Wednesday, December 29, 2010
"Come from high to me; I cannot rise to Thee.
Cheer my wearied spirit, O pure and holy Child;
Thro' Thy grace and merit, Blest Jesus, Lord most mild,
Draw me unto Thee! Draw me unto Thee!" LSB #386
What a beautiful picture of what Christmas is all about. Not about my heart, or my spirit rising to God in worship, but first and foremost about Christ coming to us. We have nothing to offer Him, but He gave up everything and appeared to us. Through His grace and merit can we have fellowship with the Triune God. Indeed, oh come, let us worship Him!
 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:4-7 ESV)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
We celebrated John's 12th birthday twice-once with a peanut butter cake at a church meal, and once with our friends who came over and had supper with us (this time it was chocolate cake!). John even got another chocolate cake from his Aunt Jean when we recently went to Kansas City! Lots of food for a growing boy, what more can you ask for?
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for every sinner slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train:
Christ the Lord returns to reign.
-verse 1, Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending, LSB 336
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
We recently had the privilege of going to the Creation Museum in Kentucky during their "Homeschool Days" (they offered a special rate). John's description: "Awesome!" Other kids' reactions: "Thank you, Mom, for taking us here!" The exhibits were very well done and informative. I highly recommend it!
We were also able to spend the night with our dear friends we met at the seminary last year, and now are living in Kentucky. I managed to keep this a secret from the younger two until we were done looking around the museum. Squeals of delight followed, and a wonderful time was had by all!
Monday, October 25, 2010
It is not we who build. [Christ] builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess-he builds. We must proclaim-he builds. We must pray to him-that he may build.
We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down.
It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don’t ask for judgments. Don’t always be calculating what will happen. Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.
It's hard to believe that I have been homeschooled for ten years. The years have flown by and I can't believe that I will be starting college in three years. Since I have been homeschooled all my life, I have found plenty of reasons that explain why I like being homeschooled so much.
1. I am with my family a lot more than I would if I went to school. I have learned lots of things about my family because I have spent so much time with them.
2. I don't have very much peer pressure about acting a certain way, dressing a certain way, having certain things, etc. to be accepted in the “in-crowd.” I’m not saying that I never feel this way, but I am saying that I don’t think I worry as much about these things as others might.
3. Because I am with people of different ages so much, I feel comfortable being around them and being able to talk with them in the same way I would to someone my own age. I always get the urge to laugh if I hear about people complaining that homeschoolers are unsocialized because they obviously haven’t been around any.
4. I love getting together with other homeschoolers. I find events like this very enjoyable. Yes, we homeschoolers actually do have social lives.
5. I get great opportunities to read really wonderful literature!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
And because of him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1Corinthians 1:30-31
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16
The "Left Behind" theology, aka "Dispensational Pre-millenialism", is a relatively new way of looking at end times. It began in the 1800's, and it robs Jesus Christ of His central place as the Redeemer of fallen man, and instead shifts the emphasis to man being ready enough to be raptured away before the tribulation, as well as looking to current events and the re-establishment of the temple in Jerusalem as a means to predict Christ's coming. Lutherans historically have held to the "a-millennial" position, that Christ is now reigning in His church, and will come back once for judgement, then make all things new, as I mentioned above.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20
First, the fall weather is beautiful, and there are so many things to do! There always seems to be a fair or festival around here.
John and Lindsay started in homeschool choir at the seminary, which meets weekly on the day we go into town to shop at the seminary. After choir, Elise has her organ lesson. The associate kantor from the seminary teaches choir and Elise's organ lessons.
John and Lindsay are back to their piano lessons on a weekly basis, which are going well. Elise plays the piano on her own, and I am trying to get myself organized to continue teaching Bethany (we did a little piano last year). Someone always wants on the piano, which is a good thing!
It is fun for me to see how the kids have all matured since the last school year. Elise (10th grade) is in geometry this year, so the end is in sight since she has already taken Algebra 1 and 2! Not sure what the next step will be for math for her, since she does not want to take calculus and I do not think I should teach that anyway (I did take it in college, which was a painful experience that required hiring a tutor). John is in 6th grade (middle school!); Lindsay is in 4th. Bethany is in first grade; since school has been a part of the family since she was born, transitioning her into more book work hasn't been difficult.
