Friday, November 30, 2007

My Wife and the Litugy

Mary is truly wonderful. She's my best friend. And I am merciless in teasing her, I shouldn't be. She's so nice to me. She read the last post on the dentist pulling Clara's tooth and was (in 1980s valley girl speak) totally grossed out.

But let me tell you how wonderful she is, today, a day of recovery from illness, she went to get a toilet gasket for me. We have this one toilet that has something stuck in it. Tomorrow I'll have to bail it out and remove the blockage. But Mary was willing to go get the wax gasket for the toilet, not the most romantic task. Perhaps she enjoyed the time away from all the kids, but I prefer to think of it as an act of love.

Although, when she got home she was singing.

"I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, She's so cold."

I suppose it was just the catchy way that Mick Jaeger sings. It is a catchy tune from our youth. But it does leave one wondering how much pop culture affects us. I don't think I've heard the song in over 20 years. But I could recall the lyrics just as well as she could.

Right now the lyrics for "The Cowboy and the Poet" are running through my head. I'm memorizing my sermon for the morning, the 1st Sunday in Advent. I'd prefer that "O Come, O Come, Imannuel" were running through my head.

It's like the old computer programmers said: "GIGO: Garbage In=Garbage Out." So, tonight I'm trying to fill my head with something that ain't garbage.

Yet the refrain runs on "its faster horses....." How pathetic am I.

It's times like this that I appreciate the value of the Liturgy. I am privileged to have the opportunity to repeat it 4 times each weekend. That means, counting special services, I've gone through it more than 1200 times in the past 6 years. Repetitio matre studiorum est, Repetition is the mother of all studies. The theology and biblical texts of the Liturgy become like breathing. Of course, one should think about them while performing them. But it's nice to know that the Liturgy, like breathing, can carry us through God's Word if we are distracted or feeble minded.

I've had elderly members victimized by Alzheimer's disease or some kind of dementia that were able to go through the liturgy when they couldn't remember me or their own name. What a wonderful testimony concerning repetition and grounding Christians in the biblical text and Gospel message of the Confessional Lutheran Liturgies. When we are feeble, we know best what we've repeated most. GIGO is a great warning. Let us keep from the garbage and keep repeating the Law and the Gospel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Under the Drill! My natural frequency.

Wednesday my voice was still very week, this made teaching Wed. School hard. But it was a good class. We went over the second section on Baptism and the first part of the Office of the Keys as well as a continuing in-depth study of our worship service, it's biblical sources, catechetical application, and value to the life of the believer.

Wed. morning I had a hospital call in TR for a member (Chris) who has been sick for quite a while. She developed pneumonia, went through the regimen of antibiotics and had to be hospitalized because she got worse after she was done with the antibiotics. Her husband (Alan) has come down with shingles. They are both in their early to mid 40s. Their two kids are doing fine. Please keep Chris, Alan and their family in your prayers.

Thursday morning was D-Day (D for Dentist). Clara needed to have a tooth pulled. I needed to have a cavity drilled and filled.

Clara was excited. I was first. And when the dentist or I teased Clara about her extraction she pouted with a twinkle in her eye.

Clara: "How long will it hurt?"

Me: "10 to 12 days."

Dentist: "No, that's 10 to 12 minutes."

Me: "Oh-beh, yeah-beh, witbeth a-bell thibs libdocabne a cabn't tebell thebeh dibeferbrebence."

Yes, I took this picture. I am a bit of a masochist. It's my theory that everyone has a "natural frequency" which sets them on edge. For some people it's the sound of fingernails across the blackboard. For my mom, it's a fork scraping against the plate. For others it might be the squeaking of teeth against Styrofoam cups. And others might be nauseated by their finger-nail vibrating against the zipper of their jacket. For me, it's the dentist's drill. If waterboarding could fix my cavity I'd rather do that then go under the dentist's drill. What does the Geneva Convention have to say about dentistry?

He had to drill a lot. I had a sealant put on a decade ago. That was supposed to prevent cavities. Wonder of wonders, those nasty little bacteria had infiltrated under my sealant, popped it off and made a nice little colony in one of my molars. I'm sure, if evolution were true, that the bacteria would have excavated a wonderful little city with Corinthian columns and complex architecture. Perhaps they would have developed their own version of the Internet. But the dentist was merciless in his eradication of their civilization. I'm also sure that some environmentalist whack-o will some day petition that such colonies be preserved (as long as they are in someone else's mouth and not their own--Did you ever notice that the most vocal environmentalists are rich kids or adults who don't have to live off the work of their own hands?)

I mentioned my anxiety about the drill to the dentist. He tried to humor me. He's a really good guy. "This drill bit is often called the whiner." I wanted to whine. "Some call this drill bit the jack-hammer." Despite the lidocaine I can feel the heat of the drill in my root nerve. Is it my imagination or is that a small spiral of smoke rising from my mouth.

I had to set a good example for Clara. She was sitting right there in the corner of the room. I prayed. I breathed deeply. I tried to be calm.

Finally, the dentist had completed his genocidal eradication of the bacterial civilization. He had destroyed all their art and architecture and wiped every civilian-bacillus out. The dental technician had Clara come over to assist during the filling. Clara kept the suction going while the tech filled, scraped, and washed.

