Saturday, February 21, 2009

Issues Etc

Just in case you haven't bumped into the information yet, the LCMS has threatened Issues Etc with a lawsuit over the use of the name and logo for the show. LCMS let lapse their/our ownership of the trademark nearly ten years ago. When Issues was originally put on the chopping block last year by synod, Jeff and Todd were allowed to use the name. The show came back. It's doing well. Now synod says that Todd and Jeff can't use the name.

If you think this is outrageous behavior on synod's part,
if you think that synod shouldn't be suing somebody they fired,
if you think that synod should put the matter to rest,
if you think that Todd and Jeff shouldn't have to worry about being sued,
if you want synod's limited dollars to go to something more edifying than legal fees for something like this,
if you think it's a wee bit hypocritical for synod to say that it's unChristian for anyone to sue them, whilst they go ahead and threaten to sue their members,

you might want to go check out the Issues Etc website for more information,

or just go directly to the petition to sign it.

Computer Working

I do believe that I've got the computer working now. (People aren't getting empty attachments from me along with emails anymore, are you?)

The computer tells me I still need to download the latest service pack for Windows. To do this, however, I have to turn OFF the spyware, the anti-virus, and the firewall. Oh, gosh, with the humongous number of messages I'm getting from the firewall saying "we blocked an attack again" I really really don't want to turn off the firewall. So the next choice would be to purchase the service pack and install it via CD. But if I'm going to spend money to do that, maybe I ought to just go ahead and buy the upgrade to Vista. And then I'd have a much safer system altogether.

For a while.
Until the bad-guys quit aiming their attacks at XP machines and take aim instead for Vista ones.

Woodmans Change

I don't know if this would apply to anybody but Rachel, but Kathy and Laura and SK and some others may want to know too. It used to be that "2 for $1" at Woodmans meant 50 cents each, whether you got one or two items. "4 for $3" meant 75 cents each, no matter whether you bought one or seven or four.

Well, except on frozen pizza. Then you actually had to buy the correct number to get the deal. I had conversations with clerks about this on several occasions.

It's changed now. At least at Oak Creek. So when you stock up on frozen veggies or smoothie fruit, count your packages to make sure you're getting the correct number.

Law and Statutes and Judgment, Oh My!

In Psalm 19 and Psalm 119, we hear lots of different words for what comes out of God's mouth. As I've said before, so often we hear people say that they "love God's law" because it shows me what I have to do to please Him, and once I know that, then I can just get to goin' on doing all those things, and then He'll just think I'm swell.

But I can't. And so I could never think of "loving God's law" since it showed me what to do and how to be. Well, actually, what I couldn't do and what I ought to have been but wasn't. Now, however, I can say that I "love God's law" in that it is what kills my enemy (my Old Adam). And I can say that I "love God's law" because it shows me who Jesus is, and that He is the perfect fulfillment of God's law.

But then we studied Leviticus and saw how MUCH of God's law is not about "rules" but about how God set up a sacrificial system to make atonement for sin. And that is another way to "love God's law."

When we read about God's judgment, it's not primarily about zotting those who don't measure up and condemning people to hell. It's mostly about the judgment upon Jesus, and how we are judged innocent because the wrath has already been propitiated.

When we read about keeping the law, it's not just rules -- but the Torah, the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses that include plenty of God's grace and promises for those who cannot obey the law as they ought.

When we read about the statutes of God, Psalm 105:7-11 can remind us that God's promise to Abraham [to bless the whole world through Abraham's seed, and to give them their eternal inheritance] is a statute, an everlasting covenant.

God gave us the ten commandments, along with all the commandments about how the sacrifices were to be performed and how the tabernacle was to be built. But we also pray in Psalm 71 about God's commandment to save us.

The testimonies are what has been "testified" or "attested to." So when Jesus says, "This is the new testament in My blood," that is certainly one testimony which the sinner's heart can cling to with joy and no fear. And Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will testify of Him and His work.

