Monday, November 28, 2011

Beyond Anorexia

Over the years I have had many conversations with sufferers of anorexia. I shared with a friend that I know of some who have suffered from anorexia in the past, and my friend asked how a person can “get over anorexia.”

From what I have learned, “getting over one’s anorexia” is not really an accurate way of viewing the situation. This is why I have chosen “Beyond Anorexia” for the title of this post.

One of the statements made by someone suffering the influences of anorexia is: “You cannot understand.” This statement is often made very adamantly and sometimes even angrily.

I share this because I believe that this is a small indicator regarding what anorexia is. I hope that the importance of this becomes evident as this article progresses.

For the record, those who say this are right in saying that I cannot understand. The mindset and perspective are foreign to me, at least mostly. Having said that, in my observance of the human condition on account of sin and the change in perspective that sinfulness causes, I believe that anorexia is merely one way among many that people react to what they don’t understand about themselves and don’t like about the broken condition in which they find themselves.

The Mayo Clinic gives the following definition of anorexia, which can be viewed with additional information here.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and the food they eat. People with anorexia nervosa attempt to maintain a weight that's far below normal for their age and height. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia nervosa may starve themselves or exercise excessively.

Anorexia (an-oh-REK-see-uh) nervosa isn't really about food. It's an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems. When you have anorexia nervosa, you often equate thinness with self-worth.

Anorexia nervosa can be difficult to overcome. But with treatment, you can gain a better sense of who you are, return to healthier eating habits and reverse some of anorexia's serious complications.

It is true that I cannot understand. No one really understands fully. This is true of the person suffering with anorexia, too.

Over the years I have attempted to learn about this issue in conversations with sufferers of anorexia, and especially with past sufferers. Such attempts usually prove to be entrance into turbulent waters. One of the responses that I often received in earlier attempts was: “Why do you have to keep analyzing me?”

This is how it feels to a person who is being asked about emotional issues. We usually do not like to be asked to attempt to explain what we do not really understand ourselves, especially if we already feel troubled by these things. Examining such things can feel uncomfortable and even painful.

However, in our relationships, those with us in these relationships are affected along with us in our struggles. This is especially true in a marital relationship. The wife belongs to the husband and the husband belongs to the wife. The two have been made to be one, and what affects one affects the other. This is true regarding lifestyle and eating habits and planning of meals and choices of restaurants and timing of schedules, in short, in everything. But health matters impact our spouses, too. Being overweight affects one’s body and health and thereby affects one’s spouse. Anorexia has affects upon one’s body and health, sometimes permanently, and thereby affects one’s spouse, too. Alcohol abuse, drug dependency, sexual addiction and pornographic addiction, sexual aversion, these also are examples of issues that affect both spouses.

Other family members are affected as well. Fellow workers, friends, even neighbors are affected in various ways and to various degrees. We often do not even realize how our own issues impact others.

We generally don’t like for others to address “our issues.” In fact, we often deny that “our issues” are issues.

Anorexia, like other struggles, involves various factors. What one person experiences may not be exactly the same as with someone else who struggles with the complexities of anorexia. However, in conversations with people who face this struggle I have observed that there are similarities, strong similarities.

Moreover, in conversations with people with other struggles, I have learned that there are similarities with all of our struggles. We all face the same basic issues, but we do not all react to them in the same ways.

For example, I have sometimes heard obese people, and especially obese women, say that they use their weight as a protective barrier. Some obese women, in particular, have shared that having experienced heartache with men and especially with sexual advances from men, that they chose to make themselves less sexually attractive through weight gain. In this way they controlled the way that men view them and thereby gain a sense of security and control over their lives. For them, their overweight condition gives them the freedom to interact with men without fear of having to fend off sexual advances.

Seeking control in our lives is a very big issue for all of us. Adam fell prey to this when the serpent tempted him to doubt God’s goodness and justness so that Adam sought to gain more control for himself through gaining the knowledge of evil in addition to good. As a result, we all have had control issues ever since. Thus we seek to gain control in our lives through many different approaches.

This seems to be at least one aspect of the person with anorexic tendencies. For whatever reason, the anorexic person feels the need to gain control, and the person determines that control over what is eaten gives the person at least one area in life that he or she now controls. It is delusional to think this, but it is common to us all. Very quickly this false sense of control overtakes the person’s thinking so that the illusion of control now controls the person.

One perspective in connection with anorexia is that one may view fat as bad. When fat is perceived as something bad, then it must be avoided. Since fat is an essential part of our bodies in the proper proportion, this is a dangerous false view. Since women’s bodies are designed with a need for more fatty tissue than men’s bodies, this is an even more dangerous false perspective for women.

Fat can be viewed as bad for a variety of reasons. Fat can have detrimental affects upon one’s health. Fat can make clothes feel too tight. Fat can be unsightly and unattractive.

And so, anorexia, like many other struggles in people’s lives, often is an issue of self-perception.

This extends to how a person perceives the perceptions by others as well. In fact, how one thinks that others view the person largely influences how that person perceives oneself. This can be very powerful. This becomes immensely powerful when one has been hurt or betrayed by a close friend or family member. Girls and young women seem to be especially vulnerable to such hurts when a close female friend is the one who causes the hurt, especially when rejection is the cause.

How does a person move beyond these things? How does one who has used limitation of food as a control mechanism move beyond this dependency? How does one who may even seek to punish oneself through limiting the enjoyment of eating move beyond this?

Often, in an attempt to find a solution to such an issue, one compulsion is substituted for another. Sometimes a person will realize the debilitating effects and affects of a compulsion and will substitute something less harmful or limiting. People do this in many ways, including substituting Twelve Step Programs and accountability partners. Often another compulsion or addiction or control factor is substituted. Something less undesirable is substituted for the more undesirable habit or addiction.

What about those who feel a need to punish oneself? This is not at all uncommon. Sometimes control is not the real issue. Sometimes a person has such a view of oneself that the person acts against oneself in an attempt to escape the way that self is perceived. Such self punishment can reach horrific extremes. Self denial of this type is powerfully destructive.

How does one move beyond this?

We don’t have the strength to move beyond this. This is why people substitute one thing for another. This is why people live their entire lives feeling trapped and depressed and hopeless.

Isabelle Caro is an example of this. Her interview with CBS News can be viewed here. Before viewing this, please be aware that what is displayed is appalling. The video shows her emaciated body, and may be offensive.

This video interview shows how powerless this poor woman was to combat this condition that enslaved her. November 17, at 28 years of age, Isabelle died, as reported by the New York Times at Isabelle Caro, Anorexic Model, Dies at 28.

Is there hope then? Is there a way beyond anorexia?

Yes, there is a way beyond anorexia and beyond all of the ways in which we all are enslaved by sin and its consequences.

We very much need to have our self-view or our self-perception restored to what is healthy and wholesome. This cannot be achieved by changing one’s lifestyle or by altering one’s behavior. This cannot be achieved through therapy. It cannot be achieved through drugs. It cannot be achieved through Twelve Step programs.

