Wednesday, March 13, 2013

American Citizen Imprisoned in Iran

If you desire to sign the petition on-line, click here.

It seems strange that such a petition would be necessary.  Saeed Abedini is an American citizen.  Both Congress and Obama know of his illegal arrest and imprisonment.

But then the same is true here in America, where citizens also are known to be innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted and are nevertheless still held in prisons.  Such cases, whether here at home or in far away Iran, should be addressed with urgency.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quirky Google Blogger & IE

Having been informed that viewing my blog in IE (Internet Explorer) the margins are askew, my apologies to anyone frustrated by this problem.  It works perfectly in Firefox and Safari when I check it, but in Internet Explorer it does go haywire.

I gave up on IE long ago when it kept presenting security hazards.  But it also seems to be very quirky and unstable when playing/working with other browser compatibility issues.

It seems that the problems for my blog appeared with the last post that included the embedded code for the tag program.  I am wondering whether this post may cause an override.  If not, I will delete the other embed code to see what effect it has.

OK. It seems that the issue was with Internet Explorer, or at least with IE and Google's Blogger. But as usual, other browsers functioned correctly while IE refuses. Other browsers seem to accept the embed codes without any problem. Why do so many people still use IE?


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Freedom Banned in Washington

CATO Institute has an article entitled: Freedom Banned in Washington.  The article shares that in Washington DC there are limits to what a person is allowed to use on vanity license plates.

FREEDOM is one of the banned words.

Apparently a person can use the method below to test various words to learn whether or not the words are permitted.

(embeded code for tag test deleted due to conflicts with IE)

Try it here.

Indeed, Freedom is not permitted.

I tried a number of others that would surely be more controversial and those particular ones were deemed to be OK.  But Freedom is not OK.

Try it yourself.

Among a few others that I tried that turned out to be banned are:

(but Slave is OK)

Can You Believe THIS?

At the government site for the State of Maryland’s Health Department here is what is posted:

Can you believe this? Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Mental Hygiene?

Is this another term for Brainwashing?

Is this getting scarey yet?

Better than Obamacare

Yesterday I was reminded of a previous post, God’s Grace in Injuries & Healing .  The following picture was displayed after my knee injuries had healed.

I was surprised by the comments that were made, seemingly oblivious to the statements that I had made about how wonderfully and marvelously the Lord had granted healing.  I was left wondering if they read my words at all.  Their display of concern and caring was nice, but did they read what I said?

Here is a picture taken today of the same injuries.

I had not really paid much attention until today as I have had no pain or other cause to pay any attention to my knee.  I was rather amazed to realize that the scars are so negligible that even with close examination I hardly notice them.  In fact, my scar from when I was a youngster and fell on a freshly sharpened lawn mower blade is far more noticeable, even though it, too, has faded over the years.

At any rate, I wish to share this with whomever may be interested.  I did not rush to the emergency room and pay outrageous fees.  I received no stitches, no pain meds, no powerful antibiotic shots or pills.

I thank God for the functions that He has built into my body.  I thank God that I do not need the Federal government to mandate what my body needs.  If only the Federal government would stay out of my life and let me and my neighbors live in peace.

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Assisted Living Facility where Assisting to Live is Forbidden

I find what is shared in this video at The Blaze hard to believe.  A nurse speaks to a 911 operator, calling for emergency assistance for a dying woman, but refuses to help the woman.  The facility’s policy forbids doing CPR to save a resident’s life.

I cannot imagine anyone signing such a restrictive policy.  Well, Obama or Sebelius or Feinstein, yes, but well . . .

This is hurtful to my soul.  Moreover, it is becoming commonplace.

It is hard to imagine that on Facebook and other social media that people post endlessly about abuse of animals and saving the lives of dogs and cats, even old and decrepit dogs and cats.  Meanwhile the daughter of this woman, a nurse, says that she is satisfied with the care that her dying mother received.  What care did her mother receive?

Perhaps this 87 year old woman did not want CPR.  Perhaps she did not want to be assisted.  Perhaps this is why she came to live at this facility.

