Monday, May 16, 2016

A Nice Recognition

Today a retired Army officer came over to recognize and honor Dad for his military service. My Dad flew in a B-17 rescue squadron in the South Pacific in World War 2. Here are a couple of pictures:


Dad receiving a special pin.


And a certificate.

Dad enjoyed getting to talk about the old days with a fellow veteran for a bit. It was very nice for them to come and do this for him.

Money

An interesting series of events and readings of late . . .

First, a few weeks ago, I met a woman named Paula on the DC Metro. She was upset and I helped her out a bit then, and have a couple of times since with a place to stay and with some food. I found out later that she was a plaintiff in a rather large lawsuit with a lot of other women, which settled with a hospital in our area. She is due something like $7.5 million, which I believe she is to begin to receive soon. But until then, she needed some help. That's all fine, but here's why I bring her up: the pastor of the church she was attending said to her that God told him that she should give him (or his church) $1 million. . . . She's not going to that church anymore.

In the readings for Morning Prayer today, money was front and center. Balak, the king of Moab, tried to get Balaam to curse Israel for him and promised him great riches to do so. But Balaam replied: "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more." Then, right after that, we read of Judas agreeing to betray Jesus for money . . .

Finally, in the adult Bible Class yesterday, this from Proverbs:

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom [Christ],
    and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her (Prov 3:13-15).

How often money steals our hearts and becomes a false god. I am grateful that among the myriad temptations that I face each day, money is not one of them. The Lord has provided me and my family with all that we need - sometimes more and sometimes less - but we've always been in a position where we can be generous with our money and give. And I like doing so. My wife handles the finances for us and tells me when to slow down and cool it. But she's the same way. I remember Luther and Katie being like that as well.

So why do I bring this all up? I don't know - just because it was interesting how those four things all came together over the past couple of days.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Good Weekend

This past weekend was our annual Good Shepherd Seminar. This year we had Rev. Jim Bushur from the seminary come out and teach us. It was very, very good. The audio files of his presentations have been posted on our web site. I very strongly encourage you to listen to them - it will be well worth your time. Click here to go to the page with these files (and also files from many of the other years of our seminars).

In other news, my father is still hanging in there. He has his good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments. We are just still waiting to see what the future hold. The hospice doctor is coming over soon, so hopefully we'll get some clarity as to what is happening.

My son comes home from college for the summer this week. It will be nice to have him home again for a while. My daughter is making preparations for her first year of college this fall at Virginia Commonwealth University. It will be a big change to have them both gone in the Fall!

My Phillies are still doing pretty well for a rebuilding club. They are ahead of schedule, playing above .500 ball, and have many exciting youngsters in the minors ready to come up either this year or next. The future is looking bright! I think the same could be said with the Eagles - they got some good free agents and have some good talent if they can stay healthy. All will depend on the quarterback of the future, Carson Wentz, working out. We shall see.

I guess that's about it. Again, make sure you go listen to the seminar. Really. Go. Listen. Really. Now. :-)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Confusing Signals

So my Dad is home with us and on hospice care. What does that mean? No one knows, really. Medicine is an inexact science. While his kidney output increased (good sign) his kidney's filtering function still isn't working (bad sign). His legs are a little stronger (good sign) but he also seems more tired and sleeping more (not so good sign). So it's hard to tell and a bit confusing to know what's going on inside of him. Everyone is different, and he's otherwise pretty healthy, so maybe that's why. It's just hard to plan and look ahead - we're just caring for him, sitting around, and waiting.

I am grateful for the help we're getting. My brother and sister have really put themselves out to be here, and we have nurses come at night to sit with him so we can get our sleep. The daytimes are our turn to watch him and help him, so a lot of work getting done at the kitchen table and some things being put off or cancelled. But we have very kind and understanding friends, church, and work, so we've been good so far. It's just hard being out of routine, sitting around so much, always being ready to jump up and help, and trying to maintain some sense of normalcy for our kids.

My workouts have also been put on the back burner for the past almost two weeks now. Hopefully I can get back to them soon - that will help me feel better and more like myself. But I keep reminding myself what a blessing this time is. If he would have passed away in his sleep, then I would have had no time with him at the end. But we have been given these days and weeks to love him to the end - and for that, I am thankful.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Welcome Home Dad!

We brought my father home from the hospital last night and had a big welcome home dinner for him. He is doing well and in good spirits, so we are enjoying him for however long he has left and grateful for the time our Lord is giving him to us.

Here's the crowd:



Clockwise from the left: Two Peasant daughters, Peasant son, niece and husband, brother, my father, sister, and wife.

UPDATE:

We took another picture last night, my father with his three kids:


I really like this picture! It's a keeper.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Magic Dog

We got a companion dog to come by and visit my father in the hospital today. That dog was MAGIC! We could not get my father comfortable enough to lie still and try to get a nap, but once we put that dog in the bed, he immediately calmed down and started to doze off. It was awesome.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Catching Up and A Thought About Communion Practice

Been a bit since I posted. Still basking in the glow of Villanova's victory! :-) Got my National Championship hat in the mail yesterday. Way overpriced, but I wanted to have one.

In other news . . .

+ The Walk-Run-Ride for Life was today, to benefit our local pregnancy center. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and the ride was a great success. Right now, they have raised 88% of their goal, which I'm sure will updated higher at the beginning of the week. That is (I believe) better than they usually do - so good news! It also seemed to me like they had more participation this year, which is also good!

+ Going to Wisconsin next week for a pastoral conference, and really looking forward to it. It is always nice to get away from the usual routine and spend some time with my brothers. Also have the District Board of Directors meeting, which will not be as much fun. Have some tough things to discuss and decisions to be made.

+The Phillies are off to a pretty good start - their record is 5-6 right now, but they have some really good talent on the cusp, so they are trending in the right direction. Last night, however, was abysmal. I got to watch as they played the Washington Nationals and so were on TV here, but they got smoked. Hopefully they'll do better tonight.

And now a thought I've been having . . . regarding Close(d) Communion practice in the Church . . .

It seems to me that not many churches actually practice what is called "open" communion. Oh, I'm sure there are a few that will commune anyone, anywhere, at anytime. But I think the great majority follow some sort of guidelines as to who may commune. So here's what I think the issue REALLY is: Who gets to decide? Is it the individual, or the pastor (in the name of the church/congregation)?

That, I think, is the crux of the issue. Our hyper-self focused, self-identifying, self-actualizing, self-centered, self-exalting culture puts the responsibility for deciding on the individual, while the Scriptures give that responsibility to the church. In our world today the former is acceptable, the latter is not.

To be brief, I'll just mention two Scriptures that speak to the church as having this responsibility. In the Old Testament, it was given to the priests to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the profane. They did not announce a general description of what these things were and leave it up to the individual to decide where he or she fell - this was a task give to the priests. And even in Jesus' day, when He healed lepers, Jesus told them to "go show themselves to the priests." This was the church's culture.

Then in the New Testament, it is the apostles (and their successor) who are the stewards of the mysteries of God. They are the ones tasked with the proper distribution of the master's goods, to give them as He wants them given. It, again, is not left to the individual.

So that (I've been thinking lately) is really the crux of the issue - it is a clash of cultures. The world which believes authority lies in the self, and the Church which believes authority lies in God and His Word. Of course they're going to disagree! But what will the Church do?