Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wedding Rehearsal Time

Early. It should be EARLY. Last year, I think we scheduled the rehearsal for 4:00. It might've been 5. But by the time we were done with rehearsal and dinner and lollygagging around chatting and having a grand time, it was 9:00. A good time to start getting ready for bed the night before a wedding.

Because of some people's schedules, last night's rehearsal was planned for 7:00, but it didn't start till 7:30. We didn't get home until 1:00. I am afraid we're going to have groggy people today. Three or four hours of sleep is not a good way to start a big day.

Matthew 25:37

Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

In a recent discussion in Bible class, Pastor pointed out that verse 34 has several indications that salvation is by grace, not by works. However, many Christians point to verses 35-36 to emphasize the importance of good works. It is interesting that in verse 37 the Christians are bewildered as to when they did these good works that Jesus refers to. Why don't the righteous know what He's talking about? Why are they unaware of having done these good deeds?

Because they weren't paying any attention to their works! Their eyes were on Jesus only!

Why did the sheep do these good works? Because the object of their worship is Christ. They didn't think about their good works. They weren't trying to do good works. They weren't doing anything but focusing on Jesus and His mercy. When there is true faith in Christ, there is never even a hint of self-righteousness or patting ourselves on the back for the things we have done.

True faith in the Good Shepherd does not look at its own works at all! Rather, it believes that its works are filthy rags. Insofar as there is true faith, there is no reliance on works at all. Not even like this: "I know works don't save me, but they flow from faith. They are works of love done in faith. But you really need to do more of those works." Most of that is true: works don't save; works do flow from faith; they are done from love. BUT there is NEVER any navel-gazing when there are true good works. Like Luther said, "Faith is a busy and active thing. Before it is even told what to do, it has already gone out and done it."

For the Christian, the focus of faith is always IN CHRIST. A Christian will look at this list in Matthew 25 and realize that Jesus is the One who has done all those works, and He has done them for us. What He has done for us then manifests itself in His sheep, but it is the natural outgrowth of what He has done. Lutherans are often accused of denying good works. That's not true. We even say that good works are necessary. But the necessity is found in the necessity of faith, because if there IS faith in Him, then there will be works of love. So what we need in this life is to constantly be brought to repentance and the renewal of FAITH. Wherever faith is renewed, Christ will bring forth His fruit.

And thus ends the synopsis of Bible class.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Singing the Devil Away" (3)

Dr Kleinig pointed out that Satan mocks. Notice that liberals (either secular or in the church) don't often argue or debate with conservative Christians. Mostly they just mock us.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dumb Jokes

Why is a moon rock tastier than an earth rock?
Because it's a little meteor.

What did the zero say to the eight?
"Nice belt!"

What did the lady bullet say to the male bullet?
"We're going to have a BB."

Why was the baby ant confused?
Because all his uncles were ants.

Why was Cinderella so lousy at baseball?
She ran away from the ball, and she had a pumpkin for a coach.

"Singing the Devil Away" (2)

Continuation of an earlier post.

Paul Gerhardt had no interest in demonology -- an intellectual study of demons and Satan. He simply wanted to equip Christians with God's Word for the exercise of spiritual warfare.

The "battle with Satan" was NOT something happening in the Thirty Years War. It was NOT a physical battle for control of Germany or control of the church. The battle with Satan that matters is what happens in the conscience when Satan accuses. It doesn't matter to Satan whether we have sinned or not; he manages to accuse either way.

Often these spiritual battles are waged in the deep hours of the night. There's something about the darkness that is not just the lack of sunshine, but the darkness of unbelief. It's all about attacking FAITH.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


EVERYbody knows that homeschoolers aren't socialized. Everybody knows that homeschoolers are chained to their kitchen table, never seeing any human life forms except for their mother and siblings. Everybody knows that homeschoolers can't function in society.

Now, WHO forgot to tell Jordin Sparks? She obviously can't function in society and is chained to the kitchen table: after all, she's homeschooled. So how did she manage to win American Idol tonight?

