Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Wretched Scullery Maid

Matt Harrison writes in "A Little Book on Joy" regarding the paradox of the holiness of the Church even though Christendom is divided, full of sinners, with flawed leaders, and plagued by false doctrine:

This is at once disturbing and comforting.... It is comforting because --despite its outward appearance, despite the fact that there have been times in the history of the church when the pure teaching of the Gospel all but disappeared from the public confession of the Church and its practice-- nevertheless, the "gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The Church endures because Christ endures...." (page 164)

My pastor has an additional reason to explain the comfort found in the simultaneous aspects of the Church's holiness and her sinfulness.

I am a saint and sinner. If I expect a sinless Church, then what does it say about me who is not sinless? The holiness of the Church is an article of faith [as per the Creeds] and not something we see. As I learn to believe that, I learn to believe that my own holiness is an article of faith, a gift of God, a declaration that is true even when my experience is less-than-holy.

If God can call the Church "holy," then maybe He can call ME "holy" too.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Whatever God Pleases

The Lord is great.
Our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, He does,
in heaven and in earth,
in the seas and in all deep places. (Psalm 135:5-6)

God gets to do whatever He wants to do. He is the head honcho, the bigwig, the super guy who gets His way. Everything bends to what He wants.

If it were us, there would be maniacal, power-hungry laughter:
mwaaaa haaaa haaa haaa ha!

So ...
what does God want to do, since He can do whatever He wants?

It pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed,
He shall prolong His days,
and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53)

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor His delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
who put their hope in His mercy. (Psalm 147)

Whatever He wants to do, He can do, eh?

No wonder God said "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sick Maggie

Maggie has not been healthy since she first came down with that bad cold on December 14. The round of antibiotics seemed to have no effect on the coughing. And then she started throwing up. So we needed to get back to the doctor.

When we first moved here, two doctors came highly recommended. The one in town was not accepting new patients, so we went to the one 15 minutes away. We think he's great, but he just recently moved to a new office yet further away. So today we visited the doctor in town. Oh my goodness! He's wonderful too!

Maggie got on the scale today and my eyes about popped out. She's lost 17 pounds in the last three weeks. I guess that's what comes from not being able to keep any food down for five whole days.

Doctor first suspected asthmatic bronchitis. But when he heard her wheeze through a coughing spell, he wondered about whooping cough. So she is on antibiotics for germies, steroids for the inflammation in her lungs, an inhaler, and non-narcotic cough pearls (perles?). When the radiologist saw Mag's x-ray, he was concerned about a spot on her lung which might be pneumonia, but given the absence of fever, it's likely that the spot is from her collapsed lung following the surgery four years ago.

Things are improving. In the last several hours she has eaten a banana, a small bowl of applesauce, and two crackers! Whoo hooo! We're headed in the right direction! This is a big relief.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sacrifices of Joy

In Psalm 27, David writes, "I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle."

What is that?

A sacrifice of joy? If it's joy, why is it a sacrifice? If it's a sacrifice, then what do we mean by the word "joy"? Why is singing a sacrifice?

Car Prices

Yesterday our mechanic suggested looking into the cost of leasing a car instead of buying. His point was that --with used-car prices so high-- it might be cheaper to lease a new & reliable vehicle than to buy used. He said with a leased vehicle, you have no maintenance costs; maintenance is the responsibility of the dealer. He said that people often object to leasing because you have nothing to keep at the end of the lease period. But he said if we buy a 10- or 12-yr-old car with 100,000 or 150,000 miles on it, we won't have anything to keep after five years either. He has a point.

I looked at our old maintenance records. Given the cost of buying our used vehicles (whether we bought gently used or very very used) it appears that we've been spending somewhere in the vicinity of $2000 per year for each car. That's the cosst of the car plus the maintenance and repairs (but not gas, oil, insurance, etc). I don't know if that's low or high compared to other people, but it gives me a guideline when I'm looking at used cars. If it's a $2000 car, can I expect to get a year out of it without maintenance costs? If it's a $4800 car, is it reasonable to expect it to hold out faithfully for another 3 years? If it's a $12,000 car, is it realistic to expect it to last a minimum of 8 years without repairs besides the necessary tires and brakes and belt-changes?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Not Much Progress

I'm nearly ready to give up on car shopping. We just can't bring ourselves to pay the going rate for a car that's 10 years old. We thought we'd found a pretty good deal on a 4-yr-old car; when our mechanic looked at it today, he said it was okay. Not good, not bad. He said we'd do much better to wait until spring when private-sale cars are more plentiful. The kind of used car that we want is a car that costs more than my parents' house did when they bought it. That just seems wrong.

Maggie is still sick. It's been six weeks now. After two weeks of confinement, she did go to church Sunday. She did go to Matt's grandpa's funeral today. The cough has lessened somewhat (especially when she's careful to keep a scarf over her face when she's in cool or cold air), but the stomach problems have worsened. She's not able to eat.

Nathan has put together the new computer parts. I need to install my old programs, figure out how to work the new operating system, make sure the old files (emails, documents, etc) are restored where I can find them and use them, learn about security measures on the new machine. Overwhelming at the moment! Easier (for the most part) to keep using Gary's machine.

Going to a Catholic funeral (where the priest commented favorably on the deceased's pride) sure does make me love my pastor all the more. Y'know, I don't think the priest believes in the resurrection of the body. He kept talking about the soul being raised to be with Jesus in heaven. Not once in the whole hour-long service was there any mention that Matt's grandpa's body would be resurrected from death to eternal life. This morning, the priest preached how grandpa's good deeds would cause God to open heaven to him. This evening, my pastor catechized on Mark 4 (the stilling of the storm) and how Jesus saved those unbelieving disciples who accused Him of not loving, not caring. My pastor spoke of a Lord who forgives those who are weak, who heals those who have no goodness of their own, who saves those who aren't "good Christians." My pastor talked about how we come to despair of ourselves and our goodness so that we cling to Jesus' goodness, His atonement, His works and worth. It is good to be a Lutheran; it is good to know that the Lord does for me what I cannot in any way do for myself; it is my only hope.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today's Laugh

Two men have been sitting out on a lake all day long, ice fishing. One has been having no luck at all, while the other has been pulling fish after fish out of his hole in the ice. The man having no luck finally leans over and asks the other what his secrect is.

"Mmmmm mmm mm mmm mmmm mmm mmm."

"I'm sorry, what did you say?"

The successful fisherman replied, "Mmmmm mmm mm mmm mmmm mmm mmm."

"I'm sorry, I still didn't understand you."

His companion spits something into his hand. "You've got to keep your worms warm."