Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 4 / Anna and Simeon

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Last Sunday, we had the stories of Anna and Simeon at the temple.  The pastor's sermon began with his own bucket list.  He and his wife want to see Eastern Canada after they retire, for instance.  Then we went on to Anna and Simeon who knew that they would see the Savior.

It is really an amazing thing to think of these saints and how they lived out their lives in prayer and expectation.  Their joy at finally seeing the baby in the temple was exultant.  And Simeon was ready to depart.

Strange, that we need to complete certain things before we feel completely ready to depart.  But Simeon!  Simeon got the see the Savior with his own eyes.  We believe, though we have not seen, and this is a privilege.  Simeon waited in faith, and finally got to see, and we get to hear about this marvelous event.  Jesus was revealed to Simeon in the flesh. -- God is faithful.

Our hope is not vain.

"Jesus is kommen, Grund ewiger Freude"--"Jesus has come, the cause of our eternal joy."

Christmas 3 / Doctrine and Song

There is so much that comes across our Facebook stream.  Unfortunately, a good chunk of it is quite unsettling.

A certain post dealt with the Syrian boys who had been incorporated into the school system controlled by ISIS.  These children were subjected to about six hours of teaching in Sharia per day--three hours in the morning, three hours in the evening.  They were also trained in beheading.  (Or was that another story.  No, I think that was the same boys.)  The more stupid ones were pre-selected for becoming suicide bombers.  In any case, some of them were able to get out of the school and could return to their homes.

At home, they could not shake the Sharia teaching.  They harassed their mothers about showing bare arms, for example.  The nagged their fathers into praying five times a day.  And most annoyingly, they kept on singing the indoctrinating songs.

Music is banned under the law, but it seems that ISIS is making exception for itself.  Music is an integral part of the propaganda of the movement.  Yes, who can shake the songs they sang to us when we were young and that they had us memorize.

All of this, made me think of an  on-line conversation I had with someone promoting "liberal education" whatever that exactly means.  One thing it means is that there should not be any doctrine or indoctrination.  We should be figuring things out for ourselves and speak our own minds.  To that person, I once said, that he does not like anything of the things that "ground" me;  that is I am not permitted to hold doctrine or speak about it in a historical sense (it might be ok, if I had just figured it out for myself, in a fresh way), nor is singing, or especially choir singing, anything terribly worthwhile.  Or music, in general, maybe, is relatively useless.  I don't know.  I don't know what he is saying, sometimes, and he wants it that way.  The more ambiguous he is, the more I have to think for myself.  That's the idea.

But, doctrine and music comes down to us.  It becomes part of our fabric, part of the brain, neural pathways laid down early and well cemented, nearly impossible to uproot.  It is unavoidable.  Doctrine and song, it can't be bad in itself.  We all have it.  Even the one with the liberal education philosophy can't escape it, though he may be blind to it or may try to push it aside.

The "process" for free thinking may involve stepping back and looking at how your views came to you.  It may involve re-evaluation, adjustment, discarding, combining, renewing...  With all this, it is the contents of the doctrine and the music is what matters.  Is it right doctrine?  Is it teaching and propaganda for good or for evil?  How do you define good and evil? --  If you would not want it to happen to you, you also don't do it to another.

Would you want to be beheaded for your faith?  No?  Then don't behead others.  Do you really want to injure your conscience in this way? -- If only the stupid ones are sorted out for suicide bombing, would you really like to be a suicide bomber?  If it is such a prize to be martyred why don't you select those who are most dear to you and those who are the smartest for this honor?

We could go on.  Doctrine is fine.  Song is fine.  Indoctrination is fine.

Let it be the right kind.

Let it be Christ-centered.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2 / Jehovah's Witnesses at the Door

It was quite cold, the day after Boxing Day.  Minus 13, I think.  There was a gentle knock on the door in the morning and I thought it might be a neighbor with Christmas cheer.  But no, it was two Jehovah's Witness males.  They wanted to discuss James, chapter 3 with me.  I did not invite them in, as I was alone;  as the cold air kept sweeping in, my bare feet were freezing.  They want to come back sometime.