Hmmmm. Maybe the flaw is in the premise ....

American Idol Winner

The show is only halfway done, and the official winner has not been announced. But Melinda Doolittle is the real winner this season. She cute and she's likable and her voice has been shown off fabulously. And tonight when she's been on, she absolutely glows (especially singing with Gladys Knight)!

Cheese Ball

I broke a cardinal rule of entertaining (again). You're never supposed to use an untested recipe. Today I made cheese balls for the wedding, as per Rachel's request. Instead of using Mom's recipe which must be buried somewhere in a church cookbook, I got something off the internet. I licked the spatula when I was done; it was totally awesome. And easy!!!

1# grated cheddar, preferably sharp
1# cream cheese
1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing mix

Blend thoroughly.
Shape into 1 large or 2 small balls.
Roll in ground pecans.

It's a little salty, which will be fine on celery and carrot sticks. If Hidden Valley makes a low-salt version, I'd go for that next time.


The neighbor came over and told us that her daughter has chickenpox. So, immune-depressed little girl at my house spent the 2-3 days previous to the pox-breakout playing with her friend next door. She's due to break out just in time for (friend) Ethan's graduation party. And any big brothers in the house who catch it from her will be due to break out just in time for catechetical symposium. Well, at least we don't have a vacation or a surgery scheduled during this incubation time.

Kleinig: "Singing the Devil Away" (1)

Like my notes on Krispin's lecture, my notes on Kleinig's second lecture are not representative of all the wonderful things he said. His second lecture at the Gerhardt symposium was on spiritual warfare. So much of what he spoke was preaching (with all its sweetness and comfort) and only part of his talk was "lecture" and information. And you don't usually take notes during preaching! You listen to Jesus' sweet-talk. I'm just saying this because what I'm going to write is so inadequate in light of what was actually said.

Dr Kleinig spoke on May 8 about how Gerhardt's beliefs about Satan are embarrassing to us today. Modern man doesn't take Satan seriously. Our popular sensibilities see Satan as a symbol of evil. But Paul Gerhardt recognized the reality of Satan as a person, an enemy of God, an enemy of the Christian. Gerhardt knew something about spiritual warfare.

Dr Kleinig reminded us that it takes prayer, meditation on the Word, and anfechtung [spiritual attack by Satan] when one studies theology. Although Satan attacks Christians with the intent of destroying faith, anfechtung paradoxically teaches us to experience the sweetness and comfort of God's word. When we are attacked, our confidence in ourselves is shot to pieces, and we learn that the only thing that matters is God's word and His love. So Satan inadvertently drives us to Jesus.

And that's why the apostle said that he rejoiced in his infirmities.

A New Tag

Ah, I finally got to see the tag-game that Jenn started. It showed up on Lora's blog, and I got re-tagged. Okay, so the assignment is: "What did you want to be when you were 5, 10, 15, and 20?

Age 5: That's so long ago. I can't even remember my kids' names or where my keys are or if I put that last load of laundry in the dryer. I'm thinking maybe (?) I wanted to be a ballerina. Or a mommy. Or both. Maybe my mom will remember better.

Age 10: A school teacher.

Age 15: A DCE. And yes, I must steal Cheryl's answer: I wanted to be popular.

Age 20: A wife and mommy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rescuing Cast Iron

Mom had a couple of old cast iron skillets in the attic that were headed for the trash. There are nice things about the new pre-seasoned skillets, but they aren't nearly as smooth and non-stick as an old skillet. So Mom handed her trash over to Rachel. A couple of weeks ago, we put them in a hot brush fire to burn off yuck-stuff. Today Rachel poured boiling water in it and let it cool. Then she took steel wool to it, and it cleaned right up beautifully. And fairly easily. Of course, it needs to be reseasoned. But it's still black and fairly smooth, with the pores closed up much nicer than the one-year-old preseasoned one. Not only will it make very nice fried eggs, but it will be fun for her to tell her kids in 15 years that this belonged to her grandma. THAT's another nice thing about cast iron cookware. It just gets better with age!

