Thursday, September 30, 2004
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
The never ending story... Pregnancy
If anyone ever tells you that you're going to deliver early, don't listen. I've been thinking that I'll be coming any day now, any day. But when I went to the doctor yesterday I recieved no news. Everything is the same as it has been for the past THREE WEEKS!! My doctor said," doesn't look there's going to be a baby this week." I cried when I left the office.
The good news is, I only gained one pound this past week. That's good. Someday this will be over and I can look at my baby in the eyes, and it'll all have been worth it.
Here's a funny thing. I have been so convinced that the baby is a boy, even though the evidence is inconclusive that I've only bought blue things, nothing pink. In fact the whole nursery is blue. It can easily be girl-ified if necessary, but I really don't think it will be. This assurance that the baby is a boy has become contagious. Yesterday my doctor called my baby, "your son." Hmmm. If it is a girl it will take a lot of adjusting.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
I've added Andy and Ellie's to our list of blogs (click here). They both have a lot of great thoughts worth reading. Highly recommended, even though they're not Lutherans.
Monday, September 27, 2004
"The Gospel creates a culture"
I've been thinking hard about White Horse Inn's interview with William Willimon (it's free!) since listening to it yesterday. The entire interview is excellent, but one thing Willimon said sticks out to me: "The gospel creates a culture."
He's right. The message of Jesus Christ, the preached Word of God, the seed of faith, takes root in the hearts of those who hear. And as the parable teaches us, if it's not choked out it begins to grow.
As Willimon points out in the interview, cultures are created by words. In the church's case, the culture is created by THE Word. The culture of her members is bound to change. Their communication with one another, their understanding of themselves, their symbols and their rituals will all be altered.
So what does this mean for the person who has not yet heard? Or one who has been plugging their ears for some time? Walking into a church is going to be some kind of culture shock.
And it should be! Why should we be ashamed that it is? If our culture as Christians is one truly thriving on the Gospel, springing up from the Word of God, nourished by the Sacraments, then we have nothing to blush about -- everything to boast about! Christ Himself is our church culture's defining characteristic. We are His bride, and He should be at the center of every movement of His church.
We should feel no need to acclimate church culture to pop culture, or postmodern culture, or any other. When we try, we always ending up watering down (or even tearing down) the very thing that makes the church: Christ Jesus. We've seen it throughout history, and we're seeing it even now.
More Baby info
There is nothing new to report unfortunately, but I thought people would be interested anyway. I might as well give the lowdown, and breakdown of my pregnancy so far.
I've gained 32 lbs as of last Tuesday, I'm not "allowed" to surpass 35. I've been officially cut off of sweets, but my response is, "sherbet is not unhealthy, and neither is birthday/wedding cake!"
I am at 38 weeks today, so I'm officially in the "plus or minus two weeks" phase so I'm going any day now.
I'm 50% effaced as of last Tuesday as well, which means that the door is getting ready to open. The sad thing is that I've been this far progressed for two weeks now, and nothing changed! So I made progress and then I stopped. That is a frustrating feeling when you are ready to meet your baby face to face (and stop being fat!). I have another Dr. Apt. tomorrow, so hopefully things will really have changed in this last week, it feels like they have.
My baby is head down and his back to my left, so that's a good exit position. Let's hope he stays that way!
OK so I think that's all the news I have today. I hope tomorrow's Apt. has some exciting news to reveal. I kind of hope that I don't even make it to tomorrows Apt. Maybe I'll go into labor today at the grocery store! One can only hope...
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Great White Horse Inn episode
Related to the last post about worship and church services, etc., there's a great White Horse Inn episode being broadcast this week. I'd encourage everyone to give it a listen -- a really worthwhile discussion.
Worship and the revelation of God
I'm currently reading "They Will See His Face" by Richard C. Eyer, where I came across a great quote I'd like to share.
From the beginning of time, God has chosen to reveal Himself to humankind on His terms, not on ours. This is because we must know Him as objectively real and not merely as a virtual reality created in the image of our own likes and dislikes. It is not our prerogative to attempt to create new techniques for God to make Himself known to us. Nor should we mistake our loss of delight in the Divine Service as the fault of the Divine Service. Our is to respond in faithfulness to where God tells us He is to be found. From ancient times to the present, from Moses and the people of God who worshiped in tent and temple to we who gather in churches, God's presence has been made known in worship. God chooses to reveal Himself in the worshiping assembly. For us, people of the New Testament, our standing in God's presence begins with Holy Baptism, continues with Holy Absolution, and reaches its fulfillment in Holy Communion.
Some friends and I have been discussing quite a bit what a Sunday morning worship service should look like. What boundaries should be placed on music style, order of service, etc.? How formal should a service be?