And I was done.

Clara hadn't noticed my anxiety. Whew. Then it was Clara's turn for her extraction. She got NOx (a popular recreational drug in the early 1900s and also used today as an enhancer to race car fuel). I chose not to have it because in my previous experience all I got was to laugh while I hurt and was bothered. In the end, I hoped to "take it like a man." I am such a wimp.

Clara was so much better than I was. I didn't take any photos of the dentist slowly rotating her tooth with the extraction pliers. She put on a good show with the lidocain and laughed during the extraction. Finally there was the gristly snap and pop and her tooth was out.

We paid the bill. The receptionist reminds me of Annette Funicello during her Beach Blanket Bingo days.

I got Clara home before 11am so she could go with the Mary and the other kids over to visit Laura DeR's family.

I stayed home and did some work until the lidocaine wore off. I had lunch, late, and needed to rest a bit.

In the evening I had a meeting, went home and had read-aloud time and devotion with my family, came back here to the office to finish off some work.

I'm still sick, but doing much better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"I'm not dead yet."

I've had the flu. Still do, in fact. Last week Sat (Nov 17), I had to cancel services at Mt. Olive. On Sunday morning I could be long enough without the need of a rest-room, so I held services, but I used the Office of Prime. I was very weak.

Monday came and we had this winkel down in Audubon. Mary drove. Pr. Stafford came with us. Most of the time I was head-achey, chills, and ready to pass out. But it was an important meeting.

Being sick makes concentration for writing sermons much harder. From Sunday the 18th to Sunday the 25th there were 10 services at which I preached. By Wed evening my voice was starting to be affected by this virus. We used Compline and Prime for Thanksgiving services.

Mom, Dad, and Jeremy came on Thursday afternoon and we had our Thanksgiving celebration.
Mom and Donna sleeping in the rocker. I'm glad Mom could relax some during this trip. I know there were worries about weather and such. But Donna sure feels comfortable with her.




John and Stella were helping Mary out with the cooking. Of course, when you help out, it means that you get to taste too, doesn't it?

Mom, Dad and Jeremy were able to stay until Saturday afternoon.


Clara tried to hog Grandpa any chance she could. I don't think Grandpa was complaining.

Jeremy seems to be doing well in school. So on Friday, he, grandpa, Matt, and I went to TRF so Jeremy could buy his first computer.

The gang at Northern Lights Bookstore gave us a great deal on a color monitor ($FREE--can't beat that). And Jeremy bought a fairly decent machine with his money. Not an expensive top of the line machine, but one that will work and that he could afford.

Of course, he wanted to play with it from the time we got it home. I said, "No." We set it up. I downloaded some security and safety software. He packed it up.


Saturday I had a very sore voice. We used Prime at Mt. Olive. No Saturday School. Kids were gone.

Mom, Dad, and Jeremy went back home in the late morning. Mary and I went to Mavis' birthday party in the afternoon (just a brief visit.)

Sunday my voice was still pretty raw. I did the full services, but without singing. I made it through, but I was so tired and sore. Shirley L told me to go to the Dr.

Monday I went and got a flu shot, and deposited the check.

Tuesday, throat still very sore, voice almost nil. Rest. Cleaned up a room in the basement; did some work on sermon (1st Sunday in Advent, you know, a whole new church year!!!!)

We got snow on Monday. A nice coating. This morning (Tues) I took Louisa and Matt out hunting sharptail grouse, no joy. Well we've got three more mornings to get some.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Borax

The old timers figured out quite a few good things. This is a bit of my tangent on self-sufficiency, but this tangent is more realistic.

Borax is as old as history. Our first encounter with it as a family was when we lived in Madison, WI. We had a problem with a weed called Creeping Charlie. When I asked my old neighbor why his yard didn't have any he told me to wet the lawn down and sprinkle Borax lightly on the Creeping Charlie. Wait a few weeks and repeat if needed. Our Creeping Charlie was gone with half a box.

I liked the stuff.

I remembered in High-School Chemistry that we made a glass bead of Borax to test for different elements. That was really cool at the time. And when we lived in North Mankato, MN, a friend (Andy B.) and I made a few beads with the help of our gas stove. (Andy likes swords too.)

I remembered having fun with this stuff.

Also, when we lived in Madison, a friend of ours had a science project day with the kids. One of the things she did with them is make Silly Putty with Borax.

I liked the stuff even more.

Our second year up here in Northwestern MN, we inherited 2 kittens. We weren't aware of any problems at the time. But after a few weeks we had fleas all through the house. I called exterminators for an estimate. This parsonage is big. And they wanted a lot, a LOT of money. Plus, we'd have to be out of the house for several days with an infant and small children.

I did some research. There were two old-time solutions, diatomaceous earth, or Borax. Borax was cheaper. And it got rid of the fleas within 3 days. I spread some out a week later in case any fleas hatched out. The total cost for the project $18. And I still have 2 boxes left over. It didn't get rid of the fleas only. Every bug was gone. Everything. No silverfish, no spiders, no centipedes or millipedes, nothing. I found later that Borax can eliminate cockroaches. If only I'd known that when we lived in Chicago.

In blacksmithing Borax is used as a flux between pieces of iron or steel when the smith wants to hammer weld the pieces together.

