Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent is Coming to a Close

and we joyfully anticipate the Christmas season.

Jesus Christ, who is God manifest in the flesh, is born. We all know the story of the baby in the manger, peace, joy, good will to men. We sing the Christmas Carols, give presents, go to Christmas programs and, hopefully, Christmas Festival Services.

But do we consider ...

The God of all creation humbled himself to be born into the world. A cute and beautiful baby? Of course, but that baby is God! And He came to us in human form so that He could redeem us! He came to us as a baby so that He could become our righteousness, for we have none without Him. He came to us in human form to die for us on the Holy Cross, so that miserable sinners that we are, can be saved from death and the power of Satan. He died for us that we might live and reign with him in everlasting righteousness in heaven.

That is Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. The Christmas Tree also contains His cross. For without it, we are lost.

The Christmas Season begins for us on the evening of December 24, and continues for the 12 days which culminate in the Epiphany of Our Lord.

Our next great festival? Easter, the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord. The Christmas season begins with the birth of God our Savior. We continue to follow the story of our Lord through Epiphany, the season of Lent, follow His footsteps to the Cross on Good Friday, and glory in His bodily resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Spare me the Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snow Man, and the Little Drummer Boy. Don't belittle Christmas with vanilla sayings such as Happy Holidays. I don't need Christmas presents either (of course, I want them, I'm a sinner). I need Jesus. I need His righteousness. I need His mercy. I need His forgiveness.

And most importantly, I want Him to return soon to take me to everlasting bliss.

Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Leave All Things to God's Direction ...

He loveth me in weal and woe;
His will is good, true His affection,
With tender love His heart doth glow.
My Fortress and my Rock is He:
What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (and the Bible verse from which the above hymn comes from Salomo Franck in 1655)

Sad to say, as beautiful as that hymn verse is, I can't honestly say that I come close to really living it. I'm always leaving all things to my direction. And, of course, it's the wrong direction, sinner that I am. The good news is that Jesus took care of that for me. He really did. He pleased God -- for me. And he pleads for me before the throne of Almighty God. He has forgiven my sins and made me a part of the heavenly kingdom! I know that I am called according to His purpose. That is my hope. That is OUR hope.

This morning, as I was helping my dear wife get dressed, I noticed, painfully, that she could hardly stand, even for a few seconds. It seemed she could hardly bear the short time it took; her legs were shaking from weakness, an indicator of how much this disease has progressed since I first posted about it last January. Linda's arms get weaker too. It's hard for her to even raise a fork to eat.

Most of the time, we are getting used to what it takes to care for her. We accept what has to be done, and simply do it. But this morning it seemed to hit me in the gut like it did last January when we first learned that she had ALS. We have explored what help we can find to improve her condition. We simply have to leave it to God's direction.

Blessed Lord Jesus, teach us to trust in You rather than in our own abilities, for our works are nothing without You. Help us, in Your mercy, to leave all things to Your direction. Give us the strength to bear our burdens. Strengthen our faith that we will look to our citizenship in heaven. Send Your holy angels to comfort and protect us during these trying times. Deliver us, Lord Jesus, in Your mercy.

Lord, Have Mercy upon us.
Christ, Have Mercy upon us.
Lord, Have Mercy upon us.

The last verse of the hymn:
My God desires the soul's salvation,
Me also He desires to save;
Therefore with Christian resignation
All earthly troubles I will brave.
His will be done eternally:
What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.

Come, Lord Jesus. Amen

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Benefits of Traditional Liturgy

Presented by Pastor Christopher Esget
Click here for the original source of this presentation.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

5 Days old and Now She Has a Name!

Our thirty-second grandchild was born at home on February 3, 2011 at 6:06 am to Sky and Marion. Her name, we just found out today, is Greta Linda Freet.

Greta was 9 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 1/2 inches long. A big baby!

Dish Networks #1 In Customer Satisfaction? .... Hardly

It all started because we were dissatisfied with our cable provider. We decided to go with DSL and Dish Networks. I'm certainly rethinking my decision to go with Dish Networks.

All was well when our dish was installed last December. We were most happy with the service and the programming. Then less than a month later, the receiver takes a dump. I contact Dish Networks and they offer to replace it, but if I pay for postage. No way, it was less than 30 days old. After insisting on speaking with a supervisor, they immediately offer to send the replacement at their cost. Including shipping both ways.

And send it they did, a more expensive one, which they insisted I had to pay extra for, even though I had never asked for it, and, in fact only wanted a replacement which was equivalent to the one which died. I gave up, since it seemed that I had been scammed; opting to deal with the situation at a later date.

