Are Your Plans Set?

Looking ahead to next week. If you do not church home or your own church is missing out on some of the best parts of the celebration, feel free to consider visiting at Zion in Tomball

It’s Just Me Saying, “Hello!”

 

A photo of me
It’s Just Me Saying, “Hello!”

Happy weekend! I am a little bit weary and unfocused, so I’m not going to say vast amounts.

I finally finished reading “Gnostic America.” I’m glad that is behind me. It is a highly useful book, but a discouraging read. I will probably do a review of it on Amazon and GoodReads sooner or later. Not today or tomorrow or Sunday.

I’m much more interested in convincing people to log into http://celebration.lmstapp.com/ and leave messages and pictures to help a certain lady celebrate her 90th birthday!

Continuing in Chapter 1

It’s true, we do take our time in studying God’s Word. It’s a treasure. It’s a delight. It’s a joy, well worth our time. We can snicker at ourselves when others tease us, saying things like, “By the time you finish going through I Corinthians, you’ve also read the entire rest of the Bible in that Sunday school class!”

Here’s what we did today:

A Quick Review of Where We’ve Been over the Last Few Weeks? Months?

1 Corinthians 1:20–25 (RSV)

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

A book I’m reading, “Gnostic America” by Peter Burfeind, underscores how similar 1st-century Corinth and 21st-century United States really are. I can’t say that I’m enjoying the book, but I’m glad I’m reading it. How can you NOT get something out of a book when the website for the book uses phrases like “Medieval-Gnostic perversion of Christian theology”?

Verse 26

1 Corinthians 1:26 (RSV)

26 For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth;

 

this is a white board with Bible references  to
Notes from Bible Study on I Corinthians 1:26

Home from Church, but I will listen to the sermon later…

Breathing issues and sciatic pain kept me home from church today. I don’t like that. It took me so long to learn that hearing God’s Word preached and receiving God’s extravagant gift of forgiveness is a treasure! I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I probably do take it for granted, I just don’t want to.

Part of that is because I don’t want to break the third commandment (by the Roman Catholic/Lutheran numbering scheme, fourth commandment by the Episcopalian/Baptist/Methodist/etc. numbering scheme). I want to “fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.” There will be many times when I will be unable to participate in the “Gottesdienst” (a.k.a. “the divine service,” in some circles, “worship”), so I want to get “the goods” at every opportunity. Granted, I can read the Bible and pray alone, but these privileges and delights flow out of being part of the Body of Christ in this world. Being a “Lone Ranger Christian” doesn’t really seem to have biblical support.

I also want to go to church in the name of those Christians in other parts of the world where being a Christian is a deadly proposition. In Christ, Christians in Iraq (just one example) are a part of me. Their wounds are mine. Their struggles are mine. Their joys are mine. My Facebook profile picture may not always show the letter “nun,” but I think of Christians (yes, and others) who are facing incredible struggles for their beliefs. I do hope that we can begin discussing these kind of stories with each other.

Perhaps we can start by talking about something a little bit more distant, not the immediate past. The issues are similar. People have not changed much in the last 3000 years, even if we have gotten some really nifty electronic gadgets in the last 30 years.

One of my favorite places to read about is Japan. I think my interest started when I was about eight years old and Dad visited that faraway country. He showed us where it was on the map. He brought us pictures, fans, little dolls, and a tea set. The delicate porcelain was wrapped in newspaper. I couldn’t read it. None of the grown-ups I knew could read it, but I knew that somewhere in the world there were millions of people who thought that reading these miraculous pages were everyday experience. Somewhere in the world, people thought that these miraculous pages were trash-fit only to wrap a doll -sized tea set.

I read a few novels set in Japan and read a few Japanese novels in translation. I learned enough to know that Shusaku Endo is an artist. Now one of his books is being turned into a movie that I want to see, even if it deals with persecution.

The movie also deals with real questions like, “Where Is God in my struggles?” It phrases it also, “Am I praying into silence?” While I appreciated this review, I am looking forward to seeing the movie for myself. Unfortunately, I can’t get the book in a Kindle version. I can get it in an audible.com format, though. I may have to do that next month…

I am dragging myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century by adding Google Analytics to this blog

I hate this. I don’t want to track every person who happens to stumble onto this website. I suppose that part of me feels like

Of course, I would have to admit that I hated the movie. I thought that all the characters were working backwards and against themselves in reality. So, why do I think that I can expect a different result if I’m not willing to put in the work to both build my dream, and market it?