I'm afraid that I too easily forget that the church's worship service, her liturgy, is the very place where the world encounters God. It's not merely a presentation of the ideas behind Christianity, or a gathering time for like-minded Christians to "connect", but befitting the title we Lutherans give it, the Divine Service. God literally comes to us, sets upon us, surrounds and speaks to us during this time.
Many good friends of mine often ask questions about the "language" the church uses; addressing music style, manner of speaking, presentation of the various elements of worship and so on. They ask if her language is one that the culture we live in can easily understand? There's a reason we Lutherans no longer worship in German -- this language question is undoubtedly worthwhile.
But sometimes it's hard for me to discern where the language used to communicate stops, and God's service to us begins, or whether these things are even as separate as I'd like them to be. Should any changes in the service be permitted as long as confession and absolution, the reading of the word, baptism and communion remain central? What about lighting, the placement of the choir, the use of individual versus corporate singing, the instruments used, the adornment of the sanctuary...?
I'm mulling over it all, and I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Surprised to see the Gospel doesn't change...
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple. For which one of you when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
"Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
"Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle will not first sit down and take council whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace.
"So therefore, no one of you can be my disciple who does not give up his own possessions."
This was our sermon text this Sunday, and honestly I usually shy away from such texts for lack of understanding. But praise to God for Pastor Kozak, because this was one of the most encouraging piece of scripture I've read in a while.
It is truly frightening to read that I must hate my family (How could I, I haven't even met my baby?!), carry my cross (I've seen what that leads to, crucifixion), and give up everything I have (I just keep buying more!!) to follow Christ. The door to Heaven is very small indeed! Pastor Kozak counted the cost of building this tower for us on Sunday and I was left quaking in my pew. Then the veil was torn away with our dear Pastor's own confession, "No, I could never live up to these standards, I cannot defeat this army."
"Phew," I thought, "At, least I'm not alone! Now what? Where's the Gospel in this passage?" But it's there, and without Pastor Kozak's help I would have looked right over it. We have counted our cost, we have determined our small army tainted with sin can never defeat the huge army of God's perfect Law. So we've sent out our council, and the terms of peace have been waged. Christ the Savior is our terms of peace, he will take on our sin and suffer its consequence on our behalf and fit us through that narrow door. He is our mediator and our safety.
This is the sweet good news that rocks us to sleep at night, and penetrates all that gives me hope. Praise be to God for His humbling and defeat on my count, and His glory and victory over all I've (we've) afflicted Him with. "It is finished."
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
Sunday, September 19, 2004
I'm mulling over some more thoughts on the theology of the cross. Until they solidify enough for me to put them down, I thought I'd post the following scripture -- truly powerful words.
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The Old Adam in me is alive and well -- he balks and turns away even now from meeting this man who has "no beauty that we should desire him," and who "is despised and rejected of men."
Yet this man of sorrows is the incarnate son of God.
My flesh wants anything (and everything) aside from what God has given me. I want a savior who makes me happy all the time, who lights my relationships up with vigor and love, who answers my mundane, profane questions with something more than words.
But He answers with only words, bread, wine, and water. In this land of my sojourn, He compels me to walk by faith, not by sight.
This is my cross, and it is a free gift of God. Thank Him for that, too. I wouldn't take it up had I the choice.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Things are moving along. I've already started getting ready for the birth (without getting into too much detail) and the doctor and nurse think I might be coming early. Not this week, but maybe next week. Hmm, in that case I'll be having a baby before I have any baby showers!!
Oh yeah, I quit work tommorrow!!! Praise God!!!!
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
A Tiny Miraculous Hand
Wow! A friend sent me a link to this picture and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This is the picture of a doctor performing inutero surgery on a 21 week old fetus. Before the actual surgery began the baby reached its hand out of the uterus and grasped the finger of the doctor! I can not believe it! To think that at this stage there are still 3 weeks left for the mother to decide to abort the baby legally. Obviously no one is thinking logically when they say that this little person is not separate from its mother and has no personal rights. I hope the world gets some sense and stops murdering these precious little people.
By the way the baby in this picture was carried to term and born perfectly healthy. What an amazing blessing that we have the medicine available to perform such unbelieveable feats!
I Boast No More
We're back from vacation! Devona and I had a great time in South Carolina. We weren't exactly longing for the steel grey skies and vast cement wasteland that is Akron, Ohio but we were happy to be back when we got here. Of course, we were driving in the pitch black night and couldn't see a thing, which might have something to do with it...
We listened to some great music on our road trip. One song I rediscovered was this old hymn, "I Boast No More," written by Isaac Watts, and recorded by Caedmon's Call on their In the Company of Angels disc. This is definitely theology of the cross:
No More My God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son
No more my God
No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more.
Now, for the loss I bear his name,
What was my gain I count my loss
My former pride I call my shame
And nail my glory to His cross
Yes, and I must, I will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake
O may my soul be found in Him
And of His righteousness partake
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne
But faith can answer Thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Our last baby-free vacation
This weekend we're off to the sunny(?) south to visit our dear friends Andy and Ellie. Please pray that we don't have any baby emergencies, or any other emergencies for that matter.
