Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Pain You Will Bring Forth Children

Does it ever amaze you how incredibly similar events come up coincidentally, all at the same time? This week, I have found myself in discussions with several different people regarding the pain associated with losing a baby and the fear that is associated with getting pregnant again or also of not being able to get pregnant again.

Looking back on that week, I wish I had this post by Gauntlets at Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition. It is the most beautiful post I have ever read about how frightening and painful fertility can be in this sinful world, and how being open to God's command to "Be fruitful and multiply" can only be done through faith in Christ's love and promises.

I also wish I had this to show to anyone that sneers at a larger family or thinks that mother is engaged in something less worthy than those who limit their fertility so that they can be more involved in other things. Gauntlets courageously shows us that "In pain will you bring forth children (Gen. 3:16)" doesn't start and end in the few hours of labor. Our very fertility, a gift of God, is the source of so much pain, and so much joy, and it follows us to the creation of that child, through the pregnancy, through the birth, and as that child grows. In this sinful world, these joys are always mingled with fear and pain.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

How Did it Get This Bad and Is There Treatment????

Memorial Day combined with Indy 500 Day left us with two post-church congregational activities rather than our usual "grab lunch, go home, and collapse" routine. We had a really nice time at the first party, and then made our way to the second.

The second, unfortunately, was not as peaceful. As we entered the backyard, we found that our hostess had just apparently broken her leg. We had arrived just in time to see her flanked by three EMTs that were attempting to get her safely off of her pool deck to the ambulance. Getting her to the hospital was covered, and so was her husband getting there as well. She did ask for her cell phone, so Katie and I went to find it. Next to her phone, I noticed her digital camera.

Knowing that my friend blogs, I thought of the one thing I could do....I yelled across the yard "Do you want a picture for your blog?" "Oooh, yeah" she exclaimed, so I snapped a good one with her giving a thumbs up sign in the back of the ambulance.

Am I really so far gone that this is what I thought of?????

(To be truly fair, I also know that she uses her blog to keep in touch with friends and family all over the country and the world, and this was news I am sure she would be wanting to share.)

Please do keep my friend in your prayers. Right now her family's livelihood depends on a job that involves a seriously long weekly commute. As brave as she was, I am sure that this thought was in the back of her mind as all of this happened.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ablaze (TM), The Movement

Apparently, there isn't a way to directly link to the article, but David Berger, of Concordia Seminary writes a very interesting article on the problems with Ablaze (TM), and what exactly doesn't line up with confessional Lutheran theology. So scroll down until you find the article on Ablaze(TM). His article on "Diversity and the Use of Statistics in Worship" is also one I recommend.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Early Communion

Pastor Petersen at Cyberstones has posted about their process at Redeemer Fort Wayne for communing children prior to Confirmation. It is well worth the read.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Take a Look at This

Father Hollywood has some interesting insights into how the Synod has (not) responded to the huge response they have had regarding the Issues, Etc. cancellation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Dub Him Brixie

My husband has put up a strong protest to getting a new cat. I guess I can't blame him. The litterbox always fell to him due to toxoplasmosis concerns. After all, you never know if or when God could bless. He also cites allergies as a concern to kind of back up his case. Honestly, I don't know if I could've married him if we'd known that back then, but I suppose that falls under that "for better or worse" clause. But once menopause hits....multiple cats and a box of Claritin.

So I guess this cat to the right here behind the sidebar is my only cat for now, and while some have expressed that he freaks them out, I like him ( I think a good cat should freak a few people out. Cats aren't nearly as happy otherwise). So I hereby name my blogcat Brixius Northanus.

Very little is known about Brixie's namesake, other than he was a minister at Soest, and he signed the Smalcald Articles and Power and Primacy of the Pope. When I saw the way he signed his name...well, he just seems like a really nice guy.

I definitely nominate him for the "Reformer with the Coolest Name Award." And don't even try to tell me that its Egidius Mechler. You just have no idea what you are talking about.


There are times that having an 11 year old and a 5 year old attempt to figure out what to do with each other is frustrating, to say the least. But there are times that they just inspire me with awe.

Today, I didn't have the heart to bring them inside to do school work. They were playing tee ball together and having a blast. They did nine innings, and Maggie won...with a score of 25 to 21. For the seventh inning stretch they had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches outside. They were happy.

Maggie is at that age where she is kind of apprehensive about the baseball. Those things hurt if they hit, so she sometimes closes her eyes. Jeff often reminds her "If you close your eyes, the ball doesn't disappear. The only way you can keep it from hitting you is to catch it."

Tonight she told Jeff that her brother has a different way of saying that to her. Chris told her "Imagine that the ball is a big happy dog, and that its favorite thing in the whole world is to run into your glove."

When Jeff told me this, I instantly had a flashback of how Chris would talk to my tummy all the time when I was pregnant with Maggie (it was some of our favorite cuddle times) and every day he would tell her about how he couldn't wait for her to be born so he could teach her about all sorts of things, including what a ball was.

