Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Offense

"Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me' (Matthew 11:6). "Yea, truly blessed! For tie King and His Word, in which men should find great joy, are a stumbling-block for all the world. The world takes offense and is provoked by the Gospel of Christ, because it will not trust in the grace of God, but rather in its own works and merits. And again the world takes offense at Christ because He is so utterly poor and wretched. And again, that, as He carries His cross and lets Himself be hanged upon it, He admonishes His followers to take their cross and to follow Him through all manner of temptations and afflictions. To this the world is especially hostile. Thus is our dear Lord Christ everywhere in the world an annoying preacher. The Gospel will never fare otherwise. It is and it will be a message at which offense is taken, not by the lowly, but by the most saintly and most pious, the wisest and the mightiest on earth, as experience teaches us. Blessed are those who know and trust that it is truly the Word of God, for they are healed, and they are comforted and fortified against all such offense." ~Martin Luther

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reason to Rejoice!

"Come from on high to me; I can not rise to Thee. Cheer my wearied spirit, O pure and holy Child; Through Thy grace and merit, Blest Jesus, Lord most mild, Draw me unto Thee! Draw me unto Thee! ~Now Sing We, Now, Rejoice, verse 2; German and Latin text, 14th cent., Lutheran Service Book #386 What a magnificent explanation of why we have reason to rejoice at Christmas. At first glance it may seem rather depressing: What? I can not rise up to God? I haven't been naughty this year! I've been nice! Well, let's be honest, friends. None of us have been good enough, if we are to be measured against God's standard of perfection. None of us have been perfectly patient, good, kind, forgiving, nor charitable in thought, word, and deed ("None is righteous, no not one; no one understand; no one seeks for God." Romans 3:10). As each year passes I become more painfully aware of my lousy motives, even in the *good* things that I do. Sin is a wearisome thing. Yet in the hymn we cry out to God to cheer us, through His good works, which are good enough! It is through His perfect life, sinless sacrifice on the cross, and continual coming to us through His Word, Holy Communion, and Holy Baptism, that we are forgiven. And by that forgiveness we are drawn to Him. Thanks be to God for the good news that He came to us that first Christmas, comes to us now by His Word and Sacraments, and will come again on the Last Day to draw His children to Himself for all eternity.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

Advent is here! I am so glad to be in Advent services (and away from the December to-do list), which remind me of the longing the world had for its Savior to come the first time, and the longing that we now have for Him to come a second time and take us to Himself. He is coming!! We sang this Advent hymn this morning: Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates! Behold, the King of glory waits. The King of kings is drawing near; The Savior of the world is here. Life and salvation He doth bring; Therefore rejoice and gladly sing. To God the Father raise, your joyful songs of praise. ~LSB 341. This hymn is by Georg Weissel, 1590-1635

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Unfortunate Turkey

Here is a story that my 9 year old daughter wrote: Once there was a turkey named Tom. He lived on the Burgan Farm. It was 3 days before Thanksgiving Day, and he knew what that meant: death for all turkeys. He hated the tradition of having turkey for Thanksgiving. Tom hid inside the barn, hoping not to be noticed. His stomach rumbled. He was hungry. He saw some feed on the ground and ate it. “No one will find me here, I hope,” Tom thought anxiously. 2 days passed. Tom forgot that there was one more day until Thanksgiving. “Ha! I fooled them that time!!!” Tom thought. He came out of hiding, snickering to himself. Before he knew it, Farmer Burgan was chasing him around the barn. “COME BACK HERE, YOU SNEAKY TURKEY!!!” Farmer Burgan shouted. Tom was beginning to tire. He rested inside the barn. “AHA! THERE you are!” said a voice. It was Farmer Burgan! And no one ever heard from Tom the Turkey again. Moral: ALWAYS COUNT THE DAYS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING IF YOU’RE A TURKEY.

