Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's in the Creed

Many segments of Christendom care a lot about sanctification.  They often spend more time talking about how a person becomes holy than proclaiming that a person is declared righteous because of Jesus' blood shed on the cross.*

So what do we find in the Creed? 

In the Apostles' Creed, we pray "I believe in ... the forgiveness of sins."   In the Nicene Creed, we pray, "I believe in ... one baptism for the remission of sins."  But no mention of my progress in holiness. 

I suspect that means something.

* Footnote: Now, by no means am I saying that sanctification is unimportant.  I am saying, however, that if the focus is genuinely on the call to repentance and  justification, sanctification will of necessity follow, even without anybody haranguing people to be holier.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Profanity Sinful?

For some unknown reason, out of the blue, one of my co-workers begged me (out of the bosses' earshot) to say a naughty word on Tuesday.  "Please?  I never heard you say anything bad.  Please, just one bad word?" 

"No," I answered, confused.

"Please?  I've been having a really bad day, and that would just cheer up my whole week.  For me?  Please!"


"I just want to hear you say a naughty word."

I was lost as to where this came from, and so was my partner that day.  We thought our co-worker was being quite silly.  Eventually, she suggested, "Hell?  Could you say 'hell' for me?" 

Now, I don't know about you, but to me, hell is not a swear word.  Think about it: the word is a theological term and is even in the Creed.  Confused that she would ask for that word, I asked, "Hell?"  She giggled maniacally and then asked for "another" swear word. 

When she finally went back to her area, my partner-for-the-day suggested to me, "But 'hell' isn't really a swear word, is it?" 

"No.  It's a place." 

"Yeah, that's kinda what I thought."

So I have been thinking about this interchange.  I knew she would pester again for a swear word.  And sure enough, she has. 

I really don't know what I think about whether profanity is sinful.  I do know that cursing and swearing is sinful: the second commandment tells me that.  But the profanity that is merely "coarse language"?  I've heard discussions about why it is sinful and about why it's not sinful.  I've heard discussions about whether "gee whiz" and "golly" and "darn" are sinful, and other arguments as to why they're not sinful.  And honestly, I just don't care.   Those conversations always seem to end up steeped in legalism or antinomianism.

But here's what I noticed.  My co-worker does think profanity is sinful.  She may think that she doesn't; after all, she is not opposed to cursing, swearing, and profanity coming out of her mouth occasionally.  But there is some drive in her to get me to say something "naughty."  Isn't that a tacit admission that she thinks it would be sinful of me to toss out some of those four-letter words?  And here's what I'm wondering: If even the world, in all her revelry and self-indulgence, considers profanity sinful, would that mean it is?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When the Laundry Met Up with Gasoline

Sometimes you think something goes without saying. But it doesn't. Thus Maggie ended up with gasoline all over her best pair of jeans, because I failed to tell her that you can't be squeezing the gas pump when you take the nozzle out of the gas can.

If I knew then what I know now, I think the jeans would have gone straight into the trash. It probably would have been cheaper to replace them than to try the variety of remedies I attempted. So here's my conclusion based on all sorts of failures:

Don't immediately bring them home and soak them or pre-wash them in the wash machine. Remember? Oil and water do not mix. Even soaking them in very soapy water won't do much. Besides, if you try to wash the jeans first thing, you'll just contaminate your washer with gasoline. Then not only do you have to clean the clothes, but you have to clean the washer too.

Coco-cola is effective. One bucket with the jeans jammed into it. A 2L bottle of real Coke poured over it. A good long soak. That sucked a lot of the odor out of the jeans. A second 2L bottle for a few more hours helped even more.

Hanging outdoors! The gas will evaporate into the air. I'd already tried various cleaning methods when Jenny advised me to air the jeans. It happened to be a rainy day. Y'know how rain does a better job of washing your car's windshield than does the windshield washer fluid? Well, between the fresh air and 24 hours of drizzly rain, the stint on the clothesline pretty well eliminated the rest of the gas-stink.

