Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This One is For Tony

Polly over at Mossback Meadow wrote a great post an important aspect of the Lutheran Liturgy: memorization and how, through this memorization, or at least familiarity allows for a fuller worship. In this case it is the Brother-in-Law of her pastor....

She wrote about her pastor's Brother-in-law, Patrick. He was able to worship in his own way because he knows the liturgy. He is able to sing and pray and follow along and worship his Lord in a comfortable place.

I wrote the following on Sept. 1, 2002. We had just moved to Indiana and my father had officially "retired" from the ministry just a few days prior. I wrote in my online diary an entry titled "Joyful Noises," I just reread it for the first time in a long time, it still brings a smile and a tear.
"my father retired last week. he retired from the active ministry, most of you know that already (that is if you read the entries pertaining to that last week... lol). his retirement service was moving. i had a lump in my throat is it was going on.
i want to say a word about the residents my father ministered to in the last six years of his ministry.

my father was a chaplain to 60 or 70 retarted people. some were very high functioning and some were just a step above vegatable. he was very proud of his residents (he called them that). you see sometimes they can be very loud and vocal. but this day they were well behaved. they were perfect.

when we sang a hymn his residents would, too. any way they could, in some cases they just hooted. there was one, whose name i don't remember, that had the ability to sing any song he heard just once. he sang along with us almost perfectly. i don't know if he knew the words he was singing, but he sang any way. it was just touching as all get out.

then we said the Lord's Prayer. they spoke it. some did it verbally, others through hoots. but they said it in their own way.

what is it that the bible says about "make a joyful noise unto the Lord?" they did and it was music to my ears."

Who is Tony that I mention in the title? Tony was one of the most loving and good people I have ever met. He he Down's Syndrome, but he had the Faith. He believed. He was almost like a little elder for to my dad. He would come in and check to make sure everything was okay and talk with my dad, or I, or my mom. He lived in a group home that was administered by Bethesda Lutheran Services and on Sunday he took the collection and was an usher during communion services. Sadly, before we moved from Texas Tony was dealt, what seemed like to me a raw deal, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (which is common in people with Down's Syndrome) and he quickly forgot how to do thinks like take communion, he died a few months after we left Texas, but I know he died with Faith.

I'm not sure if this entry makes, but these are thoughts that were dusted off after reading Polly's entry.

The Lion Stays in the Picture

Yesterday my father and I went and saw the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe based on the book of the same name by the Christian apologetic C.S. Lewis. I enjoyed it, but it did make me feel uncomfortable at times-- particularly the scene in which the White Witch meets Edmund and she gets him in her sleigh. In the book I had the feeling that the Witch was trying to be a mother figure to Edmund and get him into her "web" that way, but in the movie it had an entirely different feel to me. It felt smarmy and dirty. It felt like she was trying to seduce Edmund in a sick sexual way. I have a feeling that I was "reading" more into the scene than was really there, it didn't necessarily ruin the film, but it colored it in a way that I had a hard time shaking. Was it a movie that made me "oh, wow, what a great movie"? No. It was better than most, but I wouldn't say it was a homerun of a movie. Maybe I'm just too jaded. I don't know, it was alright and that's about as far as I can go with it.

Now last night after I got home from the movie I read some other reviews of the movie on various blogs. One of the blogs, it was in the Lutheran blogosphere realm, had a long comment asking the question "was Aslan, a lion, an appropriate symbol for Christ." The writer, and I really don't remember which one it was, came down on the side of no. The reason behind his thinking was that scripture tends to give Christ a more subdued imagery (that of a sheep). I found myself thinking about that today at work in between customers and I came to the conclusion that in this case a lion is a perfect symbol for Christ. Here is why I think so: we have to remember that the book series was written for kids, not adults who tend to think too much about things and let that get in the way (I'm just as quilty on that regard, believe you me. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is not a retelling of the Gospel story, uses aspects and mirrors it at times, but it is not an out and out retelling. The use of a lion to represent the Christ figure is important. To a kid the lion is one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful and strong animal there is. Let's not forget the lion is the "king of the jungle" therefore he is the king of all animals. I seriously don't think that a sheep, or a goat, or a donkey or even elephant would have the same effect. I found it very powerful that a lion would let itself be tormented and killed willingly, it is hard to put my brain around a lion being so docile and mallable. Aslan, let himself be killed in place of Edmund. By rights, Aslan could have ripped everyone to bits without breaking a sweat. I tried to put myself in the mindset of a ten year old, or maybe an eight year old. The fact that Aslan didn't do anything to protect himself and allowed the evil White Witch to have her way with him was incredible and intense. C.S. Lewis was not stupid, he got it, he understood how a child might view it. I think it was a very wise and good choice to make the lion the symbol for the Christ figure.

*edit* Here is the post that got it all started, thanks to Old School Confessional for planting the "seed" as it were.

I Would Just Like to Say

that I absolutely love my new little wireless mouse. It makes working on my laptop so much easier and toggeling between pages a snap. The little finger mouse thing was cool, but now that I have it turned off I am able to type so much quicker and easier (I don't have to worry about bumping it with my fat thumbs). I'm so happy my aunt gave me a gift card to Best Buy. The little mouse only cost me 1.49 out of pocket. I am well pleased, that is all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

So, How's Your Faith Today?

You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thes. 5:5-11

Last night, at about 3 am, I read the above passage. I read it about a hundred times, it seemed like. Yes, I finished 1 Thessalonians last night in my slow and plodding reading of the Bible. It has been an exciting journey that I have had in the last year and a half. There have been serious highlights and incredible "oh wow" moments in my reading travels and last night was one of them. The whole of 1 Thessalonians was incredible. I actually read it two or three times before I went to bed (luckily its a short book so it lends itself to repeated rereadings at 3 am).

I use the Concordia Self-Study NIV bible, but I didn't read the introducion to 1 Thessalonians, which was actually a blessing. As I read the book I found a word rattling around in my head. That word was encouragement. I felt encouraged in my faith after reading it. That last sentence seems silly, but it is true. I was encouraged in Faith through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit and it felt good, like a cool glass of water on a hot day (sorry about the cliche).

After I finished reading I went back and read the introduction and read this:
Believers in God’s grace came under physical attack at Thessalonica. One of the main reasons for writing 1 Thessalonians may be summarized in a single word—persecution. Paul came to Thessalonica after suffering persecution (beating and imprisonment) at Philippi (2:2). He was forced to leave Thessalonica as a result of persecution. Even then persecution continued from the Jews at Thessalonica, who followed Paul to Berea and stirred up antagonism there (Ac 17:10–13). Because Paul knew that persecution continued to be a problem at Thessalonica, he sent Timothy to find out what the situation was there (3:1–5)—how the believers in God’s grace were withstanding persecution.
Paul writes to encourage these Christians to remain steadfast in the face of such persecution by taking comfort and hope in God’s grace. He presents Christ as their hope of salvation at the present time and at his second coming. When Christ returns he will rescue (1:10; 5:4–11), reward (2:19), perfect (3:13), resurrect (4:13–18) and sanctify (5:23) all who trust in God’s grace. (taken from the introduction of 1 Thess. p 1832, boldfacing mine)

The word "persecution" jumped out at me and the line "encourage these Christians to remain steadfast" struck me as well. I think the words in 1 Thessalonians should really hit home to modern day Christians. We might not be persecuted with lions and wooden crosses, but to a certain exent it seems that we, as a faith, are being persecuted or at the very least marginalized. One's Faith can take a hit with that kind of thing. I know mine does. Temptation is every where and very real. General malise towards the Christian is rampant. But we can take comfort in the fact that we are saved by Grace and are Justified through Faith. We are "in the world," not "of the world."

Today I found myself reflecting on the readings from last night and there has been a strange little smile on my face. How is my faith today? Strong and burning bright. It is alive. And for that I am thankful.

