Friday, December 31, 2010

The Reason for the Season - Revisited

With the Season of Christmas upon us, my thoughts ran once again to the saying: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” In 2006 I wrote on this in the post: The Reason for the Season.

This year I have revisited those thoughts, yesterday even as I climbed and trimmed a large oak tree, and I realized something more. Previously I had concluded that Jesus is not the reason for the season, but we are, as I explain in my 2006 post. But as I pondered this anew, reflecting in part upon the fact that most people do not even know when the season of Christmas begins, as well as the good intentioned invention of the misguided slogan that Jesus is the reason for the season, I came to realize that Jesus IS the Season!

Much more can be said in this regard, but for now, it is worthy of pondering that Jesus is the season and we are the reason.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let’s Argue!

What kind of a fool sees an argument in progress and imagines that he can enter into it peacefully? What kind of a fool imagines that something productive can come from an argument? What kind of a fool imagines that his opponent in an argument will actually listen?

This is what I am asking regarding myself.

I cannot count the number of arguments in which I have been a participant. Was anything ever accomplished? Was there ever a positive outcome?

What a fool!

What is the purpose of an argument? To WIN! To press one’s position over another person’s position! To show oneself to be right or more right (as if there were such a thing) than another. To show oneself to be smarter. To prove . . . whatever.

Does anyone truly listen in an argument?

Only a fool expects to be heard in an argument.

As soon as true listening or hearing takes place, the argument is over.

Once listening begins, arguing ceases and discussion begins.

But listening requires voluntary subjugation to another. Listening requires counting the other person as more important than self.

Is there any place among saints for arguing?

Fools

(1 Samuel 26:21) Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.

(2 Samuel 3:33) And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

(Psalms 14:1) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

(Psalms 49:10) For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

(Psalms 53:1) To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

(Psalms 92:6) A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.

(Proverbs 7:22) He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

(Proverbs 10:8) The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

(Proverbs 10:10) He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.

(Proverbs 10:18) He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

(Proverbs 10:23) It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

(Proverbs 11:29) He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

(Proverbs 12:15) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

(Proverbs 12:16) A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

(Proverbs 13:16) Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.

(Proverbs 14:16) A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

(Proverbs 15:5) A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

(Proverbs 17:7) Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

(Proverbs 17:10) A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

(Proverbs 17:12) Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.

(Proverbs 17:16) Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

(Proverbs 17:21) He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

(Proverbs 17:24) Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

(Proverbs 17:28) Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

(Proverbs 18:2) A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

(Proverbs 18:6) A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

(Proverbs 18:7) A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

(Proverbs 19:1) Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

(Proverbs 19:10) Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

(Proverbs 20:3) It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

(Proverbs 23:9) Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

(Proverbs 24:7) Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

(Proverbs 26:1) As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

(Proverbs 26:3) A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.

(Proverbs 26:4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

(Proverbs 26:5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

(Proverbs 26:6) He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

(Proverbs 26:8) As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

(Proverbs 26:10) The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

(Proverbs 26:11) As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

(Proverbs 26:12) Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

(Proverbs 27:3) A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.

(Proverbs 27:22) Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

(Proverbs 28:26) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

(Proverbs 29:11) A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

(Proverbs 29:20) Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

(Proverbs 30:22) For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

(Ecclesiastes 2:14) The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

(Ecclesiastes 2:15) Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 2:16) For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

(Ecclesiastes 2:19) And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 4:5) The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

(Ecclesiastes 5:3) For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

(Ecclesiastes 6:8) For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?

(Ecclesiastes 7:6) For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 10:2) A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.

(Ecclesiastes 10:3) Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

(Ecclesiastes 10:12) The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

(Ecclesiastes 10:14) A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

(Jeremiah 17:11) As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

(Hosea 9:7) The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.

(Matthew 5:22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

(Luke 12:20) But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

(1 Corinthians 3:18) Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

(1 Corinthians 15:36) Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

(2 Corinthians 11:16) I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.

(2 Corinthians 11:23) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

(2 Corinthians 12:6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

(2 Corinthians 12:11) I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

Worthless Seminary Stuff

Today I reached the final stage of weariness regarding piles of junk in my office. Piles of useless material from the seminary using up vital space that I need.

I began sorting books. I am amazed at how much stuff I accumulated, junk that I was taught, and then junk that I have kept and transported multiple times.

Most of what I am discarding has absolutely nothing to do with the pastoral office or the preaching of the Gospel. “Purposeful Parish Administration,” has not one word about the means of grace. Every concept is secular and worldly. I am discarding dozens of books like this.

How I wish that the seminaries were preparing men to be effective pastors. But that would require a change in the church bodies. For what good would it be to prepare men to be true pastors in church bodies that do not want pastors of this understanding.

The LC-MS spent several decades eliminating such pastors. The WELS has been equally vigorous. The ELCA never even knew what such pastors were. So the seminaries have gone through the motions of talking theology, but also preparing the students to function as CEO’s and spiritual activity coordinators.

The men who believe that the pastoral office is more than this have been persecuted and driven out or starved out of the parishes of the church bodies that pretended to want them. The CEO’s are thriving. The spiritual activity coordinators are thriving. The churches are dying.

Why on earth did I hang on to these worthless books for all of these years? “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I spent a lot of money on those stupid books. I spent many hours reading them, studying them, and being tested on their worthless theories and strategies.

Yep. It is certainly long past time that I be rid of them. I am quite pleased to learn how good it feels. Purging out the old leaven only seems painful. It is actually very refreshing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Miracle of Safety

In my daily encounters, I meet many people who have had serious injuries due to accidents of various kinds. One gentleman whom I met recently has told me of his most recent injury, requiring rotator cuff surgery. Yesterday he responded that he was hurting quite badly when I asked how he is doing. He said that changes in the weather cause his leg to hurt badly as years ago he fell from the back of a flatbed truck and broke his leg in eight places.

We tend not to realize how extremely frail our bodies are. It is truly a miracle that our bodies do not fall apart. We put our bodies through terrible tests and ordinarily they hold up. This is a miracle!

In my life I cannot count the times that I have had things happen, often by my own negligence, that could have caused me serious injury. In fact, by all rational explanation, these things should have caused me untold harm. The only explanation is that God intervened and kept me safe. Either by direct intervention and protection or through an angel, God has prevented harm from coming to me on many occasions where there is no explanation according to the physical laws of this world.

Sometimes I have thought that by being careful I have remained safe. That is simply idolatry. Certainly it is God’s will that I be careful and not tempt Him regarding my safety. Nevertheless, my caution and carefulness do not keep me from harm. God does.

This awareness is humbling. It is also cause for rejoicing. Such awareness gives understanding to the proper fear of God. What if God for even a moment withdrew His hand, His power? This is what we sinful humans express as our desire whenever we turn from Him so as to commit sin. This is what most people do with their life choices and their daily ignorance. Truly this is cause for terrible fear. Yet God, in His mercy, preserves the world, until the Gospel is preached and heard by all who will be saved. In our daily lives He gives us opportunity to see His gracious intervention on our behalf. Sometimes in big ways that we can only explain as miracles, other times He simply provides for us and keeps our bodies from falling to pieces, which we tend not even to notice.

Truly, in every way, our safety, our health, our happiness, our general welfare, is a miracle.