There are a lot of uses for Borax. The Wacky Uses website has many.

And you know that Tarro stuff that you buy to kill ants? It's Borax and Corn Syrup. That's all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Odd Tangents

Tangents are lines that touch a circle or an ellipse at one point. In three dimensional geometry a tangent plane intersects a sphere at one point. You can find more than you ever wanted to know about 2 dimensional geometry tangents at Wikipedia.

A Tangent in conversation is a diversion that might intersect the ongoing conversation at one point and be totally irrelevant to the whole rest of the context that is taking place among friends.

That's the way my mind works.

Actually, my mind works three tangents away. Imagine a circle that represents a conversation. My mind works off the tangents of this conversation and constructs another conversation that I may have had with other people at another time, or which may just be in my head. From that second (non-current) conversation my mind takes tangents to a third hypothetical conversation's context and extrapolates a tangent from that.

What this means is that I say some really stupid stuff during conversations that, to any reasonable person, seem totally out of context.

But there are a few people I've met who can follow each of these tangents in their own minds. And if the pick-up is quick enough, the two of us have a nice laugh while the rest look at us as if we're from Mars.

So, here are my tangents this evening.

The first tangent is for a man named Kim.

Take a look at this website. This is what I hope to do before next October. But I still need to tool up for the job. I won't do the fancy stuff, because I'm incapable. But just making the tomahawk heads should be straightforward. I did quite a bit of anvil work when I was in high-school. My parents' home and barn has enough scars in the posts from the swords I made back then. (Sorry, Mom and Dad).

The second tangent has to do with my many years of competition and teaching martial arts. Somebody has put together a website with some wonderful information to demythologize martial arts. The nice thing is that they don't just pick on eastern martial arts. Everything is fair game. Mary found this site when she was looking for information on handgun stances.

The third tangent is that I'd like to recommend to you my friend, Bruce Gee's blog. When Mary and I lived in Madison, WI, during my graduate courses in Hebrew and Semitic Studies, we attended Grace Ev. Lutheran Church. Jesse Jacobsen (author of The Plucked Chicken) was our pastor. (Jesse is now pastor in Oregon at Bethany Lutheran in The Dalles, and Concordia Lutheran, Hood River Bruce and his family were also members there at that time. Bruce has a wonderful family and a keen mind. His mental fomentations are well worth reading. Even if you don't know him or his family, his reports are always entertaining. And when he writes on theology he is one of the most eloquent writers I've had the privilege to read. He calls his blog "Pagans and Lutherans." The title reflects his own experience in coming to faith.

The fourth tangent has to do with a vain personal wish. I have been practicing Iaido with a wooden bokken for several years. I've often desired to buy a real katana. But I've not done so because, unlike a handgun, you can't remove the firing pin or put a gun lock on a sword. I've read about experienced swordsmen who have severely cut themselves by accident. And, heck, a real, folded steel, genuine, made the traditional way, katana costs $$.$$$. But maybe I could make one? And so this blacksmith website has a good bit of tonic to keep me in check.

And then, there is the fifth tangent, self-reliance. Homesteading and survival, living off the land, being a pioneer, no dependence on anyone, being "off the grid" has a strong appeal to me. I read a lot of fiction like "My Side of the Mountain" when I was a kid. So I get beans and some supplies from farmers in the area. Problems? I like my computer and the net--I rely upon these tools for a great deal of my work; though, really, I can do it without them. For my work I need my car and gasoline. This implies a heavy reliance upon world economics. The nearest grocery store is 13 and half miles away. Gardens, when depended upon for survival, require more space and more time than our family is able to deal with. Our winter heat depends upon natural gas and a working electric grid. Our kitchen is entirely dependent upon the electrical grid. The meaning? I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to self-reliance.

Tangents are good, as long as they are kept in check. Mary is very good at keeping my tangents in check. I'm so glad that God put us together.

Now, if the kids would just go to sleep when it's bed time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, Monday, baa-da-da, baa-da-da-da

This evening there was a nice sunset and moonset. My camera is not really good, but this is what I got from it.

I loose track of all the household fixup/honeydoo jobs I did this week. I remember getting high off of fiberglass resin to fix a handle on the oven. I remember the stink of cat poop under the workbench.

Several doors fixed, anyway.

Today was probably our last nice warm day of the year. Mary and I went for a walk this evening to enjoy it. We look forward to spring when we can do it again. But now we brace for winter.

And part of bracing for winter is practicing Christmas Hymns.

This is what it looks like in our house when the kids sing "O Come, All Ye Faithful!"

Only three of the kids fit into the frame, but all of those able to, were dancing and singing at the top of their lungs.

What a wonderful noise.

They're going to complain when they see this photo posted here. But I wanted to share my enjoyment of my kids when they are singing a Hymn about their Savior's Birth.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nolan's Baptism

Today we celebrated Nolan L's baptism at OP.

Dad and Mom are in this photo with Nolan. There were so many pictures after the service that Nolan was getting more than a little ticked off at the attention. He just wanted to eat.

It was nice to have so many of the family here today. After the service there was a dinner held in honor of Nolan's baptism.