Doing My Part From Indiana


Interview of the Kinkstah Hisself


I'm jealous, a friend of mine who lives in Texas has signed up to be a volunteer for Kinky's campaign... I'm hoping she'll get me swag... *hint, hint*

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Ultimate Re-Gift

There is a relatively new term in our American lexicon; this term comes with a stigma to it, but it also one of those terms that comes with a nudge in the side and knowing glances. Its one of those "everyone has done it" phrases. That phrase is "re-gift" or "re-gifting." Basically it means that if you are given a gift that you don't like and need to give a gift to someone else you take the gift given you and give it to someone else. That is a bad definition, but it gets to the heart of the matter pretty well.

I see an awful lot of potential re-gifts in retail. As a Christian, though, I am encouraged to re-gift. I am encouraed to re-gift Christ. I am instructed to "go and make disciples of all nations..." (Matt. 28:19). As I sat in church yesterday singing songs celebrating the birth of Jesus the phrase "re-gift" kept bouncing around in my head. The phrase has taken on a bit of a "smarmy, overtone;" I am actually a bit reluctant to use it.

Paul, in his Patoral letters writes gleefully of the joy he gets when hears about a group of people who have come to faith because someone told them about Christ and his love. Example:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:3-14 (boldfacing mine)

or perhaps this:
as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thes. 2:2-4

Paul was able to see how "re-gifting" to others spread the Word and the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Maybe its better to say "share-gift" instead of "re-gift." I was reminded yesterday of a little skit we used to do at Camp Lone Star. It was a silent skit, but it went something like this: someone walked around with an invisible box in their hand and other people came up and take the box, but the person would turn away and the box would get smaller. Eventually, the person with the invisible box would relent and give the box to someone else, but to the surprise of everyone the box got bigger after the second person got a part of it. The second would share the box and so forth and so on. It was a simple skit that got the point across: share the joy, share the gift.

I have decided that I don't like that term "re-gift," because in fact I am not re-gifting when I tell someone about Christ, but giving them their own special gift.

Blessings to all this Christmas Season and may your New Year be filled with peace and blessed.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Winter Solstice, New Agers, Donnie Walsh, and Bonhoeffer

I had someone wish me a "happy winter solstice" yesterday. I was taken aback by the wish and all I could respond with was a "you have a happy holiday as well." He then proceeded to hand me a instant Lotto scratch off ticket, which, as I was walking to my car, I scratched off and won two bucks. Steve, the guy who wished me the "happy winter solstice" is a weird duck. He is the leader of a merry band of, as we call them at the store, "crazy crystal new agers." Usually on the weekends Steve and his merry band come to the store and set up shop in the cafe. Sometimes they'll have a bunch of crystals and sometimes they'll have this little pyramid made out of copper tubing that sits in the middle of the table. Now, I don't know exactly what they do because I'm too busy worrying about finding the newest Jan Karon book. So, what the crazy crystal new agers do is a bit of mystery to me.

He gives us things, though. I have yet to recieve them so I might not be all that special, but he likes to give people socks, I don't know why, but he does. I have gotten some little rocks from him-- a little green one and a little brown one. The green one is actually quite pretty and I have it on my desk (somewhere) buried under papers, I imagine. The green one is supposed to be helpful in me making wealthy-- please note, it hasn't worked yet. *chuckles*

He gave me the little brown stone one day because he saw me rubbing my head becase I was trying to get rid of a migraine headache (next to impossible at work). He asked what was wrong and when I told him he ran out to his car and came back with the little brown rock and a set of four or five stapled pieces of paper. On each page was a list of rocks, stones, and minerals and what their "properties" are; the little brown rock supposedly cured headaches. Okay, Steve, thanks. I put it in my wallet and left it there for a while. I think it is now on my desk next to the green rock.

The other day he asked me about the ring I wear on my right hand. It is plain silver ring with an ichtus, or as some people call it "the Jesus Fish." I tried to explain to Steve, as quickly and as quietly as I could (I was on the clock and I feel uncomfortable doing this kind of thing on company time) the basics behind the ring and what it meant. I don't know if he understood it, if he cared, or if he was just trying to be nice (I have a feeling it was the former instead of the two latter instead of the other two choices).

Working in a bookstore does present some interesting experiences. For example, yesterday, Christmas Eve, Donnie Walsh, the GM of the Indiana Pacers came in. He is not a hard guy to miss. He is short and stocky, but he has a very distinct voice- a gravelly, smoke hardened, Bronx inflected thing. I didn't recognize him right away until he spoke. He came in yesterday for some books on "Jesus' words in aramaic" and "contemplations on the Psalms." We actually had a couple books on the topics. I couldn't find the C.S. Lewis book on the Psalms, but we did have one by Bonhoeffer, and I also got him to buy The Cost of Discipleship after I talked up Bonhoeffer for few minutes.

I have read about three or four of Bonhoeffer's books and they have all made me work awfully hard. One of my favorites is Life Together, a book that deals with Christian community and how to work together as Christians. It is a wonderful little book. Cost of Discipleship, though really cooks my noodle. I had often heard the phrase "cheap grace," but I had never trully understood the idea behind it, once I got it though my spiritual life took on a new meaning. Bonhoeffer is good for a spiritual frying pan to the head every now and again.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I have the cold from Hell. My head feels like a bowling ball and my sinuses are clogged. And to top it all off, I over drew my bank account... wonderful day.

I think I'll report to sick call and stay there for a week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'll Be Your Huckleberry

The other day, while I was at work I found the following card feel free to click on the images to see them better):



I wasn't sure what the card was for, but I put it in my wallet and forgot about it until last night. I was cleaning out my wallet of old reciepts and things like that. I had stuck it behind one of my credit cards. I will say I was intrigued, if for no other reason to see what it was all about. I will say that I wasn't surprised that it was a pseudo-religous site.

So, I typed in the address and was presented with two choices: The Red Pill, or The Blue Pill.

It was an interesting excercise. I quite like the fact that those responsible for the website feel it necessary to "warn" viewers not to see the movie Matrix because some of "the langauge and immodesty are not fit for those that are unplugged..." which, I have found out means that you are already a "follower of Christ." So, I guess that means I am unplugged. I feel awfully plugged in, though.

According to the card and the website we are in a great big conspiracy. I'd be interested to see what you think.

I wonder, is there a third option: a purple pill?

Wake-up Verse and Where it Took Me

Last night I tried to go to sleep after playing on the internet for a few hours. I didn't do anything spectactular while I was online. I did skim through the Lutheran Carnival at The Aardvark's place o' residence in this great blogosphere and I must say that I again realized that I haven't a clue about Lutheran Doctrine. Go read the Carnival this week. It is just chock full o'nutty thigs, let me take this opportunity to thanks and congratulate the Great Aardie for a fantastic job, he had mucho entries he had to wade through and he stitched together a nice carnival... here, here *raises beer glass and bangs on the table with his left fist*

Sorry about the digression. Where was I, oh yes, I tried to go to sleep after being online for a fe hours and that is a near impossility. I need to read a book or somethng for a little bit afterwards to that my eyes and brain can recalibrate and reconoiter themselves into my head, put another way I am impressed that I can actually see this morning. These last couple days at work have been crazy as everyone runs hither and yon trying to get their Christmas gifts (for the more P.C. out there: their Holiday gifts). Being in retail at Christmas time is a gas, but can be very tiring. I finally fell asleep around two or so this morning, I think. I didn't have a real good, deep sleep, but it was enough. I woke up about seven and got a drink of water and then went back to sleep again until about nine. I had a deeper sleep that tieme, much deeper. As I came out of that sleep a strange thing happened. For some reason I found myself whispering to myself John1:10. I don't know why, but I kept repeating John 1:10. Once, I got myself somewhat conscious I reached down for my good ol' Concordia Self-Study Bible and read John 1:10
He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

For the last 45 minutes I have been trying to figure out why I was thinking of this verse-- let me clear about this: I was not familiar with this verse, I mean I've read it before, but I could not have quoted it from memory. This kind of thing kind of creeps me out in a good way. I have often heard it said that God talks to us through scritures, matter of fact, I believe it is in 2 Timothy
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that every man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.(3:16-17)

Sadly, though, I know that the John verse is true in my casae. I don't recognize The Son. I like to think I do, but I know I don't-- it is just another failing of mine in my sinful nature, but thankfully, God's Grace trumps this: I am made clean through His love and His son's sacrifice.

