Thursday, December 18, 2008

From Me To You




The garment of life, be it tattered and torn,
the cloak of the soldier is withered and worn.
But what child is this that was poverty-born,
the peace of Christmas Day.

The branch that bears the bright holly,
the dove that rests in yonder tree.
The light that shines for all to see,
the peace of Christmas Day.

The hope that has slumbered for 2000 years,
the promise that silenced 1000 fears.
A faith that can hobble an ocean of tears,
the peace of Christmas Day.

The branch that bears the bright holly,
the dove that rests in yonder tree.
The light that shines for all to see,
the peace of Christmas Day.

Add all the grief that people may bear,
total the strife, the troubles and care.
Put them in columns and leave them right there,
the peace of Christmas Day.

The branch that bears the bright holly,
the dove that rests in yonder tree.
The light that shines for all to see,
the peace of Christmas Day.

The branch that bears the bright holly,
the dove that rests in yonder tree.
The light that shines for all to see,
the peace of Christmas Day.



May you know True Peace this Christmas!
Love, Sue

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Imaginary Friends

I have tons of friends that live only in my head. I met them in books, movies, and on television. Sometimes they are lovely to be with. Sometimes scary. Always entertaining.

Harmless diversions that keep my brain company.

Leprechauns. Trolls. Goblins. The Boogieman. Mummies. Zombies. Witches and wizards. Vampires. Werewolves. Munchkins. Elves. Talking Animals. Fairies...

And dare I say unicorns and dragons too?!

Most of my friends have names: Harry Potter. Edward Cullen. Jo March. Elinor Dashwood. Jack Sparrow. Willy Wonka. Calvin & Hobbs. Patrick Star. Dorothy Gale. Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. Stellaluna. Bilbo Baggins. Ariel.

Would it be a sin for me to believe in the true existence of any of these friends? After all, I can picture them. Hear them. I feel as if I know many of them.

How boring life would be without them!

So I ask - is my soul, my very salvation, at risk because I have imaginary friends??

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Low Tide

Oops. Forgot to blog in November.

This is the longest I have managed to keep a blog going and I'm really, really tired of starting over (I've done it 3 or 4 times already). So I'll make a little effort. Do I have any readers anymore? Probably not.

Let's see...

At eight-year-old's swim lessons I was reading Parents magazine. Paging through it I was struck by one thought - and it wasn't what a lousy parent I am. No. I was looking more at the ads than the editorial and I kept thinking I don't need any of this stuff. My kids don't need any of this stuff. Nothing. Not one thing in that whole magazine (the December issue) do we actually need.

I struggle with materialism. It is so hard to separate out the waaaaants from the neeeeds. And if I, a reasonably intelligent adult woman, have a hard time keeping my priorities straight, how hard it must be for children.

Financially we are not in very good shape. Just five short years ago we had six months salary in savings. Now we have about half a month. There is plenty of blame to go around. My fault. His fault. The real estate crash. I've got regrets. I've got hard feelings. And there is no relief in sight.

It is to the point that I am in a panic over our finances. Not a good place to be in before Christmas. The "budget" is tight this year. Normally Mr. Bee receives a Christmas bonus but there is none this year.

And it doesn't help that our clothes dryer just died.

The tide is really low...And I'm waiting for my ship to come in.

Initially in mid-October when this situation was growing rapidly worse, I was feeling very pessimistic. I was thinking we weren't going to celebrate Christmas at all. Now I'm looking at Christmas more creatively. I've put up almost ever decoration I own - the house looks festive! I'm brainstorming and surfing the internet for inexpensive gift ideas and I've come up with some winners. Christmas will happen...is happening.

Making lemonade out of those lemons.

Oddly enough what turned my thinking around was remembering Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Scrooge, who was rich and could certainly afford a fancy Christmas, didn't celebrate it. The poor Cratchit family, however, did.

I'd rather be a Cratchit than a Scrooge.

Now to squash the materialism and put together a working budget for '09.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In the Merry Old Land of Oz




I've had Oz on the brain lately :-)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Decision Paradigm

Candy at Keeping the Home last Friday posted "Do you feel depressed, lost, or confused." There were numerous doctrine issues in the post I could comment on, but the comment Candy received from Sandi, and Candy's response, really caught my eye as an illustration of the problems of decision theology and legalism.

I am depressed, but I am saved also. My trouble is my DH is saved but does not do what is required from a husband. For 10 years he has been talking about doing everything for the lord, but his actions do not correlate with his words. The man is supposed to be the leader AND provider of his family. Yet, his job situation does not provide adequately for my family of six. The bills barely get paid, and my growing children are often hungry. We can't afford doctor or dental visits so I have to try to diagnose the children myself and make homemade cures if they are afflicted with something. I pray to be relieved of financial stress...to have the ability to feed,cloth,buy shoes,and take care of them medically without feeling I am "splurging" to cover their basic needs. Ten years is a LONG time to wait for my husband to provide this. He is talented in many areas and could get a steady job that would ease our money issues, but I am beginning to wonder if he is just too selfish. So, while sit and I pray for deliverance from my husband's apathetic interpretations of his christian duties I am making a sparse lunch for my 4 children as he is eating out at Taco Bell. Depressed? YES! - Sandi

Problem 1: In decision theology once the choice has been made to follow Jesus, sinful behavior is replaced by producing fruits of the spirit (good works). That is how one determines if one is truly saved or not saved. Sandi's husband is "saved" yet seemingly not producing the good works - this is a conundrum.

Oh Sandi, your poor, poor husband. Is this how you treat him? You shouldn't talk down on him to other people. Proverbs 31:26 says that "she openeth her mouth in kindness."Your words were not kind towards your husband, they were those of the contentious, or odious woman.Proverbs 31:11-12:" 11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."You are not doing your husband good this way, and speaking and thinking of your husband this way does not allow his heart to trust in you.Sandi, you are spoiled. You have a roof over your head. You have food in your pantry, you have clothes on your back. There are ladies your age in other countries that live in a one-room house, with a dirt floor. They don't have any of the conveniences you do.You can't buy much food? Then buy better food. A pound of black beans costs around a dollar. A pound of lentils, split peas, and pintos are even cheaper.Legumes mixed with brown rice is some of the most filling, delicious (if you cook it right) and healthy foods you and your children can eat.10# of potatoes costs around 3 dollars. At stores like Aldi's you can get celery and carrots for just .99 cents.If your situation is really dire, then visit a food bank for help. Your local church will help direct you to a food bank.Don't have nice clothes for your children? Then visit Good Will, or sew some yourself.You envy your husband for eating at Taco Bell? Poor man! Why aren't you packing healthy lunches for him to eat instead?Can't afford dental and healthcare? Then pinch those pennies, and put your trust in God. Feed your children right, and you won't need a lot of dental and healthcare. One of my children recently came back from a dental checkup, and he had no cavities. In fact, none of my children have EVER had any cavities, and I plan on keeping it that way.I believe your husband is trying hard to be a good Christian, but his helpmeet (you) are letting him down. He may just be where God wants him to be right now. Maybe the situation will become more dire before it gets better. Maybe there is a lesson here for YOU to learn - not him. - Candy

Problem #2: In decision theology, if things aren't working, the answer is to make better decisions. Try harder. Sin can be stopped if you only work at it.