So many people stayed to celebrate. It was a wonderful time. Please keep Nolan and his family in your prayers.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Matthew's first deer

On Friday Matthew got his first deer. It was a yearling doe. The head is tipped back because that's where he shot it.

It took three shots for him-two misses. But the third was a head shot and a quick kill.

Even more, it means that none of the meat was spoiled.

He got a bit lucky, the third shot was from 100 yards or better. ( he used Darrow's 30-30, a Winchester, model 94)

We made some sausage Saturday evening from Matthew's harvest. It was very good.

Now we have some more meat in the freezer for this winter and spring.

frenulectomy (on Thursday)

Donna just likes attention. So we bundle her up, coo her, and make her smile. Today (back to Thursday morning for this) we were going to Fosston to the dentist.

Half of us had our check-ups already. Now, I was in the second-half.

Clara needs a tooth pulled, I have a cavity that needs to be excavated and filled (seems my "sealant", which is supposed to prevent this sort of thing, has failed.)

And today we had one frenulectomy. Elsie's frenulectomy was due to the fact that the frenum between her two lower incisors was causing her gum to retract.

She liked the bubble gum flavored gloves. I took a photo of the box so you can see that the dentist does, in fact, have bubble gum flavored latex dental exam gloves.

I wonder, does that make little kids more likely to bite down on the dentist's fingers when he puts those bubblishous flavored fingers in a kid's mouth?

And here is the anesthesia shot, novocane or xylocane or whatever. All the kids that I had with me were in the room to watch the dentist cut away.

Kids are very curious. At times this is rather imposing and invasive. But Elsie dealt with it fairly well. She wanted me to take a photo of her frenulectomy, but she does not want me to post it on this blog.

So all we have are these action shots, no picture of her mouth with its surgical modifications.

Personality Inventories and Reality

An Online quiz provoked me.

Here are the results of the online quiz. It was meant to measure what I should choose as my college major:

What is your Perfect Major?
You scored as a Linguistics
You should be a Linguistics major!
Art

92%
Linguistics

92%
Journalism

92%
Engineering

83%
Mathematics

83%
Dance

83%
Philosophy

83%
English

83%
Psychology

75%
Biology

75%
Chemistry

75%
Sociology

75%
Theater

67%
Anthropology

67%


I tried an online analysis of what my college major ought to be. The problem with these online quizzes is that no one knows who is putting them up or the criteria that they use for evaluation. The fact is I majored in Hebrew and Semitic Studies. This is a linguistics degree that requires proficiency in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Phoenician (can you spell that word correctly without looking?), Ammorite, Moabite, German, French, and a number of other languages. "Proficiency" means that the student can sit down and work out what the text says.

It is interesting to me that this quiz evaluated me high in Art, Linguistics, and Journalism. I went through my first few years of College on an art scholarship. My major and focus was linguistic. And my profession involves the regular writing of text on issues of the day (that could be considered "Journalism"). But there was no religious axis for this quiz. I suppose that pastors could be considered "journalists" in the sense that pastors have to write and address a group of subscribers (parishoners) frequently and regularly about what's going on in their lives.

But the lack of a religious element to this quiz is significant.

Most people on this planet are influenced by their theological presuppositions.

Atheists have managed to kill more Christians and others in the name of their Atheism than any other religion in the history of humanity.

Muslims come in second, in my opinion, because of the dramatic way in which they terrorize anyone who does not agree with them.

Hindus come in third with their bloody intolerance of intolerance.

Next, in my book, comes organized Christian religion that has confused the distinction God makes in His Word, the Bible, between Church and State. Yes, it is true, atrocities have been committed in the name of Christ. And more will come before the world ends. Some episode of the Crusades are pathetic.

But if you want to honestly examine which faiths have caused more death and destruction in this world than any other, you have to admit that Atheism and Agnosticism are the main culprits.

If we go back to the Middle-Ages there were many wars between protestants and Roman Catholics. Perhaps millions were killed in these wars. But in the late 7th Century Islam became a factor. "Millions" is perhaps an under estimation of how many people were killed in the name of that faith.

Hinduism had a much earlier start. One can read the Bagavad Gita without understanding. But when one is shown that the people that Shri Krishna was fighting against were Buddhists, one has to realize that the Hindu religion has been excessively intolerant of other belief systems.

But the big bad guy of all ages has to be Agnosticism and Atheism. It's a simple matter of historical record. More people have been killed by Agnostics and Atheists in the 20th century than all the records of any civilization that has preceded the modern period. Whether one looks back to Hitler's Agnostic spiritualism or to the materialistic and deterministic views of Lenin and Stalin or their successors, at least 20 million Christians and others were killed by Atheists and Agnostics.

If one continues in looking at the inheritors of the Atheist and Agnostic belief systems, Mau Tse Deung and Pol Pot along with almost uncountable others have put Christians to death in numbers that are uncountable.

And let us consider the U.S.A.

I love the Declaration of Independence. I love the Constitution. But since 1972 it has been legal to kill unborn children at the emotional whim of the mother. The Liberals call this freedom of choice. But in reality it is we who are Conservative who are the defenders of children. They, those Liberals who look to Government as the caretaker and giver of all things, are the ones who try to justify themselves. They are the ones who place their own convenience above the value of life itself.

