Thursday, June 13, 2019

Used Car Shopping

So my daughter and I went out yesterday to look at some used cars. She needs a replacement. Soon. Like, by the end of the month. Her current car failed inspection and will cost too much to fix.

I hate buying used cars. Some people swear by them and absolutely won't buy a new car. "It loses so much value just by driving it off the lot!" Some truth there. I'm the opposite. For when I buy new, at least I know what I'm getting. Buying a high mileage used car . . . you're inheriting problems. And it's hard to know just what.

A couple of years ago we did this and got her a car. Turns out it had a lot of problems. Maybe some we should have foreseen, others not. But we learned, and hopefully we won't make the same mistakes. We saw a Mazda like the one in the picture yesterday. Not too high mileage and it has a good reputation. I'm hoping the man will let us take it to a mechanic to get an evaluation done. If not, do we walk away? Try to low ball him? Problem is, we have a deadline and time is always in high demand.

The salesman was nice. A schmoozer, of course. Lousy coffee! Anyway, I'll let you know what happens. :-)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

98 and Still Going . . . !

Here I am with one of my homebound members yesterday, the matriarch of our congregation. 98 years old and still going strong! What a dear child of God she is. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Family Update

A couple of weeks ago, my youngest was inducted in the National Junior Honor Society. Of course, we are very proud! Here's a picture of her (second from left) with her friends from that night. (Sorry it's not the best quality. Hard to keep teenagers still for pictures, you know!)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Difficult Forgiveness

I just want people to do what they say they are going to do. Make a promise, keep it. Make a commitment, do it. Why is that so hard? Is that such an unreasonable expectation?

I spent hours on the phone today trying to get people to just do their jobs and honor their commitments. It makes me frustrated and angry and want to take vengeance! Just do what you say you are going to do!

So I got to thinking . . . about forgiveness. And it seems to me that forgiveness in the abstract is easy; but forgiveness for specific things is hard. Like, doing what you say you're going to do and keeping your commitments. Have I failed at this? I'm sure I have. So . . . Matthew 18 . . . the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant . . . he's forgiven a huge debt, but won't forgive his fellow servant who owes him a small debt. See me in that man? Yep. How many commitments, promises, have I not kept? And yet our Lord has forgiven me. Now I grow angry and frustrated and want vengeance on my neighbor who has done the same as I, yet on a smaller scale?

Let me quote St. Paul here: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25a)

Lord, help me do better.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wait for the Lord

If you've ever read through the psalms, you've heard the phrase "wait for the Lord." It's in a couple other places in the Old Testament, but mostly in the Psalms. What does it mean? Is it kind of a generic phrase, to wait for the Lord to act, to answer whatever it is you prayed for? Or is it more specific than that, referring to something special . . . like, wait for the Lord who is coming. Wait for the Lord who was promised to you. Wait for the Lord to fulfill His promise of a Saviour. Wait for Jesus. 

It seems to fit. The very first Christian creed was "Jesus is Lord." And did you know the phrase "wait for the Lord" is not in the New Testament? Hmmm. Maybe because, as the angels told the shepherds, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." Or in other words, the wait is over - Joy to the World, the Lord is come! No more waiting . . .

Luke 24:44 - Then [Jesus] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

Well, did it? :-)

Took a long break from the ol' blog. Been quite busy. But hopefully I can post a little more . . .

I'll start with this past weekend. I was in Saint Louis for the pre-Synodical Convention Floor Committee weekend. I was asked to serve on committee #5 - Theology and Church Relations. It was interesting. Theology-wise, there were overtures dealing with creation, cremation, and Scripture, (and probably a few others), and Church Relations-wise, there were overtures dealing with altar and pulpit fellowship with other Lutherans in Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. We had one on changing our relationship with Canada, and another on the Lutheran World Federation - the worldwide association of (mostly) liberal Lutheran churches. (I was on the subcommittee on our relations with other church bodies.) I learned a lot - not only about how this whole process works, but also about how complex our relationships with other church bodies around the world can be.

Of the 42-some overtures we were given, we boiled them down to 13 resolutions (if I remember right!) for the convention to consider . . . that is, if there is enough time to get to all 13. Each committee is given an allotment of time on the floor, and depending on how much conversation and debate there is, may not get to them all. So we also had to prioritize them, most important ones first.