What then is the way beyond the things that are too big for us to overcome? How can we regain a healthy understanding and perspective?

The answer is found in understanding why we have such problems in the first place. We have been cut off from the original source of life. This has happened through the delusion of free will. When the serpent challenged the goodness of God, suggesting that God’s good and gracious declarations were lacking, Adam imagined that God’s goodness was not sufficient and he chose to do better for himself. But this choice was a choice to be cut off from what God had ordained and established. It was a choice to replace the image of God with a new image, an image that was corrupt and evil. This is the condition that we have inherited.

The answer, the cure, the way beyond this, is redemption and regeneration. God has ordained the means by which this is worked for us. He has ordained Baptism as “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” St. Paul explains this more fully, saying:

      For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

In the first sentence the apostle portrays not only how we are, but also how we perceive ourselves. We try to find ways not to see, to deny what looks back at us from the mirror, to pretend that what we know about ourselves and what others react to concerning us is not real, but we cannot hide. Adam and his wife made aprons from fig leaves and hid from the presence of the Lord, but they were nevertheless ashamed. They could not hide from their own consciences. Neither can we. Neither can we cover up the truth.

But God manifested His kindness and love with the promise of the Savior, who was born into the world in the fullness of time, to redeem us. So that we may receive the benefits of this redemption, He ordained Baptism for our washing and regeneration as those whom He has justified and renewed.

On the day of Pentecost, St. Peter told those who realized their need for the Lord’s help and salvation that the means by which God would incorporate them into His kingdom of grace was through Baptism. Here is the account:

     Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:38-47)

In this account Luke not only records the promise, but also records the result. There were many thousands of people in that crowd. Of those, three thousand were baptized. These people experienced what God promised. They were changed from the inside out. They no longer perceived themselves as they did before. Now they knew themselves to be God’s beloved children. Now they knew themselves as holy people, declared to be holy by God Himself.

St. Peter explains this further in his epistle.

     For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto evenw baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)

St. Peter informs us that Baptism saves us. He says that it purifies our conscience, washing away the corrupt thoughts and ways that we have in us and replacing them with pure thoughts that God gives to us in connection with the promise that Christ’s substitutionary suffering has justified us and restored us so that we may approach God with a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is how we get beyond our selves and what we do not like about ourselves. This is how we receive a new and healthy perception of ourselves so that we may live free and happy and blessed lives.

Through this God restores us to the knowledge that we do not need to be in control. When we depend upon Him and trust His goodness, when we live as His beloved children who receive our daily bread and all that we need for both body and soul from His gracious hand, the things that previously ruled our hearts and minds no longer have any power over us. Through this we live in the promise that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. God’s peace becomes our guardian. God’s love is our hope and becomes our new perspective. When we hear how God loves us in Christ, we begin to learn truly to love ourselves.

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An additional comfort from the Holy Scriptures that directs us to the freedom of knowing and living as God’s beloved children:

Romans 8:26-39.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

I can do all things . . .

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

This passage from the letter of St. Paul to the saints in Philippi has been used throughout the centuries as words of comfort and encouragement by millions, even billions, of struggling people. St. Paul wrote these words for that very purpose. However, our translations change what the apostle actually says, and actually lessen the comforting power of these words by this change.

A literal translation of what he says is:

In/for all-things I am strong in the-one empowering me, Christ.

The apostle is actually saying something very different than what most translators presume. What the apostle shares is much more powerful than what most people hear, even more powerful than what most people want to hear. For most people do not really want to hear what he says with these words. They want to hear what most translators superimpose onto this text and interject into the meaning.

Consider this statement with the rest of what he says:

     But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:10-20)

Notice his situation. He has been in prison. He has suffered the lack of many of the things that we daily enjoy and even count as necessary. He has been lonely. His freedom has been restricted. In the midst of this he says that he is content. Imagine that! He is content. How? He says it is because he knows the faithfulness of God in Christ. He extends this confidence to the saints in Philippi, saying, “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by [in] Christ Jesus.”

Thus St. Paul declares that in all things he is strong in the one empowering him, Christ.

St. Paul most definitely does not say that he can do all things. He says that in all things or for all things he is strong. Strong for what? Strong to endure. Strong to look beyond himself and his circumstances to the promises of God in Christ. Strong to be content even though he is cold and hungry and lonely and imprisoned and hurting and abused and in many ways neglected and forgotten. He is strong to “rejoice always!”, as he said in verse 4.

The second and most important difference to notice from what our translations usually say is that St. Paul does not say that he is strong through the one empowering him, but IN the one empowering him.

The word for through is dia. But St. Paul here uses en, which means in.

Now it certainly would have been a true statement for the apostle to say that he is strong through Christ, for Christ is the means through which we have our strength. Christ is the one who empowers us and gives us strength. But St. Paul was saying something more than this. He was addressing more than the power of Christ to do for him what he needed.

With the word en, our word in, St. Paul was speaking of what the Holy Spirit worked for him in his baptism. Jesus explains this to Nicodemus in John 3 when He tells the bewildered Pharisee that only through water and spirit is a person able or powerful to enter into the kingdom of God.

To the Philippians St. Paul refers to the one empowering him with the word endunamounti. To Nicodemus the Lord Jesus says that “to be able to” or “to be powerful to” enter into the kingdom of God with the word dunatai.

The power is the Word of God, which is Jesus, the Christ. In Romans 1:16 St. Paul refers to the Gospel of Christ as the dunamis or power of God into salvation. This is the same language as the Lord Jesus uses with Nicodemus regarding Baptism as that which makes one able to enter into the kingdom of God.

This is how St. Paul tells the Philippians that he is being empowered and made strong for all things. St. Paul was not able to do anything. He was imprisoned. He could do nothing for himself. Yet he was strong for this in Christ. As one who had been baptized into Christ and had partaken of the body and blood of Jesus many times, he was strong in the Lord. He was strong to endure this time that made his own human weakness manifest beyond question. Yes, for all things he was strong in the one empowering him, Christ.

When we hear the apostle’s words as he actually says them, we, too, are strong in the one empowering us. Our hearts are then turned from any and all forms of self-reliance to trust in Christ. This means that even our own personal faith is counted as nothing. Rather we are directed to depend upon the faith that the Holy Spirit has worked through our being baptized into Christ, who is the one who continually empowers us to be strong in all things.

This understanding changes a person’s perspective from one that is doomed to fail to a perspective that cannot fail. For when Christ is our hope and our confidence and our strength, the one through whom all things were called into existence and through whom all things are preserved, the one who has redeemed sinful mankind and accomplished the reconciliation of God and Man in His own body and now calls us into the communion of His body through the means of grace, when this Christ is the one whom we trust as our strength, we truly are strong for all things.

This confidence cannot be known apart from being IN Christ and relying upon this holy communion for all things. If we look for strength from our own believing in Jesus, this strength will fail us again and again. For our faith is weak. Our faith is dependent upon our strength. But The Faith, the faith of Jesus, is without limit. The faith that is worked in us through the means of grace is the very power of God at work in us and for us.

