Saturday, June 25, 2011

OB Care and Trusting God

Once upon a time, it was not uncommon for women to die from pregnancy or childbirth. Once upon a time, babies with birth defects died within their first year of life. Once upon a time, people died from infection.

Today we have drugs and bed-rest that can stop early labor. We have surgeries to save mothers whose lives are in danger during childbirth. Today we have surgeries that can repair birth defects that used to be fatal. Today we have antibiotics that can fend off otherwise deadly infection.

Once upon a time, when it was more routine for women and children to die, God was still there, still protecting, still guarding. When their last hour came, God graciously took them from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. Furthermore, God certainly gave daily bread to their families even after mothers died. God did not abandon them, even when temporal life was ended prematurely.

Today doctors can prevent many of these deaths and defects. Doesn't God do this healing work through the doctors, through c-sections, through pitocin, through transplants, through transfusions, through penicillin? Do these medical procedures mean we're "playing God"? Jehovah's Witnesses might say so, but Christians don't.

So today we have women who have survived pregnancy and childbirth with scars. Decades ago, without medical intervention, such women would have perished. But today they live. Today we have parents caring for special-needs kids who, decades ago, would have perished. But today they live, and the parents rejoice.

Without medical intervention, these families would have been broken by death. It seems odd to me that there are Christians who receive some kinds of medical care with thanksgiving, but reject another type of medical care [that is, non-abortifacient contraceptives]. Why do we consider it "trusting God" when doctors do surgery to prevent imminent death, but think it's "not trusting God" to prevent a pregnancy that is quite likely to result in grave danger to mother and child?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Creation of the World

The Old Testament reading last Sunday [in the three-year series] was Genesis 1. It's about God making all the stuff.

This week I heard it differently. When God made the land, the dust, He was making the stuff of which He would make man, knowing that He would one day become Man. When He created the plants of the field, He was making the trees. Centuries later, some of those trees would be used to build an ark that saved Noah's family. Some more centuries later, one of those trees would be the cross on which He was hung to die. At the creation, He made grape vines which produced fruit after its own kind, so that today we still have grape vines, bearing grapes that become wine, that become His blood on the altar, that makes us immortal.

The stuff He was creating way back at the start isn't just the stuff that we see, that we use, that we eat, that we burn for fuel. The stuff He was making was HIS stuff, the stuff He uses to save, the stuff He uses to bring us to Himself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Scummy Shower Curtain

No matter how often I washed that shower curtain, the hem of it just stayed icky.

Today I attacked with a three-pronged assault. First I squirted a thin line of Dawn (yes, the dishwashing detergent) on the bottom 12" of the shower curtain. Then I poured on a healthy dose of cheap white vinegar. I scrubbed briefly with a brush. Then I soaked the gooey mess (Dawn and vinegar and all) in a bucket of water for an hour or so. This time it came out of the laundry without the scum, without the yellow color, without the slimy feel.

I have no idea which one of those was the Magic Wand that broke through the nastiness. But at least I know one of them (or a combination of them) is effective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


In Lutheran circles (and in many other denominations too) we often say that there are times when it's not sinful to get a divorce. We say that a spouse who is abused can divorce without sin. We say that, if someone cheats on his wife, she is not obligated to stay married to him.

This is based on the verse in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, "Anyone who divorces his wife (except for sexual immorality) causes her to commit adultery." Does that mean it is sin-free to divorce a philanderer? Someone pointed out to me that the passage says that the man who divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery ... unless she has already made herself an adulteress by committing sexual immorality. Maybe this passage isn't the exception-to-the-divorce-rule that we think it is. Maybe, instead, it's pointing out how corrupting it is to divorce -- how there's no wiggle-room in excusing ourselves.

When a person is enduring abuse or when illicit affairs have occurred, there is a need for pastoral care. Are the people able to remain married and forgive? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing we do know. The Lord's bride went a-whoring. She abused Him. And still He loved. Still He sacrificed. Still He gave. Still He remained faithful even when she cheated on Him.


Is amendment of life a necessary part of repentance?

I was always taught that it was. After all, are you really sorry that you stole the candy bar if you keep on stealing candy bars? Are you really sorry that you cheated on the history test if you're still offering $10 to the A-student who sits next to you in math class if he'll let you look at his paper during that test?

Maybe amendment of life is easier when it's an action than when it's a sinful word or a sinful feeling or a sinful thought. Of course, there are actions that are vices, that are addictions. It seems to me that there are plenty of situations where we can hate our sin, regret our attitude, desire to be free from it, cling to Christ's forgiveness, and still be unable to Just Stop That Sin.

Didn't Paul say something about that? "The good that I would, that I fail to do...."?

In some cases, we can gather our oomph together and control how the sin bubbles out in our actions. That's good. But it won't change the heart's mistrust. "You don't trust God," says the accuser, "and so you commit thus-and-such a sin." Will the problem be solved if you stop doing the sin? Or is the sin that you "do" a symptom of the unbelief? If so, isn't the real solution to be assured again and again of what our Savior has done to save us and make us His own dear children? What brings about amendment-of-life anyway, the law or the gospel?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Depending on Electricity

Big storm blows through. Lights go out. What now?

I could clean, right? Nope. The vacuum won't run without electricity. I can't fill a bucket of water to mop unless I have electricity to run the pump on the well.

I could sit down with Maggie and watch our TV show. Oops. No television or computer without electricity.

I could call Mom and see if she's available for a nice long chat. Oh, wait. No power means no telephone.

How about taking a long soak in a bubble bath, and doing a sudoku or reading a chapter of a book? Oops. There's that water snafu again.

Well, I have the strawberries and the sugar, and I can use a match to light the stovetop. I could make the jam. Wait -- do I want to start jam when I have no water to wash up the stickiness? Oh, and then there's sterilizing the jars. Not gonna work.

I could go weed the garden. With all the rain, the weeds should pull nicely. Oh, wait. Think how long it takes me to wash the mud off myself when I come in normally. With this amount of mud, I wouldn't even be able to open the door myself. Sure ain't gonna muddify myself when there's no water to wash my hands.

Shall I start supper? We could grill the chicken instead of roasting it. Hmm. Raw chicken. No water to rinse the meat or to wash my hands and the cutting board. Not a good plan. I'm feeling very much in need of water....

NO! Do NOT open the refrigerator and let the cold out, you kids!
NO! Do NOT flush the toilet! We have only one flush left until the electricity comes back on.

Look at those squirrels out there, running around in the wet grass, playing in the recently returned sunshine. Look at the birds out there, nabbing worms, not at all confounded by the lack of electricity.

Hey, I need to change a load of laundry. As I head toward the steps, I remember that my washer and dryer run on electricity.

Maybe I should call the power company's automated line and see if they've figured out how long this outage is expected to last. As I pick up the phone and find a dead line, I remember that I have to haul out the tracfone and use a couple of expensive precious minutes. And ... I discover they have no clue how long it will be until the power is restored.

Maybe we should head to town, making use of the plumbing and computers at the library, and then eat at Tony's. We head to the car, reach for the garage-door opener, and then remember. I guess we'll drive the van that's sitting in the driveway.

It was always easier to get through a power outage when I was growing up. At least we still had phones and water.