Saturday, March 14, 2009

Word Processor

I've been doing some work at church which involves extracting old word-processing files from a word-processor. It's not a computer. It's from the days prior to PCs being a normal and customary possession of pastors. The secretary at church joked the other day about the terrible clacking noises I was making, and her eyes popped a bit when she saw the old-fashioned screen, black background, green computer letters. And this things is HUGE.

But the thing I'm so proud of is that I figured out how to turn it on, how to insert the floppies, how to maneuver around the text directory, and how to print. Woo hoo! Success! And these old machines are not quite so intuitive to use as the computers we have today.

It takes almost two minutes to print one page of text, and each sheet of paper needs to be hand-inserted like in a typewriter. That makes even my old [pokey] printer seem instantaneous. Theoretically, I think this gives me some time to read whenever I need to print out an old sermon or lecture.

My biggest problem so far is when I find myself groping around for the [non-existent] mouse, wanting to highlight something, or change windows. Nope. Not gonna happen. It's amazing to see what's happened to computers in the last two decades.


Skimming through today's mail, I saw an invitation from a certain seminary for pastors to attend a Day of Homiletical Reflection -- essentially a workshop on preaching. And the guy doing the presenting has a ponytail.

Now, I know I'm not supposed to judge a book by its cover. And I know there are some pretty great men out there who have (or had) long hair.

But still... there's something in me that squirms over the thought that the guy who is going to give instruction to pastors in how to preach
is a guy with a ponytail.

Today's Laugh

If the world were logical, men would ride side-saddle.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sign of the Cross

From the baptismal liturgy:
Receive the sign of the holy cross,
both upon your forehead
and upon your breast,
to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.

Lily goes about her day, playing dress-up and drawing pictures and eating her sandwich. The sign of the cross is there, on her forehead, though not visible to the eye. I saw her pastor put it there on the day of her baptism. It's there.

Frederick likewise goes about his day, playing cars and helping Mommy with his baby sister. The sign of the holy cross is on his forehead too.

When you leave your dad's hospital room, and give him a good-night kiss on the forehead, there too is the sign of the holy cross on his forehead. It's been there a good deal longer than has Lily's or Fredo's. But that's okay -- it's meant to be there for all eternity. It doesn't wear off.

The angels see the cross on my forehead. The demons see it too. But we humans don't. At least, not with our eyeballs. We see it only by faith. (Well, except on Ash Wednesday.)

That's why we cross ourselves.
As a way to "see" it.

When a person goes to confession, the pastor says, "I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" as he traces that cross (received first in baptism) upon the person's forehead once again.

When we cross ourselves at the beginning of the Service ("In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit") it's because we have been baptized and are gathered in the name of the God to whom we are all joined. The sign of the cross is the sign that we have been baptized into His death. And when we cross ourselves at the end of the Creed ("the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting") it's because, if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, we shall also surely be united in the likeness of His resurrection.

When we cross ourselves at the end of the Lord's Prayer ("deliver us from evil") it's because the cross is what delivers us from evil, and our baptism is what assures that deliverance for us.

Sometimes instead of the "regular" sign of the cross, I need to trace the little cross on my forehead and the little cross over my heart. It helps me remember that this business of signing myself is about baptism -- that it is the absolution applied to this mortal flesh -- and that God made these marks on me when He claimed me, even if I was too little to remember it. When I'm praying the psalms, the sign of the cross helps teach me that these prayers are what I can say because I am united to Christ.

It's a wonder, sometimes, to look around the nave and "see" the cross on the foreheads of the saints gathered there. Some of us touch that cross as we "cross ourselves" and some of us don't. But the mark that shows that we have been claimed by King of the Universe, claimed as His sons, is there for all the angelic realm to see. If only I could remember what it means as easily as they can see it.

Today's Laugh

thinking of Wendi --

and thinking of Uncle Ray --

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Is this a universal law of physics? Or is it valid only at my house?

