Saturday, March 10, 2012

God's Memory

Psalm 78 tells what God had done for His people: He brought them out of Egypt, fed them manna, gave them water to drink in the wilderness, defeated their enemies, and so forth.  Then I hit verse 53 where the Israelites are at the edge of the Red Sea:
He led them on safely
so that they did not fear.

They did not fear?!  Bwaaa haaa haaa haaaa!

Sorry.  That was my first reaction.
My second reaction was, "God, are You reading the same Bible I'm reading?"

Sorry.  That would be sassy, wouldn't it?

But then I started thinking about Hebrews 11.  Abraham, the man of great faith.  God didn't seem to remember that little incident in Egypt with Abraham's wife being married off to the pharaoh.  How about Isaac blessing Jacob "in faith"?  Not because of trickery and deceit?  Or how about David, the man after God's own heart, whose tale was told by Hollywood in the 50's because "telling a Bible story" was the only way they could get that much smuttiness and violence past the movie censors back then?

God calls them holy.
God calls them righteous.
God's memory isn't like mine.

According to Your mercy remember me,
for Your goodness' sake, O Lord.  (Psalm 25)


We recently watched the Jimmy Stewart movie about the fellow who had a 6'-tall invisible rabbit for a pal.  Watching something like that makes you wonder about how society --then and now-- responded/responds to those who are mentally ill.  Did society used to have more tolerance of people who were odd or melancholy or hallucinating?

I have a theory.  Crimes used to be punished.  Violence was not allowed to get out of hand.  If someone was weird --but not a threat to others-- then that guy was allowed to be weird.  But if he was a danger to others (such as someone with lots of knives, who had made threats) then there was no dinking around with his rights.  If he was threatening other folks' rights, he was locked up.  Because we are accustomed to the breakdown of society and our unwillingness to call sin sin, does that make us unwilling to deal swiftly and firmly with the mentally ill when they are dangerous?  And does that make us uncomfortable being around anyone odd or quirky ... never knowing whether this is a safe person or not?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Mission Province in Sweden

The news is not good.

It's debatable whether the state church in Sweden is even Christian.  Some of the pastors who love their Lord and yearn to preach His gospel purely have associated themselves with the Mission Province. Among the many theological problems in the state church, some of the outwardly obvious are women's ordination and the blessing of homosexuality.  The state church (aka, the government) warned pastors not to officiate in services of the Mission Province's koinonias, and not to perform ecclesiastical acts, at risk of being defrocked.  Not only does this threaten the pastors' office and income, but it threatens the laymen with the loss of their shepherds.

Please pray for our Scandinavian brothers.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tell No One

Jesus kept telling them, "Tell no one."  After miracles.  After the confession of Peter.  After the transfiguration.  "Tell no one." 

As we studied the last chapter of Luke, Pastor pointed out the verse where Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was poured out and they were "endued with power from on high."

All through Jesus' ministry, the apostles were botching it up.  They argued over who was the greatest.  They told the Canaanite woman to get lost.  They tried to shoo away the parents bringing their kids to Jesus.  They wanted to fight with swords to defend Jesus.  Even after the resurrection: "Lord, will You now restore the kingdom to Israel?"  Even after three years of hanging around with Jesus in His peripatetic seminary, they couldn't get it right until Pentecost when they were filled with the Spirit and He brought to their remembrance everything Jesus had said and done. 

It kinda sorta makes sense that Jesus had been telling them not to say anything.

Heart Recipe

Cover the heart with water and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain.  Trim away the connective tissue and any other icky stuff.  Chop into cubes, about 1-2" square.
Sprinkle with seasoned salt.
Cover with water again, and let soak several more hours.
Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Dredge meat cubes in white flour seasoned with pepper and Emeril's Essence.
In batches small enough to fit in your Dutch oven, brown cubes in bacon fat.  This will take about 5 minutes per batch.  Remove meat to a bowl and set aside for a few minutes.

Chop 3 large onions.  Saute them in the same Dutch oven.  I used bacon fat and a splash of sesame oil.  While the onions are cooking, roughly chop 1 rib of celery and 1 carrot.  Give them a whirl in the food processor to mince them, and then add them to the onions.  When the onions are soft and beginning to brown, return the meat to the pot. 

Add about 3-5 teaspoons of beef Better-than-Bouillon, stirred into 1/2 cup of water.  Or you could use bouillon if you fail to buy the yummy stuff, about 3-5 cubes.  Then add about 1 cup of wine.  I used Madeira this time.  Add any other seasonings you might desire, such as garlic. Put the lid on the Dutch oven, and bake it for 3 hours in a 350 oven, until meat is tender.  Check occasionally to stir and to see if stew needs more liquid.

Serve over noodles or mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 05, 2012

You Shall Not Make Any Graven Image

Pastor Wiest told the story of chatting with a few Wiccans one day. They had noticed his funny-lookin' pastor-clothes, and so they asked him about his crucifix and what he believed. One of them, having been raised Christian, knew the passage from the ten commandments (Exodus 20) about not making "graven images." The gals asked if his crucifix wasn't a graven image and wondered how that fit with the prohibition against worshiping false gods. His response was not what I expected. He said, "But this isn't a false god. This is the true God."

A friend asked once, "Who is the man in the picture with you, on the sidebar of your blog?" I told him, "That's my dad." That's what he expected me to say.

Those Wiccans knew that Pastor Wiest didn't think that the little piece of metal hanging over his heart was, itself, his god. They knew he meant that it depicted his God. Just like you and I know that my dad is not an arrangement of electricity and pixels on a computer screen. He's a flesh-and-blood person who begat me and taught me to bowl and ate supper with me. Still, we say of the photo, "That's my dad."

That was the only response I ever had for the iconoclasts (the people who disapprove of crucifixes, icons, stained glass windows in churches, and creches at Christmastime). But a friend's blog yesterday mentioned something from the 700's. St John of Damascus (whom we Lutherans might know because of his hymns "The Day of Resurrection" and "Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain") said that we can make graven images now.   (Aside: I'm not saying I agree with everything at this link. Some Orthodox writers talk about icons as representations of salvation history and the saints, while others talk about icons as a way to have a mystical encounter with the saints. Representations I understand; it kinda creeps me out to hear talk of icons being a means to communicate with those who've gone on before.)

Anyway, back to John's point.    In the Old Testament times, God did not have a body. But in Christ's incarnation, God took on flesh. And if Jesus has a face, we are able to draw pictures of it, based on the pictures drawn by the guys who hung out with Him a couple of millenia ago. If God has a body, we can make a statue depicting it, especially when it shows what He has done to save us.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


11 months old: