Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Few More Wedding Pictures

The pictures of Jenna and Tina and Karen being escorted in didn't come out. Not enough light in the picture. Kinda freaky that Maggie's picture turned out fine.

About to throw the bouquet --

Kinda funny picture, Matt with his armful of decorative tulle to be stashed in somebody's trunk --

Some pretty nice men --

Words of Law or Gospel?

If you've seen Everybody Loves Raymond or any number of movies with a stereotypical Jewish (or Polish or Greek or Italian) mother, you know the jokes about how mothers can heap guilt onto a kid. Spoken with many a sigh and a pained look on the face -- "Of course, you can go to the beach with your friends on my birthday. Don't mind me. I'm just your mother. I spent 37 hours in labor bringing you into the world. I changed your diapers and sacrificed myself for you in countless ways. It's not important to me that you spend a few hours with me on my birthday. I live to make you happy. And if being with your friends is what makes you happy, then you have my blessing to go to the beach with your friends while you ignore your mother. I just want you to be happy!"

I'm beginning to see that some pastors and many of our Christian friends are capable of the same thing.

Look at the bald words: "Trust Me." With tone of voice and facial expression, some pastors can make those words into a law or demand that condemns us because we don't "do" the trusting well enough. But those words can also be seen as a comfort: "I have poured out my life for you. I want only the best for you. You can trust Me. I have saved you, and I love you. I forgive you and will do everything to bring you into the safety of heaven with Me. It's okay; I've got it all under control; you can trust Me."

Some Christians will talk about vocation by saying that we are free in the Gospel to do whatever we want. Then they will say, "So, what do you want to do?" with a tone of voice that implies there really is no freedom. Those who are truly captivated by the Gospel will, on the other hand, say the same words but somehow suggest --with no manipulation, no arm-twisting, no scolding-- that we truly are free. This freedom and forgiveness creates in us a new heart which actually does desire to do what's right ... without compulsion.

Same thing can happen with "Go and sin no more" or "Be fruitful and multiply" or "Follow Me" or "Love one another" or any number of other words from God.

It is amazing how we can take a word from our Savior, a word that shows His mercy and His commitment to us, a word which shows Him to be gentle and wooing and kind, and somehow manage to turn those words into manipulation that we might expect from a sinful person that uses a pretense of self-sacrifice as a tool to get what he wants.

Does this mean there should be no law preached? Of course not. Christians need the law until they've "assumed room temperature." What I am speaking about is the sinful nature's propensity to twist even sweet words of Gospel into Law.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recent Pictures of Alia

All That Jesus Did

The last verse of John's Gospel states: There are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Turn the page in your Bible. The very next verse, the beginning of Acts, states: The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach ...

John says there's no way to record everything Jesus did. Luke says he wrote to Theophilus "all" that Jesus began to do and teach. Some might think this is a contradiction.

But IF "all" that Jesus did and taught was intertwined with His suffering and death for the salvation of sinners, then Luke did tell it all. He might not have included every single detail. As John says, there are plenty of other stories that were not told in his gospel. But that doesn't mean the story wasn't all told.

If all of Scripture is about Christ, and about God's love and mercy poured out to us, and how He saved us, then both John and Luke are right about the level of "completeness" to their gospel accounts. But if it's all about mere history and/or tales, then one of those guys is wrong.

The Trumpet

Our psalm for the week is an ascension psalm, #47.
God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

Speaking of the Second Coming, Paul points out in 1 Thessalonians 4:
The Lord Himself will descend from heaven
with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel,
and with the with trumpet of God.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Same Jesus

Acts 1:11 -- "Men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven."

In Acts 2, Peter preached about Jesus. The Jesus who walked among them. The Jesus who preached in the synagogues and temple. The Jesus they had nailed to the cross. "This Jesus" God has raised up from the dead. "This Jesus" God has made to be Lord and Christ.

At the ascension, the disciples hear that "this Jesus" was taken up into heaven and will come again in the same way He went into heaven. THIS Jesus. Not a "spiritual" Jesus. Not an ephemeral Jesus. Not some god-guy Jesus. THIS Jesus. The one with a body. The one with fingernails and bones and eyelashes. The one with pierced hands and feet and side.

So many Christians think that Jesus is no longer a man. But Jesus never quit being a man. He still has a body. A man --THE Man-- sits on heaven's throne. "This Jesus" --the one whose body, born of Mary, that our sins and sorrows did carry-- is reigning now and will return.

Thou hast raised our human nature
on the clouds to God's right hand.
There we sit in heavenly places;
there with Thee in glory stand.
Jesus reigns, adored by angels.
Man with God is on the throne.
Mighty Lord, in Thine ascension,
we by faith behold our own.

Piano Practice

It's 82°. The sheets are drying on the line and smell luscious. I'm wearing a tanktop and wanting to get outside to read aloud to Maggie from a new book. And what is floating through the airwaves indoors?

Incessant repetitions of JINGLE BELLS.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

David Anointed King

Our story today was from 1 Samuel 16. Interestingly, the story starts with God saying that He will provide for Himself a king, just like Abraham said in Genesis 22 that God would provide for Himself a lamb for the burnt offering in place of Isaac.

I asked why God didn't just make the right guy king in the first place. Why start with Saul who ended up turning away from the Lord? Is it because of the pattern through Scripture, where there always seems to be a replacement? Jesus is the New Adam. Pastor said that would be part of it. But he said it's also because it was catechetical for the people. They rejected their Lord; they insisted on a king; they received what they asked for; they learned that it was not good. What God had for them was good. But they had to learn experientially that their sinful desires brought them only trouble.


Paul isn't having much luck finding a summer job. Right now, he's thinking about taking a 3-week job at his college, right smack dab in the middle of summer. Those three weeks would pay as much as a 15-hr-per-week job for the whole summer. So it's a risk. Does he grab the little job while he still can, even if it makes other jobs unavailable, or does he keep trying for a full-time job that would last for 12 weeks? The job at college would look a whole lot better on his resumé.

I keep looking at the want ads too. Gary's hours were cut again. It was kind of shocking to realize that we'd be better off (financially) now if we'd stayed at our old home/congregation with no paycheck but only the parsonage to live in, because Gary would still have his teaching for CUW and I'd still have my part-time job. So we're trying to figure this out. If I got a job, would I earn enough to compensate for the frugality measures we'd probably forego? If I got a job, would we have to put Maggie in school? Can we get good enough at gardening --and turn enough yard into garden-- that we can drastically cut the food bill? Is there anything I can do (maid work? painting?) that would permit the kids to work with me and not have to be micro-managed by the govt (as catering or baking would)? Is our family ready for money-earning to be a higher priority for me than teaching/cooking/housekeeping?

Thankfully, Gary still has a job; there have not been lay-offs at his company. And thankfully, we have a neighbor who has tilled up a nice big patch of the back yard for us (and tilled repeatedly) so that we can get started on gardening without loads of grass pestering us. And also thankfully, we have another neighbor who has a big pile of horse manure and straw available free for anyone who wants to haul it. As I'm looking at the seed catalogs, the heirloom seeds are looking mighty attractive, in that I would not have to keep buying seeds year after year, but could just save them.