Was this the case?  Is it my place to speculate?  Is there a time when such a decision is appropriate?

And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
   (Genesis 49:33)

And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
  (Genesis 50:22-26)

As I ponder what has been reported, and consider the statement of this woman’s daughter, perhaps I really should be careful about presuming to know more than I do.  After all, this woman lived in a very comfortable environment.  She did receive assistance in her day to day needs.  She was blessed to live to 87 years of age.  Her body was weakened.  Her bones were frail.  She elected to live in a facility where the policy was stated that the rigors of CPR would not be performed.  Does this policy take into account the low success of CPR on such older people?  Does this policy take into account the likelihood of deep and painful bruises, possible broken ribs, and even possible rupture of blood vessels?

Perhaps I am wrong to presume to judge these people of whom I know so little.  After all, they did not withhold food or drink from her.  They did not administer lethal drugs.  They did not refuse to call for paramedics who have the defibrillation and other equipment.

If this is the way, then perhaps this should be explained to the EMS people so that they are not put in the horrific situation that this creates.  As I listened to the audio, my heart ached for this dispatcher.  It seems that at the very least, facilities such as Glenwood Gardens should be required to list their policy with the EMS and explain why CPR is not practiced.  These facilities often are frequent callers of EMS.  The dispatchers should be given better information, both for their own conscience’s sakes as well as to avoid such ugly misunderstanding.

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Drones Will Become Such a Routine Part of American Life That They Eventually Will Be Used to Find Lost Dogs and Cats

The quote is found at 1:30 and following:

More on this is reported at Drones used to find lost dogs, cats?.

For Good or Not

Here is a tool that could frighten a person not knowing its purpose:

It is actually quite a wonderful invention, despite its rather intimidating appearance.  It is a tool designed to grant comfort and relief.  It is a shoe stretcher.  It is designed to be used to alleviate pressure on bunions and other troublesome areas of the foot.  It is used to stretch the area of the shoe that would cause pain to the bunion or other oddly shaped part of a person’s foot.

Of course, if applied incorrectly to the shoe, or in some other way misused, it could actually become an instrument of pain or torture.  It could be used to increase agony rather that to relieve it.  Even if used with good intentions but misapplied, it could work the opposite for which it is designed.

For example, if the stretcher is used improperly so that the area is not sufficiently stretched, and yet the suffering person is coerced to wear the improperly stretched shoe anyway, the condition of irritated bunion could be worsened.  If the person is told that the pain is not real and that the stretcher has removed the cause of pain, the person may be further injured emotionally.

Sadly, the Gospel, while not a tool, but nevertheless a means of comfort and relief, is often used improperly so that the result is a worsened state of suffering rather than relief.  It is not the fault of the Gospel that this happens.  Rather the fault is in the misapplication of the Gospel.  Often it is not only misapplied, but entirely misrepresented.

Imagine if the shoe stretcher were given to a person and told to use it to apply pressure to the bunion to reshape the foot to relieve the problem.

As outrageous as this sounds, it is very similar to how many apply the Gospel.  Instead of proclaiming the Gospel as God’s work to address and remove sin and the guilt of sin, people are told to use the Gospel as a means through which they must reshape their lives and eliminate sin and guilt by their own endeavors.  When these attempts fail or make matters worse, then the Gospel itself is reshaped and redefined to make it feel less powerful when it is misused.  Eventually it becomes defined as nothing more than a placebo, a sugar pill in which people hope for relief.

When the shoe stretcher is used rightly, it does provide the promised relief.  It can even reduce the swelling and inflamation.

The Gospel, when used as it has been given to be used, does much more.  It actually heals the disease.  It not only addresses the symptoms but actually restores to the true spiritual health that has been lost.  But this does not happen when those who use it do not believe the efficaciousness of its proper use.

Another example can be gleaned from my experience as an arborist.  I often observe where someone has pruned a dead limb from a tree.  However, it has not been properly pruned and so while it temporarily has a better appearance than having a dead limb extending from the trunk, it nevertheless does not properly close.  The dead stub remains and the fungal growth finds its way into the heartwood of the tree rather than sealing the area against such infection as normally occurs with proper pruning.