Good Health and Superfoods

Here is an interesting article that lists some common food items that help prevent flu and other illnesses: Super foods will help you fight the flu better.

Good nutrition is essential for good health.

Of course, sufficient sleep is also important. Most of us do not sleep for sufficient periods of time to allow our bodies to be fully restored from the day’s activities. With all of the stresses that we impose upon ourselves both from without and especially from within, we need to get enough sleep. Worry in all of its forms is destructive. Anger, too, even when it is “righteous anger” is destructive. Both worry and anger eventually turn to deep depression, oppressive depression. Actual bodily ailments are caused by these emotions when they are allowed to rule over a person.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Praying with Hearts that Hear

The Collect of the Day for this past Sunday teaches us to pray with amazing boldness what can only be prayed from the most absolute humility.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Thine only-begotten Son, so that by His coming we may be enabled to serve Thee with pure minds; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth, and reigneth, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Does anyone really pray this way anymore? How many churches even use this prayer in their worship anymore? Of those that do, do they actually believe that God gives what is besought in this prayer?

Does anyone today really believe that God enables those who are His children and who gather in the name of Jesus to serve or worship Him with pure minds?

Do people even understand anymore what it means that we should worship with pure minds?

More and more what is said or professed by people as their belief is that the perfect Church cannot be found or exist on earth. More and more what people confess rather than the holy catholic Church is that the Church cannot be holy because it is made up of imperfect people, sinners. More and more the belief that the Church is the gathering of those whom God has purified into the name of Jesus through Baptism to believe and confess with the same mind and mouth the one true faith by which He keeps us united with Jesus Christ through the means of grace is set aside and discarded, except perhaps in their so-called “quia” subscription to their official book of doctrine. But do they still believe that God grants that we may be enabled (by Him alone) to serve Him with pure minds?

It is amazing how many do quote the Psalms regarding “singing a new song.”

This would be truly wonderful if these folk had any clue as to what this means. They imagine the “new song” to be one that they produce and sing. But the new song that the Psalms teach is the new song that God has given, the new song of the new man. This song is new to the Old Adam, but is actually the original song given to Adam in Creation. This new song is the renewed song that is written for us in Holy Scriptures. This is why the New Testament admonition is as in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

This is the new song that the Old Adam and our sinful flesh resist and reject. According to our own reasoning we imagine that the original song is worn out and weak. We do not realize that the real strength for happiness and true exuberance comes from the original song of Creation that is established forevermore as the New Song of Regeneration. This song is called the new song because it takes lifeless and corrupt fleshly people and makes them new again in Christ.

This can only happen when we are made to serve or worship God in the unity of the pure mind that God renews to each of us in Baptism and preserves in us through His Holy Communion.

It is interesting that in the prayer that the Lord Jesus gives us to pray that there is absolutely nothing new from what has already been fore-written in the Scriptures. Everything that He teaches us to pray is what the Lord God has already declared to be His holy and gracious will for us. He teaches us the meaning of being made to be a new creature again, new as God ordained from the beginning and even from eternity.

God does indeed cause us to serve Him with pure minds, when the minds with which we serve Him are the minds that He renews in us through His pure and unchanged means of grace. When our services are purely the gathering to receive from Him the service that He has ordained, we do receive the pure minds for which we pray, the pure minds that He gives in place of the corrupt minds that we bring to Him. In true humility we pray and even expect to receive what only He can give. What we pray with the humility of expectant faith, He grants with His own mighty AMEN!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Angry People

This evening I was in a store where the business was momentarily slow so that the check out girls were a bit chatty. (I call them girls, not disrespectfully but because to me nearly everyone seems like a young kid anymore. I received my second invitation to become a member AARP this week.)

The one young lady made a comment that seemed to be out of nowhere, seeming to have nothing to do with anything. She did not know what it meant either. Then the two young ladies explained that their thinking was a bit jumbled from having been yelled at by the last two customers in a row.

One was angry because he did not know that the store charged late fees. Previously the store did not charge late fees and made a big deal about this. When they changed the rules, no big deal was made and this customer did not notice.

The other customer was angry because his rental involved the process of placing a temporary charge on his credit card and then immediately crediting the amount back to the card, as a security measure to be sure that the account was valid. Apparently this also is a new policy change that was not announced.

The Rules are NOT supposed to change.

This is what people expect, ordinarily. What is required of people is supposed to remain constant.

This is the mindset that we all have. This is especially true when consequences accompany the rules. This is even more powerfully expected when we suffer those consequences unexpectedly.

But then, we never like the consequences and we often become angry when facing consequences to breaking the rules. The only time that we want the rules to change, is when we face consequences and would like to be excused and would like to have those consequences remitted.

Nevertheless, people expect the rules to remain constant. This is the nature of rules. This is essential for good order in society. This is necessary for people to know how they are to function in society.

In our day and in our society the rules have become unstable. This is especially true regarding banking and financing. The banks and financiers and governments keep changing the rules, and not in the people’s favor.

People are becoming more and more angry as they experience the unfairness of those who are manipulating the rules. People are feeling more and more helpless and defenseless. People are justified in their anger.

Sadly, those who instigate this anger are not the ones to whom the anger is expressed. The poor cashier or bank teller or stock clerk or waitress or receptionist or other service person, the one who has no say over how the rules apply, such a person is usually the one who bears the heat of the anger. Sometimes it is the person at the intersection or turning lane. Other times it is a spouse or son or daughter or other family member.

So what is the answer?

In this post I only intend to give answer to what each of us needs so as to be kept safe from our anger turning to sin. This, by the way, is an enormous undertaking.

So what is our protection from having our anger turn to sin? God’s peace that flows from knowing His forgiveness is our protection. When we become angry, God has provided His peace to rule our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. As we remember the enormity of our own sinfulness and our own debt to God, we also remember the vastness of His love and forgiveness. As we remember His love and forgiveness to us personally, the wrongdoing that we endure from others is shown to be infinitesimal by contrast. When we remember God’s mercy to us personally, we remember that those with whom we are angry are just like us, sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. This then snuffs out the fire that burns within us, for how can we be angry over someone who is just like us and acts just like us? How can we remain angry with someone when we remember how desperately that we need for God not to let His anger loose upon us?

It simply is not possible to remain angry when we honestly evaluate our need for God’s forgiveness personally, and recall His promise to us in our Baptism and in His gracious call to the Supper of forgiveness. When this is what we have foremost in our thoughts, our anger is left behind as we come running to our gracious God and Savior who stands ready to lift our sin from us and give us His peace once again.

Yes, I can tell you from personal experience, much personal experience, God’s peace truly does have this much power.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Are You Scholarly?

The other day, as I was deep into study, I suddenly thought, “Oh wow, I suppose that I actually am a scholar!” This came from realizing that I very much enjoy studying and growing in knowledge. I have never really “liked” school, but I have always enjoyed learning, even studying.

I’m not sure, though, that my attitude truly fits with the definition of a “scholar” or being “scholarly”.

From Merriam-Webster.com the definitions of scholar and scholarly are:

Definition of SCHOLAR

1: a person who attends a school or studies under a teacher : pupil

2a : a person who has done advanced study in a special field

b : a learned person

3 : a holder of a scholarship


Definition of SCHOLARLY

: of, characteristic of, or suitable to learned persons : LEARNED, ACADEMIC



Am I a scholar? Am I a scholarly? Perhaps not. But then, I suppose that depends upon the one being counted as my teacher of whom I am a student or disciple.


