Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chief of Sinners

"Apart from seeing ourselves as sinners, we shall see no beauty in Jesus that we  should desire Him," says the author of the book, I Would See Jesus.  But, I do desire Him, and see Him, by faith, to be what I need as a sinner, as a failure, as a poverty-stricken weakling. Jesus is what I need in this very hour.

Of course, for this to happen I must accept the truth about myself and about God - truth, not in the sense of doctrine, but in the sense of a revelation of things as they really are. The devil tells me that I am "a good person" and "a good Christian"; that God is not all that holy and uncompromising, but every time I fall for this lie I lose sight of truth.

"To see ourselves as sinner is the beginning of salvation," says St Augustine. That's what I want, and so I cling to God's promise:

 "If we say we that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1: 8-9.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just Laws

Justice. America is a country of laws. These laws have, up until recent times, sought to do good for its people. Just laws. Laws that favor the righteous rather than the lawbreaker. Somehow that has changed.

The Psalmists often cried out to the Lord pleading with God to hear their case, lamenting the fact that there was no justice in the land. When I was young I was saddened that they could feel so helpless. Now, however, I feel a similar despair. The rulings from our courts almost seem upside down: mercy for the wicked, increased restrictions on those who follow the law.

"Let God be the judge of the peoples," says the writer in  Psalm 7:8. Fat chance of that happening today. The downhill progression is thus. First we hear the lie and wonder. i.e.: "Is abortion really that wrong?"  Then we believe the lie. "Well, I think in some cases it really is the only answer."  And then we make God the liar. "A loving God would not make that poor girl be tied down with a child she does not want. And anyway, no child deserves to be born unwanted and unloved."

Hence, the continued efforts to get the Ten Commandments removed from our halls of justice. "Listen God, you can't tell us what to do. We want to figure it out for ourselves. We'll do what we think is right."

Not too reassuring. Entering the court system in this America gives no guarantee that justice will be done. That is scary.

Psalm 119:52 "I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them." 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh, the Things He Planned For Us.

I used to swim a mile whenever I went to the Y to work out. Now I am down to half a mile. The swim was not so long that I could no longer do it, it just took too much time, an hour at least. Swimming half a mile is more manageable.

The water was especially inviting today. Outside the wind chill was below zero, but this is a heated pool and the temperature inside was just right.  Swim time is often prayer time for me.

The water gliding past my skin was just the soothing I needed on this stress filled day. God did a marvelous work when He created water. It is by the water of Baptism that He makes us His children, and then to delight His children He made water something in which to swim and pray.

"Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." Psalm 40:5

Monday, March 18, 2013

Silly Poems

I've been entering a weekly limerick for a "Limerick-off". This week's offering is found at

The first line is provided for you and then you see what you can do to complete the poem. So far these are my two entrees:

Last week:

A woman who wanted a raise
Made her case with some weak-kneed cliches.
Her boss, unimpressed,
Denied her request,
And now she works ALL holidays.

This week:

A woman was trying to read
Undeterred by a gushing nosebleed.
With a shiver, she said,
As the pages turned red,
"This story is gory, indeed!"

It's fun. Go to Mad's page and try it.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I babysat my granddaughter, Palmer, today. She is nine months old and a pretty easy going baby. She had a little separation anxiety when she saw her mother getting ready to leave the house, but she got over it quickly, and we had a fun day together. I had eight children and have to say that none of them was particularly difficult as in being fussy or being picky eaters, etc.

Mischievious, yes. I remember our oldest, Phil, being particularly busy. Like when he cut holes in the knees of his brothers' pajamas (I had just bought new ones because the old ones had holes in the knees). Or when he cut his brothers' hair, or when he put stencil cement all over his father's typewriter keys. Then there was the time he got Paul's razor and shaved his face all around the lips. He got into the baby aspirin twice, and put Crisco in his brother Pete's hair. Anyway, you get the idea.

Palmer was a piece of cake.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I dream alot. Sometimes I wake up with feelings of foreboding, other times I awaken excited and full of anticipation. Rarely does anything come of it. Is there really a cause and effect explaination for everything that happens, whether in dreams or in life in general?

 Maybe, maybe not. Waking up with the feeling that something wonderful is looming on the horizen of my day, or conversely, something aweful, seems pretty much like a leftover crumb of a now unrecallable meal. I give it little credence. Still, God often spoke to people in dreams in the Bible. There are people who keep a notepad and pencil by their bed to write down what they can remember when waking from a dream. I might try that sometime.

