Monday, December 19, 2011

Tidings of Comfort & Joy!

A very merry Christmas to all of you out there in cyberspace! 2011 was indeed a very interesting year, I look forward to what 2012 will bring. God bless & keep you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A New Tradition?

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my in-laws. Delicious food, great company, good times. But when it came time for desserts my youngest, Sally, asked for pumpkin pie - but sadly there wasn't any.

My in-laws, now in their 70s, were tired of eating the same old thing every Thanksgiving and served pulled-pork sandwiches, baked beans, macaroni salad, scalloped potatoes and for dessert chocolate cake or banana cream pie. As I said, the food was great, I didn't think twice about it until Sally asked for pumpkin pie. And I realized what is routine, and perhaps boring, for us is neither routine nor boring for a six year old. The smell of a roasting turkey is not an ingrained memory for her.

I can't re-do Thanksgiving. Our tradition has always been to spend it at either my parents' or Mr. Bee's parents' homes. My parents are gone too soon, and I enjoy being with my in-laws whatever they decide to serve. We will keep going there.

Christmas is a different story and I have decided to start a new chapter, beginning with Christmas dinner. Turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie. Digging out the china, white table linen, cloth napkins, crystal candlesticks. What good does all that stuff do tucked away in cupboards? Some of it we received as wedding presents 23+ years ago and have never used!

I've never done the big dinner before. I am excited and a little nervous, but ready to start a new family tradition. I think Sally and the other kids will appreciate it someday. I'm making a memory. A good one, I hope. :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last Thanksgiving

I wanted to post about this last year because I found it really very interesting, but then with the hub-bub of the holidays I forgot until another Thanksgiving rolled around again.

A Minnesota Family hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 32 people and the only thing store-bought was the salt. On the menu:
Venison roast with wild mushrooms
Pork roast with garden herbs
Wild turkey breast
Squirrel booya
Sweet and sour red cabbage and beets
Roasted potatoes with herbs
Baked squash with homemade butter
Corn on the cob
Green beans
Sautéed kale
Serviceberry pie
Boxelder syrup flan with a hazelnut crust
Rhubarb/serviceberry wine
Hard cider
Grape wine

The family that hosted the dinner didn't prepare everything, the guests (friends & family) pitched in many of the homegrown items for the meal. It took a ton of planning, but how cool is that?!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Que Sera, Sera

I almost forgot! According to Harold Camping of Family Radio, the world will end tomorrow (as opposed to last May 21st when obviously it did not).

(Big Sigh)

100% of all end-of-the-world predictions have been wrong. It's like playing a lottery you have no possibility of winning. Has Mr. Camping ever read Matthew 24? Perhaps he is really trying to predict his own passing?

When I was in junior high one of my friends told me the world was going to end on such-and-such a day. She knew because there had been a speaker at her church and the speaker showed them all the signs from the Bible that had "come true". My friend told me to read the Book of Revelation and that it would scare me to death. I did read it, or tried to, but found it too confusing and gave up. Decided to pray instead. And wouldn't you know, here we are +/-35 years later, still waiting for the world's demise.

Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see. Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.

UPDATE: There was a 4.0 magnitude earthquake near the Family Radio headquarters!!! I cannot imagine the reaction inside that building. ROFL

I tried to find something about end times predictions in the late 70s to pinpoint what my friend was talking about  and I found this list of predicted dates of the end of the world on Wikipedia (Martin Luther made the list!).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christian by Grace. Lutheran by choice.

Two epiphanies in my life:

I was raised in a conservative, by-the-book United Methodist Church. When I left home I was surprised to discover that not all UMC's are the same and my home church was one of a dying breed. I starting attending a very big UMC that was nothing like the church at home. It had a praise band, three pastors, drama troop, gazillions of clubs & activities. Worship was nothing like my boring old home church. Professional musicians were regular guests and there was always something new and exciting.

I was very happy one weekend when my mom came for a visit and I could take her to my new church and show it off a bit. It was a great service featuring an oboist from the Chicago Symphony. After the service, mom looked at me and asked, "When does church start?" (Awkward pause) I answered, "That was church." And she said, "No, that was people putting on a show."