Bottom line, they wanted to have Jesus be the perfect man, who saved us.  Bottom lime, there is no such thing as the perfect man, and certainly not one who can save us.  And what for.  What are we saved for.  They wanted to be saved to be part of the 144 thousand.  I wanted to be saved to see God. They were going to seek God, but I told them that God sought them.

He was born in Bethlehem.

I sang them a little scripture from the Messiah, and the older man who stood behind got agitated.  He got mad several times.

I showed them my front door and told them that that baby in the picture is God.

I told them about the Pentatonix hitsong:  "Mary did you know?" -- Had they heard it.  No.

We read from the Bible, Romans 3:9 and onward.  Point is:
God is Savior from sin, death and devil.  No mere man can save you from those.  Every single man was fallible beginning with Adam.

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”[b]
13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

No, dear friends, this is what we confess about Jesus:

 I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

--God does save and we can be sure of it because he accomplished everything for us.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


A hill.

Not any hill.  A hill I walked often for many years, alone and with lady friends.  And sometimes with little children.  They used to whine and complain.  It is steep for prairie people.

I painted it today from the photograph for a friend whose house burnt down, nearby.

It is a Christmas present, still.  It was harder than I thought to paint for someone without experience, but I love the effect of the masking fluid.

Christmas 1 / Whom do we miss the most?

It was during the Christmas Day Communion Service, and hardly anyone was there.  (This is in contrast, to the Christmas Eve service, of course, which had been overflowing. )

At Christmas we talk a lot about all the people who are no longer celebrating with us, the people who have gone on to be with the Lord, the people we may not be getting along with now, the families that suffer distress and disunion.  And we cry a bit.  And to top it all: our hearts are with the persecuted refugees around the world.  As we sing about the shepherds in the field at night, we think of those who have lost house and home and celebrated in unfinished concrete apartments and in every nook and cranny, prisons and camps. -- But whom do we miss the most?  Who has suffered the most?  Who has been humbled the most?  Who has loved the most? -- It is Jesus Himself.  He is the one who has gone ahead to prepare a place for us.  We miss Him the most.  We love Him the most.  We look for his coming.  If we don't, we need a re-calibration.  This occasion is providing the readjustment for us.  Lord Jesus, come, soon, for your own sake. It is you yourself, whom we seek.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Advent / Is so cozy

As the nights get longer and longer, the house gets cozier and cozier.  I wish you could come and sample the cookies and tea.  The advent wreath is more like a minimalist advent ring, this year.   I like it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advent / "Analysis Paralysis" / What to do?

Somewhere I heard this terms "Analysis Paralysis".  You think and think and research and plan, and rethink, and just get more and more stuck.

It can happen.
To me.
I think.

Here are a couple of things I wrote in a notebook.

"When your passions lead you astray, go with what is needful and the Lord gave you to do.  You may be just too lazy to follow the path laid out for you."  

"Man's plans and design often don't work out.  It is all in the Lord's hands.  But lack of counsel and wisdom ruins most things."

I do not recall where the quotes come from,  but they are not my own sayings, I know that.

Advent / Finished the movie

Last night, I finished the Gospel of John movie on Netflix.  Overall, I would say that is it definitely worth watching, once.  I am fairly imprinted onto the Jesus of  "Jesus of Nazareth", movie of several decades ago, however.

In the Netflix show, I  find this very intense, argumentative looking Jesus both attractive and repulsive.  The acting is probably off, a little weird.  But you can see, that Jesus engaged everyone he met where they needed to be met.  He "knew" what was "in a man" --or woman.  It really is amazing.  He did do all things well.  It makes you wonder what he would say to you exactly, if you met him on the road or in the market place, just now.

O Lord, how shall I meet you, 
How welcome you aright? 
Your people long to greet you, 
My hope, my heart's delight! 
Oh, kindle, Lord most holy,
Your lamp within my breast
To do in spirit lowly 
All that may please you best.