Psalm 111 tells us that the precepts of the Lord are the works of His hand, His truth, His redemption, His works, His covenant.

And of course God's word is not only an oral message (of both law and gospel) but God's Word --the eternal Son-- took on human skin and bones and came to live on earth and suffer in our place and die and rise again.

Today's Laugh

Some of my co-workers and I decided to remove the small, wooden suggestion box from our office because it had received so few entries. To get it out of the way, we stuck the box on top of a seven-foot-high metal storage cabinet and then promptly forgot about it. Months later, when the box was moved during remodeling, we found a single slip of paper inside. The suggestion read, "Lower the box!"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Despair or Arrogance

This is going to be obvious to the people at my church because we hear it ALL the time. But at one point it was very new to me, and it took a lot of repetitions for it to get through my skull.

Despair and arrogance are the same thing.

Self-righteousness comes in two forms. One form is that God has rules, and I've done a good job of living by the rules, so God sure must like me a lot! The other form is that God has rules, and I can't keep the rules, so God cannot love me and forgive me.

Both of these attitudes essentially boil down to a belief that we earn whatever we get from God. The only difference is some think they have earned it, and others know they haven't.

Both betray a lack of faith in God's compassion and undeserved MERCY.

Childish Things

Just wondering ...

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, "When that which is perfect has come, that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

So was Paul saying it was good or bad to have put off the "childish things"? I always figured it was good to get all grown up and put away the childish things. But what about "no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he receive it like a little child"? Sometimes growing up makes us more rationalistic so that we chafe against faith.

Today's Laugh

John wants to get his beautiful wife, Emma, something nice for their wedding anniversary. So he decides to buy her a cell telephone. Emma is excited; she loves her phone. John shows her and explains to her all the different and varied features on the phone.

On Monday Emma goes shopping in the local supermarket. Her phone rings and it's her husband. "Hi ya, Emma," he says, "how do you like your new phone?"

Emma replies, "I just love it. It's so small and light and your voice is clear as a bell. But there's one feature that I really don't understand."

"What's that, Emma?" asks the husband.

"How did you know that I was at Wal-Mart?"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Morality in the 30s

During the Great Depression, people did not steal from their neighbors' gardens. If a homeless person wanted to beg food, he would ask, or offer to work for it.

If our society falls to pieces, if people are short of food, if people are short of clothing or other needs, what would become of those who had supplies? Even if most of my neighbors were honest, could I really anticipate that ALL of them would be, so that I could expect to harvest the fruit from my fruit trees, or gather the lettuces from my garden?

I suspect that the entitlement mentality of the recent decades, alongside the indoctrination that we're only just [evolved] animals after all, in conjunction with the lack of time parents spend with their kids, will result in "coping strategies" that are criminal and that would've been unthinkable to those who lived during the Great Depression.

I hated the book "The Call of the Wild."

God's Body

One of our psalms today is 115.

[Their idols] have mouths, but they do not speak;
eyes they have, but they do not see;
they have ears, but they do not hear;
noses they have, but they do not smell,
they have hands, but they do not handle;
feet they have, but they do not walk;
nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
so is everyone who trusts in them.

Our God has a mouth, and He talked to His disciples with it. (As well as talking to Moses and Abraham and a few other people.) Our God has eyes and ears and a nose like we have. He took on human flesh. His hands touched the diseased and hugged His mom. His feet walked around Judea and Galilee, and trampled Satan.

I guess I'd always thought before that these verses meant that our God is real and alive while the idols are just inanimate things made by some human. But it's more than that. Our God is not only alive and real, but is a Man who has a body and a face and all the parts we have.


We often read in the Gospels about the miracles Jesus performed, and we like those stories of how the crippled people were made to walk, or the blind were made to see, or the dead were raised back to life, or the lepers were cleansed. Pastor has pointed out, though, that these healings were not ends in themselves, but were signs to the true healing that comes when our flesh is raised from the cemetery on the Last Day. After all, Lazarus had to die again. Peter's mother-in-law, though healed by Jesus, did eventually die one day.

