Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting the Message Out

Putting Wanted Posters Above Urinals Catches Criminals

When my husband was in seminary, that's where they posted the 95 Theses.

And those of you who like puns, just DON'T.

(I had typed "don't go there" but then I thought better of it)

HT: Dave Barry's Blog

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One of Those Things I Never Expected to Say as a Parent

(dedicated to Pr. Esget who apparently doesn't think I use my cell phone camera enough)

"Chris, pick that nun up off the floor. The dog was carrying it around."

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Favorite Saints

My favorite saints tend to be those that are always getting a bad wrap. I love Martha and Thomas. I think they are cool.

Everyone always criticizes poor Martha for fretting over having at least 13 guests in their home that they will have to feed and begging Jesus to tell her sister to help her (which frankly would freak me out). But we almost never hear how Martha was the first to proclaim in faith that Jesus was the Messiah and that she believes in the ressurrection of the dead. She freely runs up to Jesus and meets him on the road and says "If you were here, my brother would not be dead." Now really, that is quite a bit of faith. Mary does not come until the Lord summons her.

But then Martha proclaims: "Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give You .c(John 11:22)" What faith! And then in v. 27 "She said to Him, "Yes Lord, I believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world."

Obviously, somewhere along the line she heard something.

Thomas also. He didn't believe what he heard from the other disciples, he had to touch Him and see Him. But his loyalty is not to be questioned. When Jesus headed up to Bethany to raise Lazarus, everyone knew that Jesus's life would be in danger. The Jews had just tried to stone Him and now He was heading toward Jerusalem, not away. Thomas loyally stated "Le us also go, so that we may die with Him." (v. 16).

Also, Thomas may not have been right to ignore the testimony of the other disciples along with the teachings that Christ had given before He died, but we owe a debt of thanks to Thomas. Because he touched Christ's wounds and His side-- and we have his confession "My Lord and my God," we have an answer to the Gnostics and others who say that Christ did not rise bodily from the dead. Thomas also went farther than any other apostle that we know of...all the way to India, where tradition holds that his body lies in a tomb in a church in Madras. My husband has been there and seen it (though the history of relics is a little more dubious than the teachings straight from Christ or the witness of 14+ disciples).

We have something to learn from Martha and Thomas, and it isn't necessarily to stop worrying about housework or to trust in reliable testimony. Contrary to the example they show, they are still examples of faith and service.

Rethinking Domesticity

Those that know me know that I am domestically impaired. I've never made a secret of it. In fact, my husband thought it was cute and "no big deal" when we were dating. I even have magnets that HE bought me saying "just say 'no' to cooking," "just say no to ironing (which I definitely do)," "just say no to laundry," and "just say no to cleaning." I was always in trouble for having a messy room, messy desk, messy car (though I prefer the term "lived in").

In the real world, these things are occasionally necessities, like you definitelly MUST do laundry at 1 in the morning before your son's baseball game when his uniform has spent a week being covered in mud and grass stains. And cleaning up IS necessary when, say, one's mother is coming to visit. And I do like to cook...but more in the hobby way. NEEDING to do it takes out all the joy.

I've been trying to be more domestic though. We've been wanting to improve how we eat, and I am all too inclined to not have a plan at 4:30 in the afternoon with nothing thawed (If you know me, you might start realizing that ADHD might be a running theme here)...but I've made some observations over the course of this experiment

1. If you cook 3 meals a day, you have 3 meals worth of dishes to wash, 3 meals worth of pans to clean, the table needs cleaned 3 times a day, and if you are like me or have my kids, it might even effect the status of the floor.

2. I've noticed when I clean, I notice a whole plethora of other things that need done. Now, if I hadn't been cleaning, I wouldn't have noticed these other things...but now I can't seem to rest until they are done, and when I deal with those things, I now notice other things.

3. I'm grumpier. It's amazing how working to pick up a living room, and say, having a six year old leave every belonging she has ever owned strewn across the room can cause levels of ire and frustration that I have almost never known.

4. So I'm having a hard time believing that having my act together actually lowers my stress. Thus just doesnt' seem to do it. (There was an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap get drunk to show on air how alcohol effects reflexes, only Johnny's actually GOT BETTER the more he drank. Maybe I am an anomoly and just function better in chaos)

5. Not only that, but most of the moms that I know of who actually "have their act together" in this area seem to suffer from the same thing. Now, because things are dusted or vacuumed, they MUST can every tomato in a five mile radius, or they are a complete failure if the tile in their bathroom is not regrouted in a manner that reflects the skill of a man who has been doing nothing but grout for the last 20 years. Not only that, but if you compliment their house, they will wince and point out all the things they "forgot" to do. Very few women ever seem able to vacuum for a few minutes, run a feather duster over some things, throw the dishes in the dishwasher, then say "Okay, I'm happy now, I'm going to go read a book, get a tan, and enjoy life."

So, in conclusion, my main question to myself, I guess is "if eating healthier and trying to be more organized is supposed to make me live longer, do I really want to live longer if it means I spend that time washing dishes and mopping?"

(I know, I'm just whining...but what is a blog for if I can't whine?)

addendum: Now see, I know why I read the beloved Sisters....Rebekah is there to show me what I am doing wrong!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Honestly, I Am at a Loss for a Title

Today, I was driving down main street in my little town, and there was a man on a motorcycle ahead of me wearing a bright red shirt with a big ugly swastika on it.....willingly, and willfully.

For a minute, I was in disbelief. My brain almost went into denial, like something was wrong, but I couldn't quite comprehend what was wrong with what I was looking at, but I knew it was wrong. Then all of a sudden I realized that the guy was blatantly wearing a big, huge swastika on his back...out in public. I wanted to post a swastika with the post, but I really couldn't stand to have it on my blog. I stared at it on the screen and was just repulsed, and Brixie (the cat) was staring at me with an unusually accusing look in his cat eyes. I couldn't leave him with that.

Why does it shock me when people just blatantly advertise they are evil?

Looking at this guy with his greasy hair, shape of his jaw that showed that he had a few teeth missing, and as he pulled up next to the bar where more than a few bikers hang out...he was no symbol of Aryan masculinity. Hitler would've made sure he was exterminated from the gene pool. But I doubt this guy knew that.

We have Klan here. I've known that. I hate that. In my lowly human understanding, I rationalize that even the Klan didn't seek to bring the whole world under their subjection, and didn't murder millions of Jews, Rom, Slavs, Blacks, and Christians in the process. But just seeking the "purity" of their own locales isn't more righteous than anything else. They certainly have committed enough atrocities. But I still can't imagine embracing the symbol of the Nazi party and of probably the most destructive, evil man that has ever lived.

The people who usually are sporting these symbols of white supremacy are usually the saddest excuses of white people, of any people that exist, period. They usually have nothing going for them or nothing to cling to of worth inside themselves or outside of themselves other than the lack of melanin in their skin.

Jesus loves these people, too and He died on the cross for them just like He died on the cross for me. And that is what humbles me when I feel the anger well up in me when I see this symbol of evil on the motorcycle in front of me. I only hope and pray that he guides this man and others to be able to love those whom Jesus loves and died for. All of mankind.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Voting No Brainer

Pastor Christopher Hall from This Side of the Pulpit says it loudly and clearly.

Can there be any doubt? He's right. It's simply evil.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Feminization" of the Church


I'm way behind on my Issues, Etc. listening. I tend to listen based on the order in my playlist, which is generally quasi-alphabetical, so I am not getting things chronologically. Most of the time I thoroughly enjoy listening and have learned so much. I can't believe that I missed this for how many years?

However, a couple of weeks ago I listened to the podcast which was a round table of pastors discussing the feminization of the church. There was an error made at the very beginning. They did not define their terms before they jumped right in to the discussion. It was not established exactly what "feminizing" means.

Here's the definition from

tr.v. fem·i·nized, fem·i·niz·ing, fem·i·niz·es
To give a feminine appearance or character to.
To cause (a male) to assume feminine characteristics.

Still, this doesn't tell us much. We still have to define "feminine."

The American Heritage Dictionary listing defines it thusly:

Of or relating to women or girls. See Synonyms at female.
Characterized by or possessing qualities generally attributed to a woman.
Effeminate; womanish.
Grammar Designating or belonging to the gender of words or grammatical forms that refer chiefly to females or to things classified as female.

I thought the entry for the Websters Revised Dictionary makes an interesting point as well:

Note: Effeminate and womanish are generally used in a reproachful sense; feminine and womanly, applied to women, are epithets of propriety or commendation.

Still, these don't really list what qualities are considered feminine. And I think that is the problem, because that is what I heard when the pastors started in on their round table the instant that they were asked about "the feminization of the church."