Paul Gerhardt

Christmas Markets / Germany

Two couples I know, at this very moment, are visiting Germany from Canada, just to see the Christmas markets.  It is news to me that this is a touristy thing to do.  But they invent new ways to make money and grow the economy, all the time. In that respect, ingenuity knows no bounds.

I do marvel, because, in spite of growing up to Germany, I have never really been to a Christmas market.  It was just not something we did, just like we did not go to any Oktoberfest in Munich.  It was just something for the heathen out there, for spending money that could be saved and sent to the overseas mission society.  Seriously.  We did buy ice cream at the parlor on the market square, in summer.

But look at this lovely picture.  The old houses, the market place, the statue of someone famous, the big Christmas tree, the inviting stands, somewhere a fountain--what could be merrier. -- My father saved his money for traveling to Canada.  That was the other thing.  We went to different countries to see things.  This would be the same reason Canadians go to Christmas markets in Germany, where it is probably raining and gloomy.  We have nicer sun and snow here...

I have an aunt in Germany who sometimes writes me about the Christmas activities in these public places.  She is not a regular church attender, but she always moans:  there is nothing "Besinnliches." -- Now, how would you say "besinnlich" in English?  "Besinnlich" is something away from the bustle, something for going inside yourself and contemplating, something meaningful to ponder, something more deeply human and godly. Something you hope to find in Advent and Christmas;  the quiet wonder at the miracle of God loving man, or even man loving man, in spite of the conditions of the world.

Could one find this on this square?  Is the problem with the market?  With the money-making motive?  With our selfish need to find something that hits us the right way?  Our expectations?   Where will my aunt find something "besinnlich" in the German Christmas experience?  Or any Christmas experience?  Or, for that matter, any experience?

Where will we?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Advent / Sunday of Joy

Today was the Sunday of Joy, in Advent.

I love "Joy".  Joy is the best.  "Freude schoener Goetterfunken"--we used the melody today for a hymn.  You can have joy in any circumstance, happy or sad, sickness or in health.  You can also have depression in all of those...  The most joy I have these days is when singing.  I could really go along with that picture of eternity being nothing but choir singing.  It would be delightful to sing praises to God forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.  Hallelujah!

But we are not there yet, and I am beginning to feel a kind of Christmas panic.  Checking off that list of what all needs to be done right away and for the last few days, and then thinking about everyone's expectations.  I feel sad that none of my ancestors are with me any more.  None of the people who really, really, really loved me, adored me:  my mother and father, and all my grandparents.  There is my husband, but that is different. My godmother is still alive.  I will call her.  She is in Germany.

Joy.  Union.  Reunion.  Praise.  Wedding garments.  The Bridegroom will rejoice over us.  Things will happen and we will be glad.  (Isaiah reading for today.)  Rejoice in all circumstances.  (Epistle reading.)  Joy is so good.  Joy is ours.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent / hubbub

With all the shopping and Black Friday ( I tried three times to not have that capitalized), and all that, you wonder what Jesus would say.  The gaudy decorations multiplying every year, the arguing over the greetings, the meaning of it all--he would say something.  Would it be like the clearing of the temple?  "This is supposed to be about my coming but is anyone praying?"

Here is an interesting take on the matter.  What does it mean to have festivities?

The thing is that Christmas has been high-jacked.  It is no longer a feast day on the church calendar, it is one of the successive occasions for which one has to decorate one's yard and house--competitively--shop, spend money, keep the economy going.  Of course, it's all for fun and the good of the family.  But something calls for a right measure, a right way, as something feels wrong about our compulsive and compulsory excesses which occlude get rather than underline meaning.

One thing is needful, Jesus said to Martha and Mary.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent / The Son of God

I watched a little bit more of the Gospel of John movie on Netflix.

