pandemic, and yet the numbers of people suffering the flu seem to be less than in many previous years.

Why the big push for vaccination?

When at the seminary, I voluntarily received my one and only flu vaccination. That year I had the worst case of the flu of my entire life! When I asked the doctor, he said that was the reason that he never recommended the flu vaccine, because in his experience sixty-five percent of those who received it contracted the flu!

I learned my lesson.

Sleep. Healthy and balanced diet. Regular exercise.

These are the most important ways to avoid sickness of every kind.

So why is the “government” promoting this flu vaccine?

More later as time permits.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Reaching People

On the home page of a congregational web site that I visited this evening the following was stated:

In case the text is hard to read here it is again:

Reaching People.... Changing Lives

We are here to serve our community with God's Word, and to make a difference in people's lives for eternity!

I am not supplying a link to the web page as I do not wish to make the congregation itself the focus, but rather to address the “mission statement.”

If we examine this mission statement we can perceive the misunderstandings that are prevailing in churches today, misunderstandings that are turning Christianity upside down and inside out.

The first phrase of this statement is very revealing. When reading the Scriptures, whom are we commanded to serve? Are we ever commanded to serve the community? Are we not commanded: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve”? (Matthew 4:10)

Regarding serving the Word of the Lord to people, to whom are we commanded to do this and in what setting? Is this not to the Church, the communion of the saints, that the Word is to be served, and thus we speak of the divine service of Word and Sacrament?

It certainly is true that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, and thus we will be of service to our neighbors. But whom are we serving in doing this? Who is our master that is being served? Who therefore is the one to whom we look for the definition of such service to neighbor?

The second phrase is also revealing. In what way do the Scriptures say that the Church and the churches and the saints who are of the churches to make a difference in people’s lives? Do the Scriptures speak of the Church as being sent to the world to “reach out” to the world? Or do the Scriptures speak of the Church as a light set on a hill to which the people of the world will draw near? Moreover, what light enlightens the Church so as to make it a light to the world? What are the means by which people are served?

Regarding the Church’s world view, is the Church commanded by Christ to reach out to the world or to avoid the world?

Regarding those who do not repent but seek to mingle worldly elements with the life of the Church, how does the Lord Jesus say that such people are to be regarded by the Church? (Hint: Matthew 18:17 ; Romans 16:17)

In Matthew 18 the Lord Jesus teaches that the purpose of the office of the keys is to lead sinners to repentance. The purpose of the Church is the administration of the means of grace, which are the means of forgiveness and life. The Church is not about what we do but about what God does for us and for all who observe what God is doing for us and amongst us so that they come to be converted to be recipients of His grace, too. This can only happen when the Church stands apart as those who have called out of the world.

Sadly the churches have forgotten this and have actually ceased being the Church, the called out. Today the churches imagine that they are the ones who are to call out, rather than being the called out. They imagine that being witnesses is equal to being those who have the power to call people to faith. Then they imagine that they also have the authority to determine how the calling out is to be done.

When this shift occurs in the focus of the churches and the members they themselves become the focus of their witness. Their works and their efforts and their love is what rules the hearts and minds of the congregation.

The message of the Gospel is the proclamation of the works and efforts and love of God in Christ. It is the proclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, proclaimed in words and deeds, more accurately, in God’s words and deeds, that is, in the words of Christ expounded purely and in the right administration of the Sacraments.

Looking back to the “mission statement”, whose mission statement is this? Are the words of Christ even mentioned? Are the Sacraments that He ordained mentioned? Is this not upside down and inside out from what Christ says of His Church and of the meaning of being His witnesses?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Natural Air Freshener/Neutralizer

In the post below I share about a dangerous malfunction in “green” light bulbs. With this malfunction various toxins as well as odors permeated our house.

This also occurred with a very stupid act that I recently did. As with many stupid acts, the stupid person did not realize the stupidity of his action until after he performed it.