I think too often we look for the temporal goodies God has to offer. The healing from illness. The money to solve our poverty. Hearing given to the deaf. But in our self-centeredness and our love of comfort, we take our eyes and hearts away from the true healing and instead lust after the temporal/temporary ones.

There is one line I love in Macbeth. (Okay. There's more than one. But there's one I'm thinking of right now.) Macbeth's henchmen hit up Macduff's house while Macduff is away. They kill his wife and children. The messenger arrives to announce the news to Macduff. Macduff asks how his family is doing. And the messenger answers truly that, actually, right now, they're doing great.

Do we really believe that?

Profit in Blood?

I cried out to You, O Lord;
and to the Lord I made supplication:
"What profit is there in my blood,
when I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper!"
(Psalm 30)

David wrote those words. I imagine them to be saying, "Hey, God, what good is it if I die? Y'know, I can't tell people about You if I'm dead. I can't praise you if I'm dead. Have mercy on me and help me."

And maybe that is what he's saying. I don't know.

But all the psalms belong in Jesus' mouth too.

And right now I'm thinking that Jesus knew why He went to the cross. What profit is there in His blood? Only the righting of all that is wrong. Only the redemption of sinners. Only the reversal of weeds and earthquakes and storms and violence.
The curse I choose
that thou mightst lose
sin's curse and guilt forever.
My gift of love
from heaven above
will give thee blessing ever.
(TLH 150)

Will the dust praise God? Will the dust declare His truth? From the psalm, I thought the answer was supposed to be "no." But isn't the answer "yes"? Man is dust. And we do praise Him. We do declare the wondrous truth that He has saved us and joined us to Himself, that He has had mercy, that He has been our Helper.

And we do that only because there is "profit in His blood."
He is our Treasure.


I keep bumping into people who seem
1) surprised that I think inflation is a certainty, and
2) can't really understand why I care about inflation.

As for the second one, I suddenly realized that much of the country doesn't know what it's like to live with inflation. Actually, I'm about the youngest of the folks who do. I got my first jobs during the Carter years. I took my high-school and college econ classes during the Carter years. My husband and I were engaged during the Carter years and started planning out our budget and looking for apartments. Some of the money we received as wedding gifts was invested in a CD that paid 18% ... just before a new president changed some policies and began to rein in inflation. (So we really benefited from the rates on that CD!)

People younger than I am didn't have the experience of "buy it NOW because it's going to be more expensive next month!" People younger than I am don't remember what it's like to have a passbook saving account that paid the standard 5% interest (which sounds outrageously high now, in the days of 0.4% interest) and have that money be losing losing losing value.

As for the first (that inflation is a certainty) there is a simple economic principle. If the government has to start printing money to pay out what it wishes to subsidize, then there's more money without anything of value to back it up -- no wealth created but just more paper dollars floating around. This can't do anything BUT result in inflation.* And so when I "worry" about inflation, it's not speculation or irrational fear; it's just an expectation that things will happen according to the way they must happen. If you push the car off the cliff, it will fall and crash, because gravity is an unavoidable law. If you crank up the govt printing presses, we will see inflation. Actually, right now, what I expect to happen with inflation might make the double-digit inflation of the Carter years (that is, just barely slipping past the single-digits) look like "the good old days."

*If this isn't obvious to you, there's a simple book, written for kids, that explains economics in a most understandable way. If only we could get all the Congressmen to read it! Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury should be available at your library, and it can be read in a few hours or less. But you oughtn't read it that quickly, so that you have time to let it soak in, and time to figure out the ramifications of what he's explaining. Don't let it intimidate you because it's economics; it's perfect for pre-teens and even for bright 3rd-graders.