From the starting gate, "subjective theology," "being ruled by emotion," "personal experience valued above doctrine," and contemporary Christian music and its emotional base, its inherent sexuality (from the beat, the swaying, and the "worship babes" were discussed as well as the groupies that the guys attracted-- sorry, this didn't ring true to my experience of contemporary worship. The guys that led it were tall, skinny, and didn't have a shred of animal magnetism to was the pastor that was cute).

I fail to see how these attributes are uniquely feminine. These characteristics are much more representative of a post-modern culture that is filled with people who have never been trained in critical thinking or objective morality. Women have often been the safeguards of morality in our culture (possibly before The Pill made this guardianship of virtue unnecessary), and in different decades, subjective and seeker-sensitive could've just as easily been replaced with stern, inflexible, or pietistic. This alone tells me that attributing emotion and flexibility with gender is inaccurate.

Now, I do realize that the feminist movement has done a lot to destroy the culture of The Church. But these have been power issues and tearing down of doctrine in those areas. They have been related mostly to the office of the Holy Ministry as well as taking over areas where men have historically served as laymen as well. Also, with the increase in divorce, the feminist focus on career and degradation of the roles of wife and mother, and their insistence on "reproductive rights" have definitely torn apart all aspects of life, and The Church is definitely not immune to that.

But I am thinking that another word than "feminize" needs to apply to that phenomenon in particular. Maybe "feministication" would be better, because really, there is nothing feminine about what the Feminist Movement has done to our society. It has torn down all that has been valued in women throughout history and masculinized women, and left men completely confused as to their place in society -- without definition as to what it means to be a man).

To a large extent, The Church should be feminized. She is feminine. She is the Bride of Christ. She nurtures, strengthens, teaches, and protects her children. She is loyal and devoted to Her Bridegroom. And like any good mother, she understands there is right and wrong (Law), absolutes (doctrine and dogma), and forgiveness and need for rest and love (Gospel). These traits have always been recognized as feminine. They have always been desirable qualities in a wife and mother...and feminine is a word that is supposed to describe what is good in a woman, not what is bad. Too often anymore, woman is used to describe what is bad and I find that disturbing.

I am not saying these men hate women. I am saying that to a certain extent, they were guilty of "feminizing" if I were to use their term..since to them it meant hasty, emotional, nondescript, nebulous, subjective. There is nothing about contemporary worship that is uniquely fact, for a long time, it was a movement that was created and pushed more by men than women. Music is an expression of what is important to us. While I question the use of the medium in worship or the theology that most of these songs convey, it is not feminine. There is nothing particularly or uniquely feminine about the rejection of doctrine and replacing it with subjective experience and emotional guidance. This is not gender-based, unless you are falling into cruel stereotypes.

I notice that concern for paraments and vestments was not listed in the definition of feminine. In any other realm, how a table is dressed, the symbolism behind the knot of a sincture, the condition of the embroidery, the quality of linen, and the presence of lace is relegated to women, yet this is something that deeply concerns many liturgical pastors. In any other aspect of life save the military, such attention to dress or to decor would be labeled as effeminate or metrosexual. Yet the fact that this is characteristic of The Church and developed solely under the guidance of men shows that it indeed is not...and at one time, in real life would not have been the case in regular life. After all, John Hancock and George Washington definitely cared about the powdering of their hair, the quality of their lace, and how favorably their knickers showed their calves...yet they were brave and very manly. And in The Church, it is perfectly natural and masculine to want to adorn the Bride with things that emphasize her beauty.

We need to be careful what traits we attribute to men or women. I grew up thinking men were cold and unfeeling, yet that is not the case and such a perspective is insulting to men as a whole. They are often nurturing and gentle, yet hopefully strong and courageous. I would attribute the same traits to women as well.

I take it as a good sign that in over a month of broadcasts, this is the only one that I have really had an issue with. The rest, gentlemen, if you are reading, have been impeccable, enjoyable, and enlightening.

Well, I feel better now. This has been on my chest for a few weeks, but I was too PMS'd and emotional to even think about blogging about it before now I needed time to consider and gather my thoughts. ;)

The Power of Assumption

I wrote this one last year and felt like reposting just seemed the thing to do.

When Chris was a baby, when I went somewhere, especially to church, I would carry him in a baby sling. I loved it and he loved it. It kept him close and involved in what we were doing, it was easy to nurse him in public, and he really didn't like strollers. It was so much easier to care for him that way.

At thirteen months, Chris hadn't started walking yet. I wasn't really alarmed and he was obviously healthy. My husband had taken his time in this area also. Chris ended up walking at fifteen months. The exact age Jeff was when he started walking.