It strikes me that the entire book strives to prove through Jesus' own actions and words that he is indeed God come as man among us.  He argues, he shows, he explains, he heals, he loves, he illustrates, he provokes, he corrects, he suffers human life and humiliating and unjust death.  And still some of the disciples say:  "Show us the Father".  And he says:  "Have we not been together all this time, and you still say 'Show us the Father?'"  Then he also rises from the dead.  That is the clincher.

Same with us, as with the disciples.  Do we get it?  Can it be?

The church is built on its confession and its answer to this question.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Q. What does this mean?
A. I believe that Jesus Christ is truly God, born of the Father in eternity and also truly human, born of the Virgin Mary. Christ is my Lord! Christ redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, bought and won me from all sins, death, and the authority of the Devil. It did not cost him gold or silver, but his holy, precious blood, his innocent body -- his death! Because of this, I am Christ's very own, will live under Christ in his kingdom and serve Christ righteously, innocently and blessedly forever, just as Christ is risen from death, lives and reigns forever. Yes, this is true!

(Luther's Small Catechism)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent / The Time is Short

The other day we had a tremendous snowfall, and I got to my yoga-class late.  Even though the roads were terrible, the instructor had locked the doors.  Here I stood.  I had braved the weather, had to put the truck in four-wheel drive and so on, and I could see the class, through the crack in the door, on its back having its "what's it called", some sort of breathing-relaxing-quite time, with no interruptions allowed.  I was peeved and knocked quietly.  Nothing.  I wasn't going to bang on the doors.  In the end I went home deflated and a little angry about the inflexibility of the situation especially in light of the piles of snow that had not been cleared, yet.  I suppose I should have known it would take me twice as long to get there.

It made me think of the virgins at the wedding banquet, whose lamps had gone out.  They were shut out of the wedding for lack of preparation at the prolonged waiting period.  A disappointment of cataclysmic proportions happened.  I just got a very small taste of it that day.  The Yoga instructors are very picky of their start times.  You must not interrupt the what's-it-called.

Similarly, now is the time to turn, to watch, to hurry, to get done what needs doing--a little adrenaline to get the move on.  The Lord is at hand.  Let your moderation be known unto all men.  Rejoice in the Lord.  The thing that needs doing, is really no thing that needs doing.  It is just a focusing on the Savior's work that is already done for us.  But we are easily distracted.  Clear the rubble, clean the glasses, get a better view, raise the valleys, make the paths straight, lift the gates... so the king may come in.  When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent / Gospel of John on Netflix

On Netflix, there is a new movie "The Gospel of John", which is a reading from the King James Version.  Jesus looks very intense most of the time, but since the actor does not speak he does not have many options besides looking intense.

I watched about 30 min. last night and thought about it quite deeply after.  It came to me that the veracity of it all hinges so completely on the person of Christ.  Was he God as John testifies and as he has Jesus self-identify?  It really all depends on this.

I tried to look at it from both sides.  What if John made it up (a preposterous idea from a variety of angles)? --  But what about Jesus?  What does he say and do;  what kind of character do we find here?  Did he do, as the martyrs confessed, no wrong, but has only ever done us good, deserving our loyalty?

I must say that he has only ever done me good.  I must say that the character in the Bible is just and genuine, intelligent and warm, surprising and bold, engaging and fair, loving both high and low, the sick, the healthy, participating in the community, promoting a full view of humanity.  He has done and said nothing wrong, only good.  And it was written down well, too.  You can't make this up.  The gospel witness is faithful.

I am even surer of it, after reading Plato, last year (see Plato posts).  Plato is supposed to have been the most intelligent fellow around, and read what kind of nonsense he wrote half of the time, suggesting the most bizarre arrangements for family life and the sexes, to pick one major thing.

Then there are people who are real heroes to me:  let's say Luther, or Chesterton.  Well, they on occasion have put their respective feet in their mouths quite decisively.   Or look at the patriarchs. --What a motley crew. --  I mean we won't even mention Mohammed.  Half the world swears by his name and he said and did such awful things commanding his followers do the same.