Watch the Grammar

Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Notice the subject of that sentence: Jesus. He does the seeking. What an amazing truth. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Since we are all born lost, we can correctly say that Jesus came to seek and save me, or that He came to seek and save you. WARNING: Do not make yourself the subject of the sentence, such as, “I sought Jesus so He could save me.” Salvation does not depend on the movement of our will towards God, but on Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection for us, given to us in our baptism. (“Baptism...now saves you” 1 Peter 3:21). He gives us the faith through His Word to believe in Him. The initiative is God’s alone. You can rest your eternal salvation on that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Hat and Gloves

I had fun at a recent ladies' meeting where we were invited to wear a hat and gloves if we wished. I borrowed the hat and gloves from a friend.
I suppose I still like to play dress up.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Glancing Back at God's Provision

"Do you have a place to live?" asked our admissions counselor, soon after we sold our home. "Well...we have a place in mind that we could buy, but it's not ideal," was our reply. He told us that there was a four bedroom home available in the country, provided that Stan would agree to do his two years of fieldwork at the church next door. They sent us photos of the house, and we said yes. One month later we were in Indiana, driving to our new home. "If you don't like it you don't have to take it," said the pastor. I thought, "The 26 foot moving truck is showing up today. Where else would we go?" We walked in to the house, and.....we loved it. So much so that we are still living there after Stan finished his vicarage there in August, and is now completing his 4th year at seminary. It has been a tremendous blessing to us to live in the same home for our entire time at the seminary. It has relieved financial stress, and allowed us to put down roots. This is one way God has given us our daily bread.

Grandpa was Special

I have been thinking about my grandpa lately. He died about 14 years ago. I adored him, which is evident by the look on my face in this photo, which was taken in his shop. He made me the wooden barn (complete with a Snoopy weathervane, which is cut off in the photo), as well as the big wooden Snoopy. I did a lot of fun things with him on the farm, which included riding in the tractor with him when he worked the fields. It was an enclosed cab, and he made me a bed in the back of the tractor so I could take a nap when I got sleepy. When I was awake, I would sit on his knee while he drove the tractor, and he would tell me stories. Grandpa was special.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Songs That Get You Through the Night

Some songs are fun, and some songs will get you through the dark times of life. Here is a soundbite discussing The Difference Between a Hymn and a Ditty.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reason versus Justification

Reason thinks as follows: If you have been justified, you cannot be a sinner. But they do not understand the magnitude of divine mercy and the efficacy of faith, that is, they cannot discern true from false. They do not think that God can count us righteous while sin remains. His imputation is greater than our purity; the substance remains. The imputation is greater than all the angels and the whole world. - Martin Luther

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

24 Hours of Doctrine



Several guests are professors at the Ft. Wayne seminary.  Each guest takes a  2 hour segment, and  will be available for individual download some time after the program airs.  If you have questions about doctrine, or enjoy studying it, you won't want to miss this. You can't go wrong investing time learning about God's Word.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Call of Jesus

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer Christianity is no self-improvement plan. It is also not a plan to achieve moral superiority by self-sacrifice. It is the death of our old self, also known as our sinful nature. Romans 6:3 says, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Christianity is dying and rising, which is granted to us as we receive God's Law (that puts us to death) and God's Gospel (which raises us to new life). So all glory goes to God the Father through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit, who works through the Word of God.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Final Year Already?

Classes at the seminary are in full sway, and after a successful year of vicarage, I'm back into the books.  I can hardly believe it's my final year.  I was recently looking at pictures taken for our family's "Farewell and Godspeed" at our home church.  "Wow", I thought to myself... that was three years ago ?!?   Now, we are entering our fourth year and the Call Service is only about 7 months away, at which point life at the Palmer home will prepare for another major, but exciting turn.   Vicarage was indeed a great experience, and I learned a great deal and receive a lot of encouragement from so many people.  Words cannot express how much the ongoing financial and prayer support we have received means to me and my family.

Palmer Home School is doing well.  Elise is a senior this year, and is taking a couple courses at home but is also transitioning to college by taking a couple of college courses for dual credit.  This summer will not only be big change for me, but for her as well, as we will be sending her off to college. 2012 has been an exciting year for John too, as he was confirmed in the Christian faith in July by my vicarage supervisor.  What a privilege it was to have a part in his catechetical instruction. Lindsay, a sixth grader, has started confirmation classes.  Bethany is also doing quite well with her schooling and piano lessons.