From this word dunamis we have the word dynamite. It is a very fitting adoption of this Greek word. The Gospel of Christ is the dynamite that blasts through our rock hard heads and hearts to move us from self-reliance to faith in our loving God and Father and Creator and Provider and Redeemer and Savior and Brother and Sanctifier and Comforter. When this Gospel is conjoined with water, it works to carry us into the kingdom of God even now, here on earth, into the body of Christ. Having been carried or washed into the body of Christ here on earth, having been brought into the communion of His body, we then are continually nourished and strengthened and renewed through the communion of His body and blood in His holy Supper.

This is how God works to keep us in Jesus Christ all the days of our life. This is how God works to make us poor, weak, miserable sinners strong in the one empowering us. Because of this St. Paul could say that he was strong for all things, even while imprisoned. Even though it had likely been a long time since he partook of the holy Supper in a congregation of the saints, he nevertheless was strong through the many times that he did partake of Christ’s body and blood. In the assurance that he had been given through the gift of Christ in the Sacrament, he remained strong even now, even when he felt otherwise all alone and abandoned.

This strength is far greater than saying “I am able to do all things.” For this strength is available to the person who is in prison and is not able to do all that one would choose to do. This strength is available to the person in the hospital suffering from cancer that is eating the flesh and destroying from within and causing seemingly unendurable pain. This strength is available to the person trapped in the darkness and loneliness of a coma. This strength reaches the person cut off from loved ones and friends through Alzheimer’s. This strength breaks through the enslavement and hopelessness of addiction. In Christ there are no twelve steps to fulfill. Christ is the fulfilment. Christ is the one empowering and setting free. In Christ, one is already strong, already free. In Christ is forgiveness and restoration to holiness. In Christ is justification in the face of all accusations. In Christ is sanctification from all unholiness. In Christ is life everlasting.

This is the strength of which St. Paul speaks. This strength is ours in Christ in His Holy Communion. He has ordained Baptism as the means by which we are washed into His communion. He has ordained the Supper of the New Testament by which we are made partners or communicants in His communion. Through these, just as God promises, we are made to be strong and kept strong in the one empowering us, Christ.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rain! Rain!

Over the last week or so we have had several rains, but I did not check the rain gauge until today following last night’s rain. I was surprised!

Friday, November 25, 2011


If a person is said to be the most honest person that one knows, what is really being said about that person?

Can a person that is mostly honest be trusted?

If a person declares that lying is sometimes appropriate, can that person ever be trusted?

If a person declares that lying is sometimes appropriate, is that person not declaring that lying is always appropriate, if that person determines the circumstance to warrant it?

If a person is said to be the most honest person that one knows, is this not equal to saying that the person is dishonest?

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The Sting of Death

Last week I received a call from the neighbor across the street. My next door neighbor had fallen while shopping and was in the neuro-intensive care unit at the hospital. His close companion of many years was at the hospital with him and could not remember the phone numbers of his children and grandchildren.

He had a hemorrhage in the brain and it was said that he was dead before he hit the floor. His body was kept alive on a ventilator until his family could arrive. His memorial service was Wednesday.

He was 91 years old. He knew that his time was coming and spoke of it fairly frequently. He often would call across the little wire fence between our yards, “Hey neighbor!” That was his invitation to swing my leg over the fence and come over to visit.

We shared in many conversations together. I often climbed back over the fence with a broken heart, knowing that he did not believe in the salvation that Jesus purchased for him. I shared the Gospel with him many times and in many ways, but the last time that he mentioned his imminent departure from this world I asked him, “You don’t really believe in anything, do you?” He responded, “Not really.”

Yet there remains a tiny glimmer of hope. He patiently listened to my excitement regarding the Gospel many times. He seemed to have a quiet sense of awe at the power that the Gospel has in my life. And so, I know that God could have created faith in his heart at some point, perhaps even as he was dying. I cannot know as he never gave any clear indication of such. Nevertheless, I do know that he heard of God’s grace, mercy, and peace from me on many occasions and in many ways. I never pressed the issue with him and he never objected to my gentle sharing. So I leave matters to the only one who knows.

I will surely miss my old friend. I know that for a very long time I will look for him across the fence only to realize that he is not there. Until the family is able to sell the house to a new neighbor, I will continue to look after the lawn and property. This, too, will remind me of his absence.

The Gospel is the most wonderful treasure in all the cosmos. Nothing is more wondrous and amazing. Nothing is farther beyond the grasp of our human reason. And yet, it can be our own possession through the faith that the Holy Spirit works through the means of grace. Christ established His Church on earth in order that this miracle can be an ongoing work among us. For the sake of my family and for the sakes of whomever else may benefit, I continue to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, binding myself to the absolute purity with which they are declared in the Scriptures. This is not a statement of my devotion or strength or commitment or faithfulness, but rather is a statement of the clarity of what the Holy Spirit has recorded for our benefit. His Holy Scriptures do teach plainly and faithfully this wondrous Gospel of God’s continual working to bring us into the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. God is the one who is truly devoted and committed and faithful, even as the Scriptures declare. And thus the pure doctrine can be known and preached and the right administration of the Sacraments can be known and practiced, for God Himself has ordained it and fulfills it wherever people hear and are gathered for that purpose. This is His work. Thus it can be trusted.

God make it so for us all.

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Thanksgiving and the last singing of the Gloria in Excelsis

Yesterday, during the divine service, I had the nagging awareness that this would be the last time that we would be singing the Gloria in Excelsis (Glory to God on high) until Christmas Eve. This is the song of the announcement of the birth of the Savior that the angels shared with the shepherds in the region of Bethlehem. The words of the angels begin with the pastor chanting: “Glory be to God on high.” The congregation completes the announcement, chanting: “And on earth peace, good will toward men. . . .” It is the glorious announcement that with the birth of the Prince of Peace, peace now resides upon the earth in accord with God’s good will toward men, the great love of God that moved Him to provide Jesus as the Savior of sinful mankind.

The season of Advent is penitential and preparatory for the advent/coming of the promised Savior. Thus, the Gloria in Excelsis is omitted during this season to help us remember what is missing apart from being Baptized into the Holy Communion of the Christ. He is the one who comes to restore what sin has stolen away from mankind.

The Church Year is designed to carry us through the promises of the Holy Scriptures, beginning with the Advent of Jesus and ending with His return at the Last Day. Thus Advent is a preparatory time, reminding us that Jesus was promised as the cure for sin and its consequences and came to the world in the fullness of time, born of the virgin in Bethlehem. He continues to come to His Church on Earth with the healing of forgiveness and the renewal of reconciliation into His Holy Communion through the Holy Supper. And He will come again at the Last Day to bring to completion all that He began in the garden with the promise to the first two needy sinners, as He comes to separate those who refused His grace from those whom the Holy Spirit through faith has gathered into the Holy Communion of the body of Christ.

Therefore, though I always feel a bit of a sting with the departure of the Gloria in Excelsis from the liturgy, I benefit from what it teaches me concerning my great need and God’s greater fulfillment of that need, not only for me, but for all of mankind. It moves me to never ending thanksgiving and it reminds me that this proclamation for all the world needs to be proclaimed today so that those for whom God has provided His peace may be brought into it through the working of the Holy Spirit in connection with the Word.