By their own strength, people cannot fulfill God's Law. They are all under sin, subject to eternal wrath and eath. Because of this we cannot be freed by the Law from sin and be justified... the promise of forgiveness of sins and of justification has been given us for Christ's sake, who was given for us in order that He might make satisfaction for the sins of the world. He has been appointed Mediator and Atonting Sacrifice.... forgiveness of sins is freely offered... it follows that we cannot justify ourself.... the promise can only be recievedby faith, the Gospel.... faith freely recieves forgiveness of sins.... faith is the true knowledge of Christ and helps itself to the benefit of Christ...
taken from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession Article IV, Lines40-46. Book of Concord, Reader's Edition

"Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacracments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at ut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasure from which she shwers blessing with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; Grace without cost! The essence of grae we suppose , is that the account has been aide in advance; and, because it has been paid everything can be had for nothing.... Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle... (it) means the justification of the sin without the justification of the sinner... it is imperative for the Christian to achieve renunciation, to practice self-effacement, to distinguish his life from the life of the world. He must let grace be grace indeed, otherwhise he will destry the world's faith in the free gift of grace.... Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion withou confession, absolution without personal confesion. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ... Costly grace is the trasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has... Costly grace is the gospel whihc must be sought again and again, the gift must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.... it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ... it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son... Above all, it is grace becase God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is he Incarnation of God..."

from The Cost of Disipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (italics, mine).

My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Cor. 12:9

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday Before Christmas... "Into the Breach..."

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot...

--Henry V Act 3 Scence 1 lines 1-35

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So Long as They're Dunkin Donuts I Won't Mind

Who's bringing coffee? *Chuckles*

First Semester Complete

I just thought I should mention that I successfully completed my first semester of graduate word at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis) in Library Science.

So, This is Christmas

I work in retail. I sell books. This will be my sixth Christmas season with the company I work for; I worked two or three other Christmases with other retail outfits. I love what I do. I love the activity and I sell something that I love: books. Everyday is different and I get a certain amount of joy out of getting the book into the customer's hand. Nine times out of ten the whole transaction is easy and friendly, that other one out of ten doesn't often cause me angst. Every once in a while some kook or somone who is having a horrible day and decides to take it out me will ruffle my feathers, but its not that big of a deal.

I must say that I have gotten a kick out of this little controversy over what to say to someone as they leave the store. There are some who say that in order to be "politically correct" we must say "Happy Holidays," then there are those who say that we should say "Merry Christmas." As a retail dawg I could really care less. I say thank you and take your money. I usually add a "have a nice day," or a "take care and drive safe." I just don't have time to wade into that controversy and I really don't care. My ambivalence to the whole thing is almost frightening to me, I suppose I should care, but I don't. The whole "merry Christmas v. happy holidays" brouhaha doesn't even register on the "is this pertinent to my salvation" scale. Its not, so I don't worry about it.

Since I work in book trade I see alot of crazy titles. Two of my favorite are fighting over Christmas. One comes from the "right" the other from the "left." Each one accuses the other of taking over Christmas. I'm happy to report that neither is selling very well. Thought, there is one book that has been flying off the shelves called Misquoting Jesus. I'm reading that right now myself. It is actually interesting. Thought, I'm afraid it is going to quickly go he route of "Jesus couldn't of said that!" which always drives me nuts. Right now, though the author is giving the history of how the Bible came to be what it is. I never realized it before, but it thought that most of the people during biblical times were illiterate, I guess in the back of my mind I knew that, but I never made connections. The basic premise behind the book, I think, is that through human error and political meddling the text of the scriptures has changed (that is either through hook or by crook it ain't what it was meant to be...) I shall be interested to see what his conclusions are, that is if it keeps my interest. We shall see.

Tonight, as I was driving home from work I was listening to NPR and they had a story about "megachurches" being closed on Christmas day which to me seems like a contradiction and falls squarely in my "is the pertinent to my salvation" radar. Bunny Diehl has some thoughts this. You can read them here and here. One of my favorite bloggers (hat You Do, Do Quickly) has some thoughts on this issue too.

Here's what I think: there should be a church service on Christmas Day. I can remember having a service on Christmas Day and the almost literally the only people there were the pastor (my father, generally), my mother, me, and the organist. But the option was there, there were others there, but it was not the best attended service, but I still think it is important to have a service on Christmas Day. It doesn't have to be a fancy, bring down the house service (I've experienced those, usually on Christmas Eve and they are fun, but can be very distracting and too showy) but something quiet and meditative. I have always thought that a Christmas Day service can be the first subtle Lenten service.

Blessings to all.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nania Vortex Has Sucked Me In, Sort Of

Today, before church I sat down in the living and read the newest Lutheran Witness. In the newest issue there is an article about The Chronicles of Narnia movie that was just released this past friday. Now, before I go to much further I have something to admit: I am 31 years old and I have never read the the Narnia Series. As a matter of fact I don't think I'd even heard of it until just a few short years ago. I wasn't as keenly aware of books as a kid as I am now (much to my detriment, I know. I hadn't read the Lord of the Rings series until about three years ago). I've digressed too far... let me get back on track...

I was reluctant to read the series mainly because there has been such a rumbling about it from the Christian "right" and the evangelicals that seem to be all powerful as of late. From what I could gather Narnia was a repackaged gospel with Christ as a Lion, a talking lion at that. I wasn't interested. Matter of fact, I was pretty much going out of my way NOT to read the series and I was NOT going to see the movie. It looked too much like the LOTR movies, but after reading the Lutheran Witness article I found myself changing my tune. I thought the article was a very well written and insightful piece. The article said that the series is a kid's story first and foremost and if you really want to find gospel-esque overtones you can find them, but they aren't busting you over the head.

Then in church Pastor Y took the opportunity to tie the movie release into his sermon. After church my parents and I went to Barnes & Noble because I wanted to pick up this DVD that I had had on hold for the last two weeks. While I was there I found and purchased a small box set of the mass market paperbacks of the Narnia series.

So, did I cave into popculture and hop on the band wagon? I don't know, maybe, but I think it is important to be able follow along with what's going on right now and Narnia is hot right now. When Mel Gibson's snuff film The Passion came out I saw it the only reason I saw it was I got a free ticket from somewhere-- I think my dad bought me the ticket... whatever-- that is three hours of life I'll never reclaim... dah! Me and digression tonight...

Anyway, I bought the set and I started reading the first book (The Magician's Nephew). I'm about 50 pages into it-- its not bad, I've found myself wondering where its going already and that's a good thing because I have six more books to go after that one!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Question for the Preachermans Out There

The main I never got any further than two quarters into my "seminary career" was the language requirements. Greek was an absolute mystery to me. I was lost pretty much for the get go, Hebrew, on the other hand, was a bit different. For some reason it "clicked" all of a sudden and I just "got it." I mean I could look at a verb and parse it nothing flat, the only problem was that I didn't "get it" soon enough. Hebrew is the only language that I actually felt comfortabe with. I really, really liked learning it.

