Saturday, December 15, 2012

Yesterday's Tragedy

Customers began coming in to the bank, asking if we'd heard the news.  We hadn't.  All through the afternoon, it seemed that people who hadn't heard would hop into their car, head out to do errands, turn on the radio, and come into the bank and have to say something.  They couldn't just hear the news and go on; it was imperative that they express their horror to someone.

What troubles me is that I wasn't surprised.  Saddened, indeed!  But not shocked.

Yet nights will bring their sadness
and rob our hearts of peace,
and sin in all its madness
around us may increase.
But still one Star is beaming
whose rays have pierced the night:
God comes for our redeeming
from sin's oppressive might.  (LSB 337)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Beautiful Synod, Warts and All

It would be cool if Pastor Esget were more a friend than a friendly acquaintance to me.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the brief times I've had opportunity to spend with him.  I love reading what he writes and the rare chances to listen when he speaks.  He's been on sabbatical recently, and he wrote about his visits to different congregations, in particular an Orthodox church and a mega-church.

He said of the sermon at the Orthodox church:   "With only the slightest alterations, the sermon could have been heard in any Baptist or Methodist church."

He summarized his visits to the two congregations thusly:  "I was in awe of the organization, money, screens, facilities, and volunteer power at McLean Bible Church. I was filled with joy by the beautiful choir, chants, incense, icons, and sense of culture at St. Nicholas. But in neither place did I hear a single word of Gospel preached."

And he reflected on the experience: "I wouldn’t trade Lutheranism in general or Immanuel in particular—despite all the problems which it would take volumes to list—for the treasures of those places. The Word of God lives at St. Nicholas on account of the liturgy. I trust that the people at MBC are, to some extent, reading the Scriptures. But one of the things this sabbatical reenforced for me is how wonderful it is to be part of the Missouri Synod, where for all her hideous warts and defects the Gospel still is preached."

And thank You, Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Current Events

Gary has been teaching a college class for the local satellite of Concordia University.  It's been quite the challenge time-wise.  It's his first time teaching this class, which means he has to read the textbook and figure out what's wrong in it so that he can remedy the problems while teaching.  Then there's the to-be-expected teaching and grading.   As has occurred before, students comment that they learn more about writing from him (in theology class) than they learned from their writing profs; he takes his grading duties seriously.  One more class, and then we will get to see him occasionally again!

This week was the first time since October where I was scheduled at work for my 2.5 days and nothing else.  I was looking forward to three days in a row of housework, homeschooling, cooking, Christmas prep, and catching up on projects.  Didn't happen.

Gary's mom had a relatively minor stroke this weekend.  After five days in the hospital, she will be moving to rehab.  We drove down to see her this week.  While there, we drove over to see my mom too.  Boy, that was a nice visit!  (Sorry, Mom, there were other little things I wanted to do and didn't get to.  But the chatting time was a joy!)  Another happy surprise was arriving home to find that Maggie had mopped, had cleaned bathrooms, and had done laundry.

Looking like quite the idiot today, I mowed.  In December.  In Wisconsin.  The mower hadn't been drained of oil and gasoline last time it was used.  So I turned it on and let it idle.  In an attempt to hurry the consumption of fuel, I took the machine out in the yard where the grass was longest and mowed.  So far there has been no sign that the neighbors reported me to the authorities for mental instability.

I've done a little Christmas shopping.  Not much.  I wonder when it will happen.  I expect the tree will go up sometime next week.  In non-Christmas activities, today I dusted the guts of the computer, hung up the bikes from the garage ceiling, and hunted up the snow shovels and snow blower.  I did not, however, get around to repairing the wash machine; I may regret this soon.  Only 794 items left on this week's to-do list...

Andrew keeps coming home with stories of clients who appreciate him and think he's wonderful.  (Smart clients.)   Also, he finished his fall semester today.

Maggie and I are reading Anne of Green Gables.  It's amazing how closely the movie sticks to the book!  What's also amazing (in a less salutary fashion) is the gross number of misspellings in my copy of the book.  It's a fun story -- and made even funnier sometimes by the typos.  (For example, sometimes "Marilla" is spelled "Manila" and sometimes even "Mania.")

Paul has a job offer.  It's not the job he really wants; he's still waiting to hear back from the other company.  I don't envy him having to decide what to do.  I keep praying that God will make the decision simple for him and that He will guide Paul to the better job (even if a different job has certain attractions to it). 

I managed to burn the green beans tonight.  What a mess in the cast-iron skillet!  It required so much scrubbing that the skillet will need serious re-seasoning.  Maggie is excited because that means pancakes. 

There's more to say, but it's past bedtime.  I miss my writing time.  But hey, I also miss my sleeping time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Lord Does Not Change

The Israelites kept wandering from the Lord.
They certainly deserved His punishment.
They deserved to be abandoned by Him.

But what does Malachi preach to them?

I am the Lord;
I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed.  (Malachi 3:6)



No matter what we deserve, He does not change.
He remains merciful.
He remains faithful to His promise.
He is the Lord, the God of the promise of salvation.
And He does not change.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Daniel's Service to Nebuchadnezzar

Pastor commented recently in Bible class about how Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego served the Bad Guy.  They were faithful Jews/Christians, even though they were civil servants in Babylon.  Pastor said it was something to ponder with regard to our vocation as citizens.

After he pointed this out, I went and checked out the dating.  Wow -- Daniel was nabbed the first time Babylon came in and overran Jerusalem.  According to the stories in Chronicles and the first chapter of Daniel, those bright young men would have been taken, oh, say, 15-20 years before the temple was destroyed and the whole country was stomped on.  And while Daniel faithfully prayed for God's will and for right worship and for faith among his countrymen, he was a government official serving the king who was destroying Judah.   It looks like Daniel was helping Nebuchadnezzar who was sent by God to punish Israel.  How weird would that be? 

I think maybe there is something to ponder there.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Shall We DO?

In Luke 3, in the story of John's preaching and baptizing, we hear three times that different groups of people come and ask him, "What shall we do?"  And John gives such a "boring" answer.  He doesn't come up with a big ol' list of meritorious works.  He didn't suggest the things Tetzel advised.  He certainly doesn't come up with the kind of answers that tv preachers do.  He basically says, "Just keep doing your job.  But don't steal.  Don't lie.  Don't bully.  Oh, and if you have plenty, share with those who have nothing."  Nothing flashy.  Just do what God's given you to do, where He's put you.  And it won't earn you anything.  It's just what you do...

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Luke 3:20

At the end of the story about John the Baptist preaching repentance, we hear that Herod had been rebuked by John for the shenanigans with Herodias and "for all the evils which Herod had done."  So Herod threw John into prison, adding this evil above all to the other evils he had done.

When you think of all the scandalous things that went on in the palace, all the abuses of authority, those little words "above all" make quite a statement.  Lock up the preacher and refuse to hear him?  Luke seems to think that's worse than the adultery and all the other sins Herod committed?  It's almost like an object lesson in the preeminence of the First Table of the Law.