Happenings: Sermon: Last Sunday of the Church Year (OT)



Ask the Pastor, a.k.a., Pastor Walter Snyder, has two new sermons posted.

Happenings: Sermon: Last Sunday of the Church Year (OT)
Happenings: Sermon: Last Sunday of the Church Year (Epistle)

I always wondered how Pr. Snyder was able to produce so much. Anyone can produce piles of material, but his was always very well researched and documented as well as extraordinarily accurate and orthodox (usually). It has been quite a while, however, since he has been active.

I have thought many times that I would offer something akin to ATP. However, such an effort would be overwhelming for me. I find researching and careful contemplation of people's questions take me many hours, sometimes days or even weeks. The proper care for accuracy and faithfulness to the Scriptures, with the additional concern for actually understanding the inquirer's actual question and concern so as to address it so that it may be comprehended, is an enormous task. Moreover, my answers are not cushioned with the allowance for alternative views, which people can perceive as arrogant and intolerant. I do not give answers in the form of “perhaps you should consider”. When I am speaking as Christ's representative I am bound to declare: “Thus saith the LORD!” and “Believe it or perish everlastingly.” Very few people desire to inquire with such as the anticipated answers.

That is not to say that I never receive correction from others. Being challenged drives me to reexamine my understanding. Thus I find that I benefit greatly from such challenges, especially from those who present them respectfully. On a few occasions I have learned some important new points or have learned that I had previously misunderstood. A few times I realized that I had obstinately held a wrong position, from which repentance, being turned by the Holy Spirit, was necessary. Thanks be to God that when He is the source who is sought, He does provide the needed correction, humbling, and turning.

I have often learned new things and have been reminded of old treasures from Pr. Snyder’s “Ask the Pastor” articles. These two new sermons of his are worthy of hearing as well. I am glad to see that he has made them available.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sneaky Play

This video makes me laugh harder each time that I watch it:



It is even better in full screen. Just click on the little four arrows at the bottom right hand corner of the video player.

The star sneak is Quarterback Jason Garza of Driscoll Middle School from San Antonio, Texas.

While I laugh hard each time I watch this, it nevertheless makes me sad on account of the association my mind makes with this and what is happening in America and in the churches. The bureaucrats and party leaders are pulling sneak plays continually and we, the ordinary, honest, unsuspecting citizenry, stand and watch in bewilderment, wondering, "What are they doing?" By the time that we, as a whole, realize the deception, the game is lost. What is even more sad is that the sneaks keep using the same plays and we still don't catch on.

Oh well, at least I enjoy watching the video!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bicycling into the Outer Limits and Back

"Way Back Home" - Amazing Freestyle Bicycling by Danny MacAskill

This video is amazing beyond description.



From the video page at Flixxy.com where I first viewed this, the following is stated:

The incredible bicycling skills of Danny MacAskill on his journey from Edinburgh back to his hometown Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye.

Be impressed, but please do not try these stunts at home. Music: "Wax and Wire" by Loch Lomond "A Little Piece" by The Jezabels


I have to wonder how many times Danny has hurt himself learning these feats. I wonder how anyone can possess such a fabulous sense of balance and control.

Somehow I am not inclined to imagine that “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” (Matt. 4:7) is part of Danny’s thinking. On the other hand, perhaps his many, many hours of training have prepared him so that for him, these feats are as common place as tree climbing and limb walking are for an arborist. Perhaps such feats are not pressing the limits for a person such as Danny. For me, such is way beyond even the Outer Limits.

Friday, November 26, 2010

#1 Antivirus on sale

Today I received an e-mail newsletter from PC Antivirus Reviews informing me of a special Black Friday sale on Vipre Antivirus. The special one day sale is available at http://www.vipreantivirus.com/blackfriday/.

When I grew tired of the problems that I had with my previous antivirus and firewall suites, I searched for a better product. Vipre was the one that I found. I have been very pleased. It does what they promise. It runs without bogging down my CPU and system. It protects effectively. Their support team is friendly and helpful.

If you are tired of your antivirus programs, check out Vipre. Today it is on sale.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Blessed Thanksgiving Day

Today has been for me a very blessed Thanksgiving Day. It has been a day that has been jam-packed full of God's goodness. It has been a day of Gospel joy.

Thanksgiving is for me a wonderful excuse for spending a day wrestling with God to receive from Him the blessing of hearing from Him more fully what He has revealed in His Holy Scriptures. Sermon preparation usually takes me about eight hours. Sometimes I cut it a bit shorter. Sometimes it goes longer. It usually takes at least 4 to 6 hours before I am content with the outline that has developed. Then only another two or three or four hours are needed for actually writing the sermon, proof reading it, and printing it. Sometimes the outline is exactly the same as the last time that I preached the text, but the sermon content has expanded. My immersion into the text has become deeper. I have been richly blessed beyond measure. Then I am privileged to preach it and hear it yet again.

Today, after preaching today's text, I felt full and content. The meal that my wife prepared was waiting, but I felt full. She prepared a wonderful meal. It was truly delicious and I enjoyed it immensely. Yet it seemed unnecessary after the feast that the Lord had prepared and fed to me. Not only the message that flowed from the text, but also, and even more satisfying, was the Feast of the Eucharist (Thanksgiving).

The meal that my wife prepared was truly wonderful, too, but it was primarily for my flesh. It was truly cause for giving thanks, too, both to my wife and to the Lord. This year she purchased and prepared a free range turkey. The stuffing was organic, with her added fixings of mixed nuts, cranberries, homemade turkey stock, celery, carrots, onions, garlic cloves, and more! She made sweet potatoes, prepared apples and grapes, and more. The only junk food was the croissants that she purchased at Sam’s Club (with many scary ingredients, but tasty).

Thankfully, even more cause for thanksgiving, my wife understands fully what I mean when I say that the Lord’s banquet is what made the day. Even though I do not believe that I have ever had a more wonderful turkey and other culinary delights, the Lord’s banquet completely satisfied me.

Now, this blessed eventide, I am pleased that the sermon has been uploaded and the turkey has been put away in the refrigerator, and we will enjoy my wife’s labors for perhaps as long as a week. How wonderful to have these treasures upon which to feast our palates! Moreover, even regarding the Lord’s feast we have His marvelous promise:

     Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. (Matthew 13:52)

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Hallelujah!" Random Act of Culture



This video has been widely circulated and viewed millions of times.

"Random Act of Culture."

What does this mean? Some have counted it as meaning great things while others have mocked it.

Messiah, by George Frideric Handel, has certainly enjoyed much fame and has a rich message. The portion sung in this "Random Act of Culture", the "Hallelujah Chorus" is perhaps the most popular and widely known portion. It is a part of the holiday tradition. It carries the holiday spirit as powerfully as does Santa's sleigh.

Of course, there are people for whom the message is what is counted as most valuable and important. For them, it is much more than tradition and much, much more than a random act. For some it is actually a presentation of the message of Life itself, everlasting life and peace and joy that flow from knowing God's salvation through forgiveness purchased at inestimable cost.