From these three crude drawings the contrast can be observed.  The first shows the tree with the dead limb.  The second shows the limb pruned as is commonly seen by those who either don’t know better or don’t care.  The third shows the limb properly pruned near the growth collar, so that the natural compartmentalization by the tree is complemented by the pruning so that the cambium grows over and seals the wound in the least amount of time and without the fungal acids that would be produced by the fungi growing in the dead stub which would digest the tree’s waxy protective sealant.

Improper pruning is no more effective than leaving the ugly dead limb.  Both result in the fungal growth that eventually may infect the heartwood of the tree.  Both result in the cambium improperly growing outward over the remaining dead material so that a hollow area is produced that catches moisture and fungal spores.

The proper pruning eliminates the deadwood, thereby eliminating the fungal growth.  The cambium grows straight across the wound, sealing it properly.  Heart rot from such a pruned limb is much less likely.

The Gospel is something like this, but even better.  One who hears the Gospel for what the Scriptures actually declare it to be will readily see the comparison.  The Gospel actually does much more than mere pruning of deadwood or diseased limbs from a tree.  It actually restores life where death and decay have already occurred.  But that only happens when and where the Gospel is actually administered in its purity and as it has been given to be used.

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The Toolbox Daddy’s Little Boy Made

When I was a little boy, my father decided that I should have a toolbox of my very own. So he told me that I would make a toolbox for myself. It would be like some of the other toolboxes that he had.

He supplied the materials. He carefully measured and sawed the wood to precise specifications. He applied the glue. He drove the nails. If I remember correctly, he gave me the nails to hold for him and then had me help him to hold the pieces of wood in place. When it was securely fastened, he gave me some paint and a brush with which to apply a couple coats of paint. When it was dry, he secured the hardware to the box along with some leather straps to hold the lid open.

When all was done he told me what a good job I had done. Now my box was ready for my tools, my own hammer and saw and screwdriver, which Daddy also gave to me.

This is how God does with His children, too. He performed the work of redemption and salvation. He established His Church for preaching of the Gospel and administration fo the Sacraments. He generates faith in the heart through these means. He baptizes the child into His Church. He gives His Holy Spirit to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify His children. He supplies all that is needed, even the faith by which His children believe. Then he gives them some paint to brush on, that is, He gives them the good works that flow from their faith-filled hearts to embellish their lives, and he gives them the tools for their lives of faith. In the end, He tells them what a good job they have done.

I still have the toolbox that my daddy made for me. It has been through quite a bit of abuse over the forty-five or so years that I have used it. It still functions perfectly. I still hear his words telling me what a good job I did.

I also still have the faith and life that the Lord built for me. I continue to believe in accord with that faith and to live in accord with that life. And I still hear Him tell me what a good job I have done. He is our true Father and we are His true children. He provides all that is good and then tells us what a good job we have done, even though it all has been worked by Him.

This wonderful perspective is what He declares in the Aaronic Benediction:

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and grant you peace. Amen.

I especially love the look upon my wife’s face every time that she hears these words, especially after I explained them in fuller detail. The first sentence seems to be understood fairly easily, although its richness is certainly greater than most people first realize. But the second and third reflect the Lord’s attitude toward His children over and above His gracious blessing and providence and protection. Here He promises that He lifts us up from our guilt and shame, having proclaimed His Gospel to us and having fed us at His Table of forgiveness and life, and He makes His face to shine with the loving pride that He has as our Father who has declared us to be righteous with the righteousness of Jesus. He promises that rather than looking down upon us with the disgust that we have earned for ourselves, rather than looking down and away from us as we deserve, He lifts up His countenance so that we see how He loves us and takes pride in us and calls us to Himself so that we receive that peace of His Holy Communion. The divine service closes with His promise that He lifts up His countenance upon us, showing us His smiling face of love and mercy, so that we have the peace that surpasses all understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

God does it all for us and then He says to us: “Look and see how pleased I am with you, my wonderful children.”