Advent is a wonderful time as we prepare for the joyous announcement of “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

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By the way, yesterday’s sermon has been posted.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Story

Here is a Thanksgiving story that is new to me: Squanto–God’s Special Indian a Thanksgiving Story.

Upon reading this article I found two other accounts, each varying somewhat from the others, but relaying the same primary information regarding this man and his encounter with the European invaders and immigrants as well as his encounter with faith in Jesus. Here are the other two articles:


Biography of Tisquantum ("Squanto").

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Oops! ! ! ! !

Trash truck strikes underside of Kellogg bridge over Seneca, prompting closures

Envisioning Church

When you hear “Church,” what do you envision?

Is it something like this?

Like this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or do you envision something like this?

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Pastors & Laity

In a blog post entitled How Should We Celebrate Reformation Sunday? the following paragraph stirred up some thoughts for me:

Though Luther was, at times, threatened, he did not die a martyr’s death. Neither did Fr. Johannes Bugenhagen, who was given charge of Luther’s wife and children following his death. And neither did the famous lay theologian of the Lutheran Reformation, Philip Melanchthon.

As I read this paragraph, I was moved to consider the three men mentioned and especially the fact that two were pastors and one was not. There was a considerable difference between the “lay theologian” and the two pastors regarding the Gospel and the absolute necessity of it being administered purely without adulteration or compromise. This moved me to ponder the pastoral office and those who are called and ordained to administer the means of grace as contrasted to those who gather to receive the benefits of the sacrifices of their pastors.

In Ephesians 4 St. Paul speaks of the purpose of the pastoral office and how Christ gives to His Church pastors/teachers that this purpose may be effected.

     And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

When a man is called and ordained into the teaching office, does God bring forth in that man something different than what is found in the rest of the body of Christ?

This question is not comprehensive, actually. It seems that more definition is required in order to understand the real issue. Do those who extend a call to a man to serve as their pastor really understand this calling? Do they grasp that this ordination is not a mere ritual by which they hire someone to fulfill certain tasks? Does the one being called and ordained truly appreciate the office to which he is being called?

In the comments section of the article quoted above the following is presented:

Luke Sampson says:
Pr Genig: You mentioned three uses for red: Pentecost, Martyrdom, and Ordination. Once you knocked down Martyrdom you immediately state the "only other" signification would be Pentecost. What happened to the third option, Ordination? In this case it would be a celebration of the Holy Spirit's equipping of a specific man, Luther, for a specific task, the restoration of the Gospel message.

patricksarsfield says:
Luke Sampson writes:

"What happened to the third option, Ordination? In this case it would be a celebration of the Holy Spirit's equipping of a specific man, Luther, for a specific task, the restoration of the Gospel message. "

So much for Sola Scriptura. Where in the Bible does it record that Luther was ordained by the Holy Spirit to restore the Gospel message? Nowhere, of course. Protestants made up the unbiblical rule of Sola Scriptura to justify their rejection of the long-standing Tradition of the only Church Jesus ever founded, but they feel no compunction to judge the foul-mouthed, vow-breaking founder of their own religion by hjis own test of Sola Scriptura.

While Luke Sampson is busy trying to defend the use of a liturgical color, he does ask a worthy question, but from a less than full understanding of what ordination really is. Patrick Sarsfield responds with a total lack of understanding and demonstrates that hatred is his primary motivation.

Ordination is about a specific man, as Luke Sampson states. However, it is not really about the man on whom it is conferred, but about the man who has ordained it, the one who has descended from heaven and ascended again to the same place. Ordination is about Christ. The office is His office. He has ordained it. He is the one who brings to effect that holy motivation by which His servants of the Word go forth in His name and perform the ministry that He has ordained for the sake of His Church on earth.

Sadly, most pastors have no real understanding of this important matter. Most of the lay members of the Church likewise are clueless. Melanchthon, a “lay theologian,” was very willing to compromise in order to accomplish peace among the factions of those professing to be Church. Luther and Bugenhagen were much less willing.

The reason that this difference existed seems to be the difference in understanding the pastoral office and the purpose of that office. Melanchthon was not ordained to this office. He never had the burden placed upon his shoulders that the liturgical stole represents. Perhaps this explains in part the lack of understanding that he manifested. Perhaps this is why he later departed from the clear statements of the Augsburg Confession, those wonderfully accurate statements drafted by his own hand.

Most pastors seem to lack this sense of burden as well. While many will speak of having a “burden for the lost,” few express true knowledge of the burden for the Church, for the true unity of the communion of saints, the holy catholic Church. Many who confess the importance of pure doctrine and practice do not believe in the absolute necessity of this purity in the life of the Church. Most imagine that the Church can exist in communion with impurity. Most outright deny the clear doctrine taught by St. Paul as it is quoted above. They deny that the unity which St. Paul declares can exist in this world. They say it can only exist in heaven or after the Day of Judgment. Thus they deny the purpose of the pastoral office to which they are called and ordained. They deny the power of the Word to accomplish what it promises. They deny what St. Paul declares to be the very outcome of the preaching and teaching entrusted to the called and ordained servants of the Word and so they allow to continue the propagation of “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

The problem is that they do not believe the office of the keys to be a real office with real authority in heaven. They imagine that it is only an earthly office to which they have been hired. They perceive the pastoral office to be a function of worldly tactics and orchestrations. Thus they imagine that the “perfecting of the saints” or the “complete furnishing of the saints” is to be accomplished through teaching “how to” sermons and through various programs. The emphasis becomes what the Church does rather than what the Church receives. The preaching becomes instructions for doing and for giving and for sacrificing and for becoming more Christlike and for committing oneself to Christ and for making Christ the center of one’s life. And thus the true center of the life of the congregation becomes the attempts at being better and more devoted followers of Jesus.

Through this the true work of the ministry is lost. The true “work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” is reduced to attempts at obedience and faithfulness rather than the powerful work of the Word in connection with the means of grace. The work of the ministry is reduced to the miserable attempts of sinners to accomplish what only God can do. Compromise becomes the only option, for who but God can accomplish perfect unity?

The pastoral office is founded upon the belief in accomplishing the impossible. It is grounded upon the perfecting of the saints. It is established upon the absolute perfection that the Holy Spirit works through the means of grace. It is the preaching that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.” (Hebrews 11:1-2) It is the preaching that through water God saved Noah in the days of old and that today He likewise saves us through the water in which His Word works to purify us so that we stand before God with the answer of a good conscience by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21) It is the preaching of the unity of the communion of the body and blood of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

This is real unity. It is not just the preaching of what will be at some future time. It is created here and now, where it is actually preached and practiced as Christ has ordained it for His Church on earth.

And this unity is not just a glorious vision or hope. It is not merely something for which to strive. It is what must exist in order for salvation to be administered. For these means are the very means of salvation. They stand uncorrupted or else they do not exist as that which is from God for our salvation. Christ’s means of grace do not exist in forms other than those which He has ordained. To change them is to make them something that is not of God and has no power to do what God promises to work through His ordained means.