Our Floor Committee will also meet the day before the convention begins. First privately, in case anything has come up between now and the convention that may necessitate a new resolution or adjusting one of the ones we drafted this weekend. And then second, there are open hearings the morning of the start of the convention when others can come and speak to each Floor Committee with any concerns they may have. That should be interesting, too!

I got to worship in the International Center Chapel a few times while there - that was nice. Wonderful organists played, and I got to enjoy listening to some sermons. We finished a little early, so I bumped up my flight home and for some reason, they seated me in First Class for my flight from Saint Louis to Philadelphia! That's the first time I've ever gotten to fly that way. Nice. A guy could get used to that.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Christ is Risen!


We finally get to say it and sing it again. I am looking forward to a joyous day today.

It's been a strange Lent for me though, I must say. I felt like I've been behind and trying to catch up the whole season, and so didn't get to soak it in as much as usual.

Also bidding farewell to a founding member of the church. We'll meet again. But her long struggle is over. She is at rest in Christ and I look forward to joining her in the resurrection.

Today the whole family is over for Easter dinner. That will be nice. Then golf tomorrow afternoon! That's kind of a tradition for me, though one that doesn't always happen. Take the afternoon after Easter to get out and walk around, get some fresh air, enjoy, decompress.

My father seemed to take another step down these past few weeks. He's 95 now. Wow. Will this be his last Easter with us? What other changes will this year bring?

Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am. Which is really silly. Incredible wife, wonderful family, good health.

Hope you have a wonderful celebration today of our Lord's resurrection!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Good Name for a Church

So I was thinking . . . I have a church in my circuit named Saint Stephen's. I wonder why they decided to name their church that? I am going to ask them tomorrow when I am with them. I am interested to hear their answer. They might not know why it was named that back in the day, but it will be interesting to think about and think up reasons why that is a good name for them today.

So I got to thinking about church names . . . Some churches are named after two people, for example, Sts. Peter and Paul. A quick Google search shows a bunch of them. They are put together because although they had a disagreement (see the book of Galatians), they also reconciled with one another. So why not a St. Paul and St. Stephen Lutheran Church? (A Google search showed only one church with this name, in Gloucester, England.) Why that name? Well, Paul was there while Stephen was being stoned, watching the clothes of those doing the deed and approving of it all. And yet while he was being stoned, Stephen look up to heaven and said with his dying breath: Lord, do not hold this sin against them (Acts 7:60). Against Paul. So what would naming a church with that name testify? That we are all about forgiveness.

Seems pretty good to me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Evolution as Philosophy

It occurred to me the other day that evolution is not just a theory, but a philosophy. It's not just an explanation about how things might have come to be, but an entire worldview - a way of looking at all of life, and its meaning, purpose, and value.

When I mentioned that to someone, they said, "Of course." But I don't hear it spoken of that way. Maybe if we started to say that more and more, it might help people think a little differently and realize that as a philosophy it is incompatible with theology, which is an entirely different worldview.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

My Yesterday

So yesterday I had to report for Jury Duty! The trial I was considered for was a rape case that was going to last 3-4 days. Ugh. Even though attorneys usually don't like having pastors on their juries, I was a little worried. However, that, coupled with the fact that I have given pastoral counseling to women who have suffered sexual abuse over the years (but never to someone accused of sexual abuse) was enough to have me stricken by one (or both) of the lawyers. The guy next to me was a clinical psychologist who had treated patients in this situation also, and he was excused as well.

We were in the courtroom, though, for a good 1.5 hours, as the attorneys asked their questions and made their notes. What I thought was interesting and had never seen or heard before was that when one of the potential jurors wanted to explain something privately at the bench, the judge had a switch to turn on "white noise" through the speakers in the courtroom, to make sure no one else could hear. It worked. I heard nothing. But after a while, it got to be annoying.

Last night, then, I got to attend my youngest daughter's school orchestra concert. And, just like her big sister, she has ascended to principal, or first chair, in her orchestra. (Quite an achievement for a 7th grader in the Advanced Orchestra in her Middle School!) Below is a picture from the program. (Sorry the quality is not better, but it wasn't my idea to print this on red paper!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ashes To Go? No!

You may have heard of it or seen it - a new fad for Ash Wednesday called "Ashes to go." A pastor or priest goes to a coffee shop, Metro Station, or some other public place and imposes ashes onto the foreheads of any who come and desire them. I think this is a really bad idea. Why?