Problem #3: Legalism replaces mercy. Jesus repeatedly pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisee's unwillingness to show mercy if it meant violating the law. Decision theology is loaded with "do's and don'ts" lists. In this case the "law" is that of wifely submission and Sandi is shown no mercy, yet her husband is.

I have a very dear friend who was in a situation almost identical to Sandi's. My friend kept trying and trying to make ends meet while her husband couldn't keep a job and mismanaged their money. It was heartbreaking to witness. She stood by him through repossessions, bankruptcy and foreclosure. Sadly, he eventually deserted her and their children, leaving them homeless and broke.

Sue Bee's "Lutheran" advice: Seek counseling and keep praying. We are broken humans living in a broken world, men & women alike. Sometimes we need the help of professionals, whether they be marriage counselors or financial planners. We don't do things perfectly, that is why God sent us a Savior. Forgive the trespasses of the past and work together on a realistic budget and financial goals with your husband.

JMHO

Empty Handed...

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

- Augustus M. Toplady, 1775

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

There's a Party Goin' on Right Here...

Did I mention I live about 30 mins from the Xcel Energy Center where the RNC is taking place?

I am generally "politically agnostic" (by which I mean cynical), but the combination of the proximity of the convention and Sarah Palin's nomination for VP has created an upsurge my interest in politics.

I'm looking forward to Palin's speech tonight...but dread the endless campaigning that will grow progressively more sleazy in the weeks to come until the Nov election.

Hat tip to Sara for just a few of the very thought provoking Palin discussions:
Ladies Against Feminism
Adventures in Mercy
Amy's Humble Musings

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fundamentals

Fundamentalism as defined by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter:
"A fundamentalist believes...that I am close to God. Everything that I believe is absolutely right. Anyone who disagrees with me, in any case, is inherently wrong and therefore, inferior. And it violates my basic principles if I negotiate with anyone else or listen to their point of view or modify my own positions at all."

It's the Favre Thing...


Friday, August 22, 2008

Painting


A paint roller is a useful tool for painting large areas, such as walls.



A paint brush is used for smaller projects that require more care and attention to detail.
You shouldn't paint a portrait with a roller. It would look terrible if you tried. Someone who paints a portrait with a roller does so because he lacks respect for his subject. Doesn't care to study the subject and learn its details. Is unconcerned with how the subject will react to the portrait.

A person who paints a portrait with a roller also lacks respect for his audience. He assumes his audience lacks the intelligence to see the difference between a paint brush and a roller.

An example of painting with too broad a brush: The Difference between Protestant and Catholic Christians.
Addendum: You can read the whole of the article here: Why Catholics and Protestants Don't See Eye to Eye. (Thanks, Elena!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

When I Gets to It, I Gets to It

It seems women my age forgot to make babies:

More Women Than Ever Are Childless, Census Finds

I like the explanation: "Clearly women have competing alternatives for the use of their time..." Like we choose between motherhood and taking Pilates.

When I first read this I thought, "Twenty percent, no way! Everyone I know has kids." But then, the more I thought about it, the more women I remembered who do not, or did not give birth (adopted kids). 20% has started to seem plausible.

Another benefit of a feminized society?

Friday, August 15, 2008

WOHCM Seeks Same

I am looking for other Work Outside the Home Christian Moms' blogs.

There doesn't seem to be very many of us so Speak Up! Send Links!

Let's see how many we find. I'll start a list.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Death Warmed Over

I'm home sick. No, not homesick, but at home because I am sick. Flu-like illness. High fever, aches and pains, and nausea. Ick.

I thought I'd do some writing, but now I see that just isn't going to happen. I'll try again later.

I'm going back to bed.

UPDATE: At noon the phone rang, Eight year old, who was at a day camp program threw up. All over himself. I had to go pick him up. (Mr. Bee is out of town until next week. Seventeen is at work.) Not to brag or anything - but me with a temp of 102, unshowered, snarled hair in scrunchie, baggy sweatpants, flip-flops - has to walk into the building, talk to the teacher and sign him out. Ugh.

My fever broke at about 4:00, and aside from a little bit of a sore throat I'm feeling better. Now to get Eight feeling good again. His temp is 104. :-(

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buttons

Did you know the Old Order Amish don't use buttons, or use them very sparingly? They forsake buttons because of the military connections and also, more importantly, because buttons are a source of adornment. And adornment is a source of vanity. Yes, we can take pride in a pretty button. Or pride in how many buttons we use. Or pride in how fancifully we placed the buttons on our shirt. Our neighbors see what nice buttons we have and grow jealous (envy). Petty contests arise to see who has the most buttons (gluttony) or the best buttons (greed).

Yet I don't even think about my buttons at all until I lose one! No, my "buttons" are much, much bigger. Home and car. Job and spouse. Clothes. Appearance. Children and family. Education. Intelligence. Hobbies. Skills. Accomplishments. The list is soooo long...

Notice how one little button can trigger a whole slew of sins in ourselves and our neighbors? How much more do BIG "buttons" cause me and others to sin? How often do we share information about ourselves in the guise of being helpful when in fact we are being hurtful? How often do we show-off our buttons unintentionally?

I wonder what motivates some Christian women bloggers to write about the things they write about and to post so many pictures of themselves and their homes. Humility? Modesty? Altruism?... I have doubts.... Vanity? More likely. And just like with the small buttons, a little bit of vanity has a snowball effect on sinfulness. Envy, gluttony and greed are quickly joined by anger, gossip and laziness (wasting time).

It is a sin to cause others to sin. And to knowingly continue a sinful action is deliberate, unrepentant behavior - mocking God.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. - Galatians 6:7

In fact, buttons are making me re-think this whole blogging business.

Vanity, thy name is Blogger.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Day I Got Saved

It was 2000+ years ago on a cross. Jesus saved me.

A: Liturgy.

Q: Why did I convert to the Lutheran Church from the United Methodist?

I came for the liturgy and stayed for the doctrine.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Dog Days of Blogging

Ah, summer...

Being extremely lazy about everything, including blogging.

Loads of ideas for posts but too little ambition - I just don't feel like sitting in front of the computer.

Maybe next week...or whenever we get a rainy day.

Procrastination. It should be a 4-letter word.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our Trespasses

Did you hear about the gay man (Bradley Fowler) who is suing two Bible publishing houses because the use of the word "homosexual" has caused him emotional harm? Here's a link: Man sues Zondervan to change anti-gay reference in Bible.

I don't think his lawsuit will amount to anything, partly because many older versions of the Bible have used the word "homosexual", including my 1952 NRSV. Using the word was not unique to these publishers. Also, the author is out of town. :-)

The passage that has caused Mr. Fowler's pain is 1 Corinthians 6:9, which reads (I'm including verse 10 as well - from the ESV):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.


But wait, there's more. And I really really really wish someone would have read this part to Mr. Fowler too (verse 11):

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


First there is the law (verses 9 & 10), and then there is the gospel (verse 11). Let's not have one without the other. In Christ Jesus we are washed, sanctified & justified by the Holy Spirit. You, me, and Mr. Fowler.