Andy, I'll tell Rob that you posted those responses, and I'll see if I can't get him to define his terms for you. If I try he'll just tell me I explained them wrong ::wink:: and we don't want that.
God bless everyone, and we'll miss you if we don't get a chance to post at all while we're gone. Have a good weekend.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Theology of Glory vs. Theology of the Cross
I often remember a quote from a sermon preached at my old church: "Coming to church isn't about what you can get, but what you can give." At the time I felt uncomfortable with the statement, but figured I agreed. The minister was preaching to a crowd of unmotivated, entertainment-hungry college students, and wanted to push them out of their mediocre faith into Christian action.
But when it comes to God, what do we have to give? Aren't we merely beggars at the foot of God's door, to paraphrase the Normals (who were paraphrasing Martin Luther, I would find years after first hearing the song)?
A confounding of law and gospel has worked its way into many, many churches. The theologian of glory has been whispering in the church's ear and many of her teachers and congregants haven't a clue.
John H. has done a great job of contrasting this theology with a more accurate theology of the cross here. His words resonate in my heart of hearts. They illustrate well the last few years of my personal reformation.
A few years ago, I would climb out of bed in the morning determined to live a truly Christian day. I spent the first hour of my day "prepping." Athletes psych themselves out before a big game. I was psyching myself out for another day of being a Christian.
Sin? Today, I just wasn't going to do it. Sure, I knew that I'd messed up yesterday. But sometime between sunset and sunrise God must have given me the power to eliminate any trace of sinfulness from my life, right?
As John H. writes, the theologian of glory says "The gospel is what gets you saved - then other things take you forward in the Christian life." This was my life. Remembering the cross was alright, I thought, but properly living day-to-day meant asking "what would Jesus do," and pressing onward.
Burnout is almost inevitable in a life like this. Questions like these (posed by a good friend and former mentor who once worked at my previous church) will often eventually bring the believer to question the core of his relationship with God. If life is worship, and I don't know how to worship very well, what the heck is my life?
Of course, everyone gets burned out. In that valley, where does a Christian find his comfort? Inside himself and the connectedness he feels? Inside his small group, and the feelings of belonging there? Perhaps to prayer, and meditative silence?
At the cross. Where Christ (and Christ alone!) finished his marvelous work of our justification and redemption. Afflicted sinners will find lasting comfort in no place else.
Have we drifted so far we can't even remember where to find the cross? Hear the word. Receive the sacrament. Believe that forgiveness freely offered is ours. The church must return, or she will cease to be the church at all.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
In the Workplace
I only have four shifts left at work: This weds. and thurs. and next weds. and thurs. I am so excited to be done with work, and begin focusing ultimately on the baby to come. Work has been an exciting place as well lately, and I have a hard time leaving just as much as I hate staying.
There is a girl at work that I have recently begun forming a close relationship with. I was really surprised, too, because she is a very distant sort of person and lets few people in so I wasn't even trying. Somewhere along the way she must have started trusting me. She's living with her boyfriend of 4 years, and he has a kid with another woman, but they are planning on getting married next year. I actually think that it is great for them to be together, and I hope they do marry because it will be really good for them and the child involved. Anyway, this is how we started getting close. She told me that she was attending a Presbyterian church regularly for the first time, and making her boyfriend go to, and even though they are living together they aren't sleeping together until they get married. My response was good luck, but it's gonna be really hard, and maybe you should consider getting married sooner than in one year!
Then, on Sunday she asked me if she could ask me a personal question. She told me that she had cheated on her boyfriend a year ago, and had told him right away, and that he'd forgiven her. But she can't shake the nagging feeling of guilt now that they are planning to marry. She wanted to know if it was legitimate for her to still feel guilty because some of her friends were telling her she should always feel guilty. I took a deep breath, and did the scary thing when you don't know where someone stands. I said, "There is no need to feel guilty for any of the sins we do anymore once we've confessed them, and you already did that. We've all done wrong, and every sin and mistake is equal in the eyes of God, but Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins so now we never have to feel guilt again." She understood me, but I don't know if it has any real meaning to her yet, but I'm glad that she heard the truth.
It's just funny to me that I've worked there for a year, I'm one of the few people working there that has a firm grip on the implications of the Gospel, but it's not until I'm leaving that God is setting this opportunity to reach out and comfort someone. I wonder why that is.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
These are our new Ultrasound pictures. Sometimes it's hard to see what's in the picture, so I enhanced them for everyone. The bluest one is the face and a fist. The less blue one is a more sideways view of the face so you can see the giant cheeks. Cool huh? This time the head is bigger than the whole body was last time we had pictures done. I can't believe how big this other person is, and that it's all in my belly! No wonder my ribs and back hurt so bad!