Well, aside from the fact that I think it is feeding our society's appetite to be "spiritual but not religious" (aka the "I don't have to go to church" movement), this is the real, big problem with it: It gives the Law without the Gospel. Dust you are and to dust you will return, but then no forgiveness in Christ! No resurrection from the death of sin! The person leaves with a sign of sin and death imposed upon them, and the rest is up to them.

Yes, yes, if they are Christians perhaps they know the Gospel. But don't we proclaim it every Sunday because we need to hear it over and over again? Because our world catechizes us with the anti-Gospel? That's why we give it in the Lord's Supper, too!

As a theologian once said: The Gospel assumed is the Gospel denied. Let's stop this fad and instead proclaim the Gospel. Ashes are no good if Jesus doesn't wash them off of us.

Monday, March 4, 2019


So I read two news stories today, which were quite different. In fact, diametrically opposed.

The first story stated that some are trying to normalize pedophilia, saying that it is just another "sexual orientation" that someone is born with and that cannot be changed. So who are we to say that is wrong? Along with this effort comes the desire to lower the age of consent from 18 to something less than that. And get this - if pedophilia gains status as an accepted sexual orientation, that is becomes a protected category under civil rights laws! (HT: Gene Veith)

The second story was a report about the Roman church's recent meeting on protecting children in the church. Out of that meeting was expressed the desire to raise the age of who is considered a minor from 14 to something older. One wonders why it was so low in the first place.

What a messed up, mixed up world we live in.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Been a While . . .

Yes, I'm still here. :-)  It's been a while since I posted. The "to do" list is long, keeps getting longer, and "blog" always gets pushed down the list of priorities. So, how about just a couple of random thoughts . . .

. . . Happy Birthday to my wife! We celebrated a couple of weeks ago. Last year, a big surprise party. This year, a quieter celebration.

. . . Happy Birthday to my daughter! She turned 21. We could not be with her as she is away at school, but proud of her.

. . . Abortion - how our country is divided! The March for Life is great, but New York passes a law allowing abortion at any time, the Virginia governor speaks of infanticide just because the baby isn't wanted (sounds like ancient Rome), and yet Missouri just passed the most restrictive abortion law of all the states! What's the answer? Change hearts, not laws.

. . . Speaking of the Virginia governor . . . Blackface in a 35 year old picture? Resign! Support for infanticide? Crickets.

. . . Speaking of Virginia politics . . . Governor with blackface? Resign! Lieutenant Governor accused of sexual misconduct? Resign! Attorney General with blackface? Resign! Oh wait. The next guy in line for Governor is a Republican? Never mind. Really?

. . . Death. Of a beloved professor at Patrick Henry College, where I do campus ministry. Unexpected in the night. Rough. Always be ready. You never know.

. . . Politics. When Republicans run the House, they act all civil and proper and the Democrats attacks them. When Democrats run the House, they act all civil and proper and the Republicans attack them. Can't they see the hypocrisy? Crazy. And some of the things being said? Crazier.

. . . Long, scraggly, unkempt beards. I just don't get it.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

March for Life 2019

The March for Life was yesterday. It's always a fun event to go to. This year wasn't too cold, which also was nice. It was also a "Life Conference" year, which meant more-then-the-usual-number-of-Lutherans were taking part. I didn't know as many folks as usual (or maybe just didn't see them), but I do have a couple of pictures . . .

Some friends from New Jersey.

One of our newest Athanasians with her daughter.

Daughter Peasant (in the glasses) and another young Athanasian.

Junior District Orchestra

My youngest (7th grade now!) made it into what in Virginia is called the Junior District Orchestra. That is a cluster of schools that make up a "district" joining together their best instrumentalists to form an orchestra to give those with above-average abilities a chance to perform some more challenging music in a special orchestra. They bring in a guest conductor to work with the kids and it's quite a nice concert they put on.

So for my daughter, 7th through 9th grade make up the "juniors." So the fact that she made it into the group while competing not only against fellow 7th graders, but also 8th and 9th graders is quite an accomplishment. Their concert was last Saturday, just before the snow storm came in. :-)

Yeah, I know you can't see her in this photo, but she's in there, buried among her fellow violinists!