The Day of the Cheesecake

I should've gotten up at 6:00 when that little goldfinch decided he was going to get into my bedroom, yes he was!, screens or no screens. After 5 minutes of pecking at the screens and beating his wings against the window, he gave up. I told myself and told myself to get up, but I didn't. I really needed my extra 90 minutes.

Cake has never been my favorite dessert. It's good. I like it. But at our house, we usually prefer pie or cookies or coffeecake. At Pastor & Corinne Piazza's wedding, they had cheesecake. I was stunned! Who knew you could have a dessert at a wedding that wasn't a tiered white cake??? Nathan isn't a cake fan, so he was open to the idea of having cheesecake for last summer's wedding. The guests seemed to find cheesecake a popular treat ... even if a few might've thought it was a little different. So when Rachel floated the idea past Matt for their wedding, he was all for cheesecake!

Cookies were crumbed this morning. Massive amounts of cream cheese have been whipped with sugar and eggs: I bought 36 boxes of cream cheese yesterday. The Irish Cream cakes (here pictured) are beautiful, cooled, and chilling in the fridge. The Snickers cakes are cooling on the table. As soon as they're cool enough to give up their springform sides, we can go on to Turtle cakes.

I wasn't sure how it would work to make ten cakes when I only have a set of three nesting springform pans. So we cut corrugated-cardboard rounds (basically like what you buy frozen pizza on) and covered them with foil. Then we put a layer of non-stick Reynolds foil over the fake bottoms of my springform pans. We tucked these fake bottoms inside the pans (with the metal bottoms there too!) and built the crusts in the pans just like normal. When the sides were removed and the cakes were cooled, we could just lift the foil-covered cardboard -- cheesecake and all -- from the metal pan-bottom, and go on with the next batch. It worked great! (I know you're all dying to know this because I'm SURE you're planning to make many multiple cheesecakes in the same day later this week.)

Theology of Prosperity

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

How often we've heard that this verse promises all sorts of goodies to Christians. I remember its being the theme-verse of a friend's wedding shower. She delighted herself in the Lord, and so God was giving her a nice husband and a lovely wedding. And then there's the Prayer of Jabez (and whatever faddish heresy has replaced that one). And then there's the promise of a happy, well-adjusted family if you just follow biblical principles.

IF your delight is in the Lord, what is the desire of your heart?

Him. Right?

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you Himself. And forgiveness. And salvation. And life everlasting. And the Holy Spirit. And a preacher. And the sacraments. What more could your heart desire?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Frugal Wedding?

Prom dresses are available during May and June for low low prices. For $50 or less. Some of them are white or ivory.

Simple food, cooked yourself, is supposedly more work than having a catered reception. And yet, hunting up which caterer, and making decisions about menu, and checking to make sure it's being done right ... that's not necessarily easier than sandwiches and carrot sticks. On the other hand, Andrew and I got four grocery carts full of food today and had to be wise packers to manage to fit it all into the car to bring it home. And we bought wedding items last week and have to get more produce later this week. Whoa!

Office Max sells invitation kits. You just print 'em up with your computer. It's possible to skip the response cards (have people phone or email), or save postage by using postcards for responses instead of envelopes.

Get the music you want at the reception instead of the music the DJ wants. Burn CDs and plunk them into a boombox. Forget the DJ. You might even consider outrageous things for reception entertainment, like playing football. But the guests might want to know to bring shorts and t-shirts for after the ceremony.

A nice new suit is about twice the cost of a tux rental. And the suit can be worn for many years. Or maybe the guys already have suits. Do the guys really need to be exactly matched?

Rather than trying to find a less expensive way to do something, rethink whether you need to do it at all. For example, do you really need napkins and candy packages and matches engraved with the bride&groom's names and the wedding date? Do the mothers and fathers need corsages and boutonnieres? Will guests be disappointed if there are not party favors? Of course, some couples will want these things, and that's great too. But if you can't afford it, no sense trying to have these things just because you're "supposed to."