When a pastor understands this as the ordination with which he is ordained, it does indeed effect a change in his being and in his perception of what is required of him. He does indeed carry a burden, a burden that is far beyond what he can carry by his own strength. And so he relies upon the one from whom this ordination has its authority and power and proclaims Him and His ministry through the pure and unadulterated means that He has ordained for this purpose. And so the pastor kneels to receive that which he administers, acknowledging first his own great need, and then also administering the same to those entrusted to his pastoral care.

Since this is by the working of the Holy Spirit and by the redemption price of the blood of Christ, certainly red is a fitting color for this divine ordination of gifts for Christ’s Church on earth, the ordination placed upon every man who stands in Christ’s stead to offer freely the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation to all whom the Holy Spirit gathers for this purpose in every age and place.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Old Man Attacked by Obama Administration

An 80 year old man is being attacked by the Obama Administration and the FBI as a violent criminal because of his pro-life stand. His big acts of violence? He stood on a side walk and he accidentally stepped on someone’s shoe.

More information is available at:

Obama Admin: Fine Pro-Lifer $25,000 for Stepping on Shoe

Bias at Justice: A Tale of Two Cases

Federal government out of step with pro-life America.

How this man’s actions can be counted in any way as violent is beyond reason. Certainly he may have been annoying to those seeking to eradicate the babies whom they do not want to consider. Certainly he may have been a nuisance to the Planned Parenthood Limitation staff. But he caused less actual accosting of people than the Justice Department daily causes, or that Congress and the President cause, or that telephone opinion pollsters cause.

He certainly did nothing like the woman did to him with the pepper spray. Yet he is treated as a perpetrator of violence and she is not.

According to the US government, those who cry out for those who have no other advocates are to be punished as violent offenders while those who deny the voiceless a chance to be heard or even to live to see the light of day are counted as innocent.

Just how perverted must the abuses of justice reach before people awaken from their apathy?

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Cricket TXTM8 3G A410 by ZTE

Help for people owning a Cricket TXTM8 3G A410 by ZTE

If you have any problems or need help for your Cricket TXTM8 3G A410 by ZTE this is where both Cricket and ZTE place your customer service requests.

Don’t bother calling or e-mailing them, unless you enjoy extended wait times, being placed on hold for even longer periods, and finally receiving no intelligible answer or perhaps even an insult.

I purchased this phone in part because it was advertized as having a 2 Megapixel camera and as being Bluetooth Compatible. But it is not. It is only designed to connect to Bluetooth headphones and the like. Moreover, no driver is available for the USB port. Thus, unless a person purchases an SD mini card there is no way to upload the pictures to one’s computer. Even with an SD mini card one must remove the back of the phone, remove the battery, remove the mini card, so as to insert the card in a card reader.

However, I did discover a way to utilize the blue tooth on my computer. Perhaps this method will work for others as well. I find it easier to use this method than it is to disassemble and reassemble my phone each time. Moreover, if one does not have a mini card, this method works to upload the photos to the computer.

Here are the steps:

First, on the computer screen, click on the Bluetooth icon.

Next click on “Receive a File.”

The following Screen will appear:

Then access the phone screen menu and go to “Multimedia” and then to “My Pictures.” Then select the first picture that is to be uploaded via Bluetooth to the computer.

Click on “Send” and then select “Via Bluetooth”.

Then select the device/computer to which the connection is to be made.

After clicking on the selected device, the following screen will appear on the computer screen:

Here one may rename the file if desired and can select the directory to which the file is to be saved.

Clicking “Next” saves the file and brings up the following screen.

Clicking finish closes the screen and allows the process to be repeated for the next photo.

Of course, one must first create the Bluetooth link/connection/pairing on the computer and on the phone.

The process feels tedious, but I find it to be less troubling than tearing my phone apart each time that I wish to save a few photos.

Anyway, I thought that I would share my discovery for anyone who may benefit. I called Cricket and ZTE, emailed both, scoured the Internet, called multiple phone accessory providers, and found no answers from any of those sources. Other telephone manufacturers supply the necessary drivers and sometimes even supply software for synching with an address book or even with Outlook. The method above is what I learned through my very limited knowledge of this technology.

I hope that someone else may benefit as well.

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As an addendum, I should note that the local Cricket people either at the Cricket corporate store or at Chit Chat are not to blame for the lack of service provided nor the insulting attitudes. The disrespect shown to customers and the complete lack of concern for providing drivers that make the phones functional is at the company levels of Cricket and ZTE. Local representatives can only give what is provided, including information.

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Learning to say “No” Again

A few posts below is yesterday’s post entitled Learning to say “No”. Today I will address the other side of the coin, so to speak. While it most certainly is true that the Lord is able to supply whatever is needed so that one is enabled to help one’s neighbor when the Lord leads one so to do, is there ever a time when the Lord would have a person to say “No”? Another way of asking this is: Is it ever wrong to help one’s neighbor?

While this question may sound peculiar or even absurd, the answer is actually a very powerful YES. There are times when helping one’s neighbor can be contrary to God’s will.

For example, if one’s neighbor is robbing a convenience store. It would be wrong to help the neighbor to commit this crime, even if the neighbor is homeless and without food and shelter and is unable to obtain employment and has been turned away from every shelter and food pantry.

Another example, an example that may not seem quite so obvious, is when helping one’s neighbor causes one to steal from one’s spouse the devotion and commitment that the Lord commands. If I, for example, allow my helping of my neighbor to keep me from doing what my business requires for staying in business and paying the bills, I have robbed my wife, just as much as if I helped my neighbor rob the convenience store of money or goods would be stealing. Moreover, my customers are looking to me to help them, and they have a prior commitment from me. If I help my neighbor to such a degree that I do not fulfill my commitment to help my customers in a timely manner, I have robbed them.

So what do I do? My neighbor needs help. My customers need for me to fulfill my commitments. My wife needs for me to be a devoted husband and faithful provider.

How can I not fail? How can I keep from sinning through omission? How can I keep from neglecting someone?

The sad fact is that I cannot. My wife is very forgiving, as are my very kind customers, but that does not change the fact that I let them down with choices to elevate the needs of a needy neighbor above their needs. And, if I move the other direction and refuse to help a needy neighbor in order to fulfill my previous commitments, I still fail in helping my neighbor.

Either way I am wrong. Either way I sin.

This is the broken condition of the world ever since sin interrupted the Lord’s plan and design for us. This is why we cannot begin to be righteous by our own efforts and works. Moreover and even more importantly, all of our efforts and works are corrupted by our sinfulness. Even when we do good, it still is lacking in proper motive and love. Our sinfulness permeates our entire being as well as all of our thoughts, words, and deeds. This is why our only hope is Jesus. Jesus alone can save us for He alone is perfect. Our works can never make things right. Only His works make things right. Only His works merit salvation.