Blessings to you all!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Repetition--Bane or Blessing

When I went through the teacher education program in college back in the early 90's, I was struck by how little attention was given to memorizing, also known as rote learning. Higher, or critical thinking skills were praised as the goal of learning As someone who had grown to appreciate being able to recall Bible passages by memory, I was appalled when I heard my professor speaking in a mocking way about those backwards early American settlers and their inferior education and understanding. Stepping back, I had to ask myself, is our modern education system really superior? I think the answer is obvious. We often deride those of past generations who *only had an eighth grade education*, but if you look at their textbooks and realize what they were required to know, it is not too difficult to conclude that today's students lack much of the knowledge to critically think about! This mentality that rote is inferior has spilled over into the church. Perhaps the church started it, due to faulty theology; I don't know enough about it to say what the source is. But it is unfortunately alive and well in the American church. Spontaneity is valued as proof of a valid, vibrant faith. Let's look at it from another viewpoint. When Christmas caroling at a local nursing home, I was struck by the fact that many elderly individuals, who normally do little more than slump over in their wheelchairs, sang the songs with us as best they could. Why? Because they know the songs by heart. My husband says that it is the same during chapel services, when they recite the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer. These precious truths are hidden in the hearts of these dear saints. May I suggest that we are robbing today's young people, who will be tomorrow's elderly, by not giving them the riches of the church, such as the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the hymns and liturgy rich with theology? The praise choruses may be fun today but they will hardly get you through the night of affliction that comes to us all in in the various sufferings we experience in this life. God wants His Word of promise forever imprinted on the hearts of His dear saints:"Your sins are forgiven," Luke 7:48. Repetition in the life of the church is a good thing, because only then can one say, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" Psalm 119:11.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Simple Truth

Please listen to A Simple Truth about Rape and Abortion, a soundbite by Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived in rape. She said very well in a short amount of time what it would take me a while to explain, so I thought I would let her sum it up.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Promise Sealed by His Death

For the only difference between a promise and a testament is that the testament involves the death of the one who makes it. ~Martin Luther

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where it's At

It's hard to believe we ready to embark on our 13th year of homeschooling. This will be the last year for my oldest! In fact, she only has one homeschool class to complete; besides that she will be taking classes for dual credit. We have been talking about what practical life skills she wants to acquire over the next year. It feels strange to be thinking how little time I have left with her at home before she moves away for college (we actually might be the ones moving away and she might be staying in the area). Today in church the epistle reading was Ephesians 5:6-21, part of which says, "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." It goes on to explain that God's will is that we are filled with His Spirit, through the hearing of His Word. What does this have to do with homeschool and growing up? Everything. Our time with our children is short, our time on this earth is relatively short (and no one even knows how long). Receiving the Word of the Lord, and his forgiveness therein, is "where it's at." That's where I need to be, along with my family. Out of that grows all of the life skills where my children learn to care for themselves and serve their neighbor.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vacation Photos

On the boardwalk at Ocean City, NJ
Statute of George Washington at Valley Forge
Headquarters of George Washington
In the carriage that Ben Franklin was carried in when on official business
At the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia hanging out on an artery
In front of Lake Michigan
At Gettysburg museum and historical site. This was my favorite spot. We own the movie Gettysburg, and it was exciting to see the places where the battles took place.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer 2012

Braces off!
20 year anniversary!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am incredibly blessed.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Not Skipped

I haven't been in the habit of quoting movies here on our blog, but last night we watched the 1968 version of Yours, Mine and Ours. It is based on a true story about a widow with 8 children who marries a widower with 10. Then, she gets pregnant with child #19. When it is time for the baby to be born, as they are on the way out the door to the hospital, one of their teenage daughters is asking the dad for some advice about her boyfriend. Here is his response: Frank Beardsley: It's giving life that counts. Until you're ready for it, all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won't keep it turning. Life isn't a love in, it's the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and... ground round instead of roast beef. And I'll tell you something else: it isn't going to a bed with a man that proves you're in love with him; it's getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts. [Leaving the house, they say good-bye to the little kids] Frank Beardsley: I suppose having 19 kids is carrying it a bit too far, but if we had it to do over who would we skip... you?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That is SO not Lutheran!