I am currently reading the kids the Little House books. We are on These Happy Golden Years. Reading to the kids is one of my favorite parts of the day!
Stan is of course busy with his classes. He has Greek Readings, Liturgics II, Pauline Epistles, Catechetics, and Lutheranism since 1965. He was invited to preach at a friend's church on October 17, and will preach at Zion on Reformation day. I am looking forward to hearing his next sermon.
We miss our friends who moved away from the seminary, but have enjoyed meeting several new families. I have 2 "little seminary sisters" who also homeschool their children; we have had fun getting together and letting the kids play. Speaking of moving away, if Stan's classes go as planned, we will be receiving our vicarage assingment in less than 220 days! We do not know where we will be assigned until the day the seminary formally announces it. Somewhat nerve-racking, but we are in God's hands and I am excited to find out what the next step will be.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Discussing the various bugle calls and drum rolls used. Four soldiers slept in that small tent.
This weekend we attended Civil War Days in Angola, IN with a fellow homeschool family. My friend lent us our outfits, and even made the dresses that Elise and I wore.
There were many authentic reenactments. I learned that a soapstone (which is a stone cut into the shape of a cutting board) was used not only as a cutting board, but also as a knife sharpener, bed warmer, and seat warmer for cold buggy rides.
Saturday night we attended the dance, which I think is more fun than any homecoming dance I attended in high school. Young and old dancing together to the fiddler, mixing as they follow the directions of the caller. And no, I didn't take any pictures-I would rather dance! I also enjoyed looking at the gorgeous hoopskirt evening gowns. It was like being at a prom from150 years ago. I am definitely hooked on old-fashioned dances.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The basic assertion Luther made in this book was that man is in bondage spiritually, and has no volition or even ability to trust in God or become pleasing to Him. Our small catechism sums it up well:
I believe that I can not by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him: but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Creed, The Third Article).
Ephesians 2:1 (emphasis mine) says “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” A dead man can not save himself, or decide to ask someone to save him. Verse 4 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-…” God clearly gets the credit for salvation. However, one might begin to reason, that if this is so, and a person can not “decide for Christ”, then is the opposite true? If God chooses people to be saved, does God pick out some people not to be saved? This is known as “double predestination”. Yet Jesus places the blame elsewhere for man’s damnation in Matthew 23:37 (emphasis mine): “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” Again, in 1 Timothy 1:19 (emphasis mine) Paul tells Timothy to hold “faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.” Man’s sinful nature clearly gets the credit for damnation, for God “has no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God, so turn and live.” (Ezekel 18:32). Here, one might argue that God is telling the people to turn, so isn’t that that “doing something” to help God out? But Scripture interprets Scripture, and since it is clear that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, “ (Eph 2:9 emphasis mine), we see that even the turning that God told the people to do was, and is, a gift of grace. So He gets the credit for salvation, and man’s sinful nature gets the credit for sin and damnation. Intellectually satisfying? No. Biblically consistent? Yes. God tells us what we need to know in His Word. We are not to go beyond the revealed Word of God and speculate on the why’s and how’s that He has not told us. Why some reject and some receive remains a mystery. Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… (John 1:11). What does God desire? To give us the gift of saving faith, for He has paid for everyone’s sins, by the death of His Son, who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2 emphasis mine).”
Back to our small catechism, which explains that the Holy Spirit points to this work of Christ by calling by the gospel. It is a great comfort to believers when it goes on to say that:
In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.
On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
This is most certainly true.
If you are interested in reading our synod’s doctrinal statement on election, you’ll find it here.
Issues, Etc. may be offering a series on The Bondage of the Will; if so, I will try to post links to the shows.
Note: Not sure if my link to the radio show is working, so here is the link to the show archive. Scroll down to Tuesday, September 14, and you can listen there.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
man does good works; evil works do not make a wicked man,
but a wicked man does evil works. Consequently it is always
necessary that the substance or person himself must be good
before there can be any good works, and that good works
follow and proceed from the good person, as Christ says ‘A good
tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit’
(Matt. 7:18). It is clear that the fruits do not bear the tree and
that the tree does not grow on the fruits, also on the contrary,
the trees bear the fruits and the fruits are grown on the trees.”
Martin Luther, “The Freedom of a Christian” (1520).