Probably not.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Passive Love

Today our fruit of the Spirit is patience. I've heard patience described as passive love. Thusly, when God is patient,  His deep love for the sinner leads Him to withhold punishment for a time. The gardener in Jesus parable pleads with his master to not cut down the barren fig tree, but rather to let it stand for another year. Then, if it is still without fruit, cut it down, he begs. Have patience, Master. Show your compassion by withholding your wrath for a time.

IIn order to show patience to my spouse, I bite my tongue rather than issue a sharp rebuke. No more honking at that "lame brain"  at the stoplight. (Timmy: "Mommy, where are all the blithering idiots today?"  Mommy:" Lucky for us they only come onto the road when your father is driving.")

Passive love. Withholding action. Letting people be themselves without criticism or fear. No more quick judgements, or snap decisions, or flying off the handle

This whole concept has spurred me to inaction ....righteous inaction that is. Done out of love.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spiritual Checklist

We are talking about the fruit of the Spirit in our mid-week Lenten services this year.

"For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5: 22-23.

There are not a variety of things that grow on our branches when we have been grafted into Christ, the true vine. No, it is one fruit that has in its makeup all the above mentioned virtues. When the Spirit works in you, these are the results one finds appearing in one's life.

I used to try to work on them individually, perhaps thinking that I was okay on the joy and peace bit, but maybe needed a little work on the patience and gentleness part. (I am usually in a hurry, and very task oriented, so patience and gentleness often fall to the wayside of my ministrations. Last year when my husband came home from the hospital and was recovering from surgery, he thanked me, one day, for all the TLC, otherwise known as Tender Loving Care. We stopped for a minute and looked a one another, and he said, more accurately this time, "Well, the LC.")

Now, though, I know that the fruit of the Spirit  come in a package deal, so if I am lacking in one aspect, I am probably deficient in all. This is God's way of telling me to check the connection between vine and branch. An early warning system as it were, which is a blessing to those of us who desire to stay close to Jesus.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Havin' the Blues

The sun was shining today. I'm not hungry or cold. My family loves me and God loves me. Money isn't a pressing issue at this very moment. Why then am I sad?

I didn't sleep well last night, (Wasn't it General George Patton that said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all?") but I don't think that is the problem. Usually periods like this call me to prayer and praise, but I have spent many minutes (hours) in prayer, and I still feel low.

Perhaps it is the human condition itself that leads to sadness. Contrasts heighten awareness. A gloomy day lends extra brightness to the sunny day that follows. A painfree morning may be accepted with little gratitude unless it happens to follow a night of arthritic aches.

None of the above.

I am sad because one of my children is sad.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I have heard it explained as False Evidence Appearing Real. I can see that. There have been many times in my life when I worried and planned for scary things that never happened. 
Sometimes it was watching at the window late at night for a child who was late in coming home, but who bounced in the door saying "sorry" and having a good reason for missing the curfew.  Occasionally it involved waiting for medical test results that came back negative. Periodically I wonder if my on-call job is still going to be available to me, but I got called to work two shifts next week. You get the idea. All that angst and drama for nothing.

Today I find myself stewing once again, but this time there is good reason to be afraid. Or is there? If I trust that God is for me, who could be against me? And if trust is my avenue of defence, fear has no place in the equation. Fear and trust are diametrically opposed.

I once read that there are 365 “fear not‘s” in the Bible, one for every day of the year. Well, I am claiming a few for today, and tomorrow.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 26: 3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (NIV)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

May I Put You on Hold?

I've been reading the book of Psalms this past week. The Psalmists send out numerous calls for help, and there is a lot of asking, "When will you save me, Lord?"  And in answer to these crys for help, the word that sounds most loudly in my ears is "wait". Nothing could be more unwelcome to this digital age person. Instant messaging, texting, facebook, cell phones: these speak the language of now, and that is where it's at.

I shop "online" because I hate to wait "in line." When I am behind a slow driver my husband gently reminds me, "He can't hear you." Hence, the encouragement to "wait on the Lord", is not encouraging to this microwave user.