But, that is another story belonging to another culture, even another world and kingdom.

Thanksgiving Plans

As I was working toward the close of the day Wednesday, the customer for whom I had been trimming trees asked me what plans we had for Thanksgiving. After asking this she turned to me and asked, “Do you have children?” I answered as I usually answer, “No, we have not been given any children.” She responded, “Oh, that’s too bad. You would be a very good father.”

I have often wondered about that myself. I have often thought that I would very much enjoy being a father. I have often thought that I would enjoy teaching my children the wonderful good news of the grace of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. I know beyond any doubt that I would relish playing with my children. I have always enjoyed playing with children and teaching the Gospel to children. I love to see the sparkle in their eyes when they realize how much God loves them. I love to hear their joyful squeals as I swing them in the air and push them on a swing and pull them in a wagon.

Yet I also have sometimes thanked God for His wisdom in not giving us children. I have not known His reasons, but I have seen the horrible anguish of broken families. I have seen the distress of dysfunction and abuse. I have seen the heartache of parents when their children turn to many harmful choices. I also know the persecutions that the Lord has led us into and through and have realized how difficult these times would have been with children in tow.

So I acknowledge that whatever His reasons are, His reasons are good and merciful and loving and I give thanks. Yet I also look upon those who have been blessed with children and I acknowledge that they are truly blessed by God. I don’t think that I envy them, but I do acknowledge the blessings. I enjoy watching them and sometimes having the privilege of interacting with them. Yes, watching others with their children, is a source of great joy.

Truly this day of national Thanksgiving is a day for parents to give thanks for their children and for children to give thanks for their parents. This is true at all ages of people. Together we give thanks for all of God’s blessings and share in the wondrous knowledge that God is not only God, but our gracious Father, who has redeemed us with the price of His only-begotten Son in order that we may give thanks without fear of judgment, rejoicing in His fatherly love and care, for Jesus’ sake.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With What Shall I Be Filled?

Today I observed happening a thing that the Lord often works in my daily activities. Suddenly a hymn entered into my awareness and I began humming and whistling it, and then another. Two things additionally occurred:

First, I thought: “Wow! Why am I so happy?” I was running late. I was preparing for a long day of hard work, switching from my pickup to my chipper truck, transferring tools, etc. The sky was overcast and gray and gloomy. Yet these hymns filled my heart and mind and spirit and I was inexplicably happy.

Secondly, having started the truck, the radio was on, and the songs from the radio began playing. I immediately switched off the radio, thinking, “Argh, I don’t want that stuff in my head!” That is the way it works. Whatever stupid, often even unholy, junk that plays on the radio becomes embedded in me so that I cannot make it go away. I did not want that stuff to supplant what the Spirit had given me to fill me.

My wife rarely turns on her radio. She often listens to tapes of hymns, instead. Wise woman!

St. Paul affirms this practice, saying:


     Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20)

     And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:15-17)


I made one statement above that is only partially true. I said that once the worldly junk becomes embedded in me that I cannot make it go away. This is true. However, if I begin singing one of the powerful hymns that I have memorized, the Lord removes the junk for me. His gracious words and the tune of the hymn shove the rest of the junk back out where it belongs and I am filled with His grace, mercy, and peace again. A good and solid hymn has to power to clear my head of anything that does not belong. Even frustration and anger must give way to the rich hymns.

The music to which we listen is very powerful in its effect.

What Is the Point?

What Is the Point?

I often find myself wondering whether there is any real point to blogging. As is expressed in the two videos in the post on Twitter Merit, I often wonder about the overall value of blogging in general, including this little blog of mine.

In my posting, and in my checking the statistical reports, I realize that a big part of my motive is selfish, at least in a sense. While I have the proclamation of the Gospel as the foundational motive, nevertheless, I also keep searching.

I find that I check frequently to see whether anyone is actually reading the blog. When the statistical report shows me that people are visiting the blog and reading the material that I present, it is encouraging to me.

Why?

In this world of the darkness of sin, with the compromises that continue to be accepted and even promoted within Christendom, standing alone feels very lonely. I and my wife have visited many congregations in the past, searching for our brothers and sisters with whom we could gather. In times past we have driven as far as 75 miles one way, a 150 mile round trip, to attend the divine services. Here in Wichita we drove 65 miles each way for a time.

We very much want to find those with whom we may honestly declare to have true koinonia or communion, often called fellowship. However, true communion is not what most people today call fellowship. True communion is not merely a sense of comradery. True communion is being genuinely one. This oneness is more than a feeling. It is more than gathering in a group that tries to make people feel welcome. It is more than coffee and donuts. It is more than gathering in a specific location to go through the motions of worship.

When we have attended services at congregations that do not understand this or have it, we have sometimes been fooled for a time, but before long we found that we were more alone amongst them than apart from them. The reason is that the union and communion that we seek and even sometimes desperately desire is not a horizontal relationship. We are not seeking to be united and welcomed by extension. We are not seeking an extended hand or open arms. We are seeking oneness. Rather than seeking to be welcomed, we are seeking those with whom no welcoming committee and no greeter is necessary. We are seeking those with whom we already belong, not those with whom we must join.

And I find that I must admit that this blog is written at least in part with that continual desire to hear from someone, somewhere, with whom we are truly one.

We think that there surely must be others in the world who stand solely upon the foundation that is everlasting. We very much would love to be in communication with them. We know of a very tiny few. And the fact that people do visit the blog and the web site seems to indicate that others also are seeking the same. Sadly though, it seems that almost no one is willing to stand alone, to stand apart from the bigger so-called fellowships, so as not to separate themselves from those who stand solely upon the foundation of the doctrine of the apostles in the one true body of Christ.

I mentioned that a kind of selfishness is included in my blogging, and this desire to find those with whom I am one is that selfish or self-serving motive. Yet, this search is in the hope of those who are our brethren also being able to share in the knowledge of our presence and to be encouraged and edified together with us.

And so, while I often wonder whether this blogging is worthwhile, I expect that I will continue posting little bits of the grand proclamation of the good news that is the light and life of men. Even if I am only preaching the Gospel in snippets to myself, I benefit. And if someone, somewhere, also hears and receives even some small benefit, it is worthwhile for that reason as well.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Would You Change?

My brother, who has endured some terrible hardships in his life, who is aware of many of the hardships that I have faced in my life, who is aware of many of the persecutions from within the church bodies to which we belonged, asked me recently whether I would change anything if I had my life to live over.

I began with a sin that had a big impact upon my life.

He wondered whether I would choose to use more honey and less vinegar in dealing with people. He expressed that he thought that this was perhaps something that he would choose.

I said that I would not.

I expressed that especially in the pastoral ministry I had learned that it is wrong to try to sweeten the truth beyond the sweetness of what the truth proclaims in the Gospel. I shared that I learned that no matter how a pastor tries to sweeten the truth, especially regarding the preaching of the Law of God, that it ends up having the same effect. If the truth is preached, even with sugar coating, if it really is preached, it will be rejected by those who do not want to hear it. The sugar coating makes no difference.

My response was that I would use less honey and let the Word be heard without any compromise. In my earlier years as a pastor I did make what I considered to be some very minor compromises to try to make the truth more palatable. I tried to soften the impact that it would have. I learned very quickly that people see through the coating and realize that what is being preached is going to change everything.