When I was checking out of the grocery store last week (with gobs of paper plates and cups and pop and water jugs) the clerk asked about our party. I told her it was for my daughter's wedding. She asked how many people we were having. I told her about 130-150. She said, "Wow, that's a big wedding!" Funny -- for most of the people that I know, 150 is a SMALL wedding. I was told Katie and Nathan's (with 65 guests) last summer was an "intimate wedding" (apparently one step up from "private").

Krispin: "Confession of Christ in Song and Sacrament"

Dr Krispin from Concordia Edmonton spoke on Tuesday morning at the recent Paul Gerhardt symposium. Although Krispin had an interesting and well-put-together lecture, I didn't do a good job taking notes, and thus have a lot of disconnected thoughts jotted down.

Although "stories behind the hymns" may be told, many of these are not true, but developed later.

Krispin reinforced Kleinig's comments that the "I" of Gerhardt's hymns is not an individualistic, pietistic thing. He also reminded us that Gerhardt squeezed lots of Bible-story references into his poetry.

Gerhardt was firmly committed to the Formula of Concord. At times, he had to choose between his vow before Christ (at ordination) and the obedience due his king. The Thirty Years War also had a profound effect on his life. Without his fierce attachment to Lutheran doctrine, and without the anfechtung [suffering] in his life, Gerhardt would never have been able to write the hymns he did.

For many of Gerhardt's hymns, tunes were written by the publisher (Crueger) to be attached to particular texts.

People would not often sing from hymnals during church in the 1600s. They would sing from memory. People would sing all the verses at home when they had family prayers. People would learn all the stanzas when they were memorizing the hymns. All 15. Or all 27. Didn't matter how many -- they'd learn the whole thing.

The pastors recognized that heresy came into the church through even minor changes in wording of hymns. Gerhardt was careful to speak the truth clearly against Calvinism.

The altar at Gerhardt's church was adorned with a veil that had a large picture of Christ's face, beaten and bloody, with a crown of thorns. After he'd been pastor there for five years, celebrating the Supper with that image before his eyes, he wrote "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded."

Gerhardt wrote his communion hymn -- "O Lord, My Love, I Have No Rest" -- in 1667. It was his legacy to his congregation when he was fired by the government for refusing to compromise with the Reformed. Pastor Gerhardt expected that heresy would soon be on its way into his congregation, so he wrote this hymn to counter it. He knew that, even if he wasn't there, the words of the hymn would be powerful to catechize the people properly into true doctrine. What is preached from the pulpit is very important. But Gerhardt knew that the words the people memorized and sang would even more strongly influence what they believed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Being Tagged

Emily tagged me to name seven things that I have learned in life. Yikesy -- this is the hardest tag game I've ever played!

1. America would be a happier place if more of us dried our clothes outdoors on the line more often.

2. When you have to fight Satan, make sure you have a faithful father-confessor on your side.

3. Not all children learn to sing naturally. Some have to be taught. And singing CAN be taught. And they should learn to do it.

4. Sometimes it's more frugal to spend more money upfront. (As is the case with buying underwear from Penneys and buying electrical appliances from anywhere but Walmart.)

5. Those who fight hardest to silence the Gospel are usually within the church.

6. Always patronize kids' lemonade stands, even if they're selling weird green koolaid.

7. Things I've learned in life? Sympathy for the dairy cows when the farmer is late for milking time.

Now, whom have I not tagged recently?
Pr Stuckwisch

Introducing New Hymns

A lot of ideas have been introduced with LSB as to how to teach congregations new hymns and new liturgies. The choir can sing new hymns as anthems a few times. The organist can play new hymn-tunes during the offering and as preservice music, so that the melody subliminally slips into people's minds.

But I've seen one thing that really helps. When there's a new hymn, the choir or kantor sings ONE stanza, and then the congregation sings stanza 2. That way the people have heard it and get to try it. Then whatever they flub up, they hear again correctly when the choir/kantor sings stanza 3. Then it's easier for them to correct their own mistakes. It works pretty well.