The very heart of the gospel is at stake with the interpretation of Matthew 7:18. It is Christ, and Christ alone makes us "good" and He sanctifies our works. Any working to prove that one is a Christian is works-righteousness. Good works certainly have to be in the life of a Christian, but they are a result of Christ's salvation, not a striving to prove that one is a Christian.
What does EVERY false doctrine distort? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. That He, and He alone, saves us and produces fruit in our lives is what is always compromised when doctrine becomes distorted. It is by His Gospel alone that we are saved.
Monday, August 30, 2010
John driving the go cart that my grandpa built for my mom.
Elise giving Bethany a ride in my "Herbie"
Steph and Dana-I'm the short one in this photo
Steph and Dana-1981-Steph is the short one in this photo
Going full throttle (15 mph!)
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Dad and Mom: tired due to staying up late to watch a movie.
Elise: tired from staying up late.
John: mild sore throat.
Lindsay: sore throat and asthma bothering her.
Bethany: asking lots of questions. "What is bran? Why do they take the bran out of flour? What does plain mean?"
Even better, Bethany is standing here laughing at my post and telling me to write "fine" after her name. And saying, "Do more questions!" I love being a mom. And having my husband on break from school. And finding the humor in the every day life. What good gifts from our Father in heaven.
Monday, August 2, 2010
At the church picnic. After it was over, we had the bouncy house to ourselves all afternoon. I had fun bouncing, too!
The kids found a snake in the front yard. Dad came out to confirm that it was harmless. John, Lindsay, and Bethany are excited about their find (and Elise and Mom are happy for them, from a distance)!
At the seminary playscape. We have had overnight guests twice this summer, and enjoyed showing them around town (as well as getting to spend time with them!).
When one family was here visiting, the kids spent an entire day catching butterflies (and naming them). I think they caught ten butterflies over the course of the day. They even let them go after short periods of time, since they were trying to take good care of "Gorgeous" and her companions.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I had the privilege of hearing him preach his first sermon today. I look forward to many years of hearing him proclaim Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, in the rich variety of ways that the Biblical text allows.
For where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Spirit who creates, calls, and gathers the Christian Church, without which no one can come to Christ the Lord.
(Large Catechism, Part II The Apostles Creed, section 45)
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified....and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2, 4-5
Here is a link to a well-written article on what makes a good sermon, entitled "A Listeners Guide to the Pulpit", by Pastor Todd Wilken.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Although this label is probably outdated already, the thinking underneath it remains in many American churches today. The idea is that we must make the "seeker" comfortable, and get them interested in coming to church. Don't tell them that they are sinners in need of a Savior, that might drive them away. Don't talk about doctrine. Just get them to believe in Jesus. This is a bait and switch tactic, that smacks more of American consumerism than the one true faith.
Here is the bad news from Romans 3:11- no one understands; no one seeks for God. (So if no one seeks after God, there are no "seekers"!)
Here is the good news from Luke 19:10-"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Instead of trying to make the church "seeker-sensitive", or whatever label you want to slap on it, we should view the church as the Bride of Christ. He is the seeker, not us sinners, who are dead in our trespasses and sins! For despite all of the church's antics to make herself attractive, He seeks us, and only He can wash us clean and make us radiant through His Word and Sacraments.
Each day, my group attended two or three chapel services. Various settings from the LSB were used, and I really enjoyed that. After the main chapel service, a plenary session was held. Over 1100 people were at the conference and attended the plenary session. These sessions were focused mainly on vocation and the liturgy, both of which God has given to us.
One of the other sessions I attended was on the Lord's Supper. While at it, I received a sheet of paper with lots of quotes that Martin Luther made on this Sacrament. One of them was as follows: "We must never regard the sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine that aids you and gives life in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body is helped as well." God has given us so much, even though we are poor, miserable sinners!
The closing chapel service was amazing! An orchestra accompanied much of the music in the service, so it was beautiful to listen to. Below, I have posted a verse from the hymn we sang once every day:
Your living finger never wrote
That life should be an aimless mote,
A deathward drift from futile birth.
Your Word meant life triumphant hurled
In splendor through your broken world;
Since light awoke and life began,
You made for us a holy plan.