I came across a great definition of forgiveness I'd like to share with you, and all the hurting Mr. Fowler's of the world. From Susan's Pendulum:

Absolution
A grieved heart pours out her struggle with sin and pain.
The typical Christian response: Try harder to be good. God will help you.
A better response, more typical among Lutherans than the previous line: Jesus forgives you your sin. Go and sin no more.
A very good response: I forgive you all your sin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The sweetest response: Jesus says, "I know your sin and your rebellion. That's why I spread out my arms on the cross for you. Your sin is why I came and suffered to save you, because I wanted to make you my own. I chose you. I baptized you. I joined you to Myself. I will hang onto you until I bring you to My heaven."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Snakes Alive!

When I heard churches called "snake handling" I thought they must be joking. I guess it is no joke:

Religious snake-handlers busted in Kentucky

I've got a new favorite quote (from the last paragraph of the article): "You can purchase anything off the Internet except common sense."

You can say THAT again!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Caution: Interesting Post Ahead!

A little dated, but at Adventures in Mercy there is a post from a woman who is coming out of Pentacostal and IFB churches, is currently attending a LCMS, and is contempating the RCC.



Here's the link: LINK



Her blog is Living in Canaan. Worth a look-see!



The Media's Favorite Cult

Excellent news, shoppers! The FLDS now has an online store:

http://fldsdress.com

It appears their vacation outside the compound taught them something about capitalism and marketing. Good for them! Enterprising Americans!

I admit, I am tempted to buy one of those little dresses for my 3-year old. Or one of the nightgowns! So cute!! Kinda pricey.... I could make them for less.... if I could sew properly.

Moral dilemma - is it right to support (via a business transaction) a polygamist cult?

(Yeah, that's coming from someone who just vacationed in Vegas. Ha ha ha.)

But wait! Before you answer, did you know the Walton family that founded (and still owns a large percentage of) the Wal-Mart chain is Mormon?

Caught between a rock and a hard place...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

"Forget what you were taught. Don't trust what you're taught about the Bible, just dig into it yourself." - Candy, Keeping the Home


"You are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound the Scripture without the assistance from the works of divine and learned men who have labored before you in the field of exposition . . . . It seems odd that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others." - Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, to his students (Commenting and Commentaries)

Friday, June 27, 2008

One Quick Thought on John 4

Back in the day when I was a Methodist, we use to talk about "seekers" and from time to time have a "seeker's service". Seekers are people who supposedly don't believe but are curious about who Jesus is and what Christianity is all about. After converting to Lutheranism (really not a very big leap) I learned that the idea of people being "seekers" is born of human reasoning. It is how we interpret things we don't understand in order for it to make sense to us. The Bible teaches us differently - it is God who seeks the lost. It is God who draws us to Him, we cannot do it ourselves. Those so-called "seekers" are feeling the Holy Spirit already at work within them.

This is illustrated in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well found in John chapter 4. She is a sinner (like us) going about her daily business. And then Jesus approaches her and her life is changed forever. She wasn't expecting it. She wasn't looking for it. But it happened anyway.

The difference between "seeking" (we are looking for God) and "being sought" (God is looking for us) is an important one. It feeds into who we credit for our salvation - ourselves or God. If we are responsible for seeking Him out - then our works are necessary for our salvation. But the Bible teaches that it is God seeking us - drawing us to Him.

I never found God.

He was never lost.

I was.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Liberté? Mais non!

From the BBC. Brigitte Bardot was fined by the French government for criticizing Islam. Do you suppose they fine people in France for criticizing Christians?

Bardot fined over racial hatred

A French court has fined former film star Brigitte Bardot 15,000 euros (£12,000) for inciting racial hatred.

She was prosecuted over a letter published on her website that complained Muslims were "destroying our country by imposing their ways".


It is the fifth time Ms Bardot been convicted over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. This is her heaviest fine so far.

The French film idol, who is 73, was not in court to hear the ruling.

The fine - equivalent to $23,000 - related to a letter she wrote in December 2006 to the then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which was published on her website, in which she deplored the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

She demanded that the animals be stunned before being killed.

She said she was "tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts".

In a letter to the court Ms Bardot, who is a prominent animal rights campaigner, insisted she had a right to speak up for animal welfare.

The prosecutor said she was weary of charging Ms Bardot with offences relating to racial hatred and xenophobia.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Pitt-Falls of Decision Theology

One of my biggest problems is that I start blog posts and never find time to finish them. This one I started last October and never got around to finishing....

An interview with Brad Pitt was published in Parade Magazine (10/7/07). Brad was raised as a conservative Southern Baptist and he discusses his falling away from religion:

"I had crises of faith," he says. "I thought you had to experience things if you want to know right from wrong. I'd go to Christian revivals and be moved by the Holy Spirit, and I'd go to rock concerts and feel the same fervor. Then I'd be told, 'That's the Devil's music! Don't partake in that!' I wanted to experience things religion said not to experience."

By the time he entered college, Pitt had scuttled his fundamentalist beliefs. "When I got untethered from the comfort of religion, it wasn't a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self," he says. "I had faith that I'm capable enough to handle any situation. There's peace in understanding that I have only one life, here and now, and I'm responsible."

In a few short sentences he hits on some of the dangers of the decision/glory doctrines of modern American Evangelicalism:
1. The need for an emotional experience.
2. Legalism.
3. The authority of an individual's faith (via personal revelation) is greater than that of the church.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back from Vacation


Had a great time in Vegas. The weather was hot; mid to upper 90s, crystal clear blue skies. A welcome change from cloudy, rainy, and cool Minnesota. The weather alone made the trip worthwhile.

We did a lot of sightseeing and window shopping, plus a little real shopping for souvenirs. Saw some free/cheap lounge acts - no big shows. Although they were free, they were very good. Ate at some very nice restaurants. Slept late. Lounged by the pool and enjoyed a Mojito or two. Gambled just a little (combined we spent less than $20 on casino games).

The service in Vegas was excellent. The cab drivers and hotel, restaurant and store personnel were all very helpful and friendly. I felt so pampered!

Vegas is a city of contrasts - beautiful buildings, sculptures, lights, fountains and weather; but also a lot of sleaze and vice of every kind. I suppose that is true of every city - but in Vegas it is not so subtle. There is nothing subtle about Las Vegas.

The kids and grandparents had a good time together - everything went well at home.

Mr. Bee and I are convinced we need to do this sort of thing more often. :-)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Vegas, Baby!

My dear husband surprised me on our 20th wedding anniversary with a long weekend vacation in Las Vegas. He arranged plane tickets, hotel reservations and (most importantly) his parents coming to stay with our kids!

We didn't go on a honeymoon (fresh from college we were far too poor) and have only been away from our children overnight 4 times. The last time was 12 years ago.

Needless to say, I am very excited. We don't gamble, so we won't spend much time in the casinos. The plans are to sightsee, maybe see a show, sleep late, and sit by the pool and sip frozen drinks.

I've got a million things to do between now and flight time. I'll be back to blogging sometime next week.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Suddenly, the plot thickens...

Candy writes...