I found out that I had been "removed" from seminary because my church at the time recieved a letter from the financial aide office telling them, the church, that they, the seminary fin. aide off., was returning the money my church had sent them for my education (I went to seminary for free, basically). I never got a note from any one. Oh, and the best thing was that the letter the church received was FULL of type-oh's.

But that is really neither here nor there. The reason I opened this post with that story is because even though I had a horrible time with the languages the sem made a believer out of me in regards to the validity of having a "working" knowledge of the original languages the scriptres were written in. I do believe that it is important. Now, I still remember a little Greek, I remember more Hebrew, but sometimes if I've been reading a scripture verse or hear one that strikes me as interesting I will go back and muddle my way through a bad translation from my Nestle Greek NT.

The other day, okay, last week, when I last read my Bible, I started in on 2 Corinthians. And chapter 1 verse 5 really got me thinking. It says "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." Now, I was an English/Education major in college (I got halfway through my student teaching and a mini-nervous breakdown-- not pretty) and because of this eduation I received I find myself often looking at language in different ways. I latched on to the phrases "flow over" and "overflows." And I began to look at them, turning the phrases this way and that. What I want to know, if any of the preachermans out there are still fluent in their Greek is how does that verse translate? Are the words for "overflow" and "flows over" the same word or different? What do they mean in the Greek. This could be a whole lot of nothing, but it seems like it could be important, too.

Could ya help a brother out?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

How I Feel

Sometimes, I wish I was a better Lutheran. Today, for example, I got out of bed and didn't go to church, I watched a little of it on tv, though (there is a Lutheran television service that comes from Ft. Wayne... its actually a really good one, too, good liturgy and everything....) but I didn't watch it all. It was cold this morning when I got out of bed and it was icey, but it wasn't so cold or icey that I couldn't go to church. This was the second Sunday, so that means that it was a "contemporary service" or do they call it a "celebration service" either way, when I realized that I really didn't want to go. I worked last night, but they let me come home early because the weather was... "unpleasant" sleet and freezing rain, I had to chip away the ice on my windows so I could drive. These are all excuses, aren't they? See, I'm no good. Nope, not me, no good Lutheran right over here. *points to self* I'm in the corner the one that says "hellbound" over head. That's me, I just wish I had my handbasket, that might make the descent that much easier. *waves* hello everyone, right here. Yeah, me. Wait, this corner is awfully full, no wonder there isn't any handbaskets all the other bad Lutherans have them, that's not fair. Oh, wait, what's this... hmm, these words... funny I seem to remember these, I've heard them somewhere before... maybe it was in a church, I dunno... but they sure sound familiar... strange, they make sense.... okay, okay, I'll do better next time. I'm human. I'm sinful and I'm in the corner... but these words... I like them
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
-- Rom. 3:22-26

Lutheran Carnival XII

Who is that guy on the left? He is my "church father" as well as my biologial father. That is a picture of him shortly after his ordination back in 1962. My father, Ernest G. Lindner was born in 1937 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, was a tug boat engineer and his mother a house wife. The words "Brooklyn" and "Lutheran" really don't go together all that well, but my father has been a livelong Lutheran. His pastor was Rev. Scaer (the father and grandfather of the Ft. Wayne Scaers), he graduated from Brooklyn College at the age of 20. He graduated from Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois in 1962, his first call was in a small town (aren't they all small towns) in South Dakota. He served ther for ten years before being called the New Jersey where he met my mom and I was born. He served in the parish ministry for 40 years. In addition to serving in New Jersey, he has had churches in Virginia, New York, and Maryland. Before he retired he was a chaplain for the Bethesda Homes and Services he brought the Gospel to a group of people that needed to hear just as much as any one else: the mentally handicapped. Today, he is happily retired.

So, that's my church father for the week.

It was a light week for Carnival submissions I didn't really mind, though, I have football games to watch and school work to do.

Well, as Larry the Cableguy sez: let's "git-r-done."

Dan over at Necessary Roughness sent in this post. He describes it this way:
Responding to a question in one of his comments, "is there truly a
Christian religion follows Biblical teaching?", Dan at Necessary
Roughness examines willful deviance from Biblical teaching and compares
it with simple Biblical error. He also examines the consequences of a
particular error in Biblical teaching, the denial of infant baptism. He
also enforces why it matters to teach proper doctrine.
Right on, Dan.

From the Casa de Terr'ble Swede comes this submission (Thanks to Da Mizzuz Terr'ble Swede for this post). She writes that private confession is a good thing for Lutherans. And after reading her post I must say that I agree with her. I used think that was "too Catholic," but what do you know, she convinced me. Nice, job. I would like to note that Mssr. Swede did not send a submission (yes, I believe in guilt... lol)

Ye olde Aardvark weighs in with this submission. It seems Missouri has: "designed to expand in-state stem cell research and dumb down the definition of cloning..." go check it out. He also sends another
post regarding Kanasas State's football program.

Rev. Snyder sent in this post about the beginning of Advent, great post. Then he sent us this post about the "water from the rock" that we read in Numbers 20.

Here's an interesting post from the Unkown Lutheran Blogger over at What You Do Quickly. He writes about Lutheran Pastors forgetting the cross in their sermons, my friends, that's bad. That's not good at all. If one forget the cross, there isn't much to look to, is there? (Sorry, about the editorial comment). If nothing else, just go read What You Do Do Quickly. Just a great blog.

Rev. Stiegmeyer, who writes Burr in the Burgh has some things to say about the Christmas Season, I wish I had written this one. I wish I had written this one, too. Why is it that we can't have Christmas? I don't want to say "Happy Holidays." Here, here, Rev. Stiegmeyer... here, here.

Miss Sherrah Holobaugh wrote about how she was upset by a sermon her pastor gave "pledge Sunday" a couple Sundays ago. She asks the question "how do you quantify faith, anyways?" According her pastor it seems by what you put in the collection plate.

I give you two posts. The first one deals with some of the struggles I had in my past. The second post deals with thought that were generated from the first post as I read my bible study that evening.

Then, there's Jim. I worked with him when I was a counselor and lifeguard and basic "get-in-the-way-guy." I just thought I should add this post if for no other reason than I really like politics and I do enjoy a good beer every now and again.

And finally, Teresa who writes Be Strong in Grace writes about God's beauty in the Creation in the newly arrived Minnesota Winter.

So, there you have it. A rather short Carnival, but that's okay.

I pray the Lord's blessings on all of you during this Advent season. Oh, one more thing... Merry Christmas and may you have Mas Christ the days and weeks up the great Holiday...


p.s. Oh, feel free to go bug Dan Random Thoughts. You know, seeing how he'd the "pappa" of the Carnival... he didn't send any submissions... haha

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Dilemna

Indianapolis Colts


Pittsburgh Steelers

Here's my dilemna... I live juuuuuuust south of Indianapolis. 12 miles south to exact. I live in what is called a "donut county" of Marion County (where Indianapolis is located). I have been a Steelers fan since I was just wee Disgurntled World Citizen. I should hope that the Burr will be rootin for the Steelers...

Go Stolts!


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thoughts on my Last Post

So, if you think are standing firm be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out that you can stand up under it.

-- 1 Cor 10:12, 13

Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseveance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.... Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will become the crown of life that GOd has promised to those who love him.

When tempted, no one should say "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone, but each one is tempted hn by his on evil desire he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown gives birth to death....

James 1:1-17

As I did my bible study this evening I read the quote from 1 Corinthians and I thought about my last post. It seemed to really "fit," if you will with what I was thinking when I wrote it. I was tested, we all are in our own ways. Faith is made stronger through tests. Like an iron that is heated and melted and bent into the proper shape, so too faith. Faith must go through a "smelting" process that purifies it. I remember seeing a movie one time, don't ask me which one it was, but there was a line that someone quoted that was attributed to W.C.Fields, the character in the film said that on Fields' deathbead (I think) he was reading the bible and someone asked him why, his reply was "I'm looking for a loophole." That quote came to mind as I read the Corinthians. As we are tested we are given a "loophole" through prayer. Jesus tells us in the Gospels to put our burdens on him, that is our loophole. I did the eventually during my faith struggles, it just took me a long time, but I did. I do that now, too. I know now, that I can't do it alone.