Dawn! I can't use Dawn in the kitchen: it eats up my hands and leaves itchiness and raw skin and sores. But in the laundry room! Oh, Dawn in the laundry room is my new BFF. Dawn doesn't just cut chicken grease off your dinner plate. It gets grease stains out of clothes. It cleans mozzarella and marinara off Mr Pizza-Pants' work clothes. Undiluated Dawn in copious quantities cuts right through gasoline in your daughter's blue jeans.

Next time I'll know what to do.
But there'd better not be a next time....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Firm in the Faith

You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins. Jesus' name means "the Lord is salvation." That means we are not. Salvation is entirely from Him, and not at all from us.

Even when we believe that Jesus has done everything to save us, the adamic nature manages to twist "faith" into "my believingness" by which we are saved. (I guess that's what it is to be simultaneously saint and sinner: we trust in Jesus, and yet at the same time we refuse to let go of our own works meriting something, somehow, some way, even if only a smidge.)

"The God of peace Himself will sanctify you wholly and keep your spirit, soul, and body sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." He will do it.

We sing in "Jesus, Priceless Treasure,"
Pain or loss or shame or cross
shall not from my Savior move me
since He deigns to love me.

Why will the cross of affliction not tear me away from my Savior? Because I love Him so much? Because I'm a good Christian? No. Because HE condescends to love me.

The catechism quotes Titus chapter 3: "... so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." This is a trustworthy saying!

And what else does Paul call a trustworthy saying? "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Sinners? He saves sinners? For real? Wouldn't it make more sense if God helped the good people? Trouble is, sinners are incapable of keeping themselves firm in the faith.

But with God, all things are possible. And His reputation is on the line. "He who called you is faithful, and He will do it." He will!

Scary Beards

Alia doesn't want to talk to Papa or hug him or let him kiss her.

A few weeks ago, Alia mentioned to her mommy that "beards are scary." Oh. Gary grew his winter beard to keep his face warm when he's walking outdoors in the wind. And that's about when Papa changed from a super guy to Someone To Be Ignored.

Alia doesn't have much to do with Uncle Philip either. He too "has a scary beard." Come to think of it, she's not real keen on Pastor either.


When it's time for Gary to shave off his beard in another two months, I think he ought to let Alia watch him do it. Might it help? Or is there no reasoning with an unreasonable fear?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Afternoon

Too many good options. First on the calendar for today: a homeschool get-together where I'd get to see a precious friend that I almost never see ... and my god-daughter and her sibs. Second on the calendar for today: the husband of an online acquaintance was being installed in a nearby congregation. Could I fit them both in? Would I regret it tomorrow if I tried to cram too many events into one day?

Both slots were usurped.

Paul called last night at 9:30. From Atlanta. He'd arrived in in the States from Haiti, but foul weather screwed up the flights back to Minnesota. The airline figured they'd fly him and Kristen (the other person from MN who went on this trip) to Minnesota by way of Milwaukee. Oh, but they'd have to be in Wisconsin overnight. Milwaukee? Really? That's the plan the airline came up with? Woo hoo! "Mom, do you think you could pick us up at the airport at midnight?" Yes, as a matter of fact, I think I can pull that off! Woo hoo!

Quick nap. Drive to the south side in the middle of the night. Pick up two "kids." (Yes, I know they're grown-ups. I'm old. It's my prerogative to call them kids for another 40 years.) Four more hours of sleep. An hour of trying to drag myself out of bed. Church. Then home for lunch with the crew.

And how many were in the crew? EVERYBODY. Philip usually comes over for Sunday dinner. Rachel & Matt happened to be in town this weekend, and they consented to join us for lunch. So Katie's family came over too. Gary and I were trying to remember, and we think this might be the first time the whole family has been together in one place since Zoe was born. And Kristen was a joy to have with us too.

After some naps and visiting this afternoon, we deposited Kristen and Paul at the doors of the airport, assuming that the black ice on side-streets is nothing that impacts the airport runways.

I can't believe it! All the kids in the same church at the same service this morning! All the kids at the same dinner table at lunch today!

That's good stuff.