Update about my stalker
For those following along with the revelation of my stalker (I deleted those dialoges now), the problem has been solved. The stalker was someone inpersonating my family member. Said stalker has lost access to this website, and will be a problem no longer. Problem solved. Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Comment #28

Here's the comment that was deleted... (a shorter version of one I tried to post yesterday)

I found Candy's church's website and it makes NO reference to having missionaries in Peru specifically ministering to Roman Catholics. There is an impressive list of missionaries they are supporting. I am sure Bro. O'Daniel is wondering where the writer got this information.

Is it out of bounds to find Candy's church on the web when she tried to keep it anonymous? Maybe. I think it skirts the line of acceptability.

Is it ok to pry into Candy's personal information (real life) because she published personal information about Elena? No.

Turning the other cheek and forgiveness are Christian virtues.

Eye for an eye? Not.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Solas Part 3: Sola Scriptura

Scripture Alone.

We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated. - Christian Cyclopedia

The Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (Scripture alone) teaches that every doctrine in Christian theology must be derived from Scripture alone. This teaching is not based on only a few Bible passages or "proof texts", but rests on a great number of Bible sections and verses that touch on the subject. When everything that the Bible says about the source of religious truth and the authority to establish teachings among God's people is taken into account, we hold that it becomes clear that we are to base our doctrine and practice on Scripture alone. - WELS

II Tim. 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A creed by any other name...

I have been working on a procedures manual at work, that is why I called my last post Company Policy and then posted the Nicene Creed. My brain has been playing connect the dots with corporate handbooks and church doctrine. Many similarities, but I'll save that for another post, another day.


A creed is a statement of what we believe, teach and confess.


A creed is not Scripture - but it summarizes what we believe Scripture teaches.

Almost all Christian Churches have creeds, but they don't all call them by that name. You'll find creeds called Doctrinal Statements, Confessions, Articles, Catechisms, Beliefs, Declarations, Statements of Faith, Agreements, Expositions, Canons, and so on and so on.

At some point, someone or some group, committee or council gets together, puts pen to paper and writes "We believe..." or "We profess..."  and before you know it, they are telling you "what the Bible means."  Or what they believe it means....And a creed is born.

Is it wrong for a church to develop creeds or doctrinal statements etc? No, it is not wrong as long as those creeds/statements are in agreement with Scripture. And do the churches that claim not to have creeds, develop creeds? Yes they do.

Company Policy

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of His Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried.
And the third day He rose again
according to the Scriptures
and ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
And He will come again with glory to judge
both the living and the dead,
whose kingdom will have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord and giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshiped and glorified,
who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,
and I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Getting into the Spirit of things

Inspired by Pentecost - a comparative look at the work of the Holy Spirit...

Roman Catholic - ...to the Holy Ghost we attribute the operations of grace and the sanctification of souls, and in particular spiritual gifts and fruits, because He proceeds from the Father and the Son as Their mutual love and is called in Holy Writ the goodness and the charity of God. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are of two kinds: the first are specially intended for the sanctification of the person who receives them; the second, more properly called charismata, are extraordinary favours granted for the help of another, favours, too, which do not sanctify by themselves, and may even be separated from sanctifying grace. Those of the first class are accounted seven in number, as enumerated by Isaias (11:2-3), where the prophet sees and describes them in the Messias. They are the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety (godliness), and fear of the Lord. - Catholic Encyclopedia

Anabaptist/Mennonite - ... The Holy Spirit in His relation to the believer effects regeneration, assures of salvation, guides into truth, activates the conscience, purifies the heart, comforts, produces love, and gives power and joy in service ... The Anabaptists never identified the Holy Spirit with reason, or with emotion, or with the conscience, resisting the positions of rationalism and mysticism, but declared the Holy Spirit to be objective reality, revealing Himself to the believer in the Gospel ... In His relation to the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit was not considered to be a separate and independent "inner light" or "inner Word" whose authority might contradict and supersede the "written Word" as spiritualists taught. Anabaptists held that the Holy Spirit as the true author of Scripture is also the true interpreter of Scripture who does not contradict Himself...Considering the disparate origins of the movement it is not surprising to note that there is not only one Anabaptist view of the Holy Spirit. However, on the main points there was remarkable agreement. Throughout Anabaptism there was a profound conviction that the Spirit was at the center of Christian experience enabling the follower of Christ to rise above legalism to the transforming life of joyful obedience... - Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online

Pentecostal - The Holy Ghost is not a third person in the Godhead, but rather the Spirit of God (the Creator), the Spirit of the resurrected Christ. The Holy Ghost comes to dwell in the hearts and lives of everyone who believes and obeys the gospel, as the comforter, Sustainer, and keeper (John 14:16-26; Romans 8:9-11). - United Pentecostal Church International, Apostles' Doctrine

[BTW My brother, Bryce, is a KJV-only Oneness Pentecostal - I found this link through his church's website.]

Assembly of God - All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry.... This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth...With the baptism in the Holy Spirit come such experiences as: an overflowing fullness of the Spirit; a deepened reverence for God; an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work; and a more active love for Christ, for His Word and for the lost...The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance....The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues, but is different in purpose and use...
Sanctification is an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God. The Scriptures teach a life of "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord." By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to obey the command: "Be ye holy, for I am holy." Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by the faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit. - General Council of Assemblies of God, Statement of Fundamental Truths

Baptist - We believe that the Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world, sharing in the work of creation, awakening faith in the remnant of God’s people, performing signs and
wonders, giving triumphs in battle, empowering the preaching of prophets and inspiring the writing of Scripture. Yet, when Christ had made atonement for sin, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, He inaugurated a new era of the Spirit by pouring out the promise of the Father on His Church. We believe that the newness of this era is marked by the unprecedented mission of the Spirit to glorify the crucified and risen Christ. This He does by giving the disciples of Jesus greater power to preach the gospel of the glory of Christ, by opening the hearts of hearers that they might see Christ and believe, by revealing the beauty of Christ in His Word and transforming His people from glory to glory, by manifesting Himself in spiritual gifts (being sovereignly free to dispense, as he wills, all the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10) for the upbuilding of the body of Christ and the confirmation of His Word, by calling all the nations into the sway of the gospel of Christ, and, in all this, thus fulfilling the New Covenant promise to create and preserve a purified people for the everlasting habitation of God. - Bethlehem Baptist Church, Elder Affirmation of Faith [a church in my area]

Candy (Non-denominational Fundamentalist) - When a person really gets saved/born again, then the very Holy Spirit of God Himself indwells that new creature in Christ. Suddenly this person is given gifts from the Holy Spirit. Often one of those gifts is the gift of discernment - to discern true evil from true good. - Keeping the Home, "Lord, Lord!" - Christians who aren't. What are you?

Via this comparison, it appears Candy's view of the work of the Holy Spirit is most closely aligned with that of the Pentecostals (although Candy does believe in the Trinity). She hasn't written very much regarding the work of the Spirit -- perhaps it is something she should read more about.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pentecost Thought: I believe in the Holy Spirit...

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.  In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and to all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true.

-explanation of the 3rd article of the Apostles' Creed from Luther's Small Catechism

Friday, May 9, 2008

I've been called worse...

YELLOW

You are very perceptive and smart. You are clear and to the point and have a great sense of humor. You are always learning and searching for understanding.

Find out your color at QuizMeme.com!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Solas Part 2: Sola Gratia

By Grace Alone.