My 8 year-old daughter recently stomped into the kitchen to let me know that she read something in one of her fiction books that offended her Lutheran sensibilities. She had been reading one of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, and informed me that the mother in the book said to another character, "Why should you love Ramona all the time?" My daughter's response was, "That is SO not Lutheran! What religion is that?" I answered, "The religion of self." My daughter's point is that God's law is God's law. In confessional Lutheranism, we do not dumb it down, or say that it's okay that we don't measure up because God loves us anyway. God does expect us to obey the Law perfectly. Before you write me off as a legalistic fanatic, let me assure you that is not the case. I will never measure up, and neither will you, or anyone else that ever has lived or ever will, except Jesus Christ. Thankfully, His righteousness is my righteousness, since He purchased my salvation on the cross and imparted it to me in my Baptism. That is the Good News, the Gospel. God's Law destroys any hope of self-sufficiency and kills us (2 Corinthians 3:4-6). Then we know our desperate need for the Gospel, which God is more than willing to impart to us by His Word and Sacraments. So, yes, you do have to love that annoying (or perhaps awful) person in your life (whatever that might look like in your situation), and by all means, as a Christian, with the help of the Holy Spirit, strive to do so. But never stop repenting daily, and believing that His obedience is credited to you. That is how, in a person's life, "it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God" (John 3:21).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday, and many LCMS churches recite the Athanasian Creed. I had never even heard of it before we were Lutheran. Here is an excellent, although lengthy, explanation of the Trinity. The Athanasian Creed Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith. Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish eternally. And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another. But the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit: the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated; the Father infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet there are not three Eternals, but one Eternal, just as there are not three Uncreated or three Infinites, but one Uncreated and one Infinite. In the same way, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet there are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; And yet there are not three Gods, but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; And yet there are not three Lords, but one Lord. Just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so also are we prohibited by the catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords. The Father is not made nor created nor begotten by anyone. The Son is neither made nor created, but begotten of the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. Thus, there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is before after another; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three persons are coeternal with each other and coequal, so that in all things, as has been stated above, the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is to be worshiped. Therefore, whoever desires to be saved must think thus about the Trinity. But it is also necessary for everlasting salvation that one faithfully believe the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time both God and man. He is God, begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages; and He is man, born from the substance of His mother in this age: perfect God and perfect man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than the Father with respect to His humanity. Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ: one, however, not by the conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by the assumption of the humanity into God; one altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ, Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the living and the dead. At His coming all people will rise again with their bodies and give an account concerning their own deeds. And those who have done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire. This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved. —Lutheran Service Book

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Month of May

We finished up school last week. Here is our completed timeline based on The Mystery of History curriculum. I did ancient history with the younger three, so the timeline starts in the lower left-hand corner and works up, with the most current time in the upper right hand corner. It's hard to believe that my oldest only has one more year of high school (and only 2 more one semester courses to fulfill her high school requirements)! When we started homeschooling that seemed so far off but now it is almost here. Elise will also be taking some classes at a local college for her last year in high school, trying to get a jump start on all of those college credits she will need!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Whoever Would Be Saved