This is why Luther became so agitated regarding indulgences and other false doctrine regarding mingling one’s own works with the works of Christ in the desire to obtain merit before God, so that he challenged his fellow theologians with his Ninety-five Theses. On October 31, 1517 he nailed his theses to the church door, not realizing what fireworks would ensue. This little action was used by God to bring about a mighty change. Much of what Luther wrote was still terribly lacking, but his questions did open people’s eyes and hearts to realize that the Gospel by which we are saved is not about our works, but the works of God in Christ.

And this is how we are empowered to face each and every day. Knowing full well that none of our works are meritorious in any degree, we rise each morning and look to the Lord as our gracious God and Savior, trusting that He will work good for us and in us and through us despite our sinfulness. And we go forth boldly, knowing that even our best efforts are still corrupt and sinful, and yet reckoned by God as holy for Christ’s sake. And so, moved by God’s own love we help our neighbor knowing that we will sin against wife and customer. And sometimes, we refuse to help our neighbor, because we have obligations that simply must be fulfilled, and so we turn away our needy neighbor, at least for the time being. In every case, we trust God’s forgiveness and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct us in our conscience and make the best decision that we are able and go forth and “sin boldly.” This does not mean that we willfully sin. It means that knowing that our actions cannot be without sin inhering to even our best efforts, we go forth in God’s grace, loving wife and customer and neighbor and trusting that for Christ’s sake our shortcomings are counted as full and holy and good. And so in the evening we again confess our sinfulness and beseech God’s merciful forgiveness for Christ’s sake and go to sleep in the assurance of the peace that only God can give.

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Does Daylight Saving Equal Energy Savings?

This article seems to be mistitled: Daylight Saving Time Ends This Weekend, and It’s Healthy. As one reads the article, the information presented seems to indicate the exact opposite, that the shift in the clocks can actually have detrimental bodily effects. So why this title?

The article quotes a study that shows that the change in time causes stress on the body. (Oh, like we need a study to show this?) The study further shows that the stress factors can last several days and for those who are already vulnerable from sleep deprivation that it can cause additional sleep deprivation that “can affect the cardiovascular system, leading the vulnerable to have heart problems in the days following Daylight Saving time changes.”

What was the title of this article again?

Oh! OK! The point is not that Daylight Saving Time is healthy, nor that changing the clocks is healthy, but that ending Daylight Saving Time is healthy. Changing the clocks is unhealthy. The alteration imposed by Daylight Saving Time is unhealthy. Not following Daylight Saving Plans is healthy.

Why didn’t they say that?

In the second half of the article it says the following:

Does Daylight Saving Equal Energy Savings?

The seven-month period of daylight saving time is mandated by governments — not biological clocks — which began implementing the time switch during World Wars I and II to save energy and resources for the war effort. From World War II until recently, daylight saving in the U.S. ran from April until mid-October.

But in 2007, Congress adjusted daylight saving time to begin three weeks earlier and end one week later, a move they hoped would help save energy. At the time, they pointed to the fact that longer daylight in the evening hours reduced people’s need to turn on lights in their homes at night.

Critics of the policy questioned the government’s decision, wondering whether people would simply turn on as many lights in the morning hours instead. In response, the Department of Energy studied the energy savings in 2008. They found that during daylight saving time, U.S. electricity use decreased by 0.5 percent per day, which added up to 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours, enough to power about 122,000 average U.S. homes for a year.

Now this seems to be a good representation of governmental studies and conclusions. The total amount of change in the electricity consumption data from 2007 to 2008 is 0.5 percent per day. The time frame has been extended by 4 weeks, changing the period over which the measurements will be taken, extending the time period to include more days when air conditioning will not be used, the BIG summertime cause of increased electricity consumption. Could FOUR weeks of days with customarily less energy consumption be a factor? Hmm? Moreover, 2008 had increases in energy costs. Many people set their summertime thermostat settings higher in order to save money on air conditioning costs. Could that have made a difference?

The total reduction was counted as one half of one percent! How can that tiny drop be assumed to have been from daylight saving time reductions. Do not the other factors also have to be weighed?

One half of one percent is not much savings anyway. Does such a tiny savings justify the inconveniences, even if the assumptions are found to be correct, even if the 0.5 percent is directly attributable to the adjustments to the clocks?

Governmental Imposed Control

Don’t forget the governmental imposed time warp tonight. The so-called daylight savings plan ends for this year at 2:00 AM.

(Actually, it works very nicely to change the clocks before going to bed and not worry about anything at 2:00 AM.)

If you would care for an example of how stupidly our society deals with matters of daily living, here is a video to satisfy your need for stupidity based psychology:

     (My apologies for the advertisement that I could not remove.)

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Sadly, daylight saving time has been in effect for as long as I can remember. I never remember my parents ever dealing with things in such absurd ways, transforming an hour of government imposition into a mountain of complications. “Good morning. It is time to get up! Time for breakfast.” Same plan every day. It worked. We moaned and complained the same as any other day when we had to get up to go to school or whatever other thing was required of us. But we arose and dressed and ate breakfast and went on with the day.

How did we ever survive without the help of a TV psychobabble propagandist?

Oh. Now I remember.

     Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Wow, several thousand years ago the Lord gave this to His people through Moses, and for those who heeded it, it worked marvelously, keeping peace and tranquility and even happiness and love in the home. It worked when St. Paul repeated it, even under the Roman tyranny. It worked a few decades ago when I was a child. Could it be, is it possible, just maybe that today it still works?

Even for those who do not believe in the Lord God who gave His wonderful words by which His people would live happily and peaceably with one another, even for those who mock God and ignore Him in every other way, when His commandments are followed, they have the effect that He promises. Ten Words or Sayings of divine wisdom and all of the psychological studies are seen for what they are, inane attempts to achieve what has been plainly declared and even recorded in stone for millennia.

For what it is worth, Daylight Savings Time is a futile interference in people’s lives. But since we have it, why make more trouble of it than it really is? Wouldn’t our lives be wonderful if this were the only asinine act of tyranny with which we had to cope?

So, as for me and my house, we will simply set the clocks back as has been mandated, and arise giving thanks to God for the divine service in which the Lord shall serve us the blessings of heaven flowing from His endless mercy and goodness from beyond the restraints of time. And so with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we shall laud and magnify His glorious name and enjoy the life that He gives us in connection with His holy name. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Learning to say “No”

In terms of putting my own needs first, looking out for my business first, I am a terrible businessman. To be successful in business, the model is that one counts the needs of his business as most important and people are secondary.

Yesterday, instead of going to do the job that I had planned to do, I responded to a former neighbor. He came and knocked on the door, as he is accustomed to doing, and told me his latest situation. He works as a janitor at the local university, working from 3pm to 11pm. He is hurting financially. His previous vehicle quit running and was repossessed, and after many months, he was able to purchase another used vehicle.

That vehicle served well until he came out to drive home and turning the ignition produced absolutely no results. Just a soft click. He tried calling his children and used up all of his minutes of air time leaving voice messages. Then he sat all night in the parking lot. In the morning he walked about seven and a half miles to my door and asked me to tow him home. I invested most of the day trying to help him.

