Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day

Aldi was empty last night when I got off work.

The only other time I'd seen the place so vacant was about 8 hours into an ice storm.  The panic-runs were long-done when I stopped by Aldi on my way home from work that day.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why the grocery store was SO empty.  I left the parking lot.  I drove past about a dozen restaurants.  Not a single parking spot in any of those parking lots. 

So that's where everybody is!

I came home to a dinner of fajitas made by my daughter and husband. 

That's better than going to a restaurant!

Friday, February 14, 2014

THIS is "not being moved"?

Psalm 66 tells us that the Lord "keeps our soul among the living and does not allow our feet to be moved."

Then it goes on to tell us that He has tested us.  He has refined us.  (Now, that may sound nice at first glance.  But it requires an awful lot of fire.  And burning up.  You know?)    He brought us into the net.  He laid affliction on our backs.  He caused men to ride over our heads.  We went through fire and water.

And THIS is what it looks like when He keeps our soul among the living?  [shudder]

And yet, after all this,
THROUGH all this,
no matter how we fall,
no matter how we are attacked,
He brings us out to rich fulfillment.
And He has not turned His mercy from me.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Where's the Renewal of the Lutheran Church?

Conscience is what preaching is all about in the Lutheran Confessions, from start to finish.   I have come to believe, with absolute firmness, that if we're going to see renewal in the Lutheran Church, it will begin out of the preaching office.  It will begin with pastors again recognizing that the point of their sermon is to comfort troubled consciences -- not to take the doctrine of justification and just throw it out to any and to all in such a way that you proclaim to impenitent sinners the forgiveness of their sins.  That doesn't help them, and they don't really care.  But to consciences that truly are troubled because they know they have not lived in an unbroken yes to God, and they know what the Law of God says about this, to such consciences we proclaim,  "In Jesus Christ, there is a perfection that is yours."
Taken from a recent Issues Etc

Eastern Orthodoxy considers it "humility" to not be certain of the promises of God to you.  (Hmm.  God says something.  I then suspect His word isn't sure and certain.  That sounds to me more like cheekiness than humility.  But maybe that's just me.)

The beautiful uniqueness of the Lutheran Church is comforting sinners.  When people's hearts melt from hearing awesome preachers, it's because those men comfort troubled consciences.  The glory of private confession is that the pastor comforts the troubled conscience.  Frequent celebration of the Lord's Supper is for the sake of bringing the comfort of Christ's holiness to sinners who are troubled by their sin.  "Toward forgiveness is directed everything that is to be preached" (Large Catechism).

To send faithful laborers into Thy harvest,
we beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
To accompany Thy word with Thy spirit and grace,
we beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.

Hey, sing it with me!  (to the tune of "Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus")

Christ alone is our salvation,
Christ the rock on which we stand;
other than this sure foundation
will be found but sinking sand.
Christ, His cross and resurrection,
is alone the sinner's plea;
at the throne of God's perfection
nothing else can set him free.   (ELH 484)

Pastor Weedon spoke this January at the conference at Redeemer Lutheran.  He spoke about what it means to be Lutheran and why people should stay Lutheran.  (This is from a man who nearly became Eastern Orthodox but then realized what that would mean, and who then re-embraced the Lutheran confession.)
Part 1
Part 2
Yes, it's long. 
But it's worth the time.
Thank you to the many friends who forwarded the links to our family.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Standardized Testing

Common Core increases (yet again) the testing requirements on students.  a) Testing doesn't measure what it purports to measure.  b) Too often, the existence of standardized testing controls the curriculum, as schools "teach to the test."  c) Testing takes time away from real learning.

Not only that, but testing can frustrate children and make them feel stupid.  Here is one story of a mom who helped administer standardized tests to a kindergarten class.  It makes you want to cry.  Even in the best of circumstances, standardized tests are designed so that kids CANNOT do them: that's the sorting mechanism.  The tests are supposed to be so hard that everybody hits a point of incompetency.  On top of that, tests aren't always administered in the "best of circumstances." 

For those with kids in the public schools, many states allow parents to opt-out their kids from the state-mandated testing.  For Wisconsin, information is available at the DPI website.  Information for other states may be researched at an Opt Out website

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I was always taught that a parable is "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning" and that Jesus told parables to help us understand.

But Jesus said he told parables to hide the truth of God's word.  (You don't believe me?  Go look at Mark 4.)

Furthermore, the parables aren't stories that make sense to us.  As Pastor is wont to say, "The stories start off sounding like something we're familiar with, but there's always a curve ball."

As I'm proofreading another CCA book, I noticed this line:
Parables always teach reliance upon Christ and never teach reliance upon ourselves.
But somehow, our sinful nature still wants to think that the primary point of parables is to give us a pep talk (or a scolding) about behaving a certain way.  Nope -- the parables teach reliance upon Christ alone.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Gluten.  The sticky stuff in pasta and wheat.  The reason you can make paste or glue by mixing water and white flour.

And they're from the same Latin root.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

From the Joseph Story

From Thursday's Bible class -- notes and ruminations:

Genesis 45:5, 8  Joseph told his brothers, "God sent me before you" into the land of Egypt.  Even though the brothers had committed a dastardly deed in selling their brother into Egyptian slavery, Joseph's explanation of events said that God was the one who brought him there.  God turned even their evil into good ... as He is wont to do.
The prophet tells us that "out of Egypt I have called My Son."  But God also sent Jesus (like Joseph) into Egypt.  And as it happened for Joseph, it was (to all outward appearances) attempted murder that sent the boy Jesus from Canaan to Egypt.

45:24    When Joseph had equipped his brothers for the trip to Canaan, sending them to fetch the rest of the family, he sent them off with "See that you do not become troubled along the way."  It's almost as if he knew they would begin to wonder if Joseph had really forgiven them, if it was a set-up, if there would be repercussions.  "Don't be troubled.  Don't be agitated.  Go in peace."  Joseph knew the human heart's inclination to doubt, to fear, to be troubled.  And he wanted to comfort them so that his beloved brothers would not be troubled.

45:27  The fellows told Dad, "Joseph is alive, and he's ruling Egypt."  Now, that's quite the shocker!  But then the story goes on: "When they told [Jacob] all the words which Joseph had said to them...."  Pastor pointed out that "all the words" means the guys would've had to admit to Dad what had happened that long-ago day, 22 years earlier ... and admit that they had lied all along.  "And Jacob's spirit revived."  It did?  Wow -- so he forgave them. 
How could he forgive that?  Well, think about his own past.  Jacob had deceived.  He had cheated his brother.  He had lied to his father.  He had been separated from his family.  But the Lord's mercy forgave him, so that love and mercy overflowed from him to others.   How about that?  When God is merciful and loving to scumbum sinners, it really does bear fruit in the lives of those who receive His love.

45:5 and 50:20   Even though the brothers meant evil against Joseph, God meant it for good "to preserve life."  "To save your lives by a great deliverance."  "To bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." 
  1. God worked for good by feeding physical food to gobs of people through Joseph's leadership in Egypt. 
  2. God worked for good by saving the brothers from their impenitence, bringing their sin into the light of day that they might benefit from the forgiveness Joseph had for them.
  3. God worked for good by preserving the life of the ancestor of Jesus.  Judah and his brothers did not die of starvation.  Their family continued, and the Messiah --the Savior-- was born just as the Lord had promised to Abraham.  

50:17  So when Jacob dies, the brothers send a message to Joseph: Dad said to forgive us for the evil we did to you.  Did Jacob say that, or did the guys just say it because they were shakin' in their boots?  Either way, it shows that we need a mediator, an intercessor, to plead for us sinners.