Saturday, February 28, 2015

Strange Noise . . .

Ok, so I get up this morning and make my way down to my study in the basement. To do so I walk past the laundry room and hear the water running. Strange. Sounds like the washing machine, but it's early so no one up but me. The water noise is coming from the sump pump hole.

Oh no.

For those of you who do not have sump pumps, let me tell you this: there is no good scenario for what is happening at this point. None. Nada. This is bad no matter how you slice it.

So I gently move the cover to the sump hole and water starts squirting out. Okay, it just got worse. Images of my basement flooding are running through my head. So I unplug the pump and remove the cover . . . and thankfully, the water is not running out of the hole. This is probably the best case scenario! One of the couplings connecting the pump output to the output pipe had come loose and the water was squirting out of there. But what caused it to all of a sudden come loose?

I grab some buckets and bail the water out of the hole. It is as warm as bath water! Our pump must have been running quite some time. My guess is that with all of our extremely cold weather, the line has frozen somewhere and the pump just kept running and running, trying to push out the water until the coupling came apart under the pressure. Then the pump kept pumping but the water never left the hole, i.e. infinite loop.

So, I'll keep an eye on it for now and see what happens. Reminds me of another story when I heard water running in the middle of the night . . . but that's a story for another day. :-)

UPDATE: Confirmed line was clogged (and assumed frozen), so ran a new, temporary line to the waste sink in the laundry room. So now the water can get pumped out until the spring thaw, when I'll remove the temporary line and reattach the permanent one. (My wife will just have to watch her step until then!) And now I'll have the emergency line ready for it this ever happens again.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Good Quote

Adam and Eve tried to separate God's Word from the tree. God saves them and the world by making sure His Word is stuck to the tree.

~ Rev. Mark Beutow, Higher Things devotion

Monday, February 23, 2015

Rebuke the Evil Foe, O Christ!

O Lord, Who lovest good and art a God of mercy and compassion! Save me from the terrible corrupt enemy, who hourly fetters and persecutes my soul with evil and corrupt thoughts.

Ineffable is Thy strength, O Christ, for it rebuked the waves of the sea. May it rebuke him, may it render him ineffectual, and may it banish him far from me Thy servant.

Every day he renews his treachery against me and he hastens to take possession of my crippled mind and to distance me from Thee and from Thy divine commandments.

But, O Master, O most merciful Lord, quickly send Thy strength and chase from me, Thy worthless servant, this mighty serpent with all of his cunning and shameful thoughts, that I might in purity praise Thee with Thine eternal Father and Thine all-holy and good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

~ Ephrem the Syrian

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Christ at the Center

Well, it's snowing pretty good here today. Supposed to warm up a bit, but so far the temperature has fallen. Supposed to change over to sleet and freezing rain, and then plain rain overnight - the question will be how much snow falls first. We'll see!

But anyway, more words from Dr. Schmauk . . .
The difference between various [Christian denominations] lies not merely in some difference of their component elements, but also in the way in which those elements are set in their relation to each other; and the large and more sweeping difference, which counts on the whole, is to be found in the latter fact.  . . . 
The Roman Confession writes the doctrine of the Church large, and makes it the visible centre on which all else revolves. The original Reformed Confession writes the doctrine of God, our Sovereign and Creator, large, and makes it the centre and goal of the faith. Many of the older sects exalted the doctrine of the individual and his freedom, as the large and controlling element of their faith  . . .  The Lutheran Confession is the one Confession that writes the doctrine of Christ large.  . . .  If Christology is thus the centre, the centre of Christology is Christ's office as Priest, and particularly that of completed redemption through his vicarious satisfaction. In Word and Sacraments it recognizes the means whereby the fruits of his satisfaction are applied.
The Confessional Principle and The Confessions of the Lutheran Church
p. 136-37

Friday, February 20, 2015

Yes, It's Cold Here!

When I woke up this morning, it was 2 degrees outside. 2. Two. One plus one. Don't even need a whole hand of fingers to count the degrees. Now, some of you who live in northern Minnesota may be used to that kind of weather, but down here near DC, that's cold for us! Thank you Lord for my nice warm house and furnace that works.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Faith and Confession Go Together

"As 'faith without works is dead,' so it may also be said that faith without confession is dead."

The Confessional Principle and The Confessions of the Lutheran Church
p. 96.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

Return to the Lord, your God,
for He is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

Do you live a double life? Think about it. You do. If you cannot figure out how, come to church tonight and I'll fill you in. Then we'll look at the One who didn't, and how He's the answer to ours.