Monday, July 5, 2010
What a precious verse! It doesn't say that we should fear God because He wants to squash us for our sinfulness. It says that we fear Him because of His forgiveness. We respect and stand in awe of a God who would stand in our place, and take the punishment we deserve. Luther's small catechism, which is a part of the confessions of our church, explains the 1st Commandment, "You shall have no other gods", like this:
"We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." Although the Law of God always accuses us, the good news of forgiveness is what imparts faith and love to our dead, sinful hearts.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Dad: Laptop, water bottles, and weather radio.
Mom: Blankets for kids to sit on, broom and dust pan (so kids would be willing to sit on the floor-our basement is more like a cellar!), purse with cell phones and MP3 player, radio with batteries.
Elise: Bert and Ernie (our parakeets), MP3 player, book, pillow.
John: pillow, and library books (he said he didn't want to pay for them if the tornado destroyed them).
Lindsay: pillow, all stuffed animals, and paper books that she has authored.
Bethany: pillow, and one stuffed animal (she looked at Lindsay's paper books).
Thankfully, no tornado touched down, but we did have 80 mph winds. Stan of course went upstairs a few times to check the weather, much to the chagrin of the younger kids. I got the basement somewhat swept up, and we had some good laughs as the kids bumped into each other while sharing the quilt spread on the floor. After the warning expired, Lindsay and Bethany slept on the living room floor because they were too scared to go to their own beds. It was a togetherness experience that reminded me of camping, which we haven't done since I was pregnant with Bethany. Maybe it is time to start looking for a tent!
Monday, June 21, 2010
"Wittenburg Confessions: Testimonies of Converts to Confessional Lutheranism", by Jim Pierce and edited by Elaine Gavin, is a book recently released by Blue Pomegranate Press. Stan and I had the privilege of contributing our stories to the book. Yet this is not a book about how victorious and successful our lives have become since we converted. The back cover says:
"The institutional church is drifting further and further from the historic liturgy and the proclamation of the pure Gospel. It is devolving into a pop culture version of the faith that emphasizes "feel good" worship over the historic liturgy and tolerance over the truth of the pure Gospel. But all is not lost. Internet blogs like the Brothers of John the Steadfast and radio programs like Issues, Etc. and Pirate Christian Radio are being used by God to raise up a new generation of committed believers.
Wittenberg Confessions presents the testimony of eight of these new converts to Confessional Lutheranism. Reading these testimonies of what God has done in these lives will give you hope that Christ continues to build His Holy, Catholic Church, despite man's foibles in the institutional church."
Here is an excerpt from page 85, when I recall the final events that led to my investigation of Lutheran theology:
"I had always been curious about areas of Christianity such as predestination, end times, etc., but had struggled as to what source I could use to study them, other than the Bible. I had never studied thoroughly the more controversial issues, such as infant baptism and communion, from any viewpoint other than the modern evangelical one. As of late, some questions had been forming in my mind. I had recently come across the term 'monergism' in a book I was reading, and was totally unfamiliar with it. I wrestled with this idea that our salvation is credited solely to God, and that we have no part in it. I had always said that God saved me, but I had to decide to trust Him (even though I would have said that He gave me the grace to do so). I noticed on my close friends' blog a link to monergism. Clicking on this link led me to ask a whole host of questions."
It is an interesting and thought-provoking book with essays that show the working of Christ on our behalf.
You can order the book at churchministrypublishers.com:
Monday, June 7, 2010
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it.
I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, Jeremiah 17:9-10a
The fact that God knows my sinful heart strikes terror into it, so there is no comfort found by pointing myself inside. The true comfort is found in the objective, external Word of God: Jesus Christ given for the forgiveness of my sins!
Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2Thessalonians 2:17.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
"It's a good thing this isn't the 1800's. They would never put up with all the squealing that goes on at our house. They were pretty strict."