One day before this happened, a woman in my congregation decided to tell me a story. It was about a woman who was taking care of this little sick calf who could barely move so she had to carry or drag the calf to get to it to food and water. But as she nursed the calf back to perfect health , she still would carry the calf to its' water and food, even though the calf was proportionately bigger and bigger and was obviously capable of walking there. It was ridiculous to see this woman dragging this perfectly healthy half-grown calf. But the calf had never learned that it could get there itself now, and the woman hadn't wanted to let go of it.

I got her gist. She was saying that because I was carrying Chris around all the time, he never really had the opportunity or the motivation to learn that he could do it himself. And she might have been right, IF I was ALWAYS carrying him.You see, she was making an assumption based on the two hours of the week that she saw me. During that time, Chris was usually sleeping through the service or we were in the parish hall, which had very hard, cold floors and folding chairs that easily collapsed and were not safe. At home, he was crawling, standing, and cruising the days away. This woman just never saw that.

As a young mother and new pastor's wife, I was slighty amused by her creativity, mortified by coming under her scrutiny, and hurt and a little angry at the assumption. But what she did wasn't particularly unusual.

We all make assumptions about people based on what we see of them, despite the fact the majority of their daily lives are not revealed to us. If our doctor is rushed, he will always be inattentive in our minds. If we have a bad food server, the restaurant is awful. if kids misbehave, they are brats or their parents aren't controlling them...and on and on and on. Often, we really don't have enough information to make the assumptions that we make, and we are often too ready to embrace the most negative belief.

That's why when Luther elaborated on the Eighth Commandment, he said not only should we NOT to lie about our neighbor or hurt his reputation but we are to "defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way." That takes WORK. It really does. It isn't enough to simply abstain from gossip or to avoid acting on our assumptions, but we are to actually counter those sinful thoughts with good ones, and be ready and willing to express those good thoughts.

This means also that we have to train ourselves to believe that without clear evidence to the contrary, we are to believe that a person is acting out of good will and is trying to work toward something good, even when we don't understand completely what is going on and our feelings are hurt by misunderstanding.

When when we see a problem, we need to try to work through it, even when we fear rejection or criticism ourselves.

More than that, it takes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit to humble us by constantly showing us how much of a sinner we are so that we fixate less on the sins of others.

One place where I see the damage of assumptions so strongly is in the lives of pastors. People are very ready to criticize their pastors. Maybe there is this basic assumption that they should have it more together than other people or that they should be less sinful than other people, but they are not. Ever since the time of the prophets, God has chosen weak sinners to do His will -- Abraham was a liar, Jacob was conniving, Moses was a murderer, Samson was selfish and prone to rages, David was a murderer and an adulterer, Solomon was an idolater, Jonah was a coward and disobedient, Paul persecuted the church, and even the disciples, the very people Jesus himself chose to spend almost all of his time with for three years, the men our Lord would send out to build His church -- were at times perfectly oblivious, petty, and cowardly. The very chosen people of God, the Israelites, were stubborn, stiff-necked, and rejected God repeatedly.

The evidence is there that as God's church, we are no more faithful, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit we are made and kept His through the waters of Baptism.

Neither is there anything more righteous or particularly distinguishing about a man that God has chosen to serve him in the office of Pastor. A man isn't a pastor because he is more righteous than others. He is a pastor because God has decided to use him to shepherd His flock, despite that man's sinfulness, flaws, and imperfections.

Yet the things that they generally come under scrutiny for are not things like murder, embezzlement, or adultery. It is that people don't like the length of the sermons, he doesn't do as many visits as the last pastor, that things are intangibly different than they were from the last pastor, that his desk is loaded with papers, or that he's not at the office when they call or stop by.

Let's look at these common complaints:
If you like a shorter sermon - why? Are you anxious to get the church part of your day over with? Is your attention span not able to keep up? Is the pastor truly rambling or is there meat in the sermon? If the law and the gospel aren't hitting you on that particular day, maybe someone else sitting next to you truly needs it, and you are begrudging God's work. Maybe you do need that message in particular, but you are hardening your heart and making other things your god besides hearing God's word and being truly present in church.

If you want a visit, have you invited the pastor over? Often when pastors try to arrange visits in today's day and age, no one is ever home, they are too busy, or they simply do not want the pastor to come over. Make sure he knows that YOU want him to come over, even just to socialize and get to know you. Generally pastors want to and would love to, but people often only invite them into their lives when they are sick or are in crisis. It would be nice to be welcome into their flocks' lives when things are good. Some pastors are better than others at making themselves welcome and at ease with other people. They are, afterall, people.