So, I have to say, that even with allowing a measure of doubt, Jesus stands entirely on his own--one of a kind perfect.  I will trust him, and not another.

Advent / Saved by Faith Alone

"It is natural that wherever Law and good works are, there will also be zeal and quarrels among people.  When one wants to be better than the other;  but especially there will be zeal against faith, which has no regard for their works and boasts only of God's grace.  Wherever Christ is, there are always such zealots..."

(Luther, Church Postil II, p. 245)

Supporter of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya carries the group's flag saying: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."

Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent / Glory and Honor

We all want glory and honor.

We all want to be loved, but not in spite of our shame and guilt but because of our glory and honor.

We have lately had so many people whom we kept on pedestals toppled off them--Bill Cosby.  Gian Gomeshi.  Pedophile priests.  Obama. Unfair officials.   Racist police officers...

I was driving along downtown Edmonton, past the main police station, the other day.  At an intersection an older looking policeman was waiting to cross on foot, while I had to wait in the car.  I looked him over.  He was well dressed with a black tie and seemed in good shape.  He looked the elder gentleman, who had served his time well.  He had garnered his share of glory and honor, no doubt.  But what would it take to embarrass him?  What could be brought to light?  Something?  Nothing?

Jesus was put to the cross, like a common criminal, dishonored, a prophet who had come to naught.  Reza Aslan lables him a Zealot, who died and that was it.  We are deemed fools because we believe in him and call him God.

The fact is that ALL  honor and glory are due him who has love the unpraiseworthy.  If we have done anything right, we are to call ourselves unworthy servants who have only done their duty.  It is really quite a relief to let the glory and praise thing go altogether.

In the end however, as we see in Revelation, all glory will finally come to Him, as is due him, and we, in the church, have already begun to praise him.  As the Lord said, He will not give His glory to another.  He Himself has done it all.

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”


Advent / Baking / Maria G.'s Lebkuchen recipe

To bake or not to bake, that is the question.

We are all eating too much rich food and not moving enough.  What about our Christmas baking?  When we were children we had cake on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  During Advent we had cookies every evening after lighting the candles and singing our hymns.  It was such a lovely and magical time.  We still remember helping our mother with her voluminous baking and we still remember which were her favorite songs.  And we still remember how we had to sing before we got any cookies.

Singing and cookies:  my favorite drugs of choice.  Somewhere I read:  the poor man's arts and pleasures.  Indeed, every peasant could sing and bake.  Not to be spurned, though.  "He is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest."  We shall indulge a bit.

I will bake one recipe of my husbands favorite, jam-filled's.  See the previously blogged recipe.   They are from the Dr. Oetker baking book.

Also, I will make one recipe's worth of Lebkuchen, I just copied down from my sister-in-law, yesterday.  She got it from Maria G.  We will henceforth call it Maria G.'s Lebkuchen recipe.

Here it is:

1.  Mix til foamy:  2 cups flour
                              2 cups brown sugar
                              4 eggs
                              1/2 cup honey

2.  Add:  1/4 cup ground nuts
               1/4 cup chopped, candied orange and lemon
               1 teaspoon ground cloves
               1 teaspoon cinnamon
               1 teaspoon ginger
               1 teaspoon baking soda

Cover cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment... bake at 350 degrees Farenheit,  in a mass like brownies,  slice while warm.

Pour on icing while warm:  (100 gr. icing sugar, with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and one table spoon water.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent / Persecution

Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering indescribable hardships because of their Christian faith.  It keeps me awake at night.  On the way to Irbil the very young and the old died, the remaining are living in make-shift accommodations having lost absolutely everything.  How can they keep their hopes alive.  I sent money, today.  I think we should all do what we can.  If one suffering person reads this, please know that you are not forgotten, that our thoughts and tears and prayers are with you virtually constantly.  The Lord Jesus won't forget your hardship.  He also made himself nothing and left everything behind.

