Sunday, December 12, 2021

Dates of Easter

         Western Church        Eastern Church

2022:    April 17                April 24

2023:    April 9                  April 16

2024:    March 31              May 5

2025:    April 20                April 20

2026:    April 5                  April 12

2027:    March 28             May 2

2028:    April 16                April 16

2029:    April 1                  April 8

2030:    April 21                April 28

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

2020 Reading List


The Theology of the Cross, by H. Sasse (in We Confess Jesus Christ)

Richest Man in Babylon, by G. Clason

A Christian Guide to Mental Illness, volume 1, by S. Saunders

Time at the lake during summer:
        Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, by M. Sidney
        Shadow Among Sheaves, by N. Stephens
        The Alto Wore Tweed, by M. Schweizer

        Mamma's Boarding House, by J.D. Fitzgerald 

Proofreading review of 
        Lutheran Catechesis, Catechist Edition

Thursday, October 15, 2020

2018-19 Reading List

33 Going on Girlfriend, by Monson -- January 3
34 Going on Bride, by Monson -- May 27

He Remembers the Barren, by Schuermann -- Jan 15
Bringing the Oxford Tutorial to Your High School or Middle School Student, by R. Paul -- May 28

audio books between here and Minneapolis:
    A Year Down Yonder, by Peck
    Around the World in 80 Days
    some Narnia
    House of Living Stones
    The Choir Immortal
    and probably some others I forgot

Saturday, July 11, 2020

How to Write a Hymn

Praying Psalm 135 this morning, I kept being distracted by the lines lifted from elsewhere in Scripture.

  • Verse 1 comes from Psalm 113.
  • Verse 5 comes from Psalm 95.
  • Verse 13 comes from Psalm 72.
  • Verse 14 comes from Deut 32.
  • Verses 15-18 repeat a section of Psalm 115.
  • Verses 19-20 are a slight twist on a section of Psalm 118.
And that list doesn’t even include the other lines that I know show up in other biblical hymns but for which my memory doesn’t have a ready-reference of the citation ... nor does this list include the other places these lines appear.

The most important thing in hymn-writing is not to have some theological acumen plus some writing ability.  The most important thing is to be steeped in God’s word, to have His hymns and His stories and His catechism so deeply entrenched in your soul and your mind that His Word (not yours) spills out whenever your mouth or pen gets to movin’.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


"Cleaving" is like "flammable."  It can mean the opposite of itself.

Sometimes cleaving means clinging, hanging on, being right there, attached.
Sometimes cleaving means splitting or cutting or dividing.

Someone blogged recently about cloves of garlic, and discovering the difference between a "head" and a "clove."  So I asked Maggie if she knew the difference.  And it got me to thinking: why is a clove called a clove?

"Clove" is past tense of "cleave."

A cloven hoof is a hoof with two parts.  One part that's split into two, but not really two, because it's still one hoof.

Even when we use the word "cleave" to mean "split," it still indicates the closeness of what was being split, such as the bow of the ship cleaving the waves.

(This sheds some light on marriage.  "A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one."  They're one.  But they're not.  They're two parts of one.  So they're one.)

Back to the garlic.  One head.  Eight or nine cloves.  The cloves can be separated.  So they're their own thing.  But they're not.  They're joined in the one head of garlic.

Once upon a time, I was scolded for falling into a "basic meaning fallacy."  The longer I live, the more I discover that "basic meaning" really does explain connections almost all the time.  It's not a fallacy.  It's usually enlightening and fun to figure out.

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.