I’ve Already Decided That One Productivity Tool Is Not Quite for Me

Every year, usually in early to mid-December, I start looking for tools to help me accomplish goals in the upcoming year. Some work well for me. Others seem better suited for other people.

I have liked Trello for a couple of years, now. I like to use it as a “TODO” list thingy. It’s kind of nice to have something sort of like 3 x 5 cards that I can move around.

‘sSince I’ve been working as an adjunct instructor, I find that I gain vast amounts from learning what helps students keep up with their life. One of the tools I’ve been trying is HABITica. It holds to do lists, daily habits that need developing, etc. The intriguing thing is that it also turns your life into something of a video game. You get points for doing what you need to. You can lose points by not doing your dailies. You can get a group of friends together to “battle monsters.” I can see many positive uses for this tool.

If it sounds confusing, I probably did not explain it well. Check this video out.

I enjoyed HABITica for a week or more, but it feels distracting to me. I get my reward from checking things off my list.

Yes, I am a fuddy-duddy. 😉 It is backed to Trello for me!

Wandering the Internet, Finding Doctrinal Treasures

Looking back and looking ahead takes time. We get to refresh ourselves with joyous memories and hopeful plans. We can take time to grieve and mourn the broken places in our lives, as well as make plans to handle the rough patches that loom ahead. It’s what we do as humans.

I am rejoicing in some of the websites that help me look ahead in faith. One is Brothers of John the Steadfast <http://steadfastlutherans.org/>. It is full-bore and hard-core confessional theology. We get to rejoice in God’s extraordinary gifts to people, delivered through the voices and hands of his pastors.

Come to think of it, my own pastor, Chris Hull, writes for them. < http://steadfastlutherans.org/author/chull/ > I get a huge kick out of him and his family. Yes, I genuinely enjoy them as people. They make me laugh. It is also delightful and interesting to watch them raise their sons. They parent with a style I’m not used to seeing. I’m learning a lot by watching them, not that I will have much opportunity to put it into practice.

In February, we will be hosting a conference with the steadfast friends. It is about Article IV of the Augsburg Confession. The topics will be about Justification. I can’t wait till it happens! <http://steadfastlutherans.org/2017conf/> They only have room for 250 people, so… Register soon!

Sometimes, I’m not able to make it to church. I always enjoy listening to the sermons from the pastors at Zion, but I don’t always have a good connection to the Internet. Besides, church is something to participate in directly! Watching or listening to a sermon will never replace being with God’s people to receive God’s gifts!

Pastor Esget has some rich explanations of God’s Word. Here is his take on the retrospectives of 2016. <http://www.esgetology.com/2016/12/31/sermo-dei-new-years-eve-2016/>

One of my favorite authors, Gene Veith, covers a wide range of topics in his blog. He enjoys real conversation online, people who comment and receive replies come from a wide range of perspectives. I never leave this place without having learned something worth knowing. Check out his review of the top 10 discoveries in biblical archaeology for 2016. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2016/12/top-10-discoveries-biblical-archaeology-2016/>

Issues, Etc. has been one of my favorite programs on the Internet for a long time. I cannot even remember when I didn’t appreciate them. The teaching here helped me through some rough times. Here’s an example of the riches they dispense: The Incarnation and Defense of the Christian Faith by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. <http://issuesetc.org/2016/12/23/3581-the-incarnation-and-defense-of-the-christian-faith-dr-john-warwick-montgomery-122316/>

One of my other pastors who use to be at Zion, Alvin Franzmeier, dispenses a gentle and loving explanation of what God has done and continues to do in the lives of His people. For a while, he has been opening up the teachings of the biblical book of Job. Here he discusses “Who Shall Separate Us From God’s Love?” <http://al-franzmeier.blogspot.com/2016/12/who-shall-separate-us-from-gods-love.html>

There are wonderful riches of teaching available, even if it is online. Look around, tell me about your favorite treasures.

I do not like back pain…

My usual routine for Sunday is to wake up about 6 AM and be in Bible class at 9:30 AM. Granted, MANY steps come between those two items on the agenda. They involve other people helping me. Sometimes I feel like an Apollo astronaut who needs the entire mission control staff to help me get into my seat for a trip to church!

Yes, it was necessary to place gratuitous images of Apollo 13 into this blog so I could weep!

I did not follow my usual Sunday launch checklist today. A shooting pain down my right leg started around 11:30 PM last night. It did not get better overnight and I am in pain, I guess it is sciatica. I do not want or like whatever it is.