Epiphany #1: Mom was right. And I realized that what I liked about that UMC was that it was cool and I felt that by going there it made me cool too. And I also realized, that even though they were singing about Jesus, and preaching about Jesus, it wasn't about Jesus. Scripture was not the centerpiece - the performance was. We were not gathering to hear God's Word, we were gathering to be entertained by skits and musical numbers - and (worse) to see & be seen.

The second epiphany I'm thinking of happened before the first one. While in college my friend Ellen invited me to Sunday worship at her Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church. It was the campus WELS church and the congregation was mainly college-age people like myself. The liturgy totally lost me. I felt like I was juggling the hymn book and the bulletin and had no clue what I was suppose to be doing. Even though I was a life-long church-goer it felt totally foreign. I looked around and was amazed to see there were some people who didn't use the hymnal - they knew the service by heart. One young guy even had his eyes shut.

Epiphany #2: This was true worship. There was something mystical and transcendent and authentic in that liturgical worship. A raw spiritual energy. I couldn't put a name on it, but I felt it and part of me yearned for more. However, it was several years before I returned. That's how the 2 epiphanies tie together -- after my mom made me realize how shallow my Methodist Church was, I sought out a Lutheran Church to see if liturgy was the answer. It was.

That is why my short answer to why I converted to Lutheranism is, "I came for the liturgy and stayed for the doctrine."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Song in my heart this July

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way;
When sorrows, like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

He lives–oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And, Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend;
Even so it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

-Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford, 1873

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

simul iustus et peccator

I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

--Romans 7:15-8:2 The Message

Some days are just like that, aren't they?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

My mom has been gone a year tomorrow. I miss her.

It was a bittersweet Mother's Day.

I've been reflecting on all of the things I learned from her. And thinking of what a good example she was of sacrifice, resilience and faith.

What I learned from my mom that is especially important in my life right now is stability. The constancy and reliability of character that is so necessary in a family. And so difficult sometimes.

Being there. With a hug. A word of encouragement. Or just conversation.

That's the kind of mom she was and that is the kind of mom I hope to be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Thursday: The Elements

This past Holy Week I attended a Passover Seder put on by a Messianic congregation. It was amazing! I learned soooo much. These are just some of the random things I've been thinking about....

Above is a Passover Seder plate. Note the egg (beitzah) in the 10 o'clock position.

From Ask place an egg on the Seder Plate to commemorate the Chagiga sacrifice (holiday offering,) which was offered in the Holy Temple on the 14th of Nissan, and eaten during the Seder, along with the Paschal Offering...In addition to its role on the Seder plate the egg serves another purpose at the Seder. Before the beginning of Shluchan Oreich, the meal part of the Seder, we eat the egg...because an egg also represents our mourning of the destruction of the Holy Temple...The egg is eaten as an appetizer before the meal...and is traditionally dipped into salt water before being eaten.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Matzah - Unleavened bread. The Passover Seder is part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Matzah looks a lot like a cracker. It has holes & stripes. Three matzah are set apart on the seder table. The middle matzah, which symbolizes the Paschal Lamb (or Isaac), is called the afrikomen (that which is coming). It is broken and hidden until the end of the meal. After the meal, the afrikomen is found and passed around the table and all participants break off a piece. After saying the blessing over the bread, it is consumed.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

The blessing over the cup is recited and the third cup wine in the seder is consumed. This third cup of wine is known as the "cup of blessing" or "cup of redemption".

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Attacks on Catholic Christians. Sad & Sadder.

Last weekend: --A fire is started under a 75-year-old man's statue of Jesus in his backyard prayer garden in St. Paul. --In Lakeville, a man walks into a church during mass and pours urine on the altar and Book of Gospels. I'm not accustomed to this type of overt, threatening, physical persecution and I don't want to be. This shouldn't be run-of-the-mill stuff in the Upper Midwest. It is sad that these atrocities took place. And sadder how unconcerned secular society is.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Counterfeit Christianity!!