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Friday, March 01, 2013

When a True Statement is made to be False

     There are many examples of this in the world. A statement is made, using portions of the truth to present a falsehood. The devil is the inventor of this tactic. He used this tactic in the garden of Eden to tempt the woman to doubt the truth and to refashion God’s Word according to her own reason. The result was that Mankind was cut off from the Truth, cut off from Life. Death thereby came to mankind in connection with the blindness and corruption of sin. The devil foolishly tried this tactic with Jesus, too. The devil actually quoted Scripture to Jesus in an attempt to move Jesus to accept something false. The devil actually quoted the Scripture verbatim. But he used the Scripture out of context, applying it to try to present a false precept, and therefore the true statement was actually false. Even though the statement was true in the context in which it stands written, used as the devil used it, it was nevertheless false.

     At When Love Encounters Impenitence, Love Does Not Go to War a statement is quoted as a beautiful “bit of grace and truth.” The statement is made at Steadfast Lutherans within the comments concerning the article Interesting Interview of Pastor Morris in the Newtown Bee, by Pr. Rossow. Notably, Pr. McCain in his blog post quoting this statement does not provide a link to where it was made. Thereby he uses the quote without allowing his readers to examine how it was used.

     The quoted statement was actually used to attack other Christians, using the deliberately controverted guise of love. The statement is actually an attack on people who are openly and honestly addressing a serious issue and calling for dishonesty within their church body to be swept away so that the truth may prevail among them.

     Here is the statement, which, divorced from the context in which it was presented, is a truly beautiful “bit of grace and truth.” It sounds wonderful until one reads it in the context in which Pastor Fiene has written and presented it.

When love encounters impenitence, love weeps while shaking the dust off its feet. Love doesn’t go to war. It doesn’t badger. It doesn’t shout. It doesn’t scream for everyone to fix their eyes on the sin that’s already been made as public as it can be.

Love doesn’t continually appoint itself to the task of penning another epistle of rebuke. It doesn’t repeatedly provide online fuel for those who easily explode in anger and cruelty. Love doesn’t seek to stir up more anger over vacations or preferential treatment.

Love is patient. Love recognizes that, were it not for the calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying of the Holy Spirit, not a trace of orthodoxy would beat in any of our hearts. Love remembers that countless saints spent far more time than Pr. Morris has defending their sins before the Lord brought them to repentance. Love waits, hopes and prays that our brother in Christ will one day see his error.

And, in the meantime, if love must shake the dust off its feet, then that’s what love must do. But it does so in tears, not in a manner like this.

     The issue being raised by the original article is the issue of a blatant sin committed within the LC-MS. The pastors and congregations of the LC-MS take an oath not to partake in unionistic worship. In the situation being addressed, a pastor openly, publicly, and proudly violated this oath. When he was called on it, he apologized in a way that actually accused those who sought to bring him to repent. I posted concerning this at An Apology Is Not Repentance. The end result was that the LC-MS president apologized for attempting to do his sworn duty, while the one who should have been called to repent denied that he did any wrong. The way it was finally presented was as a call to the members of the LC-MS to repent of their desire to call sin “sin” and to call sinners to repent of their sins, especially their public sins against the Gospel.

     The falsehood begins with the very first sentence, where Pr. Fiene says: “When love encounters impenitence, love weeps while shaking the dust off its feet.”

     This is a very devilish use of the truth. For this is exactly what the Lord Jesus has commanded the saints to do regarding those who reject the truth that has been presented to them. However, Pr. Fiene is not in agreement with Jesus that Pr. Morris should be confronted openly with the truth and then told that he is not a Christian on account of refusing to acknowledge his sin and repent of it. The people whom Pr. Fiene is countering are actually calling for Pr. Morris, as well as his district president and Pr. Harrison to be called to repent of their public sin in this matter, the sin of calling sin as “righteousness” and righteousness as “sin.” They are calling for repentance of all three lying pastors. But even they are not speaking of shaking the dust off their feet. Even they are not saying that if these lying pastors refuse to hear the truth and be called to repentance that they should be excommunicated for the sake of showing them the seriousness of their impenitence. Pr. Fiene especially is not calling for this. He is trying to condemn those who are at least calling their leaders to be accountable. He is trying to change the focus from the call to the leaders to repent, so that the focus becomes one of calling those who are calling for repentance to repent. But because this devilish maneuver is masked as love, it is a very effective deception.