James, on the other hand, sets me straight about verbage. God tests, Satan tempts. I've quoted 2 Corinthians 12 in this blog before, probably more than once, but it is important for me, at least, to know and acknowledge that, sadly, there is a chink in my armour and the thorn of sin gets in my side, but through my faith in Christ and the power of prayer I know that the chink in my armour and the thorn are the tool that Christ strenghtens his presence in my life. Is that Good Lutheran theology? I don't know if it is or not. It just feels good, though, to have the feeling that God has, pardon the expression, got my back for which I am thankful.

Peresevere, friends. Peresevere.

Opening It Up

You want to see what happens when there is no God? You want to see what happens when God has no place in your life? Where the very idea of "God" has no place anywhere? I'm watching it, right. It's strange, like Apocalypse Now strange. I'm watching Breaking Bonaduce, did I spell that right? I've known people like him. I've watched them go down a rabbit hole and I've wondered if they'll come back. i've gone down that rabbit hole myself... it wasn't any fun. It was fun when I was doing it, trust me it was a blast, but the aftermath wasn't worth it. I don't think I can actually quantify or even describe the aftermath. That was my low point. Luckily, I found the brake and I pulled it. I got out of that car, so to seak. I went there one more time, except that time my face bounced off of the corner of a coffee table and almost broke my teeth, my neck snapped back and I had a good case of whiplash for a week. I told my friends I had tripped over a shoe and fell into the table one night going to the bathroom. Yeah, I was pretty fucked up. Sorry, that's the way to describe it, but my faith that was the constant. I had it, it was right there, can you dig? It was right there inside, waiting for me to clue in; I did, eventually, took me awhile, but there it was. Rev. Wookie, he was there and he helped, I think he was instramental in my faith re-find. Now, I'm not bragging. I'm just puttin it all out there, if you get my meaning. I think that's why I'm so protective of my faith, my rock, my foundation. If I didn't have that I don't know where I'd be. There are two things no one can take from me: my education and my faith. What brought this up? Well the Breaking Bonaduce thing, but also the hymn we sang in churh today during communion "Just as I Am." That hymn always does something to me. It is more powerful than "Amazing Grace" to me. I often have a serious bout with selfobservation and I good look inside. I don't always like what I see when I look at me, but I'll tell you this: I feel better about who I am where I am and my faith I have God and Christ. Prayer works, faith works.


Thursday, November 24, 2005


I am sitting here in the livingroom watching the end of the Lions/Falcons game. A quick look at the screen tells me that there are only 2 minutes and 21 seconds left in the 4th quarter and the Detroit Lions will be dispatched. I am not a huge fan of either team, but I am letting the Thanksgiving feast (courtesy of Cracker Barrel) settle. Sometime later on this evening we will be going to my cousins house for some "desert" and family time.

This Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. My father is healthy, the Lord has been with im this year and the his doctors. My mother is healthy. My cat, yes even my little grey cat is healthy, too. He is laying on the chair next to me asleep the world.

I am thankful for being back in school and working on my Masters degree in Library Science and so far I am doing pretty well.

I am thankful for a job that I love doing and I look forward to go to work every day. I am particularly thrilled about going to work tomorrow and looking forward to the busy time of year that Christmas brings to the retail industry.

I am thankful for the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the faith I have in His promise of salvation.

Strange as it might sound I am thankful for this Lutheran Blogosphere. I have been challenged in ways I didn't expect (and this is a good thing) when I first got involved with it.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that all of you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. May the Lord's blessing flow freely to you and yours.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Because Sherrah Wrote About Giving


Sherrah is a friend of mine from Con-You, Austin. We had a few classes together and we worked together at Camp Lone Star. She is a thoughtful and smart woman. I always remember her as being a little on the quiet side, but when she had something to say it was usually very important and was a point that needed to be considered carefully. So, too, her blog. If for no other reason, go read her blog because she is a good writer, much better than me-- but any way, she wrote this entry about "pledge sunday" at her church. As I read it I became a bit upset. I have to give her credit for sticking around, I might of walked out of the service.

Sherrah wrote:

He said that our faith can be measured by what percentage of our income we give, and he tried to back that up with scripture. I can't remember what scripture he used, but I have a problem with that statement. Does that mean that because I don't give 10% of my income, I don't have enough faith? Does that mean my faith is less than that of someone who does give 10%?

And how do you quantify faith, anyways?

So I put my envelope in the offering plate as it passed, and I made my pledge, and I felt guilty about it. Because it's not 10%. I wish it was. I wish I was able to give 15%, or more. In this matter, it's not my faith that lacks, it's my checkbook.

I left church feeling guilty, judged, and angry... That man asked me to put a dollar amount on my faith. I've been having a conversation with God about this all day, trying to figure out if he is asking me to do more. No answer has been reached yet. I'd like to be able to give more money to church.... I'd also like to get out of debt....

It really bothered me. I know for fact that I don't give 10% of my income to the church every week. I did for awhile, but I just couldn't afford to do it, matter of fact I have had a hard time the last few months of paying bills on time.

Her pastor probably used Malachi 3:10:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
in his sermon. Which is fine. I've used that verse on myself many times when I've been struggeling with my collection envelope. But to question someone's faith by how much they put into the collection plate is just wrong. That way of looking at collection is not giving because of faith, but more like "ponying up" because you have to like paying a bill or a debt. On a side note, my church makes it real easy to "give." I can have them take it out of my checking account, all I have to do is give them my checking account number and they'll automatically debit my account for the amount... I have the form under some papers on my desk... but that is neither here nor there...

I asked my dad about it and he said that the tithe is an old testement law. I thought that was interesting. So, I thought about that for a little while and I remembered something I read in Luke a couple weeks back. The story of the old woman and her two little copper coins she put in the temple collection box:
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
-- Luke 21:1-4.

That widow gave what she could. Through her poverty she made a gift, a small one, sure, but to her it was probably huge. Because of her faith she gave.

Paul speaks to this in his letters. In 1 Corinthians he writes "Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income..." 16:1,2(a).

This is a tricky subject. I know it is. I've been known to absent myself from church during the month of November when the talk turns to money and giving. I give what I can. I strive for ten percent, but I often fall way short. I am by no means rich, but I have faith and I am moved to give what I can.

I completely understand where Sherrah is coming from in her post. I have been thinking about it ever since I read it on Sunday night. The only two beings that know your heart are you and God. God doesn't want you to feel obligated, He wants you to give because you want to-- it is not works but faith. James writes about this when he writes:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do... James 2:14-18

I will continue to give what I can; I hope someday to be able to give more than 10 percent to the church, but until that time I will pray continually that Lord guide me in money decisions. He knows what I can give and he will bless me, just as he will bless Sherrah and her giving.

I don't know if it is scriptural, it might be, but the phrase "God, loves a cheerful giver" is important here. I believe that is true. There is a vast difference between giving because you want to and because feel you have to. There should be no guilt attached to giving to the church, it should be good feeling.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Can't Have Sweet without Sour

I finished reading Romans last night. Wow, what a book-- did that sound silly that last statement? Romans really is a mind bender. I have been going back through Romans looking at verses that I have underlined and highlighted (which happens to be practically the whole book) and I am just amazed at it all. Talk about a balance betwen Law and Gospel. I don't think I have really noticed that before, sily as that might sound, but I can really see how both aspects can and must be balanced. You can't have one with out the other. We can't know and enjoy the promise of salvation through Christ without first the knowledge of the damnation through the Law. I much prefer the salvation to the damnation. Or perhaps it is better said thusly: "For God has bound all men over to disobediece so that he may have mercy on them all." (Rom 11:32).