I used to go around and around about whether or not I was one of the "elect". In plain words, I wondered if God had a "I love this one, but not that one" way of choosing whom He would save, and which side He would put me on. Before I got back into church in my early twenties, this question plagued me. How could I trust a God who might throw me into the fire on the last day? I now cling MIGHTILY to the Lutheran explanation of who will be saved (which I am not ashamed to say is the Biblical explanation). Here is Luther explaining it: Whoever would be saved should not trouble or torment himself with thoughts about God's secret counsel, about whether he also is elected and ordained to eternal life. Miserable Satan usually attacks with these thoughts and afflicts godly hearts. But they should hear Christ, who is the Book of Life, and hear about God's eternal election to eternal life for all of His children. Christ testifies to all people without distinction that it is God's will that all people should come to Him 'who labor and are heavy laden' with sin, in order that He may give them rest and save the [Matthew 11:28]. According to Christ's teaching they should abstain from their sins, repent, believe His promise, and entirely trust in Him. Since we cannot do this by ourselves, by our own powers, the Holy Spirit desires to work these things--repentance and faith--in us through the Word and Sacraments. In order that we may receive this, persevere in it, and remain steadfast, we should beg God for His grace, which He has promised us in Holy Baptism. No doubt He will give it to us according to His promise, as He has said, 'What father among you, if his son asks [him for bread, will give him a stone, or if he asks] for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:11-13)' Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord XI 70-72 These words from the confessions of our church give me so much comfort, because they point me to Christ, and His desire to save me. Thankfully I don't have to try to guess what God is thinking about me, nor do I have to look to myself and "my faith", or "my works" to try to convince myself that I am a Christian (which is a good thing, because we all fall short in that area!). Christ says, "Come to me", gives me faith by His Word, washes me clean in my Baptism, and sustains me by His Word and Sacraments. That is how the heavenly Father has given me the Holy Spirit! Thanks be to God.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Property of Mom

One of my birthday presents from the kids...and no, I didn't write it. My daughter did.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friendship

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
C.S. Lewis

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Upon the cross extended See, world, your Lord suspended. our Savior yields His breath. The Prince of Life from heaven Himself has freely given To shame and blows and bitter death. ~Paul Gerhardt (1607-76) ~Lutheran Service Book p. 453

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another day at Netherfield Hall

Elise and I had a lovely day experiencing what a dance would have been like during the Regency Period. Elise went to the Regency Ball at the Palais Royale in South Bend, Indiana last year; this was my first time. We are now really in the mood to watch Pride and Prejudice!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Little History of Birth Control Acceptance in America

This is a very informative, timely interview on Issues, Etc. entitled, "American Evangelicals and Birth Control." I have read a fair amount about how Christianity came to accept birth control as the norm, but there were a few things I learned in this interview, especially how Margaret Sanger put a spin on things to Planned Parenthood's advantage. If you are pro-choice, I would encourage you to listen to this to see how Planned Parenthood came to be accepted in our society; if you are a pro-life Christian, I would encourage you to listen to learn a little about how Protestant Christians moved away from the church's historic position against birth control. It is always good to know how we got to where we are today.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dead Ritual?

If you have ever heard discussions regarding the "worship wars" (so-called contemporary versus traditional worship), inevitably you will hear the point made that the traditional liturgy is a dead ritual. Yet how many rituals do we have in society? I don't hear people complaining about the singing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at sporting events, or graduates wearing caps and gowns and walking down the aisle while "Pomp and Circumstance" is playing. Why doesn't anyone call those customs dead rituals? The traditional liturgy is based on Scripture, and Scripture is the life-giving Word of God. So, the liturgy is not dead, but we are dead in sin (see Ephesians 2). In his book Heaven on Earth, The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service, Dr. Arthur Just states:

"Our Historic liturgy, which we call the Divine Service, is a pattern of formal, repetitive behavior. Those who feel that our historic liturgy is an impediment to missions and evangelism will point to the formal, repetitive aspect of our liturgy and describe it as a "dead ritual." But rituals themselves are neither dead nor alive. Those who participate in them make them appear as living, vital rituals or as dead ones. Said plainly, it is not the ritual that is dead, it is we who are dead." (p. 35).

Editorial update:  This post won blog of the week on Issues, Etc.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Define the Relationship

"DTR" is a phrase one of my younger relatives explained to me. It means "define the relationship," and my relative used it when talking about a male-female relationship: There comes a time when you have to define it (are we just friends? something more??)