No pastor is going to be able to make things "just like it was when Pastor (insert name here) was here." He's not Pastor (insert name here). But we recognize that the new pastor that is brought in wasn't a mistake, he was called to serve the congregation by God through that congregation. God put him there for a reason. He put him there because He knew that the congregation needed the particular gifts that this new pastor has, for one reason or another, for however long He sees fit. Because this pastor is a servant of God, he deserves respect and honor, help and Christian brotherhood. Or in other words, as the Bible says it:

"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other." I Thess 5:12-13

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." Heb. 13:17

Luther uses these verses under The Table of Duties in our Small Catechism entitled "What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors."

Also, being the new one in the congregation is hard, and this doesn't get easier just because the boxes are unpacked. It takes a while. It is a completely different thing getting to know 100 people (or more or less) than for that 100 to get to know the one. It is hard to figure out who is who, who is related to whom, what supports are there for him to do his job, what people expect, what expectations are reasonable, how things work in the congregation, what really needs to be done, etc. The pastor often feels very vulnerable as he establishes himself in a new congregation, yet that is when a lot of people allow their unchangable impressions to be formed.

Pastors are people. They are not always neat. Some are, some aren't. Some are so busy that straightening up the desk is not the top priority -- they congregation is. Some pastors struggle and feel defeated by the mound of papers that Synod, the District, and every church board gives them, not to mention every charity under the sun! A pastor can still be a good pastor with a messy office or with many other faults that you and I manage to survive with in the world.

Yet, a pastor has an office....that means he should be there, right? But we said before that he should be doing visits. Hmmm......Let me give you an example from a pastor's schedule, since I have a little insight into one.

Wednesday:10:00 (GASP!!! you say. "The lazy bum!" But before you freak, pay attention to what time he comes home tonight, and keep in mind that Monday night he had a board meeting until 9:30 p.m. and Tuesday night he was visiting with a family in need, and he was then called out to a chaplain emergency at 1 in the morning).

10:00 --Returned phone calls, worked with the church secretary on things, and did sermon work, etc.

12:00 Had catechesis with a member in the office.
1:00 Premarital counseling
2:30 Rushed out of the office for a visit with a family in crisis
4:00-5:30 Worked on sermon study, phone calls, and newsletter
5:30 - Dashed home to change and grab a granola bar
6:00 - Wednesday evening vespers service.
7:00 - Confirmation class
8:30 - finished up newsletter notes and emailed them off, since the confirmation parent that he had an appointment with didn't come in.
9:45 - Made a final phone call and went home.

That was a long day - over 10 1/2 hours. Lunch was after 4 p.m. and was eaten while working. Monday was even longer and involved hospital visits 30 miles away, an evening meeting, a class at the seminary, and a meeting with a colleague.

Hospital visits, home visits, nursing home visits, classes, private confession and absolution, catechesis, circuit meetings, field workers, chapel, chaplaincy duties, and so many other things that are routine in the duties of a pastor take him out of the office. Thank God for cell phones, home phones, email, and answering machines. Most members of the flock usually work 9-5, so when he is needed, he needs to be available in the evening. Yet even with all these modern conveniences, the pastor hears that people don't know how to reach him because he's not in the office, waiting for them to stop in.

Let's not forget the pastor's family. 70-80 hour work weeks are all too common in the lives of pastors, but under most circumstances, if that is the norm, the family suffers. The Bible is clear that the pastor is a husband and father first before he is a pastor. My husband was blessed to be under a vicarage supervisor that emphasized that this job cannot often be done in 40 hours, but it can be done in 50-55 hours a week. The pastor led by example. If he had a meeting that night, he left at three o'clock to be with his family. My husband often goes in later in the morning if he has been working evenings. But his weeks are still usually around 50 hours a week, and there is usually only one "guaranteed" day off. When I look at how easy it is for pastors to get buried under their responsibilities, I thank God for the vicarage we had.

Yet it is easy to assume that if a pastor is home during the day, he is not doing his job. This very often is very far from the case. And with cell phones and lap top computers, the pastor can often work wherever he is.