But even if I were born in an Imperial dynasty with a dictator who had declared himself to be a god, I would still have to abide by what St. Paul writes, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." (Romans 13:1).

For those who are readers of this blog, I want to explain, that these many issues are the reason why we, in the Confessional Lutheran Church, pray the Prayer of the Church. I think that I'll post this prayer sometime soon. But I want the readers of this blog to know that there is nothing new under the sun. Any, and I mean ANY, issue that we face now has been faced by other before us. The experience and reactions of God's people are found in the pages of the Bible. Technology does not make us different from the Patriarchs. We still have the same sinful nature and experience the same doubts and troubles as St. Paul.

And St. Paul made a particular issue of pointing out that if he, the persecutor of the Church of Christ, could be forgiven: so can you and I.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Donna's Laugh, for our family



Donna laughs quite a bit now. I caught a bit of her happiness while Louisa was enternaining her. I'm sorry the light wasn't great, but it was in the evening. Donna's a little more than 3 months old now. I cannot thank God enough for the joy that He continually gives me as the husband of a wonderful woman and the father of 9 wonderful children. To see them grow, learn, change, and become what God makes them, this is such a wonderful gift. And for every mother and father who watches their children grow, enjoy each gift of God as He gives it. And be sure to give your children His Word and Baptism so that the laughter and joy will continue through eternity.

Meat for the family.

As I said in the last post, Sophie is our most facially expressive child. Here is her desired pose for a photo while making a face. All I can think of when I see this is "Dawn of the Dead."

Today while I was out doing visits a member came to the parsonage and dropped off a deer. I noticed it wrapped up in plastic lying on the freezer in our garage. Mary and I hung the deer in the garage by one of our ceiling hooks.

I'll let it hang this evening and then tomorrow I'll cut it up, at least part of it. The temperature is fine for hanging game. Thank you Leroy.

I have to think now, what do I do with the bones? Can I put them in the trash? There's a lot of bones with a whole deer. I can't dig a hole on the parsonage property.

And, really, I'm not very skilled at being a butcher. I'll waste a lot do to my inexperience. But it will have to do. I'll learn.

Genetic Traits

Thursday evening we had a bit of a contest. The idea came when John started pouting and stuck out his lower lip. I've never been very good at this. When I was a baby I would drop my mouth open an sob.

It didn't work.

But my kids have a better tactic. Over the past 14 years I've seen it over and over again. The lower lip jutted out and quivering; the puppy dog eyes. Where did they get this?


We had a contest. After John was done pouting the rest wanted to chime in. I got a picture of John and the rest thought it would be a great game. Matthew was out hunting with Gary L. And when he got home he didn't have anything with which to feed our family.

The photos are from youngest to oldest of the participants. And the genetic source of this particular form of pouting will be revealed at the end.

Sophie is capable of a myriad of emotive faces. And she was excited to show her own prowess at the jutting lower lip.

Clara has more of my mom's family in her facial structure. She resembles her Great-grandmother on my mom's side. She and my cousin, Amber, have the same jaw line and chin. That means a pouty, but stubby lower lip.

Gotta love her hair in this photo. This was just after she'd taken a bath and her hair was yet uncombed. She has Mary's epicathnic fold- looking like she's descended from Asian or Icelandic stock.




Elsie has the flat brow. And, next to Sophie, she's the most expressive with her facial muscles.

Elsie is the tough one who can climb like a monkey. (Elsie, that's a good thing.) While Clara is the most solidly built of our girls, Elsie is the most dexterous. she is capable of amazing feats while climbing clothesline posts or trees or anything.

It's too bad Stella fell asleep at the meal. Her pout is excellent. And she's a little nanny-goat that will give us just as much trouble or more than Elsie when it comes to getting into gravity defying situations.

Louisa loved the game. We have a precious photo of her among the dandelions up in the mountains of Colorado at Bob and Aimee's wedding. She's becoming more and more socially sensitive at her age: loves the music from "High School Musical" and tries to get all her younger siblings to dance. She's the mastermind when it comes to putting on stage shows for our family--especially when Grandpa and Grandma A. visit.

But her emotional tool when trying to get something out of Mom and Dad is that of a disenfranchised teenage girl. Sorry, Louisa, but that gig doesn't swing in our hall.

But she does have the lip.


But the grand champion of the lip is the source of the genes that makes it possible. Momma! And what a Momma you are, Mary. You pout, babe. You the best! Look at that lip extension. I bet her step-parents were sick of it!

Hey, Bud and Joan, (for the rest of you, that's Mary's step-parents) did you know that when you lived in Puyallup, Mary was out riding her bike and intentionally crashed and got scraped up one time so she could come crying home and get sympathy. All this was done to avoid punishment for her going out without permission.

She was probably about Louisa's age at the time. She's not proud of it now. But it makes a good and funny lesson for our kids.

Anyway, this is the woman I love, the woman (who beyond all reason and evidence) who loves me. She's my best friend, ever. And I echo what her step-mother used to say. "You better put that lip back in or a little bird will sit on it and poop on it."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Make-up!!!!

Wednesday was fairly quiet. Remember, Matthew was staying over at friends? This gave him ample time to not argue with his sisters.

Stella found several colors of lipstick this evening. She likes lipstick.