The smart thing would be simply to say, “No, I can’t help you.”

But how can I say that. It would not be true. I actually carry a tow strap so that I can help people. How can I then say that I cannot help? I could say, “I don’t have the time.” But God gives me 24 hours in each day to utilize. I could say that my neighbor, or even former neighbor, is not my responsibility. I could say that people like this are just using me. But of course they are, that is the very meaning of asking for help.

Honestly, I do not want to learn to say “No” to those who are hurting and in need. That would be to deny the person God has regenerated me to be.

Yet a person does need to be respectful of his limitations. Moreover, one needs to be aware of financial limits. Yet, how can one who trusts in the Lord forget the record of what transpired in the wilderness?

And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them? And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not. (Numbers 11:21-23)

When one in whom the fear of the Lord has been regenerated so that the person trusts the Lord and walks in His ways doing as the Spirit of God moves him, is it possible that the Lord will forget to provide the means to do as He has led the person to do? The God who brought all things into existence through the Logos, merely calling the universe into existence by His own Word and Will, can He not also provide the daily bread that we need?

No, I believe that I will continue to seek God’s merciful help in saying “No” to my own doubts and fears and selfishness and lack of compassion. Even better, I will continue to look to Jesus Christ in whom all of God’s promises are Yes and Amen.

But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:18-22)

Surely I have limitations. But God does not and His mercy and goodness have no limitations either. Can one who believes this then turn away from a neighbor without showing the mercy and goodness that he himself has received of the Lord?

To this I very willingly say, “No.” Such is not possible. God’s mercy and love and goodness are greater than this.

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As a clarification, indeed there are times for saying "No" to the expectations, requests, or demands of others. But when the Lord moves one in one's heart to feel and show compassion, when a person responds to what appears to be a genuine need of another, this is right and good.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Suckiest Generation?

From time to time I visit the Cyberbrethren blog. He often has interesting information. Also, his perspective is a reasonable representation of those who today call themselves conservative or confessional Lutherans. Checking his blog as well as others reminds me of the direction that these Lutherans are heading. Lots of information is available on his blog.

In September one of his posts was “Willpower” and the Suckiest Generation. In his post he links to this post by the same title: ‘Willpower’ and the Suckiest Generation. The really striking part of this is the label pinned upon the baby boom generation.

I learned from this article that I am counted by the official demographers, whomever they may be, as part of this baby boom generation, or as this article labels it, the Suckiest Generation.

The opening paragraph of the article says:

     I often joke with my wife that I wish my generation — the Baby Boomers — could die without taking me with them. I’d sure as hell like to be around to see them go. They ruined the culture of this country, threw away the untold riches bequeathed to them, betrayed and undermined centuries of wisdom, spread the use of drugs, legitimized divorce and abortion, and even managed to screw up the civil rights movement that might otherwise have been their signal achievement. On the other hand, they did give us pre-faded jeans, so I guess that’s something.

In the past, and perhaps even upon my first reading of the article, I have been inclined to agree with this assessment. I have never understood the ways of “my” generation. I’ve never counted it as my generation. But as I have grown in knowledge of the globalist agenda, as well as simply learning more about the history that my government controlled education hid from me, and learning more about some of the history of past generations of my family as well as other families, I have had a bit of an attitude adjustment.

Is this really the “suckiest generation”? From where did this generation arise? Did this generation create itself? Did this generation simply choose to be who they are?

Are they not the children and product of the previous generations? Did this generation allow the international bankers to seize control of our money supply and enslave us to the debt that we now face? Did this generation establish the universities and train the liberal professors who promoted much of the destructive misunderstandings of this generation? Which generation paid for those professors to be trained? Which generation sent their children to be deceived by these goons? Which generation allowed the First World War? Which generation allowed the Second World War? Which generation allowed theology to be replaced by psuedo-psychology, that is, psychology which does not even admit the existence of the psuche or psyche, that is, the soul?

The list of things that were allowed and were perpetrated by the previous generations is endless. But as one examines the things that were done and tolerated in the previous several generations, how can anyone be surprised that a generation of confusion and disarray would be generated? Considering all of the compromises that were accepted, especially in the religious sphere and then also in the so-called realm of science, to what would this new generation anchor?

The movie industry immediately began working to reshape the thinking of its audiences. Promiscuity, licentiousness, and divorce were being presented as things that should not be counted as negative and to be shunned. Racial discrimination continued to prevail for many, while morality lost its place. The US government dragged the nation into unjustified conflicts around the world one after another. It was the previous generations who “killed God,” and allowed the insane religion of evolution to be established over the people to steal away their one true source of hope and identity. Family stability was being undermined more and more. Materialism and hedonism became more and more the way of life.

These things did not originate with the baby boom generation. But they did most assuredly influence them, shaping their thinking and beliefs, ultimately robbing them of the things that provide confidence and security.

Was it the baby boom generation that allowed the Social Security Act to replace family responsibility for the elderly? Was it the BBG who allowed the churches to be infiltrated by imposters who preached tolerance as the new love and turned the seminaries and churches into cesspools for the effluence of historical criticism?

Look at the way of the grandparents in the churches today? Are they holding fast to the Truth or are they just smiling and trying not to make waves? Do they even believe in making waves anymore? Who empowered the AARP to such levels of influence and power? Who continually cries that they should receive hundreds of times more in Social Security benefits than they ever contributed?

These things were not brought about by the baby boom generation. The baby boom generation reacted to these things. Many of the BBG reactions were exactly what they are accused of being, but they did not act alone, nor were they even the initial instigators.

Does this excuse the BBG of its inestimable number of flaws and mistakes and even evil choices? Of course not. But if the BBG is the only generation on whom the blame falls, then the truth will never be addressed.

Is it not amazing that those, and often of the preceding generation, who are the quickest to quote the Lord Jesus as saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” almost always divorce this from its context? Moreover, is it not amazing how this admonition is used as an excuse for judging those who rightly discriminate against genuine injustice and wrongdoing?

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 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. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Does “my” generation, the baby boom generation, need to hear the honest judgment concerning its errors? Is this not a silly question? However, does not the preceding generation and the one before that and the succeeding generation need also to seek the doctor to have the beams removed from their eyes before judging the baby boomers?

As I consider my own judgment of “my” generation, I feel considerable shame. What should be done about this? Well, on my part, I look to the Lord, who has forgiven me from eternity and has taken on my frail human form in order to redeem me and take my sins for me in order that I may receive the forgiveness that He pronounced already to the first two sinners of the very first generation and throughout history to every successive generation down to the present day. I will most surely point out what I observe as wrong, but not so much with the intent of blaming someone, but with the hope of showing the way to the path where all blaming is lifted from us and God’s own righteousness and holiness and reconciliation are declared to be ours. If even a few people will hear it, what a change they will experience in their own hearts and lives! What joy we shall share together, as we continually are called together by the Holy Spirit to receive the peace that only God can give and gives freely without measure or limit.