Such is the power of the Word. Even when a pastor chooses the way of hypocrisy, even when a pastor chooses to elevate himself above the Word so as to try to do the Holy Spirit’s work, if the Word is actually preached, if the doctrine is actually held forward, the response will be exactly the same with or without the sugar coating. Those who have ears to hear will rejoice to hear it and will be drawn to the Word. Those who do not have ears to hear will recoil and rebel.

I could have saved myself and the first congregation that I served some time if I had been less patronizing. The spilt that occurred may actually have been smaller if I had acted more like a bull in a china shop. But only God really knows.

It is interesting to ponder the first sermon that was preached after the ascension of the Lord Jesus to heaven. On Pentecost St. Peter certainly did not sugar coat the preaching that he proclaimed. The result was amazing. Those who were unwilling to hear mocked the Gospel openly and went their way. Those who heard the Gospel with glad hearts were baptized and carried the Gospel to many parts of the world.

The preaching of the apostles left no possibility for divisions in the Church. Individual opinion, that is, Heresy, was crushed by forthright preaching of the Truth. Those who insisted on pressing their own opinions, that is, heresies, were counted as unbelievers. The apostles did not allow any talk of percentages of unity. They preached that there is one body and that people were either incorporated fully into this body by the work of the Holy Spirit, or they were not of the body.

And God multiplied their numbers mightily.







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G141

αιʽρετικός


aihretikos

Thayer Definition:
1) fitted or able to take or choose a thing
2) schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine
3) heretic
Part of Speech: adjective

From:
G140

αιʽρετ́ιζω


aihretizo

Thayer Definition:

1) to choose
2) to belong to a sect

Part of Speech: verb

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Twitter Merit

What is the purpose of Twitter? What merit does it have?

The following are videos that I found that express differing perspectives:





Judge for yourself which perspective you share. Perhaps there are elements of both that you find to be true.

For myself, I have little appreciation for things that do not connect to something of substance. In my thinking, while a certain merit belongs to the occasional light and trivial post, there is very little worthwhile reason to post unless somehow something of substance is shared. Rather than “What are you doing?” my opening question is usually “How have you been?” or “How are you?”

From what I have observed on Twitter and Facebook, the content rarely has any real substance. It seems to me that both videos are correct in assessing that the purpose of these “social networks” is to attempt to maintain connections and self-affirmation.

There is a certain sense of this being the purpose of churches as well.

Is this a bad thing? Or is this an aspect of what we sense as our needs, only without the satisfaction of having them fully met?

The Scriptures speak of “faithfulness” being the definition of the life of the saints. We often imagine this to be a measure of our commitment and devotion. And while this may be true in part, the word itself teaches much more.

Consider the two parts to this word: Faith and Fulness.

If this combination is pondered carefully, allowing the word to say what it actually conveys, we gain a considerably different understanding of the life of the Church as the holy communion of the saints, and of our lives as individuals who are members of this holy communion.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Always Something

”The shower drain is not draining!”

OK. Stop preparations for going out to work. The shower drain is full of hair again.

It is not that I don’t want to do it. Actually, like any work, it has a sense of reward attached to it. At the end of the job, something has been accomplished. It may be small in the grand scheme of the activities of one’s life, but it nevertheless is a good job done.

In Ecclesiastes Solomon writes that every activity is vanity, saying: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

At the end of it all he concludes:

The end of the whole matter let us hear: --`Fear God, and keep His commands, for this is the whole of man. For every work doth God bring into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether good or bad.' (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 YLT)

God has attached even in this age a sense of reward to the little things that we do, if we do them from the perspective that St. Paul admonishes us:

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)

In Christ we receive the reward even before we do anything. Christ and the new life that He gives is our reward. This reward, that He has earned for us, changes us from the inside out. As we grow in understanding this, it is manifested in the things that we think, say, and do. More and more God shows us His faithfulness as the Holy Spirit works within us to show us the sanctification that is given to us in our Baptism. He works tirelessly to make known to us who we are in Christ, who we are in accord with His holy declaration in our Baptism in connection with the faith that is poured out to us with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us all the rest of our days.

According to our own efforts, all that we do is vanity and a vexation of spirit. According to even our best efforts, all that we do is a demonstration of futility. Yet in Christ, our futility is turned to everlasting glory. In Christ we are judged to be holy and righteous children of God. In Christ every act is counted as holy.

But we only enjoy this presently as we heed the urgings of the Holy Spirit and do what He urges. How blessed we are to be able to do all things as unto the Lord! This is a blessing and joy only known by the saints.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Guns!

Great Guns!  Look at what someone e-mailed me!



Have you ever wondered what all those extra SUVs are in the Presidential or VIP motorcades? You know, the ones with severely tinted windows...the SUV's  that no one gets in or out of.


Well, wonder no more. They have a 6 barreled 7.62 mm mini gun. They fire over 4,000 rounds per minute The wipers need to be run to remove spent casings when the weapon is firing. This video is from the company that makes this happen. The vehicle is also armor plated.


Listen to this baby go off.





By the time that someone sends me an e-mail with a video like this one, one that I have never before seen and think “Wow!”, it has usually been quite widely circulated.  Nevertheless, it is quite amazing.

In another video that I found the explanation and description of the mini-gun tells that it fires 3000 rounds per minute, or 50 rounds per second.  4000 versus 3000, who’s counting?  Certainly not the fish in the barrel nor whomever else upon whom the firing is directed.



Watching these guys turn a barrel into a pile of lace and to turn a sea bass into a shredded mouth can be exciting and fun and cool.

But for what purpose have these guns really been designed?  More importantly, why are they added to armor plated SUVs and cruising along in presidential and VIP motorcades?

Is this cool?

These vehicles are not designed to prevent an assassin from killing the president or a VIP.  They are not designed for stopping even a group of assassins.  The reaction time is far too slow.  The design is ineffective for such purposes.

So for what have they been designed?  For what purpose are they cruising in the motorcades?

Their design is to mow down an army.  The rate of 3000 rounds per minute is for turning large numbers of people into Swiss cheese or lacy undergarments.

Who are in the crowds awaiting these motorcades?

On whom are the SS and the other “protectors” expecting to use these hidden guns?

More importantly “Why?”





More videos of the Dillon M134D Steel Gatling Gun. (If the videos do not appear, click on the "Media" and "Videos" tabs.)


For the gun enthusiast who enjoys ripping to shreds various inanimate targets, this is a really cool gun.

For our military personnel who face enemies who seek to do them harm, it is a truly great gun.

For the crowds who gather in the city streets to view the presidential or other VIP motorcades . . . ?




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For the idiom, ‘great guns’, see great guns - idioms and phrases .


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Love

The other day in a conversation I became aware of my use of the phrase “my first love” in that conversation.  I was mildly surprised to realize that I use this phrase rather regularly.

We were talking about matters of the Christian faith.  Once I become engaged in such a conversation regarding the doctrine of the Scriptures and the blessed hope of everlasting life that this doctrine teaches, I find myself hoping that I am not pressing too hard and for too long.  I find myself excusing my enthusiasm and fearing that I am demonstrating verbosity, and I say something like, “Well, this is my favorite subject and my first love.”

