Saturday, April 14, 2018


We always think of Moses as the Law-giver.  It's true.  The law did come to us from God through Moses.  But what else did Moses do?

He was a savior to the people.
He was a deliverer.
He interceded for them when the Lord said He should wipe 'em out because of their rebellion.

That's not law.
That's mercy.
That's rescue.

And all of that (the law and the rescue) is why Jesus is the prophet greater than Moses (Acts 3:22).

Friday, April 13, 2018

Healing the Lame Man

Peter and John got themselves arrested when they healed the paralytic (Acts 3) and preached to the people about the forgiveness of sins.  It seems the religious establishment was not fond of this message.

Funny.  Same thing happened to Jesus when He healed a lame man and preached the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 9). 

Christian "Culture" in Different Lands

Sometimes we look at the way Christians worship in other lands and think, "That's African Christian culture" or "That's Indian Christian culture" or "That's middle-Eastern Christian culture."  We think it's different from "American Christian culture."


Christianity is counter-cultural.  It doesn't fit in American society or African society or European society or any other society.  The Church is its own oddball thing.  There was a reason St Peter called us a "peculiar people."  The Church forgives people who don't deserve forgiveness.  The Church calls people to repent of their selfish desires, and not just the crass selfishness but even the selfishness which is extolled by the world.  Using His words and His rites, the Church worships a God who humiliated Himself.  What kind of weirdness is all this? 

This isn't popular in any culture.

When Pentecostal ideas infiltrate the Church, (even though part of the message is still about Christ's mercy toward sinners) too much of the teaching is about us and how we make decisions for God and how we follow Him.  The worship becomes more about our feelings for God than about His action for us.   It doesn't matter whether the congregation is in American suburbia or African villages, Pentecostal doctrine (even in Lutheran churches) manifests itself with certain worship styles. 

Why do Missouri-Synod Lutherans think that the doctrine and worship they hold dear is "American"?  Or "German"?  Why do we not recognize it simply as Christian?

Is it because we did pollute the Church's doctrine in past decades with viewpoints that were uniquely American?

Is it because we did, in our mission work in the past century, export lousy doctrine to other lands?

Is it because of "white guilt" and arrogance, thinking that whatever we have known is thus "ours," ... and not wanting to impose our culture on another people?  That would be a good attitude IF our worship and doctrine were "ours."  But it's not.  It belongs to the Lord.  And He wants us and people in other lands to be blessed by His word, His doctrine, His worship.

Stodgy old Lutherans do not want to make other people to be "like ourselves."  We want for others (and for ourselves!) to be made like Christ, to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

What Do You Guard?

You cut your finger while making dinner.  It hurts.  For the next few days, you turn the doorknobs and brush your teeth with the sore finger extended, guarding it from bumps and effort, protecting it from further harm.

But what happens if you break some bones in the other hand?  Suddenly hand with the cut finger is the one that takes the hits, so as to protect the worse-off hand.

Another example: A migraine has the guy flat on the couch, aching.  He thinks he can't handle anything.  But if the house goes up in flames, he's up and out the door.  Was the migraine imaginary?  Of course not.  It was debilitating.  But the pain of getting out had to be endured to, well, get out and rescue the body.

Ephesians 5: "No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cares for it, as the Lord does the church." 

Jesus went willingly to the cross.  Just as I would suffer pain in my body while protecting my body from worse damage, Christ suffered in His body because it was a higher priority to protect His body, the Church.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Mighty God

In the Reproaches on Good Friday, we pray, "Holy and mighty God."

On Good Friday. 
When God hangs on a cross, dying.

Mighty God.

Such words are ludicrous to the world.
It may even look paradoxical to many Christians.

But yes, we mean it: mighty God.

It is precisely in His death where His might and glory are seen,
where sin, death, and Satan are defeated by His atonement.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Fresh Abreva

Abreva heals cold sores.

A person who gets cold sores the size of Rhode Island may think that she's built up a resistance to the medicine.  Or she may think that she remembered incorrectly about how much the Abreva helped in the past.

The reality is that the expiration date on the tube of Abreva is important.  If your Pepsi or your aspirin or your canned tuna is past the expiration date (within reason), no biggie.  But if your Abreva is nearing (or past) the expiration date, it won't be effective.  I know, I know how pricey those tiny tubes of medicine are.  But fresh Abreva works wonders.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Jesus and Paul

Jesus tells us (in Luke 24) that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.  Luke's gospel tells us about Christ's death and resurrection.  Luke's sequel [Acts] tells us about the preaching part. 

As we read through Acts, we see many similarities in stories between Jesus and Paul.  They were both opposed by the Jews.  They both did miracles.  They both traveled around, preaching and forgiving sin, beginning in the synagogue.  They were both arrested when innocent.  But Paul does not die.  (Well, yes, he died.  Eventually.  But that's not recorded in Acts.)

And that's because only Christ's death counts for our salvation.

Friday, January 05, 2018


My dad came from a large family.  When the family got together for Christmas at my grandma's house, it would be 40-50 people.  Kids exchanged names for gift-giving.  Teens and adults exchanged names. But Grandma's plan was to get a bunch of the same thing for everybody.  One year she bought gobs of mittens and let all the kids choose a color.  For several years, the adult-gift was towels.  She bought lots of towels.  Everybody could pick.  Somehow Gary and I ended up with oddball colors that would never go with the color of our bathroom or with our other towels. 

Our current towel stash still has some towels that we each bought when we went away to college.  That would not be a big deal if I were in my 20s.  But I am not. 

Our current towel stash still has some towels that we received as wedding gifts, towels that were seldom used because they were in odd colors. 

Our current towel stash has some nearly new towels (again, in colors that don't match) because of distributing the contents of deceased parents' homes. 

This week I pulled towels out of the bathroom for the laundry, but washed only some before needing fresh towels for showers.  Somehow, a pair of color-coordinated towels ended up in the bathroom.  The towels matched each other and matched the color-scheme of the bathroom.  It looked nice.  It makes me want to go out and buy color-coordinated towels -- just for pretties -- just for fun. 

And yet, I can't do it quite yet.  I don't like the color of our bathrooms.  (The previous owners choose a Packer-theme for the bathrooms.)  When we paint and maybe even replace the flooring, then I will waste money on something that looks nice, just for the sake of enjoying the calm of having something coordinated and pretty.  That's going to be a big step in embracing beauty and fighting over-frugality.  But who knows how long until a bathroom color-remodel can be tackled?