There really are no words.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Okay, I Should've Known Better

Parental warning: If your kids are looking over your shoulder when you read this, you may have to explain terms you don't want to, thanks to Kinetic Church, Jefferson Hills Church, and me.

Last night, when I was looking at Jefferson Hills Church's blog to answer a comment from the comment page, I came across this post about a church in Charlotte, NC that posted a billboard in response to a thief stealing their trailer. Pastor Ben Gonzales thought it was great. Personally, I thought it was tacky. So I asked, "how is it appropriate for a church to suggest that the act of a thief has anything to do with the presence or size of his testicles?"

Well, as I scrolled down more, I noticed that they had a post that said they have a "no criticism" policy. I already noticed that comments were moderated (not that I blame them, on a church website ) but then I rolled my eyes and figured "this one probably isn't making it through the screener." I really just wanted to give feedback, and figured that was enough. Though without showing what I wrote, Pastor Gonzales responded to it (though without an answer to my question). Apparently, he'd like to meet me in a dark alley....

I am also apparently "hiding behind a computer." But wait a minute, isn't that the medium we are choosing to communicate in? I simply thought that he was communicating ideas on the computer, and I am communicating ideas on a computer. I believe that is the basic idea behind blogs and comment boxes on blogs. If he'd like, I can call him and ask him what testicles have to do with stealing a trailer. I would've asked him the same question to his face were I anywhere near the St. Louis area...but only some place public and well-lit.

He then referenced a list of how to deal with critics. I notice he jumped right to the anger stage with me, and then he bounced to ignore, because he told you that I criticized him (which I didn't, that time. In a response to that post I will admit that I said that his response was the opposite of what the billboard said the thieves had), but didn't tell you what I said (which I did tell you what I said) and then he told you how to deal with critics...but didn't follow the steps he showed were a good way to deal with critics. :)

If I could say more, I'd say "1.) Dude, you already moderate your comments. Hit delete and have a nice day. 2.) Your "policy" was put in a post that is almost off the page...not in your byline or on your sidebar. (in fact, it's pretty much gone now) 3). There is a difference between an attack and a question of your judgement. Blogs that allow comments are meant to allow dialogue, and at times, there ends up being dialogue you don't agree with. Do you often want to meet some woman in a back alley with no witnesses who merely asks a question about a billboard? If you do, you might try anger management. That's a little beyond Type - A issues."

That's the thing that I find really gets in the way of getting to a solution in the Synod. I was truly offended by that billboard, but because I am already in the church and not one of those souls that they are trying to win, my disagreement wasn't worth listening to. That is what life seems to be like more and more in the good ole' Missouri Synod. If they are trying to win souls for Christ, then we are supposed to say they have the best of intentions and back off, even when we have legitimate concerns about those methods. The current administration takes this stand, and the churches that are "breaking away from traditions" take this stand also.

They say we don't want to work with them, but in reality, they don't want to be bound by their denominational relationship to us (to be fair, both sides can be like that. The question is how can we reach out to the lost but still be true to our theology and let the cross be the only thing that offends).

When we supposedly cling to the same beliefs, unite in the same body, then we are obligated to listen to each other -- even when we don't like it. We are obligated to hear when a brother is offended by something we are doing, or concerned that the teaching is not orthodox. (or in my case, simply concerned that a church that puts up a billboard where my kids could see it that says "ballsy" can be held up as an example of good church planting technique. I usually relegate those kinds of car discussions explaining terms that I'd rather not to things on the billboards from "gentlemen's clubs" or when we go home to Vegas and see all the naked women on the taxi cabs), not to something from a church. If anyone should be considering that children are watching, it should be them.

My intention in posting what I did was actually not to attack. I am sorry it could be interpreted that way. I meant to say, I really don't see it that way, and I don't think it is appropriate for a church to go around deliberately offending anyone like that. "Wow, that took nerve." would've conveyed it even more clearly.

But shock value is the new trend in church growth. And it won't get better. I read a book once by a man who worked in the civil rights movement in the 1960s who was now advocating for the elimination of t.v., because it promoted violence. He said that in the civil rights movement, they continually had to up the ante on the violence, because due to media coverage, the public became bored with it, and they no longer could get attention through the same tactics. He said that it is how all t.v. is, and he is right, though making t.v. illegal is not the tact I would take. I have a choice not to have it in my home. Right now we have billboards from Satan (that really confused the unchurched and churched alike) and sermon series' on sex. I shudder to think what will be the next innovation. And that is what many Christians are concerned about. Will we try to shock and look so much not like a church to get people in that we really will not be a church..or the message will be completely lost? That is my fear.