We have had many 1800's discussions lately, since we are enjoying The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder as a read aloud. Although I think that in some areas we all are guilty of "chronological snobbery"-thinking that since the way we do something is newer, it must be superior, I am glad that I do not have to train my children to be "seen and not heard" for them to be socially acceptable. However, I must admit there are times, especially at the dinner table, when that rule sounds pretty good to me.....:)
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Posted using ShareThis
The above referenced Issues, Etc. radio program (click on the Wednesday, May 12, 2010 link) is a refreshing change from the many "how-to" discussions on Christian marriage. What makes a Christian marriage is NOT the superior performance of the husband and wife, but the presence of Christ IN their marriage and Christ FOR them. If we are married, we are married to sinners. Our spouses are married to sinners. Christ graciously forgives us, and out of that forgiveness we forgive our spouses, and they forgive us. So we are able to say to our spouses through the good times and the bad, "I am not going anywhere." This is a rock solid love, for it is the love of God. We do not possess it, but the presence of Christ, which is also "not going anywhere", gives it to us. We Lutherans believe that we can always find the presence of Christ in the Word of God and the Sacraments.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Last Friday, I went with a friend to a spring ball, which was organized by a Christian homeschool group. It was lots of fun, and I had a blast getting to wear a formal prom gown. The theme was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," from Wizard of Oz, so there were lots of rainbow/Oz themed decorations. It was a great evening. Here, I have posted some pictures of me in my dress. Mom did a great job on my hair! :)
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I'm more than half-way done listening to these great Bible studies! If you are interested, go to the Issues, Etc. website, click on "Listen", then "On Demand", then choose one of the twelve featured studies.
The first two are taught by Stan's professors. Good stuff!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Well, I have officially moved into that stage of life that has traditionally been called middle-aged. However, all I hear now is that 40 is the new 30. And, since I don't know how long I am going to live, I don't know if I am at the half-way mark or not! Maybe not, since I have a lot of grandparents who lived/are living a long time. Anyway, what I do know is that I am thankful for another year of life. There is nowhere I would rather be than right here, with the people, places, and things that entails. Most of all I am thankful for the forgiveness of sins, so I can look forward to being with Christ forever, and not just back on all of my sins. One thing I do know: every day is one day closer to seeing Jesus face-to-face. Now that is something to look forward to!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Phillip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Phillip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?" John 14:8-10a
How do we know what God is like? Look to Jesus. This Jesus, who healed the sick, raised the dead, drove the moneychangers out of the temple, rebuked the Pharisees, washed the feet of the disciples, instructed and fed the multitudes, fulfilled the Law perfectly, sweat drops of blood, and died on the cross for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." (Hebrews 1:3a).
God is not a cold, distant being, concerned with self-promotion. God came to us in Christ, as a lowly servant. God still comes to us through His unchanging Word, by His Spirit speaking faith into our cold, lifeless hearts (Romans 10:17,Eph. 2:1,Hebrews 13:8). He forgives us our sins for Christ's sake, coming to us in our Baptism and in Holy Communion in physical means connected to His Word. He is still a servant, despised and rejected. In His servanthood His glory is found. This is what Lutherans refer to as the theology of the cross: God, the creator of the universe- holy, holy, holy-would condescend to serve us poor, miserable sinners.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:24
What does this mean for the Christian? Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Christianity is about Christ, not how great of a Christian life I can live, or the "look what Christ has done for me, don't you want Him to do it for you?" type of mentality. Or trying to climb to higher levels of holiness, without concern for loving the neighbor. That is the theology of glory. The only advertisement for Christianity that my life can be is summed up in the phrase, "I am a poor miserable sinner, ask me how." That is the only thing I am good at! But I can tell you about the one who died for the sins of the whole world, and who still forgives me. I am a baptized child of God, and can return to my baptism daily in contrition and repentance! Good works flow from the forgiveness God gives us in Christ. The Christian is continually convicted by the Law, and forgiven by the Gospel. Out of Christ's service to us, we love and serve our neighbor. This is the Christian life, according to the theology of the Cross.
"Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.'" John 15:20
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6
Friday, April 9, 2010
New Testament Greek: There's no way I can effectively express the experience I had last fall in words. I have told many people that it was like trying to take a drink from an open fire hyrdrant without getting washed away. I know that my Greek skills pale in comparison with many of my younger colleagues. (I try very hard not to be envious of the guys who can “sight translate” text “cold”!) But it is still an honor and privilege to continue learning God's Word in its original tongue. If I had more time, I would try “auditing” the 10 week course to help fill in some of the gaps that happened when I was sick. So much that I missed then. Maybe next year...