While the Lord Jesus uses this language in Revelation 2:4, still it caused me a degree of amazement to hear this coming from my lips in regular conversation.  Yet it is true.  I would rather speak the Gospel than do anything else.  It is not from a sense of obligation as though I speak it as a duty.  Rather, it is the source of my joy in life.  To share this source of joy and peace and comfort is what I find myself most wanting to do.  I am built up in the sharing and I desire the same for everyone else.

Some people imagine the sharing of the Gospel to be kingdom building or witnessing for the Lord or mission work and such things.  For me, it is simply who I am and what I love most in life.  For me it is simply the most natural thing to be doing, at home, with customers, with people in line at the store, on a blog or web site, wherever and whenever.

The Gospel is Life.  The Gospel is Hope.  The Gospel is Peace.  While it is mildly surprising to hear it flow from my lips in regular conversation, it is also pleasing to know that the Gospel is my first love.  I cannot imagine anything better or more worthy of my devotion.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Planning?

In observing these pictures from Family Planning Council’s home page, do you sense that something is missing?




Where is the family?

Where are the babies and little children?


Here are the two halves of Planned Parenthood’s home page. Even when one clicks on the link for “Tools for Parents”, where are the babies? Where is the planning for becoming parents and starting a family?



Why don’t they show any pictures of what they do to and with the babies?

Why don’t they show the product of their “planning”?

If such were what you planned and enacted, would you advertise it with photos and clear explanations? Would you want people actually to see what you do?



Interestingly, in order to see and learn of the plans of these so-called family planning organizations, one must go to one of the groups who are actually promoting families, such as National Right to Life or Lutherans for Life. Yet even they are withdrawing from the graphical display of the products of the so-called family planning organizations.

However, the so-called Pro-Life groups do openly explain and demonstrate the products of their activities and planning. They do not conceal their activities.


     And this is the judgment, that the light hath come to the world, and men did love the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil; for every one who is doing wicked things hateth the light, and doth not come unto the light, that his works may not be detected; but he who is doing the truth doth come to the light, that his works may be manifested, that in God they are having been wrought. (John 3:19-21 YLT)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ACLJ Letter re: Abortionist Attacks





Today I received the following e-mail from ACLJ:



It's another showdown in the fight for the unborn ...

... and pro-life ''crisis'' pregnancy centers nationwide are the target.

Planned Parenthood, NARAL: Pro-Choice America, and pro-abortion legislators throughout the country are pulling out all the stops to shut down these centers, which offer counseling to women on alternatives to abortion.

Quite simply, this pro-abortion ploy is shameful.

These anti-life groups are pressuring local politicians in New York City to create new rules and expenses in order to make it difficult for pro-life pregnancy centers there to exist - forcing them to shut their doors to women in need of help!

The move is not only deeply offensive, but unconstitutional as well. What happens in New York City will have serious implications for every city in America.

Stand with us today against NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and others and sign the PETITION TO STOP THE SHUT-DOWN OF PRO-LIFE PREGNANCY CENTERS.

Once you've done so, please be sure to use the online forward-to-friend tool to alert your pro-life friends and family as well.

Imagine the outcome all over the country as abortion-performing Planned Parenthood clinics are emboldened - while pro-life ''crisis'' pregnancy centers are rendered ineffective?

As you'd expect, the ACLJ has already taken immediate action.

We are representing pro-life pregnancy centers throughout New York City - researching case law, preparing the necessary legal documents, even presenting arguments NEXT WEEK before the New York City Council, in order to stop this pro-abortion attack.

This is a life-or-death issue for millions of unborn babies.

We cannot rest in the face of such a vile assault on life. Stand with the ACLJ - make your voice heard immediately.

Thank you!



If you would like to sign the on-line petition it is avaiable at Petition to Stop the SHUT-DOWN of America's Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers.

I found the following additional sites with information on these abortionist attacks on the lives of the helpless and those who would give women the information that they need to avoid the horrible misfortunes that abortion imposes upon the lives of these women and their families:

NY City targets pregnancy centers as part of 'nationwide strategy'


Dems Want To Restrict Speech of Pro-Life Centers


Rep. Maloney and Sen. Menendez Introduce Bill to Restrict Speech of Pro-Life Crisis Pregnancy Centers by Controlling Their Advertising


Abortion Advocates Seek to Stifle Crisis Pregnancy Center Ads



The typical language used in the newspapers and radio and tv and magazines is so biased that it is truly insulting.  They always refer to those who defend the lives of the helpless children as ”Anti-abortion” or “Abortion Foes”.

Do they speak of those who seek to prevent other forms of violence and killing as “anti-“ or as “foes”?  Rarely.

It is amazing how the truth is misused by the devil so as to make what is good appear to be something undesirable and that which is selfish, corrupt, evil, and immoral or amoral as desirable and preferable.  Yes, I am anti-murder.  Yes, I am anti-violence.  Yes, I am anti-rape.  Yes, I am anti-anything that is harmful and wrong.  But this is the secondary focus of my agenda.  The primary focus is to promote what is good and wholesome and right and fair and loving.  Yes, this is the agenda and focus of even this blog post.

Removing the Mote and the Beam

In the post below I quote the Lord Jesus saying in Matthew 7:3-5:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.


Pondering this saying of the Lord Jesus in connection with this week’s challenge with my own eye, I realized the depth of the problem that the Lord is addressing in this matter.  As many times as I have heard and read and studied this text, somehow the main point seems to have evaded my awareness.  I usually consider the main point of the text to be that the beam in my own eye is to be counted as far larger and important than the mote in my brother’s eye and that I must remove my problem before even thinking of my brother’s problem, which is far less significant to me personally than my own problem.  And this really is the point that the Lord Jesus makes.

However, there is another point that is perhaps even more important.  What could be more important than what is already stated?

The bigger and more important point is the one that I learned again as I tried to remove the wood from my own eye and to evaluate the injury to my own eye.  The fact is that I am not up to the task.  I am not capable of rightly dealing with the beam in my own eye, let alone the mote in my brother’s eye.

This really is the main point of what the Lord Jesus is teaching in this text.  If we are turned from our hypocrisy of trying to remove the mote from our brothers’ eyes so that we attempt to remove the beam from our own eye, then we see how truly helpless sin makes us.  Then we are turned from relying upon our own reason and strength so that we turn to the true physician for our help.  Then we naturally are turned from all of our own corrupt and feeble efforts to the one who is able to heal us completely.  Then we listen before we preach so that what we preach is correct and true and of genuine benefit both to ourselves as well as our brothers and perhaps even to the world.  Then we are converted to be true theologians all and together we are built up into the knowledge of God and His salvation and the Holy Communion to which He calls us.

Tough Life Reality

Life in this old world can be tough. This week has been a tough week for me. It has been a week filled with unexpected and difficult circumstances. Every week is tough for an arborist. Climbing trees, hauling heavy tree debris, grinding stumps, repairing equipment, all takes a toll on the body and often the bank account.

But this week the Lord seems to have thought that I needed some special tests to remind me of my dependency upon Him in all things. That is my guess anyway. He often does not provide any explanation for the things that He sends into my life, but I do know that in all things He works good toward me and that He uses all of the trying experiences in my life to call me to continual turning of my heart, mind, spirit, and life (often also called: repentance).