Excuse me, my five year old started watching over my shoulder. I have to go explain "ballsy" to her now, and why it is a word we don't use, even if the person meant "gutsy". Don't let your kids learn to read early. In this world, where even the church thinks that profanity is cool, it will only cause you a big headache (like when I did have to explain that a gentlemen's club was a place where men went to not act like gentlemen to my 3 1/2 year old son). Luckily, she wasn't standing behind me when I was reading Jefferson Hill's blog, or I might have to figure out how to tell her that even though the pastor thinks it is an okay word to use, "pimp" doesn't really mean cool....its a man who enslaves women and makes money off of them.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Internet is an Amazing Thing

Gone are the days when a seminary president could lose his position due to unfounded, unsubstantiated claims that he was teaching false theology and only a few people outside of Fort Wayne other than alumni from that seminary would realize that it had happened.

It is a new time, where pastors can communicate with each other at the flip of the switch (the onswitch to their computer), and even more importantly, where laity can be kept apprised of these issues as well. That honestly is the key.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

You Should Be Aware

Those of you in the LCMS who read this should be aware:

1. That if you or your congregation are donating to Missions or Board of Human Care, they are not getting your money. Your money is being held in a general fund investment account so that the the Synod, NOT the BOHC or missions, gets the proceeds from the interest. In fact, most of the funds going to Human Care have been frozen, very possibly for political reasons, since Rev. Matt Harrison has indicated he would be willing to run for president of the LCMS next convention. I know that even if you wouldn't specifically call yourself liturgical or might be very concerned about this.

2. That the LCMS is at least 20 million dollars in debt. Not only that, they are taking that debt and dividing it among its ministries, forcing them to support the weight of this debt. So ministries such as KFUO, for instance, the oldest Christian radio station in the nation, has $300,000 added to its budget that they have to meet, rather than simply meeting the costs of running the radio station. They also are continuing to pursue financing that takes us further in debt.

Because of these budgetary restraints (at least reportedly), one casualty has been the radio show "Issues, Etc.," a very popular show for the thinking Christian, that has been a very successful outreach and support to Christians worldwide (because it is one of the few that has managed to successfully utilize podcasts and modern technology that is more convenient and used by those who know least so my eleven year old tells me ;) ) . This decision to cancel our most successful ministry through KFUO was done without knowledge of the board that immediately supervises KFUO, the Board of Communications, and it seems the only other person aware of this decision to do so was President Kieschnick himself. (as of late, almost 7500 signatures by Lutherans and those outside our denomination have been added to a petition to restore Issues, Etc., and five synodical districts have issued resolutions encouraging Synod to restore the program and to apologize to Pastor Wilken and producer Jeff Schwarz for the way this situation was handled).

This also happened during Holy Week, immediately after an interview with Rev. Harrison (see #1) was aired twice in the previous week (common practice with Issues Etc.) regarding the book that he published containing issues from some of our Synod's leading minds concerning women's ordination.

3. Also, when you donate to LCMS ministries such as KFUO, the Lutheran Foundation takes a rather large cut of the money that comes in. I rather like the Lutheran Foundation. They do good things and help support congregations. But I believe that those who donate should be aware of that 30 % of your donation goes to them.

4. You should also know that our missionaries have been called home in DROVES. We basically no longer have a mission field in Latin America, an area that once was thriving. Missionaries who have devoted their entire lives to reaching out to the lost in our world, who have abandoned all comfort for the sake of Christ are simply being given a letter saying that funding is stopped and thank you very much for your service. We haven't heard from them much because they are hoping for the opportunity to be allowed to serve again, to get called to congregations in the United States, and to have means to care for their families.

5. The amounts for Synod debt currently are roughly comparable to the cost of the Ablaze (TM) program that our president has promoted.

6. Funds acquired by Ablaze to support churches who are reaching out have been used to support churches that are teaching false theology and refusing to use the name "Lutheran" in their names, a violation of a synod resolution regarding the use of mission funds.

7. The president of our synod has also suggested that the president should be the one to pick heads of synodical boards, rather than the voters at the conventions, because it would be more efficient to have board heads who are in line with his goals. This president also said publicly at the Indiana District Convention two years ago, that those who did not share the goals of synod (the current administration) were welcome to leave.

8. At our last convention, the administration proposed a convention to draw up a new constitution. It will take place immediately before the next synodical convention in 2010. The group responsible for composing and leading the process to change the constitution is the administration that made the previous suggestion.

9. Those that are expressing doubt and concern about any of these issues, rather than being met with invitations to dialogue, to open the financial records of the synod, or to address any of these concerns, have instead been met with generic exhortations to follow the 4th Commandment (respecting and trusting authority) and the 8th Commandment (using it as an encouragement to 'think the best' of the people who are the decisionmakers).

Please prayerfully consider these things. I am not the best source for information that is going on in the synod (and I don't necessarily understand accounting), and the Synodical website and publications certainly are not.

But Lutherans have taken to the internet to disperse information, and there are many reliable sources here as well. I point your attention to Save the LCMS, Augsburg 1530, and a great social connecting site specifically for Lutherans where discussions about these things and all other things Lutheran, Wittenberg Trail. There are others, but I leave it to you to mine the depths of the rich Lutheran Blogosphere.