Here comes February. We get a bill for $300 (plus change) extra, which they promptly extracted from our checking account. When I contacted them this evening, it seems that, even though they were charging me additional money each month for use of the better receiver (with DVR), since I had never sent it back to them, I had to pay for it also. When I noted that I was already paying a monthly fee for the use of that receiver, the agent insisted that I send it back in order to get my credit.

For the second time, I insisted that a supervisor contact me by telephone immediately. And, like the first time I made that demand, the agent relented and offered to credit the $300 (plus change), and apologized for the inconvenience.

The bottom line is that these representatives for Dish Networks are simply inept (that's putting the best construction on it). Putting a realistic construction on it, they are doing everything they can to grab money from unsuspecting customers. And when they are contacted (I used online chat to get a quicker response), they show themselves as the inept representatives they (seem to be) trained to be.

They would be history with us except for the fact that I agreed to a 24 month service. My mistake, for sure.

I'm sharing this with you all because I don't want you to make the same mistake I did.

I will be glad to share the transcripts of these conversations with anyone who wishes to learn more about Dish Networks customer service. Let me know, and I'll email them to you. If I knew how to attach them to the blog I would.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ALS Rears It's Ugly Head

Many of you know already that my dear wife has been diagnosed with the affliction of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). This is a nasty one, my friends, every bit as scary as cancer or the like.

The doctor who made the diagnosis has also asked that we get a second evaluation, which is scheduled for February 10. But, given the serious nature of the disease, we also are scheduling extensive sessions of Homeopathic (natural) medicine. There is no cure or even much aid for ALS with Allopathic (today's generally accepted) medical treatment.

We know the challenges ahead. We have a lot to learn. We no doubt have much more to bear. And, yes, we are scared. But we can also look to the promises of our gracious God and Savior, that he will never leave us or forsake us. And when he calls us home to heaven, we will be eternally happy and perfect.

Sola Deo Gloria!

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Surrender All? Think About It.

I finished listening to an excellent sermon this evening. Listen to it here. The pastor clearly preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins, a message I need constantly. So, having heard this, I went out for a smoke, as I so often do, even in this cold Minnesota winter.

What popped into my mind? The song "I Surrender All." Now a long, long time ago, I can remember singing that song (All to Jesus I surrender, etc.) and feeling all giddy and holy. Tonight I thought, "What a crock of bovine ..." (well, never mind, you get the picture).

To surrender is to give up, turn yourself in, turn over your possessions, etc. But this song claims that "All to Jesus I surrender." Well, I'm not capable of that, and neither are you. We'll get to those reasons below.

Who did the surrendering? Jesus did! The God of all creation humbled himself to the point that He was born as a human, a baby, and a poor one at that. He left His majestic throne in heaven and made himself a lowly man, a poor and despised one. God was subject to his human parents, he suffered rejection by his human family and community. God was hated by the religious leaders of his nation. He was killed by them. Yet He did the surrendering. Jesus willingly subjected himself to the most hated and humiliating punishment known to man. And it was all done for you ... and for me!

Now, how about you and me? If I were to surrender all to Jesus, I'd not have an imperfect thought in my mind. Well, I know myself, and that's impossible. And it's impossible for everyone I know. I can't even pray, or listen to a sermon, or sing a hymn without my mind wandering and thinking of something else. Were I to surrender ALL, that simply could not happen.

According to God's word, all that was done to achieve our redemption was done by Jesus,  God manifest in the flesh. That little word all becomes really, really big. And it doesn't mean "almost all," either. In other words, face the fact that we're all filthy sinners. All we have to do is review our past (and present, for that matter) to know that. We're just not capable of surrendering ourselves to Jesus. That's why He did it for us. And we can lay claim to that surrender in our baptism, in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving his body and blood in the sacrament. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. Listen to Him, not to yourself.

Now that you've read a post that I'll no doubt have to correct in the future, go back and click on that "here" link above which you read past, and listen to the sermon.

And for more Christ centered, Cross focused sermons, go to http://augustana.us/services/

There, I've stepped on some toes. Well, I warned y'all. And I still can't get that darned song out of my head.

Can You Believe It?

Yes, I really did it. Dave now has a blog.

WARNING: The title says it all, and step on some toes, I may; but if you want to know about me, you'll find out by reading. I may even post a picture or two.

Anyhow, this is my beginning.

Your comments are welcome, but please be civil.