I saw one lady in a videoclip, someone who had been expelled from Mosul.  She said: "Jesus said--I will send you like sheep among wolves and that is how it is."  She was not happy, but she had some context and God's word.   May the Lord help her and keep her strong in her faith.  May the Lord soon put an end to all this suffering.


"Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever."  (Collect in Advent)

With all these disasters we remember that it is our own sin and unbelief that threaten us the most.  Fear not who can destroy the body...

Advent / Future Perfect Subjunctive

No further words required.

I have been making a change.  I have gone from 7 push-ups poorly executed with pain to 18 much better executed in about two or three weeks of daily attempts--without pain in the shoulder.  A little regular exercise goes so far.

Also, the hubby and I have been having daily devotions with the singing and talking over of hymn.  Very nice.  Again, only takes 15 min, what an advantageous activity.  One can get sloppy about this.

One of the websites, has some woman do 100 men's push-ups.  Wellll.  I've been up to 30 women's before.  I'll be happy to get there in another couple of weeks, maybe.

Advent / What do we buy?

Yesterday, I was suckered into buying a stack of something because it was on sale.  Yes, I thought it was something I wanted and something I could give as a gift.  But I went overboard and did that because it had a sticker:  the sale was good until Dec. 5, which was yesterday.

Now, that I am laying awake, I am thinking:  what else have I "bought", that in the end failed to deliver, but that was very good at advertising itself?  Buy now, it said.  I am good for you.  And on top of it I am, a good deal.  Except it was not.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent / The Peace of Christ

"The advent of our King...   Nor let your faithless heart despise the peace He comes to bring."
LSB 331

A King has many jobs, the ultimate is to bring peace and prosperity to the nation.  And so our anticipated King and Savior comes.  We have languished in a darkness, in a desolation, in fear and conflict.  And Christ comes to provide the needed peace.  And our faithless hearts might despise this peace.  Why would we despise this peace?  What is this peace?

"My peace I give to you and leave with you, not as the world gives."  Jesus says.

Christ's peace is founded upon his mercy.  We don't always want mercy.  We may not think we need mercy.  It can be more comfortable to accuse God, accuse the neighbor, accuse our husbands or wives, our mothers, our employers, our friends, our enemies, than examine ourselves and realize our deep need for forgiveness.  This can become an academic topic to discourse on, but the reality is much bloodier.  Mercy is a messy business. The messiest of all. And the happiest of all.

Yet, in finding reconciliation is the heart of all real joy and peace.  Jesus' mercy is also for me.  :)

This is why the church keeps on saying:  "Lord, have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy".  Grant us your peace.   O come, o come, Emanuel.

Islamophobia?-- We think not.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent / Grace does not sell...

Grace is for losers.

Some of the advent hymns speak very clearly to our need to swallow our sinful pride and come to Christ humbly.  Indeed, there is no other way to come to Christ, except humbly, because all pride is excluded.  We have nothing to show for ourselves.  We ruin everything.

We love to be proud.  We want to be the winner, the king or queen, the shining example of love and devotion. We want to be spoken well of and admired by everyone, hardly daring to put our foot down when needed, just to please others.  And even in the "honest" hard word, pride lurks.  Pride is everywhere.  We can't seem to escape it.

But at the cross we see how bad it is and how it gets us nowhere.  We must leave it behind and struggle to brush it off.  We cannot have both Christ and pride.  It is mutually exclusive.  And then we can't be proud of being humble.  It is a vicious circle.  It is only in the unmerited grace of the Lord that we can glimpse the life that is not focused on self.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent / Religion as a cultural and psychological construct


That's what they say we have when we proclaim that there is objective truth in religion.  Since the assumption is that all religion is cultural and psychological construct, none of the believers should claim any sort of objective truth, only a subjective truth, or maybe a tradition.  Anything else is a "fundamentalism", and on the heels of saying that, here it comes:  an "extremism".  I think I even heard the Pope say something like that in Turkey this week.  I wonder about him.  He has said many things already that have been reported far and wide, but I have not heard him say anything about Jesus.  That could be a problem of the media and the reporting, not with the Pope.  The Pope stood in prayer and faced Mecca, in a mosque.  Is it all just "spirituality", in the end, even for him?