Of course then there is this: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Rom 12:3).

One cannot have the sweet without the bitter. If all we had was sweet and never knew the taste of bitter we wouldn't know that we had sweet. Romans to me was like a glass of good clean, cold water on a hot parched day. To me, Romans has the feel of Paul sitting down and with me and saying "hey, Karl, we need to talk. I want to tell you something. Its cool, though, I think you'll really dig it."

I have been a Christian all my life. I have read the bible countless times. But I have never read it from cover to cover, I am in that process now. It has been slow going because I haven't always been real good at keeping with the reading-- I'll admit that other things get in the way-- school, internet, fun reading, sleep, any number of things. But my bible sits by my bed waiting for me to come back and drink its cool refreshing water of salvation. Sometimes its no more than a verse or two or perhaps a chapter, but invariably there is something there that strikes me and makes me go "hmmm."

So, next stop is 1 Corinthians and things start to get a bit more heavy duty. I think Paul has some talking to do to me. I hope I'll listen.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thoughts While Sitting in a Barnes and Noble Cafe After Work

I have been reading Romans lately, very slowly. I find myself rereading whole chapters. I think I have read chapter 5,6,7,8 the last three nights. I have obviously read them before, those four chapters are heavily underlined and highlighted in my Bible. Romans 7:14-25 has really sung to me.

I don't know about you, but when I read the letters of Paul, any of them actually, but particularly Romans, I feel like Paul is talking to, yelling at, castigating, and comforting me. Romans has given me such comfort the last few days.

It is good to be reminded that I am saved through Grace. That the Law is there and I am judged by it, but that the Gospel trumps the Law and through Jesus Christ I am saved. I don't need anything more than faith, that's it. Simple. Easy.

I have often looked at faith as a road. I walk the faith road. In theory, it should be smooth sailing, right? But somehow I fall, trip, or am blindsided by life and sin, other times I see a neat path off the faith road and I take that, get lost and try and scurry back to the faith road. It doesn't always work and I am often scratched. I have this image of Jesus, it might not be the most Lutherand image, but it gives me great peace and joy. This image is of Jesus walking with me. Usually behind me, sometimes in front of me, and often beside me. He leads me, much like he does in Psalm 23, but as I walk and am distracted by something I lose sight of him and go off on my own. He comes and finds me, like the lost sheep in the parable. Or when I stumble and fall over a rock (i.e. Sin he stoops over and helps me back up again, brushes me off and away we go, again.

Romans is a hard book to read for me. It lays everything out so nicely and logically. I feel like I am letting someone down after I read it, but I also feel great joy that I have faith in something and someone greater than the sin I wallow in. So, I shall continue to read Romans and other Pauline letters because when it all gets boiled down it really is all about faith not about what song I sang on Sunday in church, not whether Kieshnick is the Pres of LCMS or Preus. Its not about the NIV versus the Message bible... its not about the human aspect. Its about that faith thing. That faith that I have through the Holy Spirit. That's what makes it alright, that's the thing that is most important. And for that reason I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I am a sinner. Plain and simple. I sin. My Old Adam is alive in well in me. I hate him, I hate the weak link in my armour. I hate the fact that I have "thorns," as Paul called them in 2 Corinthians 12:

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am a sinner. I am dirty, through and through. There is nothing I can do about it. I am a fallen creation. I am not what God intended. I don't have thorns in my side so much as big thick nails.

What brings this up?

Teresa at Be Strong in Grace wrote a post that really resonated with me. Her post spoke of fears she had when it came to the word. She comes from the Evangelical tradition of Christianity. Which, as far as I understand is very, very, very Law based. She writes about the fact that she was afraid of God and Jesus.

I must apologize to all my blogosphere friends, where ever and whomever they may be. I have tried to post something here for the last couple days, but everytime I start typing my brain just kind of shuts down and nothing comes out. I had an entry going in response to something that Teresa wrote last week or so. It as about fear and God and all that kind of stuff. Go read the post, it is probably one of the best posts I've read dealing with the differences between Lutheranism and Evangelical Chrisianity. Basically Lutherans (at least this one, i.e. me) deal with guilt. She wrote that when she was in the Evengelical movement she was more afraid of God and his wrath, if I can use that word, than anything else. She wrote about how that made her feel and what she did to make herself feel better and feel closer to God.

Her post struck a chord in me and I've found myself thinking about it alot the last week or so, particularly while driving to and from work. I have had a hard time quantifying my thoughts about it, though. I understood where she came from, though.

I don't have fear of God. I am not afraid of Him. My faith and religous background help me feel comfortable in the knowledge that Jesus is my saviour and he died for my sins, etc, etc. But I think my problem is, and from what I've been able to gather this feeling is a fairly common Lutheran problem, and that is "guilt" and "shame."

I am guilty of sin, I wrote about that at the beginning of my post,but the shame comes from the "I do it even though I know I shouldn't, but I do it any way." Paul says it much more eloquently in the episles, but I think you understand where I'm coming from.

We all have spirital thorns in our sides. Sometimes I think mine are more like large iron spikes. I find great comfort in the idea that Christ is stronger because of my weeknesses. It doesn't do much for my shame and quilt sometimes, though.

When I was a kid my father had a painting that was framed. It was a big painting, he kept in the attic because he didn't have any place to hang it. That painting used to scare the be-jesus out of me. I'm not sure why though. The painting was of a either a man or a woman, I can't remember exactly, but I seem to recall a rather androginous charcter. This person was on a very tiny island in the middle of a raging sea, holding on to a thick, rock cross for dear life. That painting always made me feel uncomfortable. I finally got my father to get rid of that painting. But as I write this I am reminded of it for another reason. I often find myself feeling like that person in the painting. Scared or what is going on around me and looking for something to hold on to. Sadly, though I don't always hold on to or seek the right thing and instead of being held fast I find myself floating and being thrashed about.

Wow, this turned into something I wasn't expecting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, actually. I just hope you went and read Teresa'spost that is the most important thing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

See, God is Colts Fan....

... why else would the Colts uniforms be blue and white, just like a nice summer sky?

YES!!! COLTS BEAT PATS!! 40-21!!!! Great to be a Colts fan!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Did Paul Sleep Here? Perhaps Peter?

I just saw this news story on Yahoo. Quite intresting. I wonder
Paul Maier might have to say about it.

Israeli prisoner Ramil Razilo was removing rubble from the planned site of a new prison ward when his shovel uncovered the edge of an elaborate mosaic, unveiling what Israeli archaeologists said Sunday may be the Holy Land's oldest church.

The discovery of the church in the northern Israeli town of Megiddo, near the biblical Armageddon, was hailed by experts as an important discovery that could reveal details about the development of the early church in the region. Archaeologists said the church dated from the third century, decades before Constantine legalized Christianity across the Byzantine Empire.

"What's clear today is that it's the oldest archaeological remains of a church in Israel, maybe even in the entire region. Whether in the entire world, it's still too early to say," said Yotam Tepper, the excavation's head archaeologist.

Israeli officials were giddy about the discovery, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calling the church "an amazing story."

Vatican officials also hailed the find.

"A discovery of this kind will make Israel more interesting to all Christians, for the church all over the world," said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican envoy to Jerusalem. "If it's true that the church and the beautiful mosaics are from the third century, it would be one of the most ancient churches in the Middle East."

Razilo, who is serving a two-year sentence for traffic violations, was one of about 50 prisoners brought into the high-security Megiddo Prison to help excavate the area before the construction of new wards for 1,200 Palestinian prisoners.