I have been working very hard the last few weeks, doing some very strenuous work, with many little challenges. Monday I completed an emergency tree removal for a lady who was concerned about the potential for property damage. It was a very large Bradford pear that was located between two houses. She also needed the stump and roots to be ground. It seems that the industry standard now is to grind a stump to 6-8 inches, but I grind much deeper in attempt to remove all of the primary stump and roots. Having finished grinding and cleaning the job site and loading a trailer load of logs, I set off to examine some trees and prepare some bids along the way home. I planned to finish cutting the logs to firewood size for a neighbor who needs the firewood to help her and her children save some heating expenses this winter.

However, my poor old pickup truck began to overheat and pump radiator fluid into the reservoir and then the street. I stopped, let it cool enough to open the radiator cap, and added water. But it was acting very strange. It kept over heating and it seemed that either the thermostat was stuck or that the water pump had quit. I ended up stranded in traffic hour one car length from a busy intersection. So I called the tow company. My cell phone kept cutting out, so the dispatcher misunderstood and sent the wrong truck, but we towed the pickup and trailer out of the way of the traffic into a parking lot. Then the driver called another driver with another truck. . . the process extended into the late evening.

I need my pickup, so I focused on getting it repaired. It took a couple of days to get it back from the shop and last night and today I am working to replace the hoses, since they are old.

But the next day, I cut the logs. I always wear my hard hat, with the face screen and hearing protectors. Yet somehow a small piece of wood became lodged in my right eye. I worked at flushing it with water for much of that evening, but it kept hurting and feeling like the debris was still in my eye. In the morning I went to the eye doctor. The good news was that I had managed to flush the debris from my eye. The bad news was that it did scratch the cornea. To prevent infection the doctor prescribed an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drop for 7 days.


This picture gives perspective to the size of the prescription. $ 62.62 !!! And that is for the generic brand. I’ve heard of medications that cost more than imagination allows, yet even this is outrageous.

The following pictures serve as a reminder of how difficult it is for a person to attempt to deal with issues affecting one’s own eyes.




Even taking these pictures was a challenge. Attempting to see debris in the eye was far more challenging.

I’ve had some other challenges this week as well, but the matter with the eye was by far the greatest. It brings to mind the admonition of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:3-5:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

As I mentioned above, in all things, and especially in the challenges and trials of this life, a continual call to be turned again to the Lord sounds forth. The Lord is continually calling to us to be turned again unto Him and His mercy and love and providence. If we are listening, we recognize His calling to us and we are turned again and again throughout our earthly lives. Then, we learn to give thanks in all things, even in the trials and tribulations, even giving thanks for these gifts from God, as we learn in the General Prayer of the Church (TLH pgs. 23-24). Every Sunday I marvel at this prayer. I find myself reflecting upon it throughout each week. It is truly a marvelous prayer.

So today I give thanks for the life that the Lord has given to me and for all the blessings that He brings into my life, including these many struggles that cause me to be turned again to Him, even sometimes with the simple question of “Why Lord?” That simple prayer is truly a wonderful prayer, if it leads one back to the Scriptures to hear the answers that God has provided even before we ask. The answers are recorded for us, if we are willing to hear them and receive them. Ultimately, they all lead back to the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and that is the one answer that we most need to hear.

Tires

When I know of a business that does right by people, I like to let others know.





Central Ag Wheel & Tire is such a business.  I have been purchasing tires from them for my business needs for a number of years now, and they always have done right by me.  Sometimes I am in need of a good used tire for my chipper truck.  Other times I have needed replacement tires for my chipper or trailer.  This week I needed new front tires for Stephanie's mustang.  I checked at Sam's Club first.  They would have to special order the tires.  Apparently that type of 15" tire is no longer sold very often.  After all, it is a 1989 mustang.  But then I checked with Tom.  He did not have that size in stock, but pulled up a couple of suppliers on his computer screen and showed me dozens of tires of various brands.  Then he selected one that would be inexpensive, yet fully meeting my needs.  The installed price of the tire was a little more than half the price of the cheapest tire at Sam's Club.  The installed price was very pleasing to me.

Central Ag Wheel & Tire, as the name proclaims, is primarily directed toward the needs of farmers and other agribuisness.  Yet they are able to supply tires for nearly every need, and they do so at very pleasing prices.

I asked Tom for permission to post his card on the blog.  For anyone in the Wichita area, he is a good guy with whom to do business.



Friday, November 12, 2010

More regarding Veterans Day

The following video from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs honors our veterans and promotes an understanding that Veterans Day is really every day.



In my daily activities I meet many military veterans. We have many, many, veterans from generations past and present. They have many perspectives to share. They have many stories. They do not all enter military service with the same purpose. Yet they all serve the country and its people. US veterans also have served and continue to serve people from other countries as well.

One veteran shared with me the sacrifices made by our military pilots. He shared that he was disabled by his many flights that involved forces on his body of 5 Gs or more. I never thought of the destructive power of this upon the skeletal system of a pilot.

What amazed me even more was this man's attitude. He expressed no regrets. He harbors no feeling of being mistreated. I have heard many stories of mistreatment of veterans, but this man counts himself to be very well treated. He says that he would do it all again.

I recently spoke with another veteran, whose son is now serving in Afghanistan. The father served in Desert Storm. The son serves in whatever the current "storm" is. I asked whether he believed in the necessity of what is being done. He shared that he did when he was in active service, but now he does not. Like father like son, for his son believes in the cause of what is being done. He seeks and finds roadside bombs and ignites them. I wonder what he will think in twenty years.

One thing is beyond question, our veterans put themselves at risk and make tremendous sacrifices. We most certainly should honor this and them. Moreover, we should consider what form such honor should take. Are statues and memorials the way in which true honor is given? What sort of memorial truly honors the service and sacrifices made by our military veterans?

I believe that honoring the Constitution that they swear to uphold and defend is the best and truest memorial. How many Americans have even read the US Constitution? How many Americans take into account that which the Constitution promotes and guarantees when determining for whom they will cast their vote? What good is served by the sacrifices of our military veterans if we do not keep the Constitution safe here at home? If the power and authority of the Constitution is violated and usurped here at home, for what do our military veterans end up fighting and sacrificing?

Is this not worthy of consideration? Is this not worthy of memorializing?

Veterans Day

Veterans Day was rainy here in Wichita, and so I stayed home doing various kinds of other work rather than slipping and sliding on wet tree bark. I am always tied in with my climbing lines, but slipping can still hurt, especially if it includes slamming into a branch or tree trunk.

One of the things I did was some more updating of the Bride of Christ web site, including revising and posting the Veterans Day article posted under the Holiday and Special Occasion Page. It has been a long time since I updated this page. I hope to return to the regular practice of changing it with the change of holidays.

On this year's Veterans Day observance I also heard from a friend who is a veteran. He called to share with me some information that he had learned that he hoped would be valuable to me in my business activities. He knows how hard my stump grinding is and wanted to try to help me to work a little less hard.

In the conversation he shared a statement: "Everyone except the veteran gets off for Veterans Day. The veteran still has to work."

This is true from many perspectives. It especially applies in connection with the True Veteran whom I mention in the Veterans Day article.