Term referring to the Scriptural doctrine that man is saved by grace alone without the deeds of the Law. - Christian Cyclopedia

sola gratia—“without any merit or worthiness in us.” Out of his mercy and
grace, God looks with favor on our lives and forgives our transgressions through Christ.
God’s gift of love in Christ, totally undeserved... - LCMS.org

Ephesians 1:3-10 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Solas Part 1: Solus Christus

Also know as solo Christo = by Christ Alone.

"Solus Christus is the teaching that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other....absolution reconciles the penitent with God directly through faith in Christ's forgiveness rather than with the priest and the church as mediating entities between the penitent and God." - Wikipedia

Colossians 1:13-20 - He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 - For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Open your Bibles, please...

to Numbers 6:22-27.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.


“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”


The red part is the standard Lutheran Benediction, also known as the Aaronic Benediction. Simply God's Holy Word.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Peculiar

On the 15th I blogged about Lutheran Rebecca's post on Candy's blog (see And Now a Word from the Lutherans). Do you suppose it is the same Lutheran Rebecca that posted this on Candy's blog?:

Hi Candy. Great blog! It cleared up something for me. I was raised a Luthern. It is sort of a spinoff of the Catholic Church. They do have the confirmation process. I was confirmed at 13. I was baptized at 9 years old (sprinkled). The Luthern church baptizes babies. Very wrong, I know. But anyway, I'm not sure why my mother waited so long with me. But to make a long story short, I got saved later in life and realize these rituals are not Biblical, now. But I always wondered if my soul was damned to hell for eternity because I did go through confirmation and baptism early on. But after reading the testimonies of former Catholics, I know now that I am forgiven for that. But one thing, I am not making excuses for myself, but I was a child then and didn't really have a choice. My mother entered mre in Catacism and I went to class. It was just how things were done in the Luthern church. I was sprinkled at my grandmothers house with all the relatives there in a formal ceremony. But I do agree with one of the testemonies that I learned a lot about Jesus as a child in Sunday School. I always thought the hymns and bible stories were so beautiful. I remember the benediction. That must have been a holdover from the RC church. But since I have been saved I have been properly baptized in a freezing cold creek with the congregation standing on the shore and singing the most beautiful song. But anyway, I will shut up now. But I was really worried about if I could even be saved or if I had sold my soul to the devil. God must have directed me to this blog or directed you to write it. He does work in mysterious ways! A heartfelt thank you! Rebecca

Well...I have to agree with Rebecca, God works in mysterious ways!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fashionistas [edited 4 hrs. later]

There is an AP article about the FLDS ladies' apparel: Polygamist Wives' Clothing Looks to Past

Interesting secular viewpoints regarding women who dress "in uniform" for their faith. Modesty seems to offend some people.

Personally, I kind of like the darker dress in picture 2.

And if you are curious about what I look like, the woman on the far left in picture 3 looks a lot like me!

Addendum: I showed my oldest daughter (17) the picture of the lady I thought looked like me and she said, "If you were younger, yeah."

Ooooouch! Ok - She looks like me 20, 10, 15 years ago.

Also, two blurbs from the article that caught my eye:

The clothing is also stitched with special markings "to protect the body and to remind you of you commitment," Bennion says. She declined to go into detail about the stitchings because she said it would be an infraction against the fundamentalist Mormon community to talk about their sacred symbols.

Now I am definitely intrigued by secret sacred symbols! I wonder what they are? Have to Google that later!

Celebrity stylist and salon owner Ted Gibson thinks it gives off a "homely" impression."It says 'I don't really care very much. I really don't have time to worry about the way that I look, because I have 20 children,'" Gibson said. "He's going from wife to wife to wife, so why should I look any better than the other ones?"

On the contrary, I think they care a great deal about how they look. It appears to us that having a uniform (or basically one outfit) to wear over and over would be a no-brainer every morning. But that one outfit has to comply with so many rules regarding length, cut, color, neatness, and, apparently the secret sacred symbols stitched into it! That one outfit isn't just some school uniform, it is God-pleasing work to earn salvation.

They are a brand new breed of Pharisees.

Friday, April 18, 2008

39,000 Piece Puzzle


A small town near my brother's home has 3 Reformed churches. First Reformed, Second Reformed and "Smalltown" Reformed. This town has a population of about 1,800, why do they need 3 Reformed churches??? Could they differ that much in doctrine??? Can't they see how much more effective they would be if they joined together??? It used to really, really bother me.

The standard answer as to why there are so many denominations/congregations is that satan creates strife to prevent the work of the Kingdom from being accomplished. We get caught up in whatever little soap opera is going on around us in the congregation and take our eyes and minds off of Christ Jesus. It happens over and over.

I don't know why Smalltown has 3 Reformed churches. Maybe there were very significant disagreements over doctrine. Maybe there were issues with the character of the pastor. I can only guess. What I do know for sure is that Christ is victorious no matter how many denominations or congregations are formed. The work of the Kingdom continues to be carried on and, in the case of Smalltown, they have 3 Reformed churches carrying on the mission - preaching the Word, baptizing, sharing communion, praying, worshiping and praising! Alleluia!!

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity there are 39,000 Christian sects in the world today. That's an awful lot of people I have to convince that I am right. ;-)

What I am trying to say is that if you are looking for the differences you will easily find them. It takes real skill to find the similarities - and to see the whole picture. Like the stained glass image of Jesus, it takes many pieces to make the whole. The Lord will sort it out in the end (Matthew 13:47-50).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And now a word from the Lutherans...

There were Lutheran commentors on Candy's Keeping the Home blog!! On April 7th Candy posted an entry titled "The Whore of Babylon." Among the comments she received were messages from Caroline - former ELCA member, Deb - ELCA member, and Rebecca - WELS member. By the way, I am a LCMS Lutheran.

The comment from Rebecca is the one I find most distressing. This is what she wrote:

It is funny how this post came up, and people are talking about different denominations.I was baptised as a baby, and starting at age 12 I was brought up Lutheran. Lately I have been wondering whether the teachings of this church are correct in regards to infant baptism and communion. I go to a Wisconsin synod church, which is very conservative. If any are willing to comment on why these teachings are true or false I would be grateful. Oh, and please reference bible passages with your answers. I believe that the bible is the ONLY standard for a christian to make decisions on! Thank you,
Rebecca


I find this troubling because 1) The WELS members I know are so well catechized I am genuinely surprised to find one questioning either of these issues. 2) Candy being Candy there is no way a response in favor of infant baptism or communion would ever be published. And 3) There is no link to Rebecca's homepage or I would gladly write to her and explain why the teachings of WELS regarding infant baptism and communion are TRUE and BIBLICAL. There are so many links that I could share with her.

Hmmmm...what to do?....what to do?....
 


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Freedom, Part 2

Once again (and this time complete) the first freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;


I didn't intend to have a second post on religious freedom but the situation with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) piqued my interest. This is the church/compound that law enforcement authorities raided this week in Texas and removed hundreds of women and children. Members of the church are accused of polygamy, and physical and sexual abuse.


The guarantee of "free exercise" of religion obviously does not provide protection for unlawful behavior. That's a good thing....Right? In this case involving the FLDS the answer is obviously and emphatically Yes! Law enforcement should have stopped this cult's activities years ago.