Wednesday School was a lot of fun today. Of course we went through the lesson. Alyssa, the parish secretary, has even found us some more catechisms of the edition we use here. They're out of print now. The newer version uses a Bible translation that is different from the one we use in our liturgy and worship. Evidently one person, on his own, decided to use a different translation than was used by our Synod in it's liturgy and Hymnal. That renders the new version useless to us in our parish, where we try to keep consistent wording with minimal changes.

Part of our Wednesday School curriculum is instruction in and understanding of the sources and uses of each part of our worship services. We started on the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, Rite 1, the Opening Prayer. The point is to enable the students to know where each part of our worship services come from in the Bible, why they are used in the service--especially at this particular part; and how to explain to others who don't know why we do things the way we do.

So many today in Confessional Lutheran Synods are turning to contemporary worship forms as a way to keep the youth from leaving their congregations. In reality, I think that they are yearning for kings like the other nations have. Now many of them have trained up a generation which has no outward liturgical mark that would distinguish it from the Methodist church or any E.Free church. So, it's no wonder that the kids are leaving in droves. They can't see or feel any difference. Why should they stay? And now some leaders within Confessional Lutheranism are promoting this garbage as if it's the answer to that loss, when it is in fact the main contributing factor to that loss. If there is no difference in worship form or format from the reformed churches, why bother with attending an Orthodox Confessional Lutheran congregation when you're away from home?

I, for one, want my kids to feel very uncomfortable when they attend a Reformed, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, E-Free or any other denominational church. I want it to seem weird, unfriendly, artificial, and creepy. I want them to feel that such a worship service is wrong as well as know from Scripture why it is wrong. There are times, like funerals of a loved one, when we cannot think. But if we can feel that something is not quite right, we might be able-later on, when we can think again-to honestly examine what was done in light of Scripture.

But with the growing adoption of contemporary worship in Confessional Lutheranism there is nothing the kids are growing up with that will visually, esthetically, melodically, hymnically, liturgically or even homiletically distinguish their Confessional Lutheran doctrine in worship from all the morass of popular Christianity out there today. There will be no sense of danger, no warning flags, no uncomfortableness, no reason to seek out a Confessional church.

A year ago, when my family went on our vacation we stopped at a church within our "official" fellowship. Mary opened the door and I heard, "Boom-, chick, chick; Boom-, chick, chick; Bzhhh, whaaa, zheeee, zoooooo; Boom-, chick, chick; Praise God, Hallelu-iah, Boom-, chick, chick"

I said, "Close the door, Mary. Were not stopping here."

Why did I say that? Firstly, I was on vacation. I didn't want to have to deal with an issue where a pastor might be compromising on the doctrine of Scripture during worship. I was lazy and just wanted to be able to get along. But secondly, this "Boom-,chick,chick" electric guitar, trapset, and synthesizer pop-schlock slapped me in the face and said "Hey, we're just like the other pop-culture churches out there. You can trust us, we're comfortable, we're hip, we're contemporary, we're relevant. We don't put up with no fuddy-duddy traditionalist worship. We want to appeal to your senses. We want you to dance, grind your hips, flap your arms, and show the world how wonderful God can be. We're not concerned about the Scriptural basis of Confessional Lutheran Worship. We just want you to come and join us."

Here's what the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord says in the article on Adiaphora:
"Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays, that are profitable neither for good order nor Christian discipline, nor evangelical propriety in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference." (section 7)
and in sections 10-11:
"We believe, teach, and confess also that at the time of confession [when a confession of the heavenly truth is required], when the enemies of God's Word desire to suppress the pure doctrine of the holy Gospel, the entire congregation of God, yea, every Christian, but especially the ministers of the Word, as the leaders of the congregation of God [as those whom God has appointed to rule His Church], are bound by God's Word to confess freely and openly the [godly] doctrine, and what belongs to the whole of [pure] religion, not only in words, but also in works and with deeds; and that then, in this case, even in such [things truly and of themselves] adiaphora, they must not yield to the adversaries, or permit these [adiaphora] to be forced upon them by their enemies, whether by violence or cunning, to the detriment of the true worship of God and the introduction and sanction of idolatry. For it is written, Gal. 5, 1: Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not again entangled in the yoke of bondage. Also Gal. 2, 4f : And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you."
Surely today is a time when a Confessional distinction is required between the pop-Christianity in America and true Orthodox Confessional Lutheranism, both in doctrine and in worship. Confessional Lutherans are assaulted every day on so-called "Christian" radio, television, and bookstores by this false pop-Christianity that focuses on works, sanctification, relevancy, utility, and the glory of God over and against the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament.

It's of great sadness to me that in today's pop climate that there are some churches within our fellowship who would rather do away with the name "Lutheran" and desire not to "offend" people with such things as Closed Communion. There are even a few congregations whose pastors have decided that in their web pages and their publications that they don't even mention that they focus on the proper administration of Word and Sacrament.

If they are ashamed of the Sacraments by which God has said He creates and nourishes faith, why should any Christian ever desire to attend their worship service?

As for me and my parish, we will continue in the ministry of Word and Sacrament without all the pop culture hullabaloo. No Powerpoint in our worship services. No "boom-,chick,chick" in order to attract people and show them how "hip" we are. St. Paul's "becoming all things to all people" does not mean that we minimize or even, God forbid, compromise the proper distinction between Law and Gospel in worship.