Peace and true rest to all from the True Veteran!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Beloved Synod

One of the sayings that I remember as part of the mantra that I learned throughout my years of growing up in the LC-MS and then in my pastoral training is: “Our Beloved Synod.” I wonder how many prayers that I heard during my youth and that people heard from my lips as a pastor included this mantra. The use of the phrase, “our beloved synod,” is an indicator of a people’s pattern of thinking. It is indicative of what is understood as necessary for life as a believer. I wonder how many people who use this phrase and regularly hear this phrase in church parlance and in worship settings actually think of what the use of this phrase indicates.

It is generally used in connection with an area of concern regarding the life of the church body. When the church body is facing trouble of some sort, this phrase becomes very commonly and regularly utilized. It is often used during times of convention and restructuring. It is very frequently used in connection with fund raising.

I noticed this example at the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) website, although a substitute phrase is used: “WELS Connection.”




November 2010 - Christian giving from WELS Streams on Vimeo.

This video is entitled: November 2010 - Christian giving. It is a very well made video. It is very powerful. It pulls very hard on the heart strings. Yet it has the appearance of being meek and gentle and humble.

An interesting aspect of this is the title of this portion of the web site: WELS Connection. This fits perfectly with the assumptions of the members, be they WELS members or LC-MS members or ELCA members or members of other church bodies. Those assumptions are rarely spoken or even identified openly, yet they rule the hearts and minds of the members. One of those assumptions is that membership in the church body is equal to membership in The Church. Another assumption is that to give to the church body is equal to giving to the Lord. Another assumption is that the Church cannot function without the existence of church bodies and that these church bodies must be propagated and preserved. Another is that the so-called mission activities and ministries of these church bodies are the means by which the Lord carries out the evangelization of the world and that without these the Gospel would more or less stagnate.

And so programs like WELS Connection are invented. The current example in the LC-MS is the Ablaze!™ movement. (Notice the trademark.)



This Ablaze!™ movement of the LC-MS is especially clear in emphasizing that it is not static. It is a “movement.” This is strongly stated in What is Ablaze!? and especially in What makes Ablaze! different from every other church evangelism program of the past?. The underlying proclamation, although rather subtly hidden, is the necessity of the LC-MS cooperative efforts.

Is an awareness of this subterfuge important? Does such awareness serve a purpose? Does it matter that the various church bodies are held so highly? Is there a problem with the mentality that accompanies the use of the “our beloved synod” phrase? Did St. Paul address anything like this in his epistle of 1 Corinthians? Is there a connection to Matthew 21:12-16 and Mark 11:15-18? What does Jesus mean by what He says in Matthew 23 ? Does this or Jeremiah 7:4 mean anything in this connection? Is there a connection between the misquote of Matthew 26:61?
John 2:18-22 begs the question even more powerfully, as the Lord Jesus speaks of them tearing down the temple of God, that is, the body of Jesus, and that He will raise it up in three days, but they speak of Him tearing down their temple. The question in this is: why did they associate the temple of God with the works of their own hands and the works of their fathers, and not with the house of God in which God actually lives?

Is there a connection between this and the mentality that accompanies “our beloved synod”?

The Lord Jesus says: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

What does this mean? Does it have any application at all in this matter?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

FREE Directory Assistance

For those of us who must pinch every penny, there is a free directory assistance service available.

At 1-800-373-3411 a person can request a phone number for the mere cost of listening to some advertising. It takes a few moments, and the advertising style is slightly annoying, but for this minor inconvenience one can obtain the needed number without the exorbitant fees charged by the telephone companies, especially the mobile phone companies.

Anyway, I thought that I’d share the number for those who would like to use it. Again it is:

1-800-373-3411

Annoying Telephone Surveys

Today I was interrupted with a phone call from 732-451-3663. I knew immediately that it was someone with whom I did not wish to be bothered. How? I experienced the typical silence after answering the phone. “Hello?” . . . silence. “Hello?” Then the voice on the other end indicated slight bewilderment and then began pressing onward for a survey.

I demanded to know who was calling. “GSR” was the answer.

“Who is GSR?”

“The survey person rattled on.”

“Who is GSR?”

“Garden State Readers”


. . .OK, enough of the banter . . .

Here is the link that I found for GSR.

I told the person, who would not tell me the purpose of the survey, that she was wasting her time with me. She replied, “Yes, I believe I am.” Then she disconnected.

These survey people are quite ostentatious. They call with the attitude that the person being called owes the debt of answering whatever questions that are presented.

I hate answering questions for surveys that promote further calls regarding products that I do not use nor desire. So I don’t.

Sadly, even the national do not call registry does not keep them from calling, as survey people are excluded.

Nevertheless, the National Do Not Call Registry does help to reduce calls. In case you need to register, you may do so here.

Anyway, enough with the griping.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sermons Posted

After almost a year of not posting sermons to the web site, I have begun posting again. Due to financial struggles and the need to adjust the format of the web site to compensate for changes to the various web browsers and their “improvements,” I did not post sermons for a time. I was not even sure, for a time, whether or not I would be able to afford to maintain the web site.

Learning new HTML and CSS and other language needed for web site administration takes time. I am hopeful that I have the site working more in accord with the newer standards. I have not yet corrected the entire site, but the newer pages have been adjusted.

This Sunday’s sermon for the Festival of the Reformation has been uploaded and can be viewed and downloaded here.

I hope to begin uploading past sermons up to the time that I stopped last year and to make changes to the pages previously posted.. But at least the site should be functional again for the newer pages across the various browsers.

Oh, the weakness of the flesh!

Friday, after a hard week of working, with plans for a long and hard day Saturday, returning well after dark, I ate supper and watched a movie with Stephanie. At about midnight I began a night, or morning, in the bathroom kneeling to the porcelain throne. I know not whether it was something that I ate or the beginning of a bout with the flu, but my body purged itself till about 7:30 in the morning. At the end of the purging process my epiglottis felt as though it had been scrubbed with a wire brush.

I was too weak to attempt climbing a tree and working with hard and dangerous work, so Saturday I spent half the day resting and then sharpening about ten saw chains and tending other small matters, including some desk work and phone calls.

Today I still felt weak and very tired, achy, and sore.

How frail and impotent we are we realize when a bunch of tiny virus or bacteria cells gang up to attack our bodies. Suddenly a grown man is reduced to a heap of writhing muscles on the floor. Such things leave a person unable to avoid the reality that sin has brought death to mankind and that we are entirely helpless to do anything whatsoever about it.

Thanks be to God that He has not left us to ourselves to fend for ourselves. Thanks be to God that He has not abandoned us to the demise that we have chosen for ourselves. Thanks be to God that such is not our everlasting plight, not for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Monday I will return to the job of removing boughs and felling the trunk and hauling the branches, logs, and debris of a tree that must be removed. I will do so with the remembrance that the man who throws logs can be brought to his knees by a microscopic organism, and that it is only by the grace of God that I have strength to recover and to start a new week of hard work. Moreover, it is only by the grace of God, proclaimed in His blessed Gospel, that I know Him as my loving Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, who in Christ does not hold my sinfulness against me, so that I know that such traumatic times are only calls to repentance, rather than evidence of what is to be an everlasting fate. God grant that His precious Gospel be proclaimed freely so that all people may know His grace, mercy, and peace in Christ Jesus the Lord, and live in that comfort both now and forevermore.