The Bible proclaims something very different.  The Bible proclaims a God of history, a Creator who knows everything intimately, even the number of hairs on your head.  He promised redemption to the fallen world, and he delivered it himself. He said that there would be and end, and a judgement, when he comes visibly again.  This is not your run-of-the-mill "spirituality".  It is something quite different; and it is the opposite of "idolatry".  "Spirituality" lets you worship whatever you like.  Jesus Christ lets you only worship him.

You choose.  He has already chosen you and me.  Trust Him.  "O come, o come, Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel."  Captive Israel, that is the church, now.  It needs redemption, too.  In addition, far and wide Christians are persecuted, in our day, in distant lands and closer to home.  Their needs are quite present and real, and yet, redemption is from sin, death and the devil.  Lord Jesus come, deliver us from evil and ease our suffering. Be also with all who deny you, their Savior from sin.  Draw us all to you.  (Trahe me post te.)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Some sites for crafts

Here are some places I like to check out for arts and crafts, and printables.

1.  http://angelaandersonart.blogspot.ca/2014/03/mixed-media-crosses.html

Angela also has videos on techniques on-line.  I watched several and got inspiration to try something. I am going to paint something with acrylics.  Yes, I will.  Something original.  For Christmas.

2.  http://www.biblestoryprintables.com/Pages/BibleCrafts/NamesofJesus.html
Easy to like designes here.

Both pages are along the lines cutting, coloring, pasting and modpodging craft.  It is easy, pretty and good for all ages.  -- Not exactly art.  But easy and inviting and fast.

3.  http://www.u-createcrafts.com/beautiful-nativity-ornament-tutorial/

This one I would like to make with a craft.  See instructions on blog link.


Mary did you know?


Advent / "I know that my Redeemer Lives"

In conversation, the other day, I was reflecting on the fact that Job with all his unanswered questions, unhelpful advisers,  cursing wife, and, of course, the whole pile of misfortunes--the quest for understanding going on for chapter after chapter, seemingly without resolution--did find a resolution in the forward looking to the Redeemer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q0qho_hKEg   This  link is to  a beautiful version  of the scripture in Handel's Messiah sung by a choir boy of the Oxford College.  There is something pure and endearing about the unaffected child's voice.  It lends itself to spiritual songs.

This is what we get from Job; he wanted it remembered:

24"That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever! 25"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26"Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;…

JOB 19

--It struck me that in High School English class--many, many moons ago--a book we read dealt with this issue of suffering and Job's unanswered question.  

I recall that I found it moderately distressing.  But I recall also that it did not deal, in the way of modern English-speaking education, with this forward looking hope, with the hope beyond the grave, with the hope in the resurrection, with the hope in the Redeemer of the world, who would come to the earth.  It was omitted in English class.  I remember that. 

People may view this as the pie in the sky, when all else fails last ditch cop-out.  Yet, we do need to come to these places in life where we find our limits, where we know that we are dying, where we know that our accumulated riches won't last, that everything can be gone in a flash, and often is, that we are not as good as we thought...  We need to come to these places.  And all the sudden, the message of the Redeemer, that we have heard becomes the saving message.  It was there all along.  It was announced to us all along.  We have sung Christmas carols all our lives, and even Handel's Messiah has been heard over and over and over again.  And then comes a day, where we love this Redeemer more, need him more, hear him more, yes, because we know that we are dust and to dust we shall return.

But the Redeemer lives, and though worms destroy this body, though my goodness is nothing, though my strength fades, though my glories seem hollow, though nothing is what it is cracked up to be, though disillusionment and nihilism grind my soul to extinction--yet, in my flesh, I shall see God!--!!! With Job and all the saints!--!!!