Here, we approach God through our Baptisms by which God has called us His own.

Here, we confess our base sinful nature and our own actual sins by commission and omission, in thought, word, and deed.

Here, we receive the absolution instituted by Christ in John 20 through the properly called minister of Word and Sacrament. And we have the confidence that our sins are forgiven even if the pastor (that's me) might be a hypocrite. Why? Because the absolution rests on Christ's institution, fulfillment, and promise. It does not depend in any way on the situation of the pastor's faith.

Here, we read the Bible out loud to the hearers, lessons from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels. All of these are arranged through the year in a cycle that has been tested for a millennium and a half. We use the Historic selection of readings because they present the full counsel of God each year. Reminding the hearers of and refreshing them on the whole doctrine of God's Word and where it is found in His Word.

Here, we confess our faith publicly in the words of the Three Ecumenical Creeds without the pathetic modern language adaptations that dismiss the facts that Christ is male, or that He descended to Hell, or that He rose physically from the dead, or that we shall rise physically from the dead at the last day.

Here, we sing hymns and songs that confess, teach, proclaim, and petition God in His Grace in Christ on the basis of Scripture and the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. These hymns have lyrics of Biblical substance, not the "God, you're really big. God, you're really awesome. God, you're really cool. And we want to lift you up" sentimental schlock that pop-Christianity thrives on.

Here, we have a sermon based on God's Word and the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, not on the basis of the pastors ability to tell good anecdotes, stories, to get a good feeling going, or to guilt people into donating money.

Here, we are fed by the Lord Jesus Christ in His Closed Communion of Saints in the Church Militant with His true Body and Blood. The same Body and Blood which He sacrificed for us on the Cross-through which He unites us to Himself and each other.

And here, we do not have a "fellowship" hall. We have a dining room. Fellowship is at the altar through the Body and Blood of Christ given and shed for us to eat and drink. The dining hall is for eating earthly food for the body. The Altar is for Fellowship in Christ and the forgiveness of sins.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Winter?

Sunday evening we had snow. The kids were so excited, especially John and Stella.

Monday we went to Grand Forks to do some shopping. We stopped at Scheels to check on some prices. They had the Stoeger Cougar 8000 9mm for $319. That's the best price we've seen for that one. That's also Mary's favorite as far as how it feels in her hands. My favorite is the Springfield XD-9. So we'll probably start an envelope or something like that of saving toward Mary's choice.

I picked up a bone-saw from Cabellas so I can cut up deer at home. Mary and Louisa got some shoes. And there were plenty of other stops. We ate noon dinner at Pandas in Grand Forks. I selected gluten free ingredients for their Mongolian Grill, and I didn't have a reaction to the food. I'm fairly sensitive, and I know that there are some noodles and sauces that are cooked on the grill that may not be gluten free. I wouldn't recommend it to a Celiac who is very sensitive, but I didn't seem to have a problem. and I react to a pretty small amount of gluten.

It was pretty windy all Monday. Mary did all the driving. I was pooped out. I'll have to get the rest of the lumber on the garage floor put away (not much left to put away) and get the lawn mowers and bikes stowed away. Then we can park in the garage.

We got home by 5pm and I checked on some shut-ins in the evening.

Tuesday I visited some shut-ins in the morning. Matthew is going deer hunting this year (his first). Jona B. is taking him out with his kids. He's spending the night with them. I tried to do a couple of shut-in visits in TR this afternoon. But my shut-ins weren't home. Ironic? Well, a bit disappointing.

I called Matthew this evening to see how it went. "Hello, this is Pastor Abrahamson. I'd like to speak to Elmer Fudd." Giggles on the other end, "Matt! It's for you!" He said they didn't see any deer.

Funny, I saw more than a dozen on my way home from TR.

Mary, wonderful supper tonight.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dead Puppies

Dead Puppies is a parody song that includes the lines "Hunting season opened yesterday. Two men in a pickup blew puppy away. Oh, dead puppies aren't much fun."

Well, Sunday we had services at St. Petri, Oak Park, and Nazareth. It was a wonderful celebration of All Saints' Day. After service at Nazareth we held the 3rd annual Hunters' Dinner.

There was a huge gathering for the dinner.

I took Matt, John, and Stella home around 2pm.

On the way home we saw the rice paddies full of swans. There are Tundra and Trumpeter Swans in the paddies.

I took the van to St. Petri, just in case the alternator on the Ford Escort proved bad. But I took the Escort to Nazareth. It's only 6 miles and I had people behind me in case it didn't work.

It worked. Yipee!

Managing the schedules for 4 congregations, 4 sunday schools, 4 ladies' aids, 4 voters assemblies, 4 youth groups, 1 parish board, and (currently) 32 shut-ins can be a bit hectic. Christmas programs, Baptisms, Funerals, Weddings, special visits, hospitalizations, all these things tend to put a kink in the management of the schedule. So I plan ahead with what I know I have to do. I plan out my service themes, sermon outline, and hymns well in advance.