There is an interesting article regarding the FLDS on MSNBC titled "Is Texas Group a Religious Sect or a Clear-Cut Cult?" From this article:


Janja Lalich, a sociologist at California State University, Chico...told LiveScience she definitely thinks the Texas compound should be called a cult. "If you've got a group that's abusing hundreds and hundreds of women and children, let's call it what it is," she said....the distinction between a legitimate sect and a cult is simple: It depends on what or whom you worship. "In a healthy or legitimate religion or sect, you are presumably worshiping some higher principle or some higher authority," Lalich said, "whereas in a cult people tend to end up worshipping that living human leader." She added, "Your salvation is tied up with that particular living leader, and obeying orders and not breaking the rules, and subjecting yourself to whatever personal transformation you're expected to go through to be on that correct path to salvation."

She hits on some of the hallmarks of a true cult:

1. Abuse or violence used against those who disobey, disagree or try to leave.

2. Leaders who claim to have the key to salvation. Outside of the cult there is no hope for salvation.

3. Leaders who claim to have a mandate from God, to speak for God. (The FLDS leader claims to be a prophet.)

4. Separation from those who do not believe as you do.

5. Teaching that obedience to the laws of the cult will result in personal transformation

Cults exist and have existed in small scale and in large scale throughout history. This isn't the first and it surely isn't the last. Plenty of cults exist and go unnoticed because members are not overtly breaking secular law. Yes, even cults are guaranteed freedom to practice their religion.

Now that I think about it, in some ways the Texas authorities who broke up the compound were acting much like Martin Luther. :-)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Freedom



Last week I saw a "coexist" bumper sticker like the one pictured above. Fourteen-year-old speculated that the driver of the car must be a pastor.

Huh?

I explained (rather long-windedly) that I thought the driver would not be a pastor because the bumper sticker implies that all religions are equal and a pastor ought to believe what he believes to be the truth and not just one of many potential truths or what would be the point of believing anything. After all, believing in everything is the same as believing in nothing.

Fourteen replied, "Oh. I thought it just meant we should all get along. You know, peace and stuff."

Oooooh.

Maybe it does....but maybe we do.

Remember this?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...

The first article of the Bill of Rights. The first freedom guaranteed to Americans. A promise that there would be no American version of the Church of England. Hence, a plethora of religions coexist here. And they not only coexist, but thrive.

"Coexist" you say? I can't imagine it any other way.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Still Here!

BUSY lately. I blame daylight savings time. I could use 26 hours a day, but they gave me 23. I have been pedaling uphill into the wind ever since.

Haven't had time to blog or to lurk for very long at my usual favorites. Hope to catch up with everyone this weekend, but right now it is 12:15 a.m. and I need to be up at 6. (yawning)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Peace

I am happy to hear Candy and the VTC ladies have come to a truce. I'm not certain that either side accomplished what they set out to, but then again...maybe they did...I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Their dispute proved to be good exercise for my brain. As much as I enjoy Bible study at my Lutheran church no one ever says infant baptism is meaningless or calls a communion wafer a "cracker". Nor does anyone talk about when they got "saved." Also, I've never heard anyone challenge the Pastor on sola scriptura, sola fide nor any other "sola". I know of no one questioning him about what version of the Bible we use, or state that our version of the 10 commandments is deficient.

Yes, it was good to use the old noggin for some higher thinkin'.

Yes, I will continue to blog -- I DO have other interests! :-)

VERY busy this weekend. Have a very blessed Holy Week.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Veiled References?

Candy has successfully blocked the IP addresses of most of the RC sisterhood at VTC and disabled her RSS feed making it difficult if not impossible for them to read her blog. (Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.) I guess that is why they missed her comment on their blog post.

Tracy at VTC wrote in her post "Head covering and Catholic Women": The moral law requires all women to wear the veil on their hearts. A woman should not wear the veil on her head, until she is wearing it first on her heart. A woman who wears the veil on her heart accepts the place that God gives to women in the Church, the family, and society. Women who wear the veil on their hearts are imitating the Virgin Mary in her humility, submissiveness, and obedience to Christ.

Candy at KTH blogs "Are you being tossed in the wind?": I am saddened at the fact that many of those blogs teach that "women must have a veil over their hearts, before the veil on their heads will mean anything." Now that disturbs me. Why? Because 2 Corinthians 3 specifically speaks of a veil over our hearts, and it says that if our hearts are veiled, then we are not in the Lord, but when we truly turn to the Lord, then the veil is removed from our hearts:"But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it [he or she] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away." -2 Corinthians 3:16

When I read Tracy's phrase "veil on her heart" it did raise my eyebrows. There are 4 definitions of the word veiled (from dictionary.com):
1. having a veil: a veiled hat.
2.covered or concealed by, or as if by, a veil: a veiled woman.
3.not openly or directly expressed; masked; disguised; hidden; obscure: a veiled threat.
4.lacking clarity or distinctness: veiled sounds; a veiled image.

None of those is particularly descriptive of a Christian's heart. But, I think what Tracy is trying to say is that the inner workings need to be sufficiently humble for the outer symbolism to be meaningful.

Candy replies with what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:16. I'd like to expand on this a little because I think it is applicable.

2 Corinthians 3:14b-18: For to this day, when they read the old covenant, [the law] that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.[the gospel] Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read [the law] a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, [the gospel] the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [from the law] And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.[process of sanctification]

In a nutshell: veiled=Moses & law & old covenant; unveiled=Jesus & gospel & new covenant.

and had it not three corners...

Candy blogged this week about 1 Corinthians 11 and Christian women wearing headcovering. I'm generally in agreement with her and with the comments made by KH. It's audiaphora.

When I was a little kid the oldest old ladies wore hats to church every Sunday. I liked that. I wanted to grow up and wear pretty hats too. A hat to match every outfit. I definitely did not associate their "headcovering" with submission. It was fashion.

And there lies my problem with headcovering. I think Amish/Mennonite prayer caps are adorable. I'd love LOVE to wear one of those black bonnets. I'd look so darn cute! And no bad hair days. And no my-roots-need-touching-up days! Woo-hoo! If I wore a scarf, veil or hijab I'd have dozens of colors, styles and patterns to coordinate with my blouses and sweaters. Accessories!! Yes, my heart races at the thought of it!!

Obviously my heart nor head is in the "right place" on this headcovering issue. I can't get passed the aesthetic feelings. And besides that, my husband would think I'm loony.

My headcovering is this: a knit stocking cap. It is 7 degrees below zero on my thermometer. At my age practicality trumps fashion.

Last thought -- we should not be looking in the mirror for holiness. It isn't in long hair, dresses or headcoverings.

We should look to the cross on Golgatha.

...There is only one who is good....
Have a blessed day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Serenity now...and then

Why can't we all just get along?

If I had a "mantra" for motherhood, that would be mine.

I am a peacemaker mother and, as it turns out, that is a bad thing. I'm suppose to let my kids work out their differences so they learn "social skills" and to "compromise" and important "lessons."

But they argue all the time and it annoys me. (Yes, yes, it only annoys me because I LET it annoy me...ugh). So I intervene and try to work out a solution that will make everyone happy and (hopefully) quiet.