     If those who practice unionism don’t believe that it is sinful, then they should admit this and end their participation in the LC-MS communion. However, the sad fact is that the LC-MS is not what it claims to be. The LC-MS has openly practiced unionism at many levels for decades, perhaps really even for its entire existence. The LC-MS has only pretended to be against unionism, while allowing it and actually practicing it for years.

     From that perspective Pr. Fiene would be correct, if indeed he were saying that the members of the LC-MS should admit the longstanding impenitence of the LC-MS and with tears shake the dust off their feet and walk away.

     But Pr. Fiene’s dishonest use of the truth goes further still. He says:

     Love doesn’t go to war. It doesn’t badger. It doesn’t shout. It doesn’t scream for everyone to fix their eyes on the sin that’s already been made as public as it can be.
     Love doesn’t continually appoint itself to the task of penning another epistle of rebuke.

     This ignores the very obvious fact that war has already been declared and imposed upon those whom he is condemning. War has already been declared by those who gave an oath not to partake in unionism and then have openly done so and furthermore have publicly sought to make unionism the accepted practice of the church. Those who stand up against this are persecuted until either broken or driven out of the LC-MS. Those who do resist, those who do fight against those making war against them, are doing so not only for their own sake, but for the sake of their loved ones who are being destroyed spiritually in this war imposed by the so-called tolerant ones.

     This is true also for those who have admitted the truth of the impenitence of the LC-MS and have shaken the dust off their feet and walked away in tears. They still look on as they see their family and friends being led further and further away from the narrowness of the truth into the broad path of relativism and tolerance of adulterated doctrine and practice. As they view the changes effected in their family and friends, their love does move them to pen yet another and another epistle. They do experience and even express holy anger as they stand helplessly watching their loved ones spiritually eviscerated.

     And then Pr. Fiene and Pr. McCain cry out that love does not cry out against such things.

     Truly there is a point where one must finally say, “I have nothing more whatsoever to do with thee.” There does come the time where mourning and even praying for such comes to an end, as the Lord told Samuel to stop mourning for Saul and John says not to pray for those who sin unto death (1 John 5:17).

     I must admit that I don’t really know how to make this distinction and so I simply continue as the Lord Jesus teaches in the Our Father and as the General Prayer follows the admonitions of the apostles, praying for everyone generally. As for those who seem to be beyond receiving anything good from me, I do eventually stop praying for them specifically, including them in my general prayers for all and for all of the enemies of the cross. And even though I have shaken the dust off my feet concerning the impenitent churches and those who remain in their clutches, my heart nevertheless longs for their repentance unto the way of true peace and life.

     It seems that a big issue for those still in churches like the LC-MS is that they imagine that they are still fighting to protect their home and loved ones. They seem not to realize that their church body that they call home has been confiscated by the enemy. So they continue fighting for what is no longer theirs. They fight battles that are nothing more than futile rebelling against the established rulers of the household. From this perspective they would do well to hear Pr. Fienes that such is not the way of love. Love rather would admit the impenitence of their false church so that they would shake the dust off their feet and walk away in tears. Then they would be free to embrace the true faith, the true doctrine, and the true worship without continually fighting the enemy whom they falsely call brother. Then they would begin to understand what St. John declares, saying:

     Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:13-14)

     In order truly to love the brethren, one must first rightly acknowledge the brethren. Continuing in fellowship with those who are not the brethren is to malign and despise the brethren. Those who love the brethren do not join themselves to the world that hates the brethren. Rather, in love for the brethren, they stand together with the brethren apart from the world. It seems odd that so many have forgotten this so that they continue to cling to worldly corporations that use “Church” in their corporate identities while ignoring and even despising those who stand apart, gathered into the name of Jesus. They somehow seem to have become convinced that love means holding to the church that bears the name and works of their fathers and grandfathers rather than the Church founded upon and preserved through the name and works of Jesus.

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