I washed a spill from a pair of sweat pants. So as to be able to wear them without the cold wet spot that I created, I decided to dry the pants in the microwave. I have seen others do this and I have successfully dried items in this manner before. However, I kept heating the pants over and over because the moisture evaporated very slowly on this occasion. What I did not realize was that the areas that were folded over and more densely compacted were overheating. Those areas actually burned.

Not good!

I ruined my pants and I filled the house with that smell.

I pulled out the bottle of Febreze. After spraying the entire house twice, the smell remained. While spraying I also noticed the scent of perfume. I read the list of ingredients to learn that indeed the claim of removing and neutralizing odors was not honest as perfumes also are added to mask the smells.

I began wondering what ingredients the company could be using that would neutralize odors. As I pondered this, I wondered what things actually do neutralize odors.

Activated carbon is one effective neutralizing agent. But this is not something that I want to spray throughout the house.

Another agent is baking soda. “Aha! Let’s give it try!”

I poured a tablespoon or two of baking soda into this spray bottle and then filled it with filtered water. I set the nozzle to the finest setting and began misting the household air. I was amazed at the effectiveness. I sprayed throughout the house twice, and I sprayed the mist in the area of the furnace’s return duct to be sure to get it circulated throughout the ducts as well.

The odors were almost entirely eliminated.

I performed this ceremony after the lightbulb incident with the same effect, but with only one misting of the household air this time.

The one drawback is that the spray does leave a white residue that must be dusted and vacuumed (eventually). The powder is so fine that it is not easily noticed. My wife, who ordinarily detects such things immediately has not mentioned it yet. But she is such a proficient housekeeper that she will likely dust and vacuum it away before she has a chance to notice it.

The point is that it works. And it is 100% natural with no harmful side effects. Baking soda ordinarily will not damage fabrics or alter their coloration. Additionally, it truly does absorb the odor causing chemicals and toxins so that they can be completely removed by vacuuming.

I’m sure that I am not the first to make this discovery, but it is a delight to me to have this natural and very effective odor neutralizer available.

Perhaps some others will benefit from it as well.

Fire Bulbs

Last night as I was working at my desk my olfactory senses detected an alarming smell. It was the smell of electrical smouldering.

This is not something to be ignored. I began sniffing throughout the house and looking for any signs of smoke.

I spent an hour or more searching. I checked every electrical outlet, looking for browning discoloration and touching each one to feel for heat. I brought the stepladder in so as to enter the attic. I checked every ceiling fan and light. I checked the extension cords and the Bunn coffee maker. I checked the stove and microwave and the refrigerators. I checked the breaker box, the power line entrance and the meter.

Finally, I commended the matter to the Lord and went to bed, trusting with the men of old who faced the fiery furnace that the Lord would keep us safe from fire, or that He would take us home.

This morning I noticed that one of our wonderful “green” fluorescent bulbs made in China had burned out. This term is not usually used literally, but in this case, as the photos below show, it was quite literal.

Notice the browned areas in the base of the bulb. An olfactory test verified that the burning smell originated with this bulb.

I have encountered this experience in our house before, but never found the culprit. The smell went away and I never identified the cause.

While it is a relief to know that our electrical circuits have all been checked and found to be in safe working order, it is nevertheless disconcerting to know that these bulbs manifest such a dangerous malfunction.

Thankfully, the locations of all of the bulbs that we use are in fixtures that are extremely unlikely to catch fire. Yet this is still a dangerous malfunction. Moreover, what toxins are emitted into the household air when this happens? The house still reeks with the odor. My fingers still reek with the smokey odor that my fingers absorbed while removing the “burned” out bulb. This time of year, with the windows all closed tightly, such toxins do not depart quickly from the house, which means that we will be breathing them for some time to come.

With the season’s advent of Christmas lights both indoors and outdoors in many homes, this is a good time for every head of house to check the electrical circuits and outlets throughout the house. The extra load placed on the circuitry and wiring by the additional lights makes this a very important and necessary activity. After the lines overheat and cause damage is not the best time to perform this safety procedure. But this often is the pattern in family life. Perhaps my experience will serve to motivate a few readers to take the safety precautions. Checking of smoke alarms/detectors is also a worthy precaution.