Job satisfaction is low among pastors. They are in jobs where they receive a lot of criticism. They work a lot of hours. Their families sometimes feel neglected and stressed by the work demands and scrutinized by the congregation regarding their personal lives. It is often hard to make friends with members of the congregation. The divorce rate is high, as is the rate for mental illness from pressure and exhaustion. If a pastor does not take care of his family and himself, you could find yourself without a pastor because divorced pastors often lose their calls, exhaustion can leave him looking for a different way to support himself, and mental illness can leave him incapable of caring for you.

Another very harmful assumption is that the pastor is going to do things his way, and that they don't care what the parishoners think. There probably are a few like that, but for most, that assumption could not be farther from the truth. The pastor has been called by God to care for the flock. Of course they care what the parishoners think. Decisions they make are usually done out of love, and if that is not how it is perceived, they do want feedback and the opportunity to correct any harm that has been done. Others don't want to complain because they don't want to hurt his feelings. Yet what often ends up happening is that they remain hurt regarding the issue it festers. Or worse, they end up talking to other people in the congregation and stirring up unrest. Sometimes, they tranfer or leave the church without saying a word about what is bothering them -- even insisting nothing is wrong when asked. Sometimes everyone else knows why the person was leaving, except the pastor. And he is painfully aware of that. This is very common in the life of the church and it is far more hurtful than coming to him and letting him know you don't agree with him.

That isn't how the Bible says that things should be handled. If you have a problem with your brother, you are supposed to go to him and tell him. Maybe you are fearful that there will be conflict. Honestly, God addresses that, too. If you go to your brother and he does respond to you, then you are released. His response is his to account for before God. You have the responsibility of trying to make it right. God puts that before you. The pastor can't correct anything or even explain anything if he doesn't know what is the problem. So tell him your problem. Go to him. Most pastors really would rather hear from you whatever you are upset about, no matter how harshly (though please don't be harsh) than know that you are unhappy but keeping silent or gossiping. If you know someone who has a problem, don't tolerate their griping but instead encourage them to go to the pastor.

Changing this behavior alone can save a church, but failing to change it certainly has destroyed many congregations; plus it shows respect and honor to the pastor and to God, who called the pastor there to care for you. IT IS WORSE to sit on a problem than to talk about it. It is certainly NOT more kind. I know intimately how much it hurts a pastor to know that someone is unhappy but they can't figure out how to fix it, or they are leaving, but won't say why. Imagine what goes on in their heads. It is hard. Some pastors end up hardening their hearts to it all, or trying to. But that often makes them worse pastors in the end.

Love your pastor. Treat him how you would want to be treated. Allow him to love you the way God wants him to. Respect him, honor him, and give him the opportunity to really serve you as he has been called to do. That is where his heart is. Don't assume that he is not deeply concerned for you. God put you under his charge. Don't assume that he is only doing the things you see him doing, there is so much more. If you have doubts even about this, ask him about what his days look like. I'm sure he'd appreciate being asked.

Pastors feel how their sinfulness and inadequacies get in the way of their ministry far more strongly than you would think...and it grieves them. They are in need of Christ's forgiveness just as much as you and I, and they need your understanding and compassion, too. Allow him to have his "faults" (especially when they are not sins), and recognize his strengths.

Definitely don't gossip or harbor bitter feelings in your heart that eventually take your heart away from your friends, your congregation, and your pastor. When you leave like that, you have no idea how much it hurts a lot of other people BESIDES the pastor. Satan rejoices when we let these things break up even the Lord's congregation. Assumptions are rarely reasonable and they hurt, and they can hurt deeply. Forgive.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why I Must Vote for John McCain

I've heard over and over again about how there really isn't a choice out there, and there really isn't. There hasn't been a choice for years. But not because I am left to choose between Democrats and Republicans who are fiscal moderates...but because only the Republican candidates are the ones that uphold Human Rights for humans from the moment of conception. As the pastor who interviewed both candidates said, we have a holocaust going on. 40 million babies have been killed. There is no choice, because John McCain is the only choice.

HT: A Round Unvarnished Tale

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Matter of Perspective....

Global warming is always touted as a bad thing. Apparently there are some who would really be happy about it.....

Time With Friends

Wow...I feel refreshed.

I had the most wonderful weekend at my friend, Cheryl's with several women that I treasure and admire.

When I started considering homeschooling, my yarn pusher recommended an email list called Martin Loopers that is specifically for confessional Lutheran homeschoolers (does that also make her my homeschooling pusher?). I then made contact with some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. And now I can list as one of the greatest benefits of living in the Midwest is that I actually can get to spend time with them sometimes!!!