Within 24 hours of mopping the floor, there MUST be an orange-juice spill or spilled milk or a whole plateful of supper dumped on the floor.

Without fail.


Today's Laugh

John H. Gerstner was once speaking to a group of business people on justification, and there was a journalist in attendance representing a local newspaper. Gerstner says, "I preached justification emphatically, clearly, earnestly, and I hoped, persuasively. It was, therefore, rather discouraging to learn from the newspaper account that I had spoken the night before on the theme of 'Just a vacation by faith!'"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Sunday's epistle from Romans 5:
We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Now, when I hear the word "character," I think of Calvin and Hobbes, and how Calvin's dad takes the family camping (though they detest it) because it will "build character." And if it rains while camping, so much the better. There are all sorts of miserable things that Calvin endures because Dad says they will "build character."

And I'm thinking, "This is NOT a good picture of character for fitting into this Bible verse." This verse is NOT about toughening myself up so that I get stronger and have a "good character."

When I looked up the Greek word and found where else it was used, and how else it is translated, it's almost like the word could be translated "having been proved" or "having come through testing."

So as tonight's sermon touched on, the tribulations strip us of reliance on ourselves. God's Spirit brings us through the trials and tribulations (i.e., we "persevere") entirely by His grace, as we become more and more aware that our strength garners nothing. And then we come through the testing. This results in hope -- the hope of heaven with Jesus -- because God's love has been poured into us, because we have been justified by Jesus' blood, because He has chosen us and made us His own.

So this is in no way about toughening ourselves up.

And it's a good thing it's not!

That Stack of Books

I have been doing more schoolwork with the kids, but still I feel like I'm not doing enough, like I'm letting them down, like they deserve more attention and guidance.

So here's what happens. This evening Gary sits down in the living room with his work-computer and a pile of jobs that need to be accomplished before he goes in to the office tomorrow morning. And there's a pile of books, oh, about a foot high, on the coffee table. Surely these are not all in use, right? Surely they can be put away, right? Surely they don't need to be hogging the coffee table.

I looked at the stack. And would you believe it? Every single book on that stack was used for school TODAY.

Maybe I'm not doing nothing.

(But it's still not enough.
I gotta solve that.)

Today's Laugh

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sticky Rice

I like my basmati to have no crunch and yet no mushiness, and for the rice not to be sticky. Normally that's how it turns out. Sometimes it's sticky, which would be great if I wanted to use chopsticks. Which I don't! I never knew, though, why it would turn out differently.

I think I figured it out. The other day I was trying to make everything come out at the right time to be done for supper. Because of whatever-it-was I was doing, we started the rice on low heat and let it cook for longer than normal. It turned out STICKY.

So that must be the key. If I want the rice to turn out the way I like, I need to bring the rice and water to a boil over high heat, and then let it simmer for the rest of the cooking time. If I want sticky rice, it needs to start over low heat and stay on low heat. Seems simple enough, now that I know....

Credit Line

Philip's loan application for a condo has been turned down. His credit rating is great, but he doesn't have enough credit lines for the bank to okay him for a mortgage.

He had no need for a credit card and preferred to use a debit card. But now we're discovering that there's a different sort of need for a credit card, even if you use it only for filling the gas tank and make sure it's paid off in full each month. That would be another line of credit that he could use to prove himself.

The loan officer told him he needed three credit lines and has only one. Since he has a monthly phone bill, I guess that means his apartment during his last year of college doesn't count, and apparently neither does paying off his college loans, although those probably do contribute to his excellent credit rating.

Now it's a matter of deciding whether he wants to rent an apartment or continue to live at home a little longer, building up a bigger downpayment on a mortgage and taking on two somethings to prove himself credit-worthy.