Today's Laugh

Did you ever stop to think ....

and then forget to start again?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Comfort Food

We've been listening to some Garrison Keillor tales, including ones about Lutherans and eating.

A little later I was making mashed potatoes for supper, and wondering how often a person would bother making mashed potatoes if he was cooking only for one person. But mashies are one of the easiest ways to serve potatoes to a crowd. There are certain foods that are much easier to make for 1 or 2 people, and other foods that I'd rather make for a crowd. When you're feeding a big family (or 30 or 100 people at a church dinner), it's simpler to serve spaghetti than stir-fry, easier to serve meatloaf and mashed potatoes than chicken-stuffed crepes.

Does it seem that "comfort food" is usually the kind of thing that is more likely to be served in a family-sized crowd? Mac-n-cheese. Beef-n-noodles. Chicken-noodle soup or chili.

It makes me wonder if those kinds of food remind us of days/years past when we ate with a bigger crowd of cousins, or with many siblings around the table. And maybe that's part of the reason it evokes comforting memories?



In high-school biology, I didn't dissect anything. My lab partner didn't want to do the lab write-ups and reports, and I didn't want to cut or look at anything. He did the dissections and told me what to write (while I tried not to throw up), and I made it sound good for the teacher. A lovely symbiotic relationship!!

Needless to say, we don't dissect things in our homeschool. A kid can get that opportunity from some teacher at a community college if he needs to.

Sunday, at the education fair (like a science fair, but history and art and music are welcome too), one of the girls there was dissecting a cow eyeball. My kids watched. I hid in a different room and socialized there instead of being educated about eyeballs. Well, I suppose it was a good experience for my students.


Today's Laugh

One beautiful morning, my husband and I decided to go for a drive in the country. Unfortunately, no matter which road we took, we kept seeing dead raccoons lying on the shoulder.

After several miles of this, my husband turned to me and said, "Now I think I know the answer to the age-old question 'Why did the chicken cross the road?'"

"What is it?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "it was to prove to the raccoons that it could be done."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dumb Cat

The cat loves fresh, running water.

The cat hears me brushing my teeth. Ah ha! That means running water.

She comes galloping into the bathroom, wheels around the corner, leaps onto the toilet as a jump-point to make it to the counter by the sink, and discovers ...

the toilet lid is up.

I never saw a cat scramble out of a toilet so quickly!!!


The interstate highway system was built not to make it easier to visit Grandma, not to make the drive to your vacation destination quicker, but for military purposes. The highways provide a way to move troops and equipment around the country in a timely way. They also can be pressed into service as landing strips for airplanes should an emergency arise.

But something else crossed my mind. What if "the walls are breached"? Then the interstate system allows for the enemy to make inroads into the country much more easily.

I remember in the Luther movie, where Cajetan was telling Luther that the Turks were at the door of Vienna and here was Luther making a silly little commotion about theology. You know, Vienna is not that far from Wittenberg! That would be (for me) like having the enemy attacking St Louis, not just New York or San Francisco. And yet, given that we are one nation and not a bunch of feudal states, and given that we do have a system whereby we can easily move around the country, there really isn't any safety in being far away from the battle-lines, is there?

So the roads that are designed to help with defense could very well make it easier for the country to be overrun too.

The Way Out of Temptation

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Cor 10:16)

This is our Bible verse for the week, and it is connected to our focus on the Lord's Supper for the next few weeks. In the context of yesterday's [three-year series] epistle which follows shortly after this passage, it has a lot to say about closed communion.

But what I'm noticing is what comes prior to the verse-of-the-week. Earlier in the chapter we hear about the Israelites' idolatry, and how their unbelief resulted in sexual immorality, sassing the prophet, complaining, and tempting Christ. And then Paul says, "Hey, there's a reason I'm telling you this, so that you can watch out for yourselves and your own sinful nature."

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

And then what does he say? He says to "flee temptation" and starts right in on talking about the Holy Communion.