The very same week I published the example of Counterfeit Christianity from Family Time Radio, I received an Anointed Unusual Bible Faith Church Prayer Rug from St. Matthews Churches. This scam is well-documented on the Internet. The "rug" is a piece of paper about the size and weight of a paper place mat. I'm suppose to kneel on it and pray for something I need then send it back to the church along with a letter telling them my name and address and asking them to pray for me. Will they pray for me? I don't know. Will they prey on me? Definitely.

There are five pieces in the envelope - an instructional letter, the prayer rug, a special prophecy, success stories, and a return envelope. The only Gospel message is on the back of the prophecy sheet. It says, "Due to Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, we all who are redeemed can gain eternal life. Christ died on the cross for our sins (St. John 3:16)." What I find most disturbing about the mailing is the trinket I'll receive if I return the letter and rug with my prayer request: a Deuteronomy 8:18 Prosperity Cross. (Deut. 8:18: "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.")

The "prosperity" found through the cross is NOT worldly wealth. I would say the prosperity of the cross is defined in Colossians 1:19-20: "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."

Or in 1 Peter 2:24: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."

Yes, pray for what you need. Yes, ask fellow believers to pray for you. But, no, don't get caught-up in prosperity gospel scams. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Counterfeit Christianity

I got this flyer in the mail some time ago. What really caught my eye is the date: May 21, 2011 – my wedding anniversary! The end of the world on my anniversary?! Maybe I need to rethink my dinner plans....Or maybe not.

Eschatology is my least favorite subject so I didn’t rush to read through the flyer. It is a legal-sized piece of paper divided into four columns, printed on the front and back in smallish (for my old eyes) print. It is from Family Radio.

So this week I finally read the flyer. First time through I thought (among other things) Where’s the Gospel? The second time through I found what I think is suppose to be the Gospel. It is the only time Jesus is mentioned. From the bottom of page 2 and top of page 3 of the flyer:

Because God is so great and glorious He calls Himself by many different names. Each name tells us something about the glorious character and nature of God. Thus in the Bible we find such names as God, Jehovah, Christ, Jesus, Lord, Allah, Holy Spirit, Savior, etc. Names such as Jehovah, Jesus, Savior, and Christ particularly point to God as the only means by which forgiveness from all of our sins and eternal life can be obtained by God’s merciful and glorious actions.

This forgiveness was made possible because Christ took upon Himself each and every sin of each and every person He saves from the wrath of God. The Holy Bible describes this astounding action as it was demonstrated by Jesus, who never ceased to be God, being put to death on the cross to show how He paid for sins. He then was raised from the grave and returned into heaven.

That is why the Bible has much to say about those who place their complete trust in Christ, who did all the work required for salvation, after they become saved from the wrath of God.

To make things more interesting, the last two paragraphs are deleted from Family Radio’s html version here, but are still found on the website’s pdf version here.

Family Radio claims to be a Bible-based Christian broadcasting ministry with no church affiliation. If Family Radio is Christian, and its founder Harold Camping claims to be Christian, why are they ashamed of the Gospel???

Salvation comes by the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone as Lord and Savior who was crucified and died on the cross for our sins.

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. – Romans 5:8-9

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent 2011

Jesus sinners doth receive;
Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin's delusions live
And from God and heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve--
Jesus sinners doth receive.

We deserve but grief and shame,
Yet His words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace, and life proclaim.
Here their ills have perfect healing
Who with humble hearts believe--
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Sheep that from the fold did stray
No true shepherd e'er forsaketh:
Weary souls that lost their way
Christ, the Shepherd, gently taketh
In His arms that they may live--
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Come, ye sinners, one and all,
Come, accept His invitation;
Come, obey His gracious call,
Come and take His free salvation!
Firmly in these words believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

I, a sinner, come to Thee
With a penitent confession;
Savior, mercy show to me
Grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Oh, how blest it is to know;
Were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow
By Thy blood and bitter Passion:
For these words I now believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Now my conscience is at peace,
From the Law I stand acquitted;
Christ hath purchased my release
And my every sin remitted.
Naught remains my soul to grieve,--
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Jesus sinners doth receive.
Also I have been forgiven;
And when I this earth must leave,
I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to Him I cleave--
Jesus sinners doth receive.

- Erdmann Neumeister, 1718