This makes me realize that it's probably a good thing that I was paying the phone bill at the parsonage. For most of our marriage, we had only one credit card. I saw no use for extras. We didn't have rent or mortgage payments, being in the parsonage. The church was supposed to be paying the utility bills, so we didn't have heat or electricity or garbage pick-up bills to prove our credit-worthiness. Not long after we arrived there, though, a monthly phone bill wasn't paid. I'd paid the long-distance fees to the church so that the treasurer could remit payment, and was shocked to find the following month that the phone company hadn't even received the part of the phone bill that I'd paid. Seeing as how the bill was in our name (not church's), I was not pleased about our credit reputation being affected by church's non-payment habits. So I started paying the phone bill myself. And it's a good thing: when we applied for the mortgage on the house, we had our one long-term credit card, our phone bills, and the only other credit line we had was a rarely-used dept-store card we'd taken a couple of years earlier so that we could knock $50 off the price of my new mixer. That was our three. I'm glad we stumbled into those last two.

Today's Laugh

There was a feud between the pastor and the choir director of The Hicksville Southern Baptist Church.

It seems the first hint of trouble came when the pastor preached on "dedicating yourselves to service" and the choir director chose to sing "I Shall Not Be Moved."

Trying to believe it was a coincidence, the pastor put the incident behind him. The next Sunday he preached on "giving." Afterwards, the choir squirmed as the director led them in the hymn "Jesus Paid It All."

By this time, the pastor was losing his temper. Sunday morning attendance swelled as the tension between the two built. A large crowd showed up the next week to hear his sermon on "the sin of gossiping." Would you believe the choir director selected "I Love To Tell The Story"?

There was no turning back. The following Sunday the pastor told the congregation that unless something changed he was considering resignation. The entire church gasped when the choir director led them in "Why Not Tonight?"

Truthfully, no one was surprised when the Pastor resigned a week later, explaining that Jesus had led him there and Jesus was leading him away. The choir director could not resist: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Today's Laugh

Steven Spielberg was discussing his new project. It's a drama about famous composers, starring top stars. Sylvester Stallone, Steven Segal, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all present. Spielberg was prepared to allow them to select whatever composers they would portray, as long as they were very famous.

"Well," started Stallone, "I've always admired Mozart. I would love to play him."

"Chopin has always been my favorite, and my image would improve if people saw me playing the piano," said Willis.

"I've always been partial to Strauss and his waltzes," said Segal.

Spielberg was very pleased with these choices. "Sounds splendid." Then, looking at Schwarzenegger, he asked, "Who do you want to be, Arnold?"

So Arnold said, "I'll be Bach."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Jesus Walked on Water

So I'm doing some hunting for information on icons, and I'm looking for something on the icon of Jesus Walking on the Water. As I'm googling fruitlessly prior to a library-run, I find a variety of things that make me bust out laughing.

-- Snopes suggests that Jesus didn't walk on water, but was on a patch of fast-freezing ice floating in the sea.

-- A headline on insufficient archeological proof about Jesus and His ministry: "Did Jesus Walk on Water? Prof Can't Find Footprints."

-- And finally, a suggestion that maybe Jesus walked on the water because He couldn't swim.

Oh yeah.

Make Her a Mathematician

Alia is big enough to grab things now, but most of today's toys are too big for little hands. (We wouldn't want them to choke, now, would we?) I've got some old-fashioned toys that she could get her little fingers around, but at the moment of this picture, the only thing within reach was Andrew's compass for geometry. So she was enjoying that. Problem was, it was too long, and she couldn't figure out how to get the end of it in her mouth ... which is, after all, the only point in grabbing anything, right? Her puzzlement provided much amusement for the big people.

(By the way, for you homeschoolers who have yet to get to geometry, I love these compasses. No holes in the textbook or notebook. No temptation to poke your sister.)

The Love of Christ Proclaim

Today we sang,
Lift high the cross,
the love of Christ proclaim,
till all the world adore His sacred name.

I never noticed until today:
the cross IS what proclaims the love of Christ.

And "till" isn't just some time-thing. Rather, it is the proclamation of Christ's love (seen in the cross) which brings people to faith that they might adore Him.

One Year

It's our anniversary here.