Like as if it's the "way of escape." Like as if it would set our faith aright. Like as if that true faith and that connectedness to Christ's holy body and the Church would result in behavior consistent with right faith, so that we might behave rightly right alongside believing rightly.

Today's Laugh

Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.

Monday, February 16, 2009


We were reading in Bible class recently about Jonah and how he was ready, after being in the great fish, to fulfill his vows. Roger brought up the connection to Psalm 116 which we sing in the offertory: I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people. What are those vows anyway?

We so often think of vows as my promises of what I will do (with the Holy Spirit's help, of course).

Pastor asked us, instead, to think of vows as confessions of faith. In baptism when we renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways, when we make a vow that we will hold to the faith in the Creed, these are not ideas that I come up with about what I will do. Rather, it is the New Man of faith in me --Christ in me-- who desires these things. And since I am in Christ, and He is in me, and I trust in Him, and He has joined me to Himself, therefore I will of course confess the truth. So my vows are not made because of arm-twisting, or because I have been conquered, or because I am showing off my piety. But my vows are made because I am agreeing that what God says/wants is true and good.

Psalm 147

Our psalm-0f-the-week last week was 147. I was confused. There was all this good stuff: God sends rain for the grass to grow, He feeds the animals, He makes the stars twinkle, He forgives our sin, He protects us from harm, etc. Aren't those nice, happy things?

But then there was the part about snow and hail and frost and cold. Now, to my way of thinking, those are bad things. I like summer! I am not interested in snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. When I asked, "So are those things good too?" Pastor answered, "Of course, because they are from God."

Snow? Good. Hmmm.

But as he continued to talk, I began to realize that I'd asked the wrong question. I should've asked, "Are those happy things?" Pastor was making the point that what God ordains is always good, even if it's illness or poverty or death. Or snow and hail and cold. Or illness or poverty or death.

Genesis 2:8

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

God created this lovely home, full of already-grown trees and canes and shrubs and vines, and put Adam there to tend it. Adam didn't have to start from scratch.

That's what God did for Israel too. When He brought them out of Egypt, He sent them into Canaan where they would receive houses already built, vines already mature and producing, fig trees that they did not have to plant themselves, and even barns that already had critters in them.

Today's Laugh

The 8-yr-old boy had never spoken a word -- ever. One afternoon, as he sat eating his lunch he turned to his mother and said, "Soup's cold."

His astonished mother exclaimed, "Son, I've waited so long to hear you speak. But all these years you never said anything. Why haven't you spoken before?"

The boy looked at her and replied, "Up until now, everything's been okay."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why I Blog

Someone told me once that I had no business blogging if I were going to say anything theological and then not engage in whatever debates might arise from it, and then this person told me I ought to shut down my blog. That conversation crosses my mind whenever somebody asks, "So why do you do that?" or "Don't you think you should consider using your time in a different way?"

I started blogging because Maggie's open-heart surgery was coming up. With previous surgeries, there were SO many phone calls to make, so many people waiting to hear the news from each day. Hospitals now having "caring bridge" websites which certainly help with updating the loved ones. Instead, I started a blog.

Now, I blog for a couple of reasons. One is to show pictures of my grand-daughter to my mommy. (I really ought to put up some pictures of the house too.) Similarly, it lets me keep my kids and my mommy and a few friends up-to-date on the mundane aspects of life, so that during phone calls we don't have to get up-to-speed on those things.

Another reason to blog is because sometimes there are things I've figured out that other people want to know: kombucha brewing, or my bleach-and-milk stain remover, or stove-cleaning. A blog is also a handy place to store recipes or to share them with friends who asked for a particular recipe.