Have you ever been asked the question, "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?" I'm sure a lot of people have. Well, it is a loaded question, partially because a lot of people feel like it is nobody's business but their own what they think about Jesus. That issue aside, my problem with the question is this-what does the person asking the question mean when he says "relationship with Jesus?" Initially, I think the question refers to the fact that all people, because of sin, need to be reconciled to God, through the death of the sinless Son of God, Jesus. However, many people get the relationship off on the wrong foot by thinking that it is dependent on their decision. Jesus initiates and does everything, because He lived the perfect life, paid the price for the sins of the world, and offers His Word of forgiveness. We are dead in our sins, and a corpse can not initiate any kind of relationship. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Another problem that can arise is that once a person receives the forgiveness of sins, he can think that the maintenance of the relationship depends on his obedience and growing in faith. Not so. The relationship is still dependent on Christ's forgiveness, and maintained by Christ's forgiveness. The Bible speaks of Jesus as the Christian's teacher, brother, and friend. We do not have to have a subjective, emotional encounter with Jesus to validate our Christianity. Many new Christian songs have lyrics that eerily remind me of romance, which points to the prevalence of this way of "defining the relationship." No. We do not measure our relationship with Jesus by comparing it to our concept of a satisfying relationship. We measure it by His forgiveness, given to us in His Word, given through the mouth of our pastor, given to us in our baptism, and given to us in communion. And yes, I meant to repeat the word "given." For with Jesus, what He has "given" is what "defines the relationship."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who am I?

This weekend I watched Iron Man 2 with John. I have to say that Iron Man is not my favorite superhero. Although the movie had an interesting plot, Iron Man himself is too cocky for my taste. His highest good is his own pleasure, not the good of others. I got to thinking about it, and decided that he is the perfect superhero for our time. Thinking highly of ourselves is currently promoted as a virtue, with the happiness of self as the ultimate goal. Yet the opposite of a narcissism is not "beating yourself up." That is still focusing on the self. Contrast this with humility, which is an honest self-assessment (which frees the person from self-obsession). So, who am I? I am a poor, miserable sinner, as well as a saint-forgiven by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and dearly loved by God. That is a self-assessment I can live with.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Congrats to John!

John won our homeschool group's spelling bee, and went on to be the first runner up at the local bee, held at an area middle school. Way to go, John!

I Just Don't Understand

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. Psalm 71:5-6

What beautiful verses from God's Word. When I read them, I immediately thought of the notion that some people have that "we can't know when an embryo or fetus is really a human being, so we can not call abortion the taking of a human life." I can not wrap my mind around that notion. If a person believes that the Bible is really God's Word, and not just pious platitudes, how can he believe that abortion does not take a human life? If the author of this psalm (David), could say by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that before he was born he leaned on God, how could he not have been fully human before birth? Some might respond, "Well, that was later in the pregnancy, when he looked like a baby so we know he was human then." My response would be, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" (Romans 9:20). Shouldn't you be more careful of tampering with human life if you don't know when it begins? I believe that at the moment of conception, God has created a human life and we are not to tamper with it. But for those who don't have that aspect settled, I can not understand why they believe they get to decide at what point this new creation counts as human. I say this respectfully, not just "trying to be right" or trying to bring on "fire and brimstone." I speak as one in anguish that 1/3 of my generation has been snuffed out by abortion. The supposed "freedom" of abortion has done nothing but increase the number of abortions. That makes it way easier for a man to "have his cake and eat it to"-meaning, he gets to have sexual relations with a woman without having to take responsibility for the outcome. Overall, people have rejected the procreative aspect of marriage, and have separated sex from its natural outcome-children. What do we have now that we didn't have prior to the 1973 Roe Vs. Wade decision? More broken families, more children born to single mothers, and less children born overall (children who could be baptized into Christ, who could be filling churches, schools, and playgrounds, and could be contributing members of society-doing things such as paying into Social Security). I don't understand why no one talks about the negative affects that abortion has had on our society. I just don't understand.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Can you repent?