Update: Sermon posted here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Good of Confessional Subscription

"The faithful and single-minded fulfillment of such an obligation (a Confessional subscription) is not only not a tyrannical expectation, but it is fair and equitable to all parties. It is fair to the pastor, and protects him in many ways; it is fair to the flock, and is a most important protection to them and their children; it is fair to the Church, and protects her in her most essential principles and work.  . . .  As a co-confessor of the confession of the Apostles and the Church, the minister plants himself upon that same foundation-rock, upon which the congregation is as free from his personal mutability as he himself is free from the fluctuation of his members. For as the minister is no lord of the congregation's faith, so the congregation dare not lord it over his faith by the changing opinions of the majority."

The Confessional Principle and The Confessions of the Lutheran Church
p. 86-87.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Service of the Law

More from Schmauk:
There is a service in the law, which is result and satisfaction; a service above the law, which is joy and freedom; and a service under the law, which is tyranny and bondage. It may be the selfsame service in all three cases. It is a galling service in bondage, to the weak man, the critic, the dissatisfied man, and the thinker of untamed instincts. It is a service in law, to the man of serious conscience. It is a service above law, to the man of [faith].
The Confessional Principle and The Confessions of the Lutheran Church
p. 80.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

An Interesting Juxtaposition

My church does not have its own building. We rent space in a Spanish Seventh Day Adventist church building. At times, this creates some interesting conflicts and dynamics. This week is one of them. The Adventists are having a revival this weekend, and on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Why not Wednesday night, too? That’s our night to use the building, and it’s Ash Wednesday.

So notice the contrast: although I have not been to an Adventist revival, the revival model is to stir up the people to action using emotion and motivational speaking. Nineteenth century America was awash in this kind of effort (which is when Adventism was born) with tent revivals and itinerant rvivalists. One of the most famous was Charles Grandison Finney, and a book (historical fiction) about this is Elmer Gantry - an entertaining read. Our church is having a kind of revival too, but of a much different sort. It is a call to repentance and the discipline of Lent. It is a call to look at our sins in sorrow and focus on the cross and forgiveness of our Saviour in joy. 

At first, the difference between these two might seem to be outward versus inward - revivals focusing on being on fire and going out to win the world for Christ, while Lent is focused inward, on self examination and repentance. But the difference is far more significant than that. It is really the difference between a focus on what man does and a focus on what God does. Revivals speak of Christ, but the focus is on you and what you do. So get out there and do it! But Lent is focused primarily on what Christ does - a season leading to the remebrance of His death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter. Yes, repentance is a focus, but even this is the work of the Spirit in man (John 16), convicting of sin and turning us to our Saviour to receive His gifts.

And it is this focus on our Saviour and His work for us that produces deep and lasting results. It is not a few days dedicated to special and fervent service, followed by burn out and a return to life as we know it (which often cannot measure up to the emotion of the revival, and so quite a let down), but a change of heart that can only occur through Word and Sacrament. A change of heart not for a few days and then a return to life as we know it (or which now seems worse), but to “create in me a new heart” (Psalm 51) and a return to our life callings (vocations) for the long haul. To live for others where the Lord has put us, in those callings He has given us, as parents, spouses, children, workers, friends, neighbors, and more. Callings that are intricate parts of our lives, not outside of them.
So on Tuesday and Thursday, the building we meet in will be filled with fervor and the stirring up of emotion and excitement. On Wednesday night, it will be quiet, reflective, and repentant. On Tuesday and Thursday, the word will be “go out and do it!” On Wednesday night, the words will be: Dust you are, and to dust you will return . . . I forgive you all your sins . . . Take, eat, this is My Body; Take, drink, this is My Blood. Quite a contrast, don’t you think? If only those walls could talk . . .

Friday, February 13, 2015

This is nuts!

This is what it's like in Boston. Crazy. I like snow, but . . .

Friday, February 6, 2015

What are the Lutheran Confessions?

"Confessions are Scripture digested, assimilated, and beating in the life pulses of the Church.  . . .  Confessions are the under-framework of the Church -- the spars and the ribs of the ship, resting upon and extending from the centre of strength, the Word, to give protection to any point in the circumference, the Church, where there may be weakness and consequent possibility of wreck. Confessions are the rails; and, let us understand well, not the roadbed or the solid rock, on which the ecclesiastical trains run. The bed is Scripture and the rock is Christ, and they determine the direction; but the rails are of human workmanship, condensing the roadbed to an effective point, and giving guidance, protection and impetus to the moving trains above."

Theodore Schmauk, 
The Confessional Principle and The Confessions of the Lutheran Church
p. 9, 12.