Gospels I (Matthew): One word: “WOW!” For so long, I had viewed the four gospels as merely a set of chronological discourses of the life and teachings of Jesus. One of the most renown scholars on the gospel of Matthew challenges you to dispel this belief. When you consider the likelihood that Matthew (as well as the other authors) wrote his gospel with the intention to use it for catechesis (teaching), and that the text is arranged in more by topic or subject matter, you start seeing familiar passages in a different light. Book recommendation: “Discourses in Matthew”, by Dr. David Scaer.
Dr. Scaer is well-known in Lutheran as well as non-Lutheran theological circles and has published numerous books and journal articles.
Church History I: One of the more pertinent things I learned is that God is actively creating and interacting with His creation, and it is through the Person of the Logos (Word) He does this. Also, the forms of error that attack the Church today are essentially the same as it was back in the days of the early Church – it's just more high-tech. Gnosticism, for example, is not something that only happened “way back when”. Forms of it are very much alive today, even in some spiritual expressions that (sadly) some people think are compatible with Christianity. The “gospel” according “Oprah” or “Olsteen” are prime examples.
Liturgics I: Another “WOW!” I had a deep appreciation for liturgical worship when I came to seminary, but after this course, I have almost fallen in love with it. I already knew that the Liturgy is firmly grounded in Scripture, but to think that some parts of it are dated back to Christian worship of 500 AD or earlier is mind-boggling. Here are some examples:
• The Introit – 500 AD
• Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might”) – 350 AD
• Gloria in Excelsis “Glory to God in the highest” – 500 AD (put into regular use around 1100 AD)
• Salutation (“The Lord be with you”... “and with thy Spirit”) - 300 AD
• The Collect – 500 -700 AD; some of these historic collects of prayer continue to be used today.
• Scripture Reading – Ancient Jewish custom in synagogues, continued in Christian Church
• “Alleluias”, used in association with the Gospel reading: 300 AD
• Nicene Creed – 451 AD
• Sermon - like the reading of Scripture and the “Prayers of the Church”, exposition of the Word of God was inherited from the worship of the Jewish synagogue. The decline of preaching during the Middle Ages was one of Luther's charges of “abuses of the Church”.
Book recommendation: “Heaven on Earth”, by Dr. Arthur Just – Get this book. His insights on the liturgy and its biblical ties to Word and Sacrament are incredible.
Dogmatics: A very challenging course, but well worth the time spent. Much of the time was spent with theological writings by great dogmaticians such as Francis Pieper, John Mueller, and Robert Preus; are great resources to have when learning (and eventually teaching) about subjects such as the Holy Trinity, Divine Providence, Authority of Scripture, Positive and Negative Attributes of God (yes, “negative”... but it's not what you're thinking!). I had a great time writing a paper comparing the viewpoints of Robert Preus and Arthur Piepkorn on the question of the inerrancy of Scripture.
My lineup for Spring quarter:
• Gospels II (Luke and Mark)
• Theologia – Baptism
• Homiletics I
• Confessing Christ in Today's World
• N.T. Greek Readings (yes, more!)
Also, I am so very grateful to so many of you who have been regularly praying for me and my family. Special thanks to our church family at Christ Lutheran in Kansas City. Thank you so much! To God be the glory!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Death no longer can appall me;
Jesus lives! Death's reign is done!
From the grave will Christ recall me.
Brighter scenes will then commence;
This shall be my confidence!
Jesus lives! I know full well
Nothing me from Him shall sever.
Neither death nor powers of hell
Part me now from Christ forever.
God will be my sure defense;
This shall be my confidence.
Jesus Lives! The Victory's Won (LSB #490 vs. 1 and 4)
Sunday, March 28, 2010
We recently celebrated Lindsay's 9th birthday. We had a family party, with cake, ice cream, presents, and a game. On another day, we had a seminary family over for supper, and ended up with a lot of kids (12) over, while their older siblings went next door for a dance.
Some of Lindsay's favorite gifts were: a pack of blank paper (a hot commodity at our house), and a bug cage.
Happy Birthday, Lindsay!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Serious George was a very somber monkey, and always very serious.
Delirious George was a dizzy little monkey, and always very delirious.
Hilarious George was a funny little monkey, and always very hilarious.
Furious George was an angry little monkey, and always very furious. (my favorite)
"A cheerful heart is good medicine." Proverbs 17:22
Friday, March 12, 2010
for weak and weary is my soul;
Thou, Bread of Life, alone art able,
To satisfy and make me whole:
Lord may Thy body and Thy blood
be for my soul the highest good!