We spent the weekend laughing, talking, enjoying good food, worshiping, watching Monty Python skits, and imbibing massive amounts of chocolate. It was WONDERFUL. I feel ready for another year. We also went to a great farmers market, a Mongolian Grill, and no Mamapalooza would really be complete without a trip to a bookstore. (Cheryl's site has the pictures...I'm always too busy enjoying the moment to remember to break out the camera).

I am often asked if I belong to a homeschooling group. "Homeschooling group" cannot even begin to encompass what these wonderful women mean to me.

The Wisdom of Friends

Indiana Jane has a wonderful post on homeschooling and learning. Go take a look!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Is It In You?

I am always amazed at the continual series that some of the contemporary churches have. You know, the Powerpoint presentation that is shined and polished and perfectly choreographed....

Epic Church (the church with the Lenten series on sex) has a new one: "Vision, Is it In You?"

The pastor says "In an Aquafina world, Christ is calling us to live with Gatorade intensity for Him."

I am afraid the imagery doesn't get me, because Gatorade makes me think "sickeningly sweet and artificial."

Monday, August 04, 2008

Liberty's Kids

When Chris was going into first grade, PBS aired a television show that was put together by many notable figures called "Liberty's Kids." My son fell in love with it. It was a charming bit of historical fiction that REALLY brought out issues of the American Revolution and took the good and the bad and made it understandable to kids. This show became our 1st grade history curriculum.

When we saw a figure that we wanted to learn more about, such as Ben Franklin (voice by Walter Kronkite), Baron von Steuben, Marquis de Lafayette, Baron DeKalb (which is really cool that we live in Dekalb County now, and just south of Steuben County), Phyllis Wheatley (American slave poet), Benedict Arnold, etc., we would go to the library and get a biography on that character. We learned SO much, and I do mean WE.

In the middle of the year, we went on a field trip to a printing press museum in Hacienda Heights, CA -- part of the feature was an actor who gave a splendid impersonation of Benjamin Franklin. During that presentation, the kids were asked "What three historical documents did Benjamin Franklin sign?" Several knew the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. When the presenter asked "anything else?" my little six year old chimed in with "The Treaty of Paris." Jaws dropped, including mine.

Now, Chris doesn't remember a lot of what he learned that year, but it has provided a basis of knowledge for things that came in the future, and also, because it willingly addressed some of the tough issues regarding the Americans in a fair way -- such as Indian treaties, slavery, and many others -- it also kept him from being caught up in the way our history can be villified because it simply contains evil..when he became exposed to such things fairly early on.

I am thrilled to say that History Channel has started airing Liberty's Kids, right at the age where Maggie can enjoy it as well . We're also going to be picking up the computer game by the same name (now it can be bought for less than a $1 at Chris also got a big kick out of that. I highly recommend it. It has James, Sarah, and Henri collecting information regarding different stories that happened by interviewing various characters. They then put together the clips using the "Who, What, Where, Why and How" format that is set up. If your kid can read, he can do this....and it is well done.

Issues, Etc. and LCMS Finances

Issues, Etc. released a podcast only webcast EXTRA on August 1st that covered in depth the history of the last few years as to how they came to be cancelled, from what they knew. I highly recommend listening to it.

Some things covered:

1. The biggest myth: That KFUO FM's purpose is to fund KFUO AM, and without it, KFUO AM probably would not exist.

truth: KFUO as a whole annually requires a half a million dollar subsidy from Synod to stay on the air. KFUO FM's expenses are far higher than KFUO AM. KFUO FM is not self-supporting, and therefore not able to support KFUO AM

2. Both stations use the same call letters so that funds can be directed from the AM station TO the commercial FM station. No wonder they got an "F" grade from a major charity watchdog association.

3. Budget, staffing, and promotion priority is "Classic 99," the FM station, NOT the station that proclaims the Gospel, despite the fact that KFUO FM is still, as pointed out NOT serving the function to support KFUO AM.

4. KFUO administration is very concerned (Todd and Jeff used the word 'paranoid') about the idea of KFUO FM being sold off by the Synod for revenue or consolidation. This led to increasing conflict between the cause of KFUO -- which was to maintain a clean image, and Issues, Etc. which was to proclaim the Gospel and to instruct its listenership on how to view current events from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

5. Issues, Etc. was not given credit in its ledger for the income it generated independently through its' syndication, advertising, and its own fundraising efforts. In fact, as stated before, donors to the Reformation Club who lived within one hundred miles of St. Louis, did not their monthly donations applied specifically to Issues, Etc. at all. Instead, they went into the General Fund. From the information that was provided in this podcast, one has to assume that also means that it went to benefit KFUO FM, which plays contemporary classical music.