And yet, I need to hear these very words. "Wait on the Lord," is especially meaningful to me, because when I don't wait, I start doing things. I try solving the unsolvable. I offend others, I make enemies by attempting to enforce my will on the other guy. I scheme and plot, and generally mess things up. God's way is rarely my way, but His way works and mine often fails, so don't you think I would learn to trust Him?

I think I need to stay in the Psalms a little longer. At least until I learn the full meaning of "wait."

Friday, March 08, 2013

We All Sin

"If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?"  Psalm 130: 3

I have never understood the Christian that cannot forgive.  Keeping a tally of wrongs, hugging hurts to ones heart, and vilifying others who sin is inconsistent with everything that God teaches.

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

What does this mean?
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

These are the words of Luther explaining the Fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer, and they are the basis for all that is embraced by the Christian community in all the world.

Forgive as you have been forgiven. What part of that don't they get?

I don't understand them, but I do forgive them.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Spring Ahead

Spring is coming. I know  because this Saturday we are to remember to "spring ahead," i.e. to change our clocks to reflect daylight savings time. Looking out the window at the new fallen snow is not enough to dampen my anticipation. Spring will come.

Still, the changing of seasons is always bittersweet for me. For a brief period in my life, four or five years or so, two of my sisters moved to Minnesota. I live here because I married a Minnesotan, but my family is from Nebraska, so, while not a long way from home, most of my life has been lived separate from my family of origin.

Thus, it was an unexpected treat that my sister, Martha, and her family moved to a Minnesota town a mere twenty miles from my home. Now that there were two of us living so close, another sister, Paula, followed suit and moved to nearby Minneapolis. For those years we celebrated the seasons together. We gathered for holidays, of course, but we also went ice skating in winter, took walks in spring, swam and picniced together in summer, and savored the last few days of dining outside as fall approached.

So, now the season is changing once again, and I no longer have even one sister with whom to celebrate. Paula moved to CA and shortly thereafter Martha moved to Baltimore, MD. I love Spring. Each time the weather moves on to its prescribed cycle, I am eager to see what the new season will hold. But it also makes me a little sad.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I Remember it Well...I Think

Memory is a funny thing. As I get older I find myself less certain of the true history of my life. Always so sure of myself when young, this aging thing has made the past a little hazy now.

I keep hearing stories from others about events that I, too, participated in. The problem is that their versions are described in colorful details that never caught my attention. Sometimes those same stories are told with endings that  play out much differently than the way I remember things turning out. It is not only disconcerting, it leaves me wondering what really happened during those times.

I have heard it said that each person's reality is what that individual  believes it to be, but right now I am feeling a little robbed, somehow, that others remember a different life than the one I think I had. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

We Are Fam-i-ly

Reading  verses of a Lenten hymn in my morning devotion time brought me across this little gem:

                                             "May we all Your loved ones be,
                                              All one holy family,
                                              Loving, since your love we see:
                                              Hear us, Holy Jesus."
What a wonderful blueprint for families. Knowing God's love and acceptance as children, holy and beloved, we would stop waiting for others to make us happy. Knowing that we were all in this thing called life together as family would cause us to give each other room to fail and grow.
I have heard it explained that we harshly judge others on their actions toward us, "I can't believe she would say such a thing!", but generously judge ourselves on our intent, "Well, what I said might have sounded hateful, but I didn't mean to hurt anyone by it." God tells us to do it the other way around. He says put the best construction on everything, so that conversation should have sounded like this: "I'm sure she didn't mean to be unkind," and "I can't believe I said such a hurtful thing."  Gracious towards others, firm with ourselves.
And we are able to do this by imitating Christ. "We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19.
"Loving, since your love I see."

Monday, March 04, 2013

Needing to Write

I've been going to a writers'/poetry evening once a month at our local library. It's been the only time that I have been doing any writing for almost a year now. When our children were young we would  go camping for several weeks each summer. As soon as we walked into the door of our home our son, Peter, would make a mad dash for the piano and play for hours. It was as though all this music had been building up inside his small frame, and he needed that piano to let it all come out.

In the same way, my fingers have found their way to this keyboard to release the words that have been accumulating in my writer's heart, breaking through the lethargy that has held me captive much of the past year. Already, in these few sentences, the resolve to write regularly has been taking on a semblance of commitment, and like Peter, who always felt better after that release, I, too, feel comforted by the act of finally putting some of those dammed up words to paper (to blog screen).