They argue over things. (I had it first! )
They argue over food. (That's my cookie, you already had two! )
They argue over places. (I called shotgun! )

Most of the time my efforts are for naught because no matter what solution I suggest one child will declare That's not fair!

Fairness. Is life ever fair? Too often goodness goes unrewarded and evil goes unpunished...And sometimes your brother eats the last cookie even though he has already had two.

Fairness, it seems, is a matter of perspective. The son who ate the last cookie thought it was fair for him to take the cookie because he got to it first. The son who complained had already ate a cookie, cleaned up the crumbs, and left the room. It looked like he was done eating cookies, but he was only taking a break and planned to come back and eat his second cookie later.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

I can't change life to make it fair. And often I lack the wisdom to discern what fair even is. I like the second paragraph of the Serenity Prayer (though tacked on):
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

I like the thought "hardships as the pathway to peace." Yes, I expect peace to come easily. (Why can't we all just get along?)

Ok, I've got my "courage to change the things that should be changed." I'm going to bake another batch of cookies.

And, so help me, a certain son will get the last cookie.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

John 3 & Baptism

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

There are a variety of opinions as to what Jesus means by "water" in verse 5 of John chapter three. Some say water means amniotic fluid, but if Jesus meant natural birth why didn't he say "of the womb"? Some say water means baptism, but if He meant baptism why didn't He say baptism? Some say it means living water, but again, why didn't He say living water?

Enigmatically, at least to us, Jesus simply says water. Perhaps we need to look at the verse in context.

John just finished telling us that Jesus is omniscient - He knows what is in a man without the man's testimony. Along comes Nicodemus, a high ranking Pharisee, and Jesus answers Nicodemus' question before he asks it. Compare this to the interaction with the rich young man found in Matthew 19 (also in Luke 18 and Mark 10). In Matthew the RYM asks (v 16), "What good deed must I do to have eternal life?" and Jesus answers (v 17), "If you would enter life, keep the commandments."

Not the same answer He gave Nicodemus.

Next the RYM asks Jesus which commandments he should keep. Jesus lists a few and the rich young man claims to have kept all of them. He asks Jesus (v 20), "What do I still lack?" Jesus knows the RYM has not kept all the commandments (covetness, idolatry) and tells him, "“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Ouch...the RYM went away sad.

But notice the answer to "what do I lack?". It is (v 21) "If you would be perfect...come, follow me." See it again in Mark 10:21: "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” And Luke 18: "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The interaction with the RYM illustrates the Law (you must be perfect [but you are not] to enter heaven) and the gospel (follow Jesus and you will have treasure in heaven). The young man needed to get rid of the possessions, not because it was a good work that earned his salvation, he needed to give it all away because it was a stumbling block keeping him from following Jesus. Read the rest of the story and note what He says in Matthew 18:29, Mark 10:29-30, Luke 18:29-30.

Back to John 3 and Nicodemus. Nicodemus is wondering much the same thing as the RYM, how to enter the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus tells him he must be "born of water and the Spirit."

Not the same answer he gave the RYM.

Remember Jesus is omniscient. Just as He knew in what areas the RYM was lacking/not lacking, He too knows what Nicodemus is lacking/not lacking.

Nicodemus is not lacking water. Two important terms (today's vocab lesson) from Judism 101: <u>Mikvah - a ritual pool of water, used for the purpose of attaining ritual purity. Immersion in a Mikvah is performed for the following main purposes: It is used in connection with Repentance, to remove the impurity of sin. It is also used in connection with Conversion, because the convert has taken upon himself or herself to adopt the lifestyle of the Jew, that is based on the recognition of G-d as King of the Universe and on the obligation to perform the commandments of the Torah.

Tevilah- full body immersion in a mikvah. (See Wikipedia for more on ritual washing.)

The Pharisees were all about keeping the law (see Matthew chapter 23). Especially note verses 25-26: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean."

Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be "born of the Spirit" which we know as regeneration, new life, to be born again, or born from above -- the light and the life we are blessed with when by God's grace the Holy Spirit dwells within us and draws into a faith relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Getting the inside of the cup clean--so to speak.

We cannot will ourselves to be reborn - it is the work of God/the Spirit as Jesus says in John 1:12-13 and again in John 3:8. By the power of that Spirit we are able to believe in Jesus, and those that believe will have eternal life (John 3:15-18).

So that brings us back to the issue of water. Given the amount of ritual washing involved in Jewish life, there is little doubt that Nicodemus would have understood water to be mikvah. Does this mean we must keep the laws for ritual washing in order to be saved? Remember the RYM? We see law & gospel presented side by side. In this case, the law is the water, or rather the ritual washing that it represents. But the "water" wasn't enough - the "cups" are still dirty on the inside. That is where we need Christ, where the Word of gospel found in John 3:16 saves us.

Additionally, from the definition of mikvah we learn it is used in connection with conversion. It is also used in cases of adoption. This is what is involved in converting adopted gentile infants and children to Judiasm (from convert.org):

  • Jewish parents in all movements need to convert adopted Gentile minors for the minors to be considered Jewish. The adoption itself, or even the raising of the children as Jewish, does not make the child Jewish.
  • The conversion of an infant or child has Jewish legal sanction. According to the Talmud (Ketubot 11a), it is permissible for a religious court (a bet din) to convert a gentile infant. The basis in Jewish law is that it is a privilege to be Jewish (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 268:7). Therefore, a minor can be converted even though not mature enough to understand the act because making the minor Jewish is performing a favor for that infant or child.
  • Jewish law also allows those people converted as an infant or child to renounce the conversion when they reach maturity. After girls reach 12 or boys 13, converted infants and children can legally reject the conversion and go back to their previous religion. If they accept Judaism or are silent, they are deemed to be considered adult converts.
  • The conversion of a female infant or child according to Conservative and Orthodox practices only requires tevilah (immersion in a ritual bath called a mikveh). A male child also requires immersion in the mikveh. Prior to the immersion, the male must have a brit milah (a legal circumcision ceremony performed by a mohel). If possible, this should be done on the 8th day after the birth of the boy. If a circumcision has already been performed, a drop of blood needs to be drawn in a ceremony called hatafat dam brit. A Hebrew name can then be given to the child, though some wait to give the name until after the tevilah ceremony. There is usually a wait of a couple of weeks between the circumcision and the immersion.
  • A Bet Din, usually consisting of three rabbis, is convened for the immersion. Parents can enter the mikveh. If the children are old enough, they recite the needed prayers; if not a rabbi does so for them. After the tevilah ceremony is completed, and a name chosen if one has not already been selected, the child is declared by the Bet Din to be Jewish.
  • The conversion of infants and children is, of course, a moment of joy for parents, but it is also such a moment for the entire Jewish community. New children add precious lives to the community and bring with them that most valuable idea of hope for the future.