Some members don't believe this because the Law and the Gospel reach them so poignantly on some Sundays. But it's true. The sermons and themes are done waaaayyy ahead of the time they are preached. I don't have everything in the parish webpage database yet, but we'll get there, little by little. But, now that I've got the hymn and sermon text schedule done for the next couple of years (no, I'm not kidding) perhaps I can get to the newsletter and writing Bible studies a bit better.

Let me talk about Bible Studies. In a 4 congregation parish a Bible Study after each church service is an impossibility. And scheduling Bible Studies for each congregation is an exercise in frustration. Over the past 6 years I've tried mornings and evenings on each weekday. I've tried varying locations to make the study accessible. But the basic problem seems to be that Bible Studies at other times than before or after Church are just one more thing for the families to keep on their already full schedules.

I've had wonderful turnout for Bible Study when it's after the Lenten services. But the rest of the year, well, if I get more than 2 to turn out I'm lucky. Now, don't get me wrong. Each youth group meeting and each Ladies' Aid meeting has some kind of Bible Study. This comes out to about 20 Bible Studies per year for those. And during lent the 4 congregations have six weeks of Bible Study, so add another 18 (because two congregations alternate during Lent). And of the weekly Bible Studies there are probably about 20 that take place for all four congregations. So, all in all, I have about 58 Bible Studies per year to lead and to prepare for.

The shut-ins that I am able to see each month have special attention and devotions with instruction in God's Word. But for the average member of my congregations their involvement in Bible Study with me as instructor is proportionally rather small. So I especially encourage, teach, and strive toward getting them to have home devotions more often. I'd like my members to use Laache's "Book of Family Prayer" or Carl Manthey-Zorn's "Manna" for the instructional part. But I also encourage them to use the morning Office of Prime with readings and the evening Office of Compline withe readings. I'm not sure of percentages of members who actually do this. I know of several families in each of my congregation who do have daily devotions.

If any pastor out there has experience with multiple congregations and holding Bible Study in a way that is accessible and used by many members of those congregations, please let me know through the comments.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Baptism and an Alternator

Jared and Jessica's baby boy, Leif, was born Friday. Here's Susan holding Leif. I took Matt and Louisa with me, we had to do some errands while we were in TRF.

On the way to TRF there was a bad noise coming from under the hood. I drove to Autohospital, but Shaun wasn't there. I stopped at Carquest, and Chuck helped me out. We could see the bearings coming out of the alternator. We zipped over to the junk yard to pick up an alternator.

We stopped at the Hospital. The whole family was there and we baptized Leif. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. It is wonderful that they didn't want to wait. Infant mortality by accident or disease is very low in our day. But that doesn't mean we can take any life for granted. Leif has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and is a Child of God through God's grace in Christ's sacrament of Baptism.

After the Baptism we went to Walmart and the alternator froze. There was still a bit of daylight left, so I thought I might swap out the alternator in the parking lot.

No joy.

A call to Mary and to the tow truck. Mary came to get the kids. I rode home in the tow truck.

So, Saturday, we celebrated All Saints' Day at Mt. Olive, had Saturday School, and this afternoon I swapped out the alternator.
It really isn't that much of a job. But with the fading light the night before I couldn't see everything I needed to in the parking lot.

It took me about 45 minutes to do the job. I know that's slow to you mechanically inclined types, but this is my second alternator swap in 18 years. This was on a Ford Escort, the last was on a Chevy Citation (we also had a timing chain go out on that Citation back when-that was a bigger tow job). I'm glad that I don't get a lot of practice on this kind of thing.

This is the old alternator. You can see the three remaining bearings.

Anyway, we won't be getting the pistols for a while. My tow made $ure of that.

I just hope the new (old used) alternator works in the morning. Well, maybe I'll use the van tomorrow. I can test the alternator tomorrow afternoon. I should have put the VOM on it today. But I'm naive and forgot about that until right now. But, if it weren't working, I'd assume the voltage/battery light would come on, right? I gotta find my book on the car.

A Photo From Last Week

Here are Amanda and Albert on their day of Confirmation.

Thanks for the photos, Roxann.

Please keep these two in your prayers as the take full membership in the congregation at Mt. Olive.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bob and Roxanne

Roxanne,
ibnabraham at yahoo dot com
Do you know how to fix that address? if so send me an email with the confirmation pictures and thanks very much. I hope the kids are doing well.

Now, the rest of this post might be puzzling to and offensive to some readers. But so what.

Anyway, Mary and I are looking at purchasing handguns. We've done a bit of research and want to limit ourselves to $400 or less. We think we can do allright with the following models. But here is where my brother-in-law, Bob comes in. Bob's a cop and in the NG. He's been deployed 2 times to the middleeast during the Iraq war. He comes up on his third deployment this January. And he knows handguns pretty well. I know swords, he knows pistols.

Bob, yes you, Bob, Aimee will have to get your attention to read this. Here's the decision I have to make, and I want your input:

Choice 1:
Used Springfield XD-9 2006 for under $400.







Choice 2:
New Taurus 24/7 Pro 9mm for $400.








Choice 3:
New Stoeger Cougar 8000 9mm for under $400.







Choice 4:
Taurus PT92B for $400

OK Bob, you've played with some of these, haven't you? Which would you choose?






Actually, if anyone else who reads this has experience with any of these please let me know. Thanks.