Saturday, November 29, 2008

Almost Advent

Such a strange assortment of days around Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent each year. Thanksgiving Day found us with seven families in a large home. Sharing what was on our hearts took at least one and one half hours. Yesterday Mary and I hit the stores and sales hard for about four hours, and then had the grandparents and cousins over for dinner, 14 in all. Same at the Windes' home tonight. Our tech-savvy kids got us hooked up on wireless at the house too. An early Christmas present for me! A good work out at the YMCA this morning keeps the calories at arms length, now that its too cool to really do things outside regularly. God is good, even in the worst of times.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

cool prayer

Lord God of power and might, you have revealed to us in Jesus Christ that true strength lies in self-surrendering love. Make us his true disciples in every trial, and make us a true source of strength to one another, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. (Magnificat daily prayer book)
What I am thankful for: (a BRIEF summary!)
past grace -- the glorious company of apostles, the noble fellowship of the prophets, the white-robed army of martyrs;
present faith -- Word and Sacraments of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church;
future hope -- (borrowing from J. Vajda) that the faithful will breathe the Spirit's grace, see the Father's face, and feel the Son's embrace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

relentless love

The favors of the LORD I will recall, the glorious deeds of the LORD, because of all he has done for us; for he is good to the house of Israel, He has favored us according to his mercy and his great kindness (Isaiah 63:7). Many words have been used to describe the love of our God, but this morning the word RELENTLESS came on loud and clear. God relentlessly searches for his lost and straying sheep; He relentlessly embraces us with His love and does not allow any corner of our hearts to be untouched. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can love as we have first been loved, relentlessly, persistently, leaving the results to God. Relentless love, indeed!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christ the King

Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!
Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ doth command!
O come, let us worship and bow down before Christ Himself,
our King and our God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inaugural Speech Advice

In about two months time, our nation’s president-elect will take the oath of office and deliver his first inaugural address – the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise! Since our theme today is Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, I thought Mr. Obama and we ourselves might benefit from a bit of advice taken from former Presidents whose words are still fondly remembered and quoted today. They will teach us lessons in humility, in courage and love of country.

Who better to begin with than the father of our country, George Washington! In his first inaugural address, given on April 30, 1789, in the City of New York, President Washington expressed great humility of spirit by acknowledging the absolute necessity of God’s blessings for the continued liberty and happiness of the people of the United States. Listen to these words from a pre-Darwinian age:

It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the council of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect…No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.

Washington knew well that God has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.

Humility does not imply weakness! In fact, I believe it is a prerequisite for our second lesson of courage. Our seventh President, a Democrat, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee was swept into his second term on a promise to demolish the central bank of his day. The bankers had spent over 3 million dollars in an unsuccessful effort to defeat him. Listen carefully to the reasons for his veto of the Bank’s Charter: It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions…There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection…it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.

It takes courage to confront powerful money interests and act on the truth that the borrower is slave to the lender. Jackson remembered this biblical wisdom echoed by Shakespeare his play Hamlet, “my son, neither a borrower nor a lender be” as he indeed demolished the central bank and completely paid off the national debt. Oh, that history, in this case at least, would repeat itself today!

Surely it is love of country that binds all other civic virtues together. On a frigid winter’s day, January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy took the oath of office as the 35th President of the United States. At age 43, he was the youngest man and first Roman Catholic ever elected. From his speech on that day we learned about love of country.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe. In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

And so I ask you, my fellow Toastmasters, with these eloquent words ringing in our ears, what better teachers could be found for our President-elect than Washington, Jackson and Kennedy? Lessons in humility, courage and love of country learned well will serve to guide our constitutional republic into paths of prosperity and peace for years to come.

Monday, November 17, 2008

heavenly treasure

I read an article in a homeschooling magazine a few days ago which described our children as "heavenly treasures". To my own treasures -- Katie, Caleb, Josiah and Julie -- let it be said loud and clear, you are my heavenly treasures!; priceless, good, beautiful and true gifts and blessings of God!
If only we could see all children, both young and old, in this light, how quickly our relationships and dealings with each other would be transformed. It takes faith, of course, to see fallen, sinful people in this light. But surely that was part of the joy that was set before our Lord that enabled Him to endure the cross.
With the power of the cross, all things are possible.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I've been "tagged" by Pr. Benjamin Harju, to find the nearest book, turn to page 123, count the first five sentences and then post the following three sentences. Here goes! from Applebee's AMERICA: "Pastor Robert Lewis of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, thinks his big church is getting small. 'I looked up one day and realized I'm like the driver in that little car in Jurassic Park because I feel I'm about to be eaten up by change in the church,' he said. Lewis, a member of the Leadership Network board, is one of a growing number of big church leaders who believe the public is starting to demand a shift in focus -- away from pastors and big glitzy stage shows and back to community-based churching."
Who would have thought?! The day of the small local congregation gathered around Word and Sacrament has not vanished from the face of the earth:)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

good advice for our politicians

From the same 1570 Confession:

Ein Fursten ists die hochste Ehr
Dass er Gott kennt und reine Lehr.

A ruler's highest honor
is to know God and pure doctrine.

Where has it all gone?

At circuit meeting today, skimmed an early copy of the Lutheran Confessions (1570) minus the Formula of Concord, and found this remarkable passage in the introduction (my rough translation from the German!):
Where is the srength of Goliath? Where is the beauty of Absolom? Where is the art of Aristotle? Where is the majesty of Solomon? Where is the pride of Nebuchadnezzar? Where is the wealth of Croesus? Where is the power of Romulus? Where is the lust of Sardanapalus? All is gone, as the Psalm says: as a flower of the field, yes, as a vapor it soon flies away.
Those born from above, whose sins are forgiven through Christ, the word of grace, receive comfort of conscience and eternal life; all of which goodness God shares and sends us through his divine word, are not given comfort and enduring riches alone in this life, rather they endure through trouble in misfortune, in sickness, in death, and after death forever and ever.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where is God

Several random thoughts today:
A convert to the Catholic church reported that upon attending Mass for the first time she realized the presence of God in a profound way and exclaimed, "So this is where You've been hiding!" As our hymn says so well, 'Beneath these forms of bread and wine, enrich us with Your grace divine.' God hides in, with and under the bread and wine at this altar every Lord's Day. How delighted I would be for everyone to have such a realization!

After losing the game, the coach of a football team asked his players,
"Did you leave it all on the field?" (Little did I know at the time that both the University of Tennessee and our local high school had both suffered suprising and disappointing losses!) To look back at the end of each day, at the end of each life and be able to say, Yes, Lord, I've left it all on the field. No regrets for those who have done their best, with the grace and assistance of the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

keep praying

God's Word, as always, offers the best prescription for post-election stress and trauma syndrome:) "Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered." (Psalm 105)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

good shepherd institute

A wonderful trip to Ft. Wayne yesterday, safe travel and gas prices under $2.00/gallon definitely cheers one up. Worship this morning at historic (established 1837)St. Paul's was a feast for mind and eye, body and spirit. If you ever want the opportunity to experience Lutheran worship at its best, this is it. A celebration of All Saints' Sunday (observed) to be remembered for years to come:)