I can recall an instance before I was Lutheran when I felt guilty for taking communion. As a confessional Lutheran, I realize that I was really receiving nothing when I took communion back then, whereas now I am receiving His Body and Blood. Why then, when I am receiving so much now and not feeling guilty for taking it, did I then feel guilty for receiving communion when it was nothing?
Now, when I receive communion, I no longer feel put under the Law. I know that I am forgiven all my sins, and I am so thankful that God's mercies are never-ending.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Blessed Jesus, King of grace,
That life's riches, cares, and pleasures
Never may Your work erase;
Let the clear inscription be:
Jesus crucified for me,
Is my life, my hope's foundation,
And my glory and salvation!
by Thomas Hansen Kingo, 1634-1703 (Lutheran Service Book, 422)
This is my kind of song. It is not full of verses about what I am going to do, but is full of Christ's work for me. What is it that I can do that avails before God? Absolutely nothing, so why bother singing a song about it? Christianity is unique because it is not about what we do, it is about what Jesus has done, and continues to do on our behalf. With songs such as this we praise the Lord, "proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds." Psalm 26:7
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On Saturday, John and I went to a Lord of the Rings marathon with our friends at their church. We had a lot of fun! We watched all three Lord of the Rings in their extended editions. This was the very first time either of us had seen the extended editions. They were very good!
I really enjoy drawing, so I have posted some LOTR pictures.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
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I enjoyed listening to Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She made many good points about abortion:
1. Organizations that come to urban areas to provide "therapeutic abortions" are doing nothing to help the African American community. Minorities have a higher percentage of total abortions performed. How can destroying part of the minority population help them?
2. Abortion does not lift up women. Abortion kills females babies, as well as hurts the mothers physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
3. A law can't make a woman want her baby, but it can keep her from killing the baby.
My own comments are these: 3,000 abortions a day do not help women. How can an easy-out such as abortion do anything but cause women to be viewed more as objects by men, instead of respected for what is uniquely female, which is the ability to bear children? It seems as though modern women's rights are often more about making women the same as men, instead of women being respected as women. I know the argument that many women died as a result of back-alley abortions before Roe vs. Wade. However, I think that what our country has chosen-legal abortions, which are not safe, legal, and rare, is a reckless, damaging choice. Abortions are most commonly used as birth control. As to the number of children per couple, we are barely at the replacement rate in the U.S. We complain that we don't have enough young people to pay into Social Security, and that our population has more old people than young. One answer to that is that 1/3 of my generation never saw the light of day, due to abortion. Sweden just legalized abortion for "gender selection" purposes. What is going to stop us from going down the same path?
Lord, have mercy on us, and help us embrace Your gift of life.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...Jeremiah 1:5
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Yesterday, I began organ lessons! I am very excited to be learning how to play, and I hope to work up to a position as a church organist. I am taking lessons from the assistant kantor at the seminary, who is also the director of the children's homeschool choir. My first lesson was in the seminary chapel, so I got to play on the huge chapel organ. It was amazing, and I can't wait to learn more about playing the organ! The above picture is of the organ at Zion Lutheran Church, which I get to practice on. Thank you, Grandma Palmer, for paying for my organ lessons!
The homeschool choir that Lindsay, John, and I are part of has been going well, also. We have been singing at a chapel service each month. I am really enjoying it, and I am looking forward to singing at a chapel service tomorrow.