Razilo was shocked to uncover the edge of the mosaic. The inmates worked for months to uncover all the parts of the mosaic — the floor of the church, he said.

"We continued to look and slowly we found this whole beautiful thing," said Razilo, who used a sponge and a bucket of water to clean dirt off the uncovered mosaics Sunday.

Two mosaics inside the church — one covered with fish, an ancient Christian symbol that predates the cross — tell the story of a Roman officer and a woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church in the memory "of the god, Jesus Christ."

Pottery remnants from the third century, the style of Greek writing used in the inscriptions, ancient geometric patterns in the mosaics and the depiction of fish rather than the cross indicate that the church was no longer used by the fourth century, Tepper said.

The church's location, not far from the spot where the New Testament says the final battle between good and evil will take place, also made sense because a bishop was active in the area at the time, said Tepper, who works with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The inscription, which specifies that Aketous donated a table to the church, indicates the house of worship predated the Byzantine era, when Christians began using altars in place of tables in their rituals, Tepper said. Remnants of a table were uncovered between the two mosaics.

The building — most of which was destroyed — also was not built in the Basilica style that was standard under the Byzantines, he added.

Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar and professor at the Holy Land University, said the second and third centuries were transitional periods where people sought to define their religious beliefs and modes of worship. Iconography and inscriptions found in Nazareth and Caperneum — places where Jesus lived — show that people went there to worship, although most did so secretly.

"This was a time of persecution and in this way it is quite surprising that there would be such a blatant expression of Christ in a mosaic, but it may be the very reason why the church was destroyed," Pfann said.

The dig will continue as archaeologists try to uncover the rest of the building and its surroundings, including what they believe could be a baptismal site, Tepper said.

Joe Zias, an anthropologist and former curator with the antiquities authority, questioned the dating of the find, saying there is no evidence of churches before the fourth century. The building may have been in use earlier, but most likely not for Christian religious purposes, he said.

"They're going to be hard, hard-pressed to prove it ... because the evidence argues otherwise," Zias said.

Wind Blown Church Service

We had an interesting church service this morning. We had no power. We had big rain and wind storms last night here in Indiana. If you've seen the news at all you've probably heard about the tornadoes that blew through Evansville (what was it we used to say Con-you... "Go Tornadoes! Treat 'em like a trailor park...")and blew away a manufactured home park. They say on the news that in Kentucky and Indiana there are 16 dead.

We just experiecned some heavy rain and big winds. It was enough to knock the power at church. So they used a piano for music. It was actually a pretty nice service. Very relaxing, almost too relaxing actually-- I found myself struggeling to stay awake. It was very calm. This is one of the few times I've actually seem Missouri Synod Lutherans willing sit in the front of the church (that's where the windows are).

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I got a new toy today. It is an expensive toy, but I decided that it will come in handy as I start doing big projects in school...

I bought a laptop compter today.

Lord Ha' mercy...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

This'll Brighten Your Day

A new pastor was visiting in the homes of his parishioners. At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door.

Therefore, he took out a card and wrote "Revelation 3:20" on the back of it and stuck it in the door.

When the offering was processed the following Sunday, he found that his card had been returned. Added to it was this cryptic message,"Genesis 3:10."

Reaching for his Bible to check out the citation, he broke up in gales of laughter. Revelation 3:20 begins "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."

Genesis 3:10 reads, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked."

Remember when the funniest jokes were the clean ones? They still are! "A cheerful heart is good medicine" (Prov. 17:22a)

I Have to Fill this Space Wit Sumpin, I 'Spose

I originally had the "what movies have you watched" thing-a-ma-jig here, but when I put it in my blog it messed it up, so I deleted it and, as a result I had a blank space with a date. Now, we can't have that can we?

I was reading Acts yesterday afternoon. And I read about Peter getting sprung from prison by *insert ominous music* An Angel of the Lord. (Acts 12). I just started to chuckle as I pictured Peter banging on Mary's door trying to get in. From what I understand Peter did not stand tomfoolery very well. I imagine him knocking gently at first and then as the people inside refused him admittance he didn't just knock on the door, but full fisted it. I can even imagine him muttering curses under his breath. For some reason I just found this whole thing to be funny.

Whew... That Was a Close One

This a thing I never want to see directed at me: Bill Cower giving me that look. Huh-uh, nope. I think I might dieI certainly hope that Scott, who writes Burr In the Burgh is happy, I'm thrilled... tired, but thrilled. Mah, Stillers won, but barely.

I think I just about had a heart attack as I watched the Greatest Team of All Time come within a cat's whisker of losing to the Baltimore Ravens! We can't have that!
I sat in the living room waving my Terrible Towel over my head.(More Terrible Towel) Quietly rooting for my team so I didn't wake anybody up. It was more like a quiet sportsprayer... and the football gods came through.

Next week: The Colts take on the The Evil Empire in New England. This will be a big game for them, the Colts and especially for Peyton Manning, he has some serious monkey-on-the-back issues with this team. I will be rooting hard for the home team next week. The problem, though arises a few weeks hence when the Colts and Steelers clash on a Monday Night. I've been a Steelers fan since I was but a lil Loofrin... I moved to Indiana just about four years ago and I have been rooting for the Colts ever since. Its just not fair I tell you. Its just not fair.

But I'll worry about that later. Right now, I'll just savour the Steelers one point win over the Ravens. Yes, indeed.

Monday, October 31, 2005

I Stand Corrected

I want to thank Dave over at Hot Under the Collar for setting me straight. I inadvertently misquoted the pastor at my church when I wrote this entry. It was not Phillip Gulley, but Phillip Yancey he quoted.

Thanks Dave. I stand corrected and I appreciate the close reading of my blog.

Reformation Day

I have often what was going through Martin Luther's mind on October 30, 1517, the night before he nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Cathedral's front door. Do you think he knew what would happen? Any of the histories I've read of the opening moments of the Reformation always seem to say that Luther had no intention of starting a new religion, he just wanted to "reform" the Catholic church. I wonder, though, if somewhere in his mind he knew exactly what was going to happenL and explosion of ecumenical thought and reconoitering.

What thoughts did he have as he nailed that sheet of paper to the door. I have a feeling it was something to the effect of "whelp, that's that." And then he put away his hammer and clapped hs hands together to clean them, stepped back to look at his carpentry and then slipped back through the crowd.

Here's some Reformation Day links.

What exactly is Reformation Day?

What You Do, Do Quickly has some thoughts on ye olde Reformation Day. In this one he comments on Lutherans' identity. Reformation glee, I like that he uses the word "glee." I have often heard of Lutheran "guilt," but one doesn't often hear of Lutheran glee. Then there's Dan the football guy, over at Necessary Roughness who weighs in this post a great CliffNotes run down of Reformation Day and why it is important.

It was nice to have common cup communion today. I love it when a month has five Sundays. Today's communion was very special for a couple of reasons. They dedicated a new communion set. The set was given in memory of woman that was killed exactaly one year ago today in a car accident. She and her husband were on their way to a community Reformation Day observation service when their car was t-boned by a police car on its way to lend assistance to a high speed chase. Her husband was badly hurt, but survived.

We had some good "barn burning" hymns in church this morning and of course we sang A Mighty Fortress which of course is (as Dr. Middendorf, a former professor of mine at Con-You, Austin used to call it) Luther's greatest hit. I don't know about that, but I still think it is hard to sing. I like the tune, the words are wonderful, but I think its just hard to sing.

I have taken the day off tomorrow. I decided a few years ago that I thought Reformation Day counted as a religious holiday, so, I take it off every year. I read the 95 Theses and dip into one of Walther's books. I think this year I'll take a look at Law & Gospel. I also must confess, though, that I do at some point during the day have a beer, or two, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther. It seems only appropriate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Playbook Tour Part II

I decided to take you on a tour of my Bible here is the first part.