6. Even though Issues, Etc. offered to cover all of its expenses and give KFUO its broadcast for free, so as to break the programming association between KFUO and Issues, Etc., Todd and Jeff were told that after the last convention, that no connection could occur between the two, and that their show probably would not last into September (it lasted another six months).

Having the show independent is a great thing. However, I do think that the powers that be at LCMS, Inc. have benefited from its being off of KFUO. When I have the radio on, there are times that I listen to shows that I don't necessarily agree with but that make me aware of things. Now, in order to listen to Issues, Etc., I have to WANT to listen to it. Listeners in the various markets that they were aired in had people that stumbled across them and learn from them and be made aware of places that confessional Lutheranism differed from other trends in Christianity. Now, that is not the case, at least not until they come to the point where they can again seek national syndication.

We have seen in many different venues now, the liberties that LCMS, Inc. is taking with the financial resources of the Synod. LCMS Foundation, which is its fundraising arm -- charges exhorbitant rates for its fundraising work. Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz both state the amount they were told frequently was 40%, as opposed to the industry standard of 10%. The Synod is taking funds that are supposed to go to World Relief and placing them in LCMS investment accounts "temporarily" so they can earn interest. Missionaries are required to raise $120,000 per year, usually more than twice their costs of support in the mission field, in order to remain in the field each year.

All of this is highly irregular.

All of this makes me wonder what is happening with the money that our congregations are sending in for synod support (and increasingly NOT sending in). It makes me wonder if the whole reason why benefits costs increase so dramatically every year is solely because of the increasing cost of benefits. Our insurance program costs have made every insurance agent I have ever talked to exclaim in horror.

Next year, our Synod is going to be asking the congregations to consider a new constitution. Some theorize that the financial relationships of congregations with the Synod might also be restructured. I really think that it is absolutely necessary that we call for an opening of the books for an independent review to make sure that all is in order before anything is changed. The more I hear about synodical financial practice, the more I am deeply concerned.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Manny be Manny

The Dodgers have made some interesting trades. Some of the most exciting I've seen in my time as a fan. First, I must say are right about Casey Blake. He is terrific!!!

The other trade, of course, was acquiring Manny Ramirez. There had been a lot of trouble lately regarding Manny. I don't know how much I buy, but I wasn't exactly excited when I heard the news. Surprised, yes. We hardly needed an outfielder, but boy did we need a I've chosen to look at it positively. I really don't believe we can lose on this one. After all, we only gave up a couple of redundant minor leaguers (we were already strong in relief pitching and catching) and we're not even paying his salary. The Red Sox are (I love the all-inclusive "we" of fandom. As if I am actually put out if "we" DID pay his salary)

Ramirez has two months left on his contract. He will be a free agent and so will be on his best behavior and also really motivated to play. He told ESPN Deportes that the Red Sox have a tendency to villify anyone that they are trying to get rid of, and that is very true. All of a sudden when they had the possibility of getting A-Rod, Nomar, who has been nothing but a joy for the team (well, aside from injuries) and always eager to please went from an angel to a jerk. And so have other players. Even when Manny was, well, being Manny -- I still remember Dan Patrick and Rob Dibble laughing and assuring people that Manny didn't have a bad bone in his body...a flaky one, yes...but not a bad one.

So I'm willing to give him a chance. I like what I see so far. Fox Sports had him holding a stack of signs at the beginning of the game last night saying "Hi, I'm Manny Ramirez....I'm the newest Dodger....Lets have some fun!!" It really isn't often that you hear the Dodgers saying "Let's have some fun." They really are a 'down to business' team (though not like the Yankees). I have to say I like the charisma. I even like the dredlocks and the Dodger Do-Rag.

He's saying how much he loves it and he wants to stay-- the weather and the atmosphere...he went out to dinner last night and no one bothered him. People are used to celebrity. He even said "I've already made $160 million. I want to be here, so the Dodgers can make me an offer and we'll see what we can work out."

(We'll see...he still does have Scott Boras as an agent. He doesn't take lightly to "giving discounts.")

A little impetuous after one night, but he is Manny. I'm not ready to say "lets keep him." But I do hope he motivates Andrew Jones. I do hope this is what we've needed to make a good run into the playoffs and beyond . No matter what, I do think the next couple of months are going to be some interesting baseball.