And Adoption & Jewish Law from Star of David.org:
  • For the child to be considered Jewish, he or she must be formally converted. Such a conversion is an absolute requirement of Jewish law, and dispensing with it can have serious consequences later in life, for the child may reach Bar Mitzvah age, want to marry or join a synagogue, only to be told by a rabbi that he or she is not really Jewish. The ceremony is simple, and should be done as early as possible.
  • The conversion consists of two parts, circumcision (milah) and immersion (tevilah). If possible, a boy should be circumcised on the eighth day (but not on the Sabbath or on a Festival) with a slight change in blessings.
  • Immersion is a requirement for both boys and girls. The immersion is done in a "mikvah," or Jewish ritual bath. Usually the immersion takes place as soon as the infant is old enough so that there is no physical danger. Six months is the age preferred by many rabbis. Yet it is permitted any time until "Bar" or "Bat Mitzvah."
  • The immersion must take place before a "beit din" of three rabbis. The child should be naked and held in such a way that the water touches every part of the body. The child is quickly immersed, and two blessings are recited by the rabbi (or by the child, if old enough). The child is then immersed once more. (Some rabbis do it twice more.)
  • The two blessings recited at the mikvah are: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us on the immersion." Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and allowed us to reach this season." Following the immersion and after the child is dressed, he or she is given a Hebrew name and welcomed into the Jewish community with a special prayer.
  • Bringing an adopted child to the "mikvah" for a conversion is a happy event, worthy of celebration. Many couples invite other members of the family, take pictures, and celebrate with refreshments at home or at a favorite restaurant. As the child grows up, pictures and memories can be shared of the day the child was welcomed into the Jewish community.
  • An important question still remains. What gives the "Beit din" the right to convert an infant to Judaism without the child's permission or understanding? The Talmud asked the same question.
  • It answered that one can act to someone's advantage without his permission, and becoming Jewish is to the child's advantage. But there is an important proviso. Upon reaching the age of majority (12 for a girl, 13 for a boy), the child can protest and annul the conversion. He or she has a right to say, "I don't wish to be a Jew, and I consider the conversion invalid." On the other hand, acts of Jewish identity at the age of majority serve to reaffirm the conversion.
  • For this reason, "Bar" or "Bat Mitzvah" takes on a particular importance to an adopted and converted child. It serves as a reaffirmation of the conversion done years before. It completes the process of conversion. Circumcision and immersion can be done to infants; acceptance of the "mitzvot" can only be done upon reaching the age of majority. The validity of the entire conversion is contingent upon assuring a positive Jewish identity upon reach "Bar/Bat Mitzvah."
It all sounds so very familiar. So much like baptism & confirmation. :-)

Ephesians 1:5: In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will...

Maybe I'll continue this...when I have the brainpower to tackle it...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Two cents on John Chapter 2

1. The words "hour" and "time" (as found in verse 4) are used to point to His inevitable crucifixion, His sacrificial death on the cross, not His glorification as Messiah. See Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:35, 14:41; John 7:6-8, 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 12:27, 13:1,16:32, 17:1.

2.Verses 24-25 - But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. For some reason these verses were underlined in my Bible. I don't recall why I underlined them, but it drew my attention and I looked a little deeper into their meaning. The following cross references are given:

  • Isaiah 11:3 - And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.He shall not judge by what his eyes see,or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
  • Deuteronomy 31:21 - And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.
  • 1 Kings 8:39 - then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind)
  • Matthew 9:4 -But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
  • John 6:61 - But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?
  • John 6:64 - But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
  • John 13:11 - For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

What is John telling us in verses 24-25? My guess, 1) Jesus is divine/God (He is omniscient). 2) Men are evil - He knows men and He knows they can't be trusted, no matter what they say.

It's not an altar call.

Enough eisegesis for tonight. :-)

Monday, February 4, 2008

John 1:29 & friends

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

About this verse Candy writes: "verse 29 Jesus takes away the sins of anyone who will let Him. There is nothing else one must do to be saved. Jesus paid it all. Jesus is our perfect sacrificial Lamb, whose sacrifice pays for ALL of our sins."

And theden at VTC responds: "I think where Candy messes up is that she says that there is "nothing else one must do to be saved."It doesn't say that in the text (or in Scripture). We must participate in our salvation (through the grace of God.)"

Huh? Let me rephrase verse 29. Q: Who takes away the sin of the world? A: The Lamb of God.

It's not about what we do or don't do, it is about what HE did. He took away the sin of the world. Period.

Rewind to verses 12 & 13:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

From the Concordia Study Bible: "1:12 Membership in God's family is by grace alone-the gift of God....It is never a human achievement, as v. 13 emphasizes."

Today's Vocabulary Lesson: (thanks to dictionary.com)
eisegesis - an interpretation, esp. of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter's own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text.

I am really looking forward to chapter 6. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pop Quiz!

Are you a good person?
The first time I took this quiz it told me I was going to hell.
The second time I took the quiz I took time read the questions. :-)
It actually makes no difference how you answer the first part of the quiz (even leave it blank!) - the "score" is always the same. Eventually you end up at the 10 steps to being a Christian (or something along those lines).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where the Apple Falls

Last night my oldest child (Seventeen) went to youth group at a friend's church. I will tell you beforehand that this child is very outgoing, headstrong and a bit bossy (think Lucy Van Pelt but less self-centered).

When she came home the first thing she asked me was, "It's Christ that accepts us, right?"


"Yes?" I replied, knowing this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Seventeen: The teacher at Friend's church said we need to accept Christ into our hearts.

Me: (eyebrows raised) Synergism?

Seventeen: Huh? (looks at me weird) No, she just said that God begins faith, but it is up to us to accept Christ into our hearts.

Me: What did you say?

Seventeen: I didn't say anything.

Me: Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit...

Seventeen: I know, I know. Anyway, she said we have to strive to be like Jesus.

Me: (jaw dropping) What did you say?

Seventeen: I said, but aren't we the sheep and Jesus the shepherd. The sheep can't become the shepherd. The shepherd does everything for the sheep - finds them when they're lost and stuff like that. Sheep can't do anything.

Me: What did she say?

Seventeen: She said that yes, Jesus is the shepherd, but He is also the rabbi and we are His disciples and as disciples our job is to become rabbis.

Me: What did you say?

Seventeen: I told her there was no way possible for me to become God, no matter how hard I try. I'm just a sinner.

Me: Did anyone agree with you?

Seventeen: No. They just argued with me.

Me: Did they change your mind?

Seventeen: No! I know I'm right.

Me: (Smiling so big my face hurts) Good.

Indeed it is a smorgasbord out there (thanks, Sara, for the analogy). There are a lot of differing views, theologies, doctrines and ideas. Many are biblical, many are not. It seems, from my humble perspective, that the ideas we find most appealing (appetizing) are those that agree with our human reasoning (easy to digest).

But as we survey what lays before us on the buffet, remember that God's way is not man's way.

Oh, I almost forgot, the denomination of the church Seventeen visited last night : ELCA.

Hebrew 13:20-21, 25 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen....Grace be with all of you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More thoughts on "getting" saved

Expanding my vocabulary:

Monergism - God alone is the one who saves and that humans have no active role in coming to faith (conversion). God creates faith and causes the unbeliever to become a believer without any merit, worthiness, or cooperation on the person's part.

Synergism - humans have some role to play in conversion and being saved, and people in some way "work together" with God to bring this about in individual lives. Synergists treat faith as something the sinner comes up with in response to and in cooperation with God's grace. Faith is ultimately being treated as a cause or condition of salvation, a part of the cooperative effort that the human being is to some degree responsible for.

Also, here is another comparison of Theology of Glory with Theology of the Cross.