This is the inside of the front flyleaf. On top is my Confirmation Verse, John 10:27-28.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
. For the longest time I didn't know my Confirmation verse. I found it quite by accident a few years back and I thought that it fit me pretty well.

The second verse written in block letter is 2 Thes.2:14: " He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." But, actually the whole section is worth putting in here:
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
To the right of the 2 Thes. quote is another that I wrote from 2 Cor5:7. It says "We live by faith, not by sight." These verses really seem to fit in with my thoughts and feelings about faith.

Under the 2 Thes. quote is a confession of faith I found somewhere in a bulletin somewhere along the way. And below that 1 Sam 3:4: "Then the Lord called Samuel." And then scrawled on bottom right corner this: "Did I learn this today or do I believe it?" For a while in college I was fighting with the difference between knowing something and believing something. I came to the conclusion that it was better to believe something than to know it. If I knew something it could probably be proved that it was wrong. Believing something was a much stronger thing. I don't quite remember the whole thought process behind it now, but at the time it made a lot of sense.

This is one of the most important parts of my Bible to me. This has been a lot of work for me. All these written down verses are verses that have really grabbed me as I've done my Bible readings. If they are highlighted or circled in red they really mean something to me. 2 Cor 12:1-10 is a biggie for me. We all have thorns... and man, do they hurt!
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This the page after the one above. I haven't done much to this one, yet, I'm actually kind of saving it because I'm sure my list of "important verses" will overflow the other page. However, there are two things that I need to point out. The only language I have ever actually been able actually grasp to the point of feeling somewhat comfortable with it (aside from English, that is, and that is probably suspect) is Hebrew. I don't know why, it might of been the professor I had when I was in the sem, but I think it just made sense to me. The little scrawl in the upper left corner says YHWH Shalom. It is from Judges 6:23, it means "The Lord is Peace." That is such a wonderful phrase. The other one is from Ezekiel 48:35-- YHWH SHAMAH. "The Lord is there." Another wonderful phrase. If I ever get a tattoo (which I doubt seriously) it will be that phrase in Hebrew on my left arm.

There's that YHWH Shamah, again. I guess I really dig that one. I have to "refresh" that one every once and awhile with a Sharpie marker. This one the outside front of my Bible. On the pages.

This one is on the top of my Bible. Isiah 7:9(b) rocked my world the first time I read it. I think it was the first verse I wrote on the outside of my Bible.
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’
. I remember having a "wow" moment when I read that for the first time. Really shook me in a good way. One has to have that rock under their feet. It has to be firm. You can only stand so long on a soft mushy place, or a slippery surface, but stand on a good solid rock, or concrete floor... you're there forever. You're not moving. Same thing here. Put your faith in Jesus Christ and you're not getting moved, buffetted, maybe, perhaps even knocked over once or twice, but you're still standing strong. Yeah, Is 7:9(b) is a big deal for me.

And then, finally, is this view. This is from the bottom of my Bible. Psalm 66:16-20:
Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
This is one of those "boo-yah" verses. Everytime I read this I just get this incredible smile on my face and feel like dancing with joy. The other verses I have highlighted are Psalm 109:9 "I am a man of prayer." 1 Thes. 2:5(b) "...God is our witness." And then, last, but certainly not least: Is 30:20,21.
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”


Monday, October 24, 2005

Lutheran Carnival IX

Teresa K. over at Be Strong in the Grace has done a bang up job on the Lutheran CarnivalIX. Speaking of the Lutheran Carnival Dan over at Random Thoughts needs some volunteers to host the Carnival. Let me tell, if you've been thinking about doing it, it is a blast! I've volunteered to do two more if Dan'll let me.

So, props go to Teresa K. She did a fantastic job.

Blessings to all.


Play Book Tour

(note: click on the images for bigger view. it might help)
Today, when I got home from work I had a sudden idea. I thought it would be fun to show all my cyber-Loofrin friends the inside of my Bible. That probably sounds funny and maybe a bit strange, but my Bible is very personal to me and I have worked very hard on it. I have never liked seeing pristine clean bibles, particularly if they are often read. I've never understood it when I flip through someone's bible and not see a single solitary note or underlining. I have always held to the "read, mark, and inwardly digest" aspect of Bible study. The first picture is from page 1898 of the Concordia Self-Study bible. It is James 1. I read James often, there is something about the book of James that really speaks to me. I probably should of scanned in James 2. That has some serious highlights, notes, and underlines.

Reading the bible is more than just sitting down and reading. It is one of the lines of communication from God to me, and my notes, underlines, arrows, and highlights are my way of conversing with him. They also are "landmarks" or "road signs." When I go back and reread a particular section I often reread the comments I left the last time I read. This helps me remember what I was feeling at the time or what I was thinking. And sometimes its good to reconnect. Call it a "journal" if you will. My father keeps a daily journal, he has for the last 53 years. Every day, religiously. I don't necessarily keep a daily journal, but I do keep write these notes as a reminder and a marking of being there before.

The next picture is the inside front cover of my Bible. I call it the "collage." It is mainly things I've picked up along the way. The "peace be with you" and the figure in the upper left corner came from a bulletin from a church service. The little purple sign came from some one I worked with at camp my first summer. It says: "The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you." I don't know if you can read the little hand written not on the far right side near the top. It says "we are Jesus action figures." Someone said that in a Bible study I attended one time and I thought it was just kind of cool. I think we were talking about missions or something along those lines. The "GIVE CALLHOON DA BALL" refers to a fireside nighttime devotion I gave one summer. The hand written note next to it says "Christianity is more about a full heart than a crowded head." That is a quote from Rev. Richard Noak who was the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Klein, Texas. See that yellow PC? That doesn't mean "politically correct," but it asks me if I'm meant to Preach Christ or Plant Corn. When I was stuggeling with the "call" a pastor friend told me a story that asked that question? Are you supposed to Preach Christ or Plant Corn? I ask myself that daily.

Yes, you do see duct tape, I duct taped the binding of my Playbook because it was getting weak and frayed...

Under the PC is another hand written note that says "To be saved... is nothing more than to be delivered from sin, death,and the Devil and into the Kingdom of Christ and live with him forever." That is a quote from page 439 of the Book of Concord (the Tappert edition). I just thought that was a beatiful way of looking at salvation. Again, a nice neat package. Something I can wrap my brain around.
The little hand written note under "calhoon" says "Do you have faith in your faith? Faith is as faith does." Next to that is W5H of ChiRoh, or the "who, what, when, where, why, and how of Christ." That is something I came up with one day to explain to myself how faith works and builds. An example: as Christians we fall into the Heb. 11:1 aspect of faith. We believe what we haven't seen. As we grow in our faith we understand Who Jesus was, Where He did his ministry, What He was (i.e. Christ/Savior), When He lived (2000 years ago), Where He did his ministry, and How He willing gave Himself as a sacrafice for us.... but, at least for me, its the WHY that I always struggle with. . Because of the "why" I have the John 15:18, 19 written on the first end page it says:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

I also have John 17 written there, too:
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

One of my favorite quotes I have in here is the one in upper left hand corner. It says "The news of the Gospel is too good not to be be true." Rev. Norb Fernhaber said that one day in sermon. That just struck me as an amazing thought.

The things written there mean different things to me for different reasons. Down in the lower left corner is this phrase, I got it from the movie The Hurricane: "Hate put me in this prison; love is going to bust me out." I though that was a great Gospel message.

The other thing I want to point out is the yellow box in the right side. It has the verse Jerimiah 29:11-14:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
This verse helped me get through a serious faith crisis at one point in my college career.

So, my Bible is mine. I have made it my own.

I'd love to read about your playbooks and how you use them. Blessings