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Blogging Volume

It seems that everyday I have multiple ideas, for which I jot some notes and add to my stacks of possible blog posts. Some I have even spent many hours and in some cases even days studying. Most blog posts require a considerable investment of my time. A few are of such a nature that I can simply cut and paste, but most take much time in order to treat them with seriousness and to attempt accuracy and truthfulness. Matters of the Faith most certainly should not be haphazardly composed and posted.

Even converting the sermons to PDF, HTML, and MP3 and then to upload to the web site usually takes an hour or two.

And so I frequently wonder whether people really benefit. I wonder whether it is good stewardship of my time and energy. But occasionally I do hear from someone that the efforts are beneficial and appreciated.

It seems that the most beneficial efforts are those that I direct toward those who are in prison. The one friend to whom I send sermons every week often comments on how helpful he finds them, and that he passes them on to his friends who pass them on to others. Recently I sent him a copy of the Enchiridion, i.e., Luther’s Small Catechism, and he requested 2 more copies for his friends who eagerly received them.

What can be better than to hear of such things? It gives me a tiny sense of what the Lord Jesus says happens among the heavenly hosts when even one sinner repents. It also causes me to remember David’s joy when he wrote:

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1)

For those who do find my posting and uploading of sermons to be of benefit to you, I am glad.

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Trick or Treat goes Nuclear?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween-Reformation-All Saints

The transition from October to November carries a mixture of observances, Halloween, Reformation, and All Saints Vigil and Day. Halloween is the observance that most people know and practice. I was amazed to see how far some people go in decorating for Halloween. Some houses were decorated as much as they were for Christmas. My drive-by photo did not turn out well, but here is one house from last night:

In times past I objected quite strongly to Halloween because of the ungodly associations of the observance. And I still do not desire to accentuate it or participate in it. Nevertheless, we do buy candy to give to the eager little faces that come to the door.

I do enjoy the children. Stephanie likes to watch me with the children, preferring to watch me over greeting the children herself.

I suppose that this is why people enjoy Halloween. “It’s for the children!”

Nearly everyone enjoys the variety of costumes from which often somewhat trepid yet expectant little faces peer. Last night I especially enjoyed the one tiny little fellow, barely knee-high, who indicated after I gave him a bag of M&Ms, “I want that one.” So I gave him that one, too. “What’s the difference?” I queried. He didn’t know. The two bags were exactly the same.

Earlier in the week, my next door neighbor, 91 years old, decided to replace the light in his carport so that it would stay on when the children would come. After attempting the feat and experiencing instability on the stepladder, he called me to do it.

He was looking forward to the children coming to the door.

I, myself, do not look forward to Halloween. Yet when the children come to the door, I enjoy the encounter.

I was especially amazed at the politeness of the children this year. None of them acted greedily. In past years some children would try to grab handfuls, sometimes multiple handfuls. But this year that did not occur. Not even once.

As much as I enjoy the children, I still experience angst. So many of the costumes are of vampires and other such ghoulish nature. Yet even most of these are “cute.” Still, it leaves me hurting to know how the devil and the world use the cuteness of the children to weaken our senses regarding the appalling nature of these things. I am always wanting to speak the Gospel to the little visitors, and their lurking parents in the shadows.

But the Gospel is not to be pressed upon anyone. This is not the way of our gracious God and Father. While the Gospel is powerful beyond anything else known to us, it is nevertheless, a gift. It is offered in a way not unlike the manner of the Halloween treats.

Oh that the churches would learn this. Just as the children do not need to be coerced or tricked into receiving candy and treats with eager and joyful hearts, so also the Gospel is to be offered. If the Gospel were truly offered in its purity, with all of the sweetness of God’s inestimable grace, mercy, and peace, in the complete unity of the Una Sancta, people would have a very different perception of “Church.”

Interestingly, the children and parents needed no special invitation to come to our door last night. Generally only one thing really mattered. They needed to see the light shining both at the door and from within. Then, of their own desire, they came to the door and knocked, using the liturgical chant of the festival.

It seems funny, that in such circumstances, no one objects to the lack of spontaneity or to the lack of personal opinion. Every person who came to our door used the same historical liturgical chant. It is one that they did not invent or choose, but simply learned as the chant to be used on this occasion. Moreover, each and every person came with the exact same expectation, to be served by the lord of the house or the appointed server. They all expected to receive a treat without offering anything whatsoever for it, simply by the gracious disposition of the one ordained as the serving one.

Sadly, the Halloween liturgy is a sick one. No one even gives any thought to what is being said. “Trick or Treat!” is the chant. It means, “Give us a treat or we will play a dirty trick.” No pays any attention to this anymore, even though it once had a very serious part in the ritual. If people treated these words seriously, how many guns or clubs would be brought to the door instead of treats?

Yet, is this not reflective of how many people approach other matters? Is this not the way that many people make demands regarding government programs? Is this not the way that many approach what they consider to be the Church? Do people not very often come to “worship” with a demanding attitude, demanding that things be done their way?

And in the churches that still use the historic liturgy or something that resembles it, how seriously do people consider the words and what they declare? Do they really even understand what the householder is giving? Do they really understand what they are coming to receive and the means by which the gifts are given? Do they really even come with the same expectation of what is to be received?

This is what the Festival of the Reformation is. It is a festival of thanksgiving for the reclamation of the true identity of the Church as the House of God to which the Holy Spirit calls by means of the Gospel, enlightens with His gifts, and sanctifies those gathered so as to keep them in the one true faith of Jesus through which forgiveness of sins is imparted and everlasting life in God’s Holy Communion is restored. The Festival of the Reformation is the celebration of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this in every time and place. The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh continually turn the holy things of God into mere symbolism and worse, turn these blessed means of grace into requirements by which the souls of men become enslaved. Rather than being set free by the absolute and unadulterated Truth, people become enslaved to their own corrupt attempts at goodness and righteousness. But the Reformation is God’s continual call to the repentance that the Holy Spirit works. God continually works through the few who preach the Gospel purely to restore His gifts to the Saints.

All Saints Day very appropriately teaches us the effect of the Lord’s Reformation. All Saints Day teaches us the unity of the Church through unity of the doctrine of the Scriptures, by which the Church stands unmoved from the foundation of the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. All who have ever trusted in this preaching, all who now hear it in the faith worked by the Holy Spirit, and all who ever will hear and abide in the faith it declares, are united in the one body of Christ. They confess the same faith and gather to receive the same gifts. They are truly one in Christ.

Halloween, Reformation, and All Saints Day, really stand as representatives of what occurs daily in the world. Halloween happens each and every day as the human race looks to things that are not of God and of the Life that is known only in His Holy Communion. The Human Race stands apart from the Truth of God and seeks gifts through other ways. But each and every day the Lord continually calls out with His Gospel through His saints who daily walk in spirit, confessing the true faith, gathering into the name of Jesus to receive the Sacraments of forgiveness and life. Each and every day is All Saints Day, as those whom the Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified are kept in the one true faith, united and kept whole with Jesus Christ until the day that He comes to take His saints out of this world of deception and terror and turmoil to live in the blessedness of the resurrection.

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