"Repentance is not a narrow gate through which a person has to squeeze. Repentance is something that God Himself must give to a person. Any kind of repentance that we produce ourselves is false and God is disgusted by it." -- C.F.W. Walther, "Law and Gospel"

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Love of God

"There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." Corrie ten Boom. Or, put another way by a dear pastor: "It is in suffering that God moves closer to us." He does carry our burdens in this life of afflictions, and went to the cross with all of them. He comes to us now in His Word and Sacraments, to comfort, strengthen, and forgive us. Thanks be to God.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fully Devoted?

Are you a "fully-devoted Christ-follower?" I can answer that question for you and everyone else: No. Here is a pastor's explanation of what is wrong with the term "fully-devoted Christ-follower" and what focus will bring true comfort and healing (the explanation is less than a minute).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's Happening with the Palmers

Since I didn't send out a Christmas letter, I thought I would give a short update here. We stayed here for Christmas; since Stan is a vicar this year he is directly a pastor-in-training, and pastors do not get holidays off! We had a nice Christmas here, holding our annual waffle party with our dear friends who have become like family to us. We enjoyed the various services offered at church throughout the Advent and Christmas season. We had our own family Christmas here in the late afternoon after Stan was finished with his vicar duties of the day (that was a long time to wait to open presents, but the kids are old enough to be up to the challenge). Stan continues to enjoy his work very much, which we are thankful for. Homeschool is coming along nicely, although the end is in sight for my oldest student/daughter. What's up with the kids: Elise: continues her organist position at an area LCMS church, and likes it a lot. She will be taking the ACT and SAT soon, and will be finishing her homeschool work this year. Then it will be time to take classes at a local college. It's hard to believe. John: is playing basketball with our homeschool group, and continues to enjoy his piano. He accompanied the children who sang in the Christmas program. He also won our homeschool group's spelling bee, and will advance to the local level in February. Lindsay: is enjoying her piano, books, science, and any outside time she can get. We haven't had much snow, and she can't wait to go sledding! Bethany: started piano in the fall, and tries to keep up with her siblings. She likes school a lot, as well as playing chess with her brother (or on Dad's laptop). Stan's vicarage will last until August. As much as we miss our family and friends back home, this is home for us now (or perhaps I should say, for now). I am thankful to feel at home here, and glad that my family is settled. God will lead us to the next place. We will keep you updated on the adventures of the Palmer family!

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year Thoughts

This is a long quote, but it is very comforting regarding the new year, aging, and life in general! Should the Christian stand all day long at the grave of all joys which he enjoyed in past years? Through Holy Baptism a great stream of joy has been conducted in his heart, which does not drain away, but streams forward with his life until its waves carry him into the sea of a blessed eternity. Should the Christian be reminded all day long that the flowers of his youth fall more and more? He stands planted by God in the water of his Baptism as a palm tree which becomes a greener and greener and whose leaves never wither. Yes, his Baptism makes death for him like a short winter's nap, out of which an eternal spring-an eternal youth-follows. For Baptism is a bath that washed me not only once when I received it-washed me pure with Christ's blood-but it continuously washes me clean even daily for as long as I hold it in faith. For just as that same water of the flood drowned the sinners, but Noah with his relatives were brought to salvation and carried to Mount Ararat, so also did the water of my Baptism drown my sins, but my soul was brought to the eternal mountain of divine grace. And just as once those same waves of the Red Sea, which swallowed up Pharoah and his army, were a protective wall for Israel, so also has my baptismal water swallowed up all of my damnation and is for me a sure wall before God's wrath and punishment... Now, then, all of you who believe in God's Word, let your watchword for entering the new year be this: "I am baptized!" Although the world may laugh at this comfort, the enthusiasts vex its confidence...nevertheless, abandon any other dearly held pledges and speak only throughout the entire year to come, in all terrors of conscience and necessity through sin and death: "I am baptized! I am baptized! Hallelujah!" And you shall prevail! In every time of need, you will find comfort in your Baptism; on account of it Satan will flee from your faith and confession; and in death you will see heaven opened and will finally come into the joy of your Lord to celebrate a great year of jubilee, a year of praise, with all the angels forever and ever. Amen! ~C.F.W. Walther