And then I also blog about things that I'm pondering from church or about something Pastor said that I want to remember. I don't write those things for anybody but me; it's an entirely selfish endeavor. It helps me think through those concepts, or remember them. Or sometimes it's just that it's easier to write a paragraph on my blog than attempting to squeeze it into the margin of my Bible, and it's easier to find those notes later when I have only a vague recollection of the topic (seeing as how the blog has a "search" feature while my Bible has tissue-papery pages that have to be flipped by hand).

So now, with my computer-time being SO limited, and the computer being relatively inaccessible, my brain is filling up with stuff I want to remember, but cannot think about and ponder whilst my brain is full and whilst my body is busy/distracted by the laundry and the dishes and the onion-chopping which all need to be done. For those who know what's in Dumbledore's office, my blog is my pensieve. And I get discombobulated when my pensieve is unavailable to me.

Computer Repairs

Weeks spent hobbling through days with a computer that wasn't functioning properly. A day here, or two days there, spent researching problems and fixing and repairing. And the machine got sicker and sicker. After two full days early last week of finding bigger problems every time I "fixed" something, I gave up. I was going to wipe the hard-drive and reinstall everything and start fresh.

So, with much trepidation I did so. It took two days, and I thought I was almost done. Things were working properly. I had begun loading back into the computer WordPerfect and the driver for the printer and Adobe Reader and all those things. I hadn't yet put back the photos and the word-processing documents, but I had re-installed the old emails and the addresses.

And the garbage came back.
The spyware is nabbing the nasties again.
Hard-to-eradicate trojan horses are back on the computer.
And the system is beginning to be unstable again (that is, shutting itself down of its own accord).

So, back to the drawing board.
I get to re-wipe the hard-drive, and re-re-install all the programs.

But now I'm skeptical.
I think the personal files I backed up are done for.

A couple of people told me to try deleting all the emails that have attachments and then going through the process. Maybe I won't lose ALL the emails this way. I'm still pondering whether I want to try that, knowing that it might not work, and that I might be stuck with yet another re-install this week. Of course, if that happens, I'll be getting better and better at all this computer stuff.

One person suggested running a virus-scan on the external hard-drive where the emails were backed up. That might tell me something before I resort to deleting all those precious old files.

My thought was to go ahead and re-install all my personal files on the contaminated machine, and spend several days printing out whatever I find that I absolutely must keep (certain letters, kids' high-school transcripts, articles I've written for magazines, etc). I'm also wondering if it would be spreading the infection if I sent all our digital photos to Walgreens for regular print-copies and/or uploaded a bunch of them to blogger before I lose them. When that is done, I could just wipe everything off the computer and reload nothing personal.

Y'know, a person prays for self-discipline. So God says, "Okay, here's what we'll do. I'll take the computer away from you so that you can't keep wasting time on it."

So now four of us are sharing Gary's computer. That computer is in the cold basement, downstairs, away from the family, away from whatever is cooking on the stove (and ought not to be burning!), in the dark. I am, against my will, learning to not be quite so dependent on the computer. Even though I am spending unbelievable numbers of hours trying to make these repairs (as Lauri mentioned happens at her house too), I am learning to skip some topics on my homeschool email list, and I am learning that the world will not come to an end if I don't read all the blogs I want to read. But I betcha I haven't learned that lesson well enough yet....

Today's Laugh

A blonde woman was sick and tired of all these blonde jokes and how all blondes are perceived as stupid. She made up her mind that she would show her husband that blondes really are smart.

One day, while he was at work, she purchased a can of paint and decided to repaint the living room. Her husband arrived home at 5:30 and smelled the distinctive odor of paint. He walked into the living room and found his wife lying on the floor in a pool of sweat. He observed that she was wearing a ski jacket as well as a fur coat. He went over to her and asked if she was OK. She acknowledged that she was.

He then asked what she was doing. She replied that she had set out to prove to him that not all blondes are dumb and, to do so, she had elected to paint the living room. He then asked why she was wearing both a ski jacket and a fur coat. Her response was that she had read the directions on the paint can which said, "For best results, put on two coats."