Last Saturday, I played the piano for a chapel service at a nursing home. Zion Lutheran Church visits many nursing homes, and they have offered me a position of playing piano for another chapel service at a nursing home every second Sunday of the month.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I had the treat of reading The Hammer of God, by Bo Giertz, while we traveled to and from Kansas City. It is historical fiction, which is my favorite genre; I give it a hearty thumbs up! The author, a prolific writer, was a former atheist who became a pastor and bishop in Sweden in the 20th century, although his influence on Lutherans worldwide continues today. It is divided into three distinct, yet complimentary stories: "The Hammer of God", "Jesus Only", and "On This Rock". They all take place in Sweden, from early 19th century to mid 20th century. In a nutshell, the book tells the story of 3 new pastors working hard at their vocations, confronting sin and complacency in their congregations and ultimately in themselves. Yet, it is not another hero story talking about the valiant efforts of these pastors to whip their congregations into a model of Christian piety. This is a book that confronts us all with our inability to please God with our own efforts. What does that mean for a pastor, who brings the Word of God and Sacraments to his congregation, who is far from the ideal that he preaches? Is he doomed to become a hypocrite? Does he need to try harder to be counted among the obedient? Or will he be left in utter despair? The author knits together a masterful story about the hardness of our sinful hearts, and the “Hammer of God”, His Law which breaks all pretense of having a special standing before God based on our accomplishments. Then, we are truly ready to receive the Gospel, which is the good news that Christ has lived the righteous life for us, taken our sins upon Himself, and paid for them with His blood. I don’t want to be a spoiler, but here is an excerpt from the book, when one pastor is talking to another:
Do you believe that Christ died only for the sins you committed before you became spiritually concerned? He would hardly have needed to die for them-you could put them away by your own strength. That you begin your day with the Bible instead of with Moliere, ….-that is only picking burrs from your coat, something you can get rid of yourself. But the corruption of sin is something that you cannot put away yourself. For this you need a Redeemer, one who suffers in your place; for otherwise you might as well give up every thought of heaven right now. Pg. 100
We have thundered like the storm, we have bombarded with the heaviest mortars of God’s law in an attempt to break down the walls of sin. And that was surely right. I still load my gun with the best powder when I aim at unrepentance. But we had almost forgotten to let the sunshine of the gospel shine through the clouds. Our method has been to destroy all carnal security by our volleys, but we have left it to the souls to build something new with their own resolutions and their own honest attempts at amending their lives. In that way, Henrik, it is never finished. We have not become finished ourselves. Now I have instead begun to preach about that which is finished, about that which was built on Calvary and which is a safe fortress to come to when the thunder rolls over our sinful heads. And now I always apportion the Word of God in three directions, not only to the self-satisfied and the believers as I did formerly, but also to the awakened, the anxious, the heavy-laden, and to the poor in spirit. And I find strength each day for my own poor heart at the fount of redemption. Pg. 103
Sunday, January 17, 2010
After Christmas break, we just finished our 2nd week of homeschool, and Stan finished his first week back. The kids and I will be going a little bit longer this year with full-time school, since we have gone out of town so many times. I doubt we will miss out on time at the pool, however, because the pools open a couple weeks later here.
Stan is enjoying his classes: Liturgics, Church History, Dogmatics, Gospels 1, and Greek Readings. Soon he will be working on a paper comparing two different Lutheran scholars' views on Biblical innerancy. I have the benefit of hearing his thoughts about what he is learning. Now we have come full circle-when we married we were both in school, and now he is back in school and I teach it. We are really all about school in this family, I think :).
It is always good to get back into the school routine again after a break, although this is the "plodding" time of year. The newness of the the school year has worn off, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays is past. It has been cold for a while, and we are look forward to warmer weather (which won't come for a while, here!). However, we are actually hoping we get another big snow, because a couple at church has the best hill for sledding. We had a blast sledding there about a week ago. They even have a pulley to bring you up the hill (although it wasn't working the day we went). So, all in all, we are pressing on. Elise is almost half way done with Algebra 2, and then for math I only have Geometry left to teach her. So, the days of pressing on become years, and here we are with a high schooler. She and Stan will probably graduate the same year. Class of 2013!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. We had a great trip to Kansas City and McDonald, Kansas, to see my grandparents. We arrived in Kansas City just in time for the snowstorm, which made driving to church interesting.
At our annual Christmas Eve waffle party, we had 21 people. My mother-in-law jokingly said to my father-in-law, "Just look what we've done!" Quite a clan, once the kids, spouses, and grandchildren are all together! At my grandparents we were able to see aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. We also had lots of time for dominoes, and our favorite card game, Pitch.
After spending time with extended family, and filling out the 2010 calendar with my family's ages for their next birthdays, I began thinking. The days fly by now, but someday, Lord willing, I will be looking back across my lifetime. One thing I know I will never regret is the time I have had with my children.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,...
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. Psalm 127:3a, 4
We certainly are blessed, and we look forward to seeing our heritage grow up and expand. To God be all praise and glory!