Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lutherans Exercising Stewardship

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Uff da!  Too much exercise!!!!To lead a balanced life we need to exercise and laugh some!

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No pain, no gain.

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No pain, no gain.

I’m gonna be totally honest. I don’t know what this month’s theme is. Sorry, I’m doing good these days to know what day it is. (Which literally happened, in the middle of class, announced out loud . . .) Things have been a little hectic, but bearable, and I of course know how immensely blessed I am. I don’t want to appear as though I’m whining. I’m well aware that I’m not the only ‘older-mother-of-three-going-back-to-school-and-working-part-time-person’ out there. And others have it much harder I’m sure. I’m leaving something out though. And I believe what I’m leaving out  might encourage someone else.

I have struggled for a long time with back pains and problems. Please no sympathy. It’s given me perspective and gratitude. At 29-30 years old (I can’t remember exactly.) I suffered a massive rupture. God provided for me that day with an attentive husband, he noticed I was hurting more than usual and stayed home to help. I slipped off the bed I was trying to get out of to make it to the couch (with my husbands help) and it was enough to leave me paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t feel either of my legs and (long story short) had surgery which gave me a lot of relief,  but permanent nerve damage and a modicum of weakness remained.

Five and a half years later I’ve had a new symptom, swelling. And I can do less physically than before. A whole day of work over the summer doing the wrong things and it takes me a day to recover, with the help of some strong pain meds. I’ve tried physical therapy, Ice/Heat, pain pills, exercises,  nerve medicine, (I hated that) and currently I have a compression sock and back brace. The sock helps with swelling and the pain a bit. Not to mention I sit with pillows and pick things up with my feet or a grabber. I’m rambling I know, but I’m going somewhere I promise. Well now I’ve had another MRI. Nothing ‘new’ per say. But put my MRI’s side by side and I look like a burn victim on the inside. I am technically healed. Except the scar tissue is part of the problem. And the part of my back that malfunctioned is now riddled with arthritis. I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. No surprise to me.

Like I said, no pity. I have hope. Mainly in God and the after life, but earthly hope as well. There is a device called a spinal cord simulator. SCS is two wires (leads) they insert into your spinal canal that is attached to a battery pack. There’s a remote with various settings that you control. The whole thing is designed to send electrical currents through you blocking your body’s abnormal pain signals therefore providing relief.

I’m waiting on approval for a trial period to test this out. And I know I have lots of people praying for me. So I hang on to hope and faith, and get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. God is good.

I

The Greatest Bible Study

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“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32

This has always been one of my favorite passages of scripture, titled in my Bible, “On the Road to Emmaus.”  Two followers of Jesus meet him on the way to a village called Emmaus, shortly after the crucifixion. They do not recognize him and tell him how their teacher was crucified, and that some of the women in their company claimed that He had risen.  Jesus proceeds to lead them in the greatest Bible study of all time:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27

Finally he reveals himself to them at the evening meal, when he blesses and breaks the bread and gives it to them.  Wouldn’t you love to have an experience like that?  Well, guess what, you can.  We have the very words of Christ, recorded for us in the New Testament gospels;  we have the opportunity to meet with Him in the celebration of communion.  You can meet Him on the road of your own journey.  Ask Him to open your eyes;  do you feel your heart burning?

Image result for images on the road to emmaus

Book Learning #2

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In my last post, I promised to share some of what I have been reading lately.  I read widely and eclectically.  I read because I’m curious, and I like to know how and what others think.  I don’t always agree with everything I read, and so I don’t want our readers to necessarily take this post as a recommendation or endorsement of every book I mention.

First of all, in our weekly Bible study, we’re doing Acts this year.  I can certainly recommend this book!  Acts is exciting reading.  It includes miraculous events, travel, interesting people, sermons and even a ship wreck!  Written by Luke (the gospel author), it can be seen as a bridge between the gospels and the epistles and also between the work Jesus did on earth, and the work He continued to do through the Church.

In our Sunday School class, the material we are using comes from Concordia Publishing House (good if you are looking for solid Lutheran teaching, I recommend you look at their website).  This quarter we are studying kings and prophets.  Our first lesson deals with Solomon, David’s son, and his prayer for wisdom.

I’m also reading two books from our library and both are fairly new.  The first is My Utmost:  A Devotional Memoir by Macy Halford.  I chose it because I’m fond of what I call spiritual autobiographies.  I enjoy hearing about the spiritual journeys of others.  Ms. Halford was raised as a Southern Baptist;  when she was twelve, her grandmother gave her a copy of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  She has read this daily devotional through every year since.  Wow!  That was the greatest take away for me — I never thought of using the same devotional over and over.  I tend to use one for a year and then it remains on my bookshelf forever, seldom touched.  This is an idea I may try.  I admit I have never used My Utmost for His Highest, but I know our author, Leslie has, so maybe she’ll chime in to tell us more about it.  (hint, hint).  I learned a lot about Oswald, who was definitely not a Lutheran.  According to Ms. Halford:

“Attempts at pinning Oswald down generally failed:  ‘He was a sort of proto-Pentecostal mystic, and Wesleyan in his theology,’ wrote an anonymous commenter on Puritanboard.com.’ That was as close to correct as one was likely to get, but it still wasn’t entirely correct.”

He definitely tends toward the Holiness traditions (Methodist and Wesleyan) and my husband and I had a lively discussion about the difference between how the Lutheran view of sanctification differs from the Holiness churches– they believe in the possibility of entire or complete sanctification” — Lutherans, I guess, believe sanctification is always incomplete, on this side of heaven.  (Maybe my friend, Nancy, who is Methodist would like to comment on this).  At any rate, according to the book, someone can read the My Utmost devotional without even noticing Oswald’s views on this.  (If you enjoy theological debates, the book also covered different views on the end times — post and pre millennial, the rapture, etc.).  The author says My Utmost has been called “the little black dress of books”  perfect for every occasion.  I liked that.

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My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir                          An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life by [Marilyn Paul]

The second book I am reading is written by a Jewish woman named Marilyn Paul and it’s called, An Oasis in Time:  How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life.  I haven’t gotten too far into it — just reading a chapter a day– but it is about the importance of taking a Sabbath day of rest, and she talks about Christian and Muslin traditions, as well as her own.  I found it interesting to realize how much our life revolves around a weekly routine –on Monday, we plan the things we want to accomplish, and by Friday we’re assessing how we’ve done and winding down.  Rest is an important part of the routine (built into us since creation, when God “rested” on the last day).  Without rest, we lose that routine and become more and more burned out and stressed.  There are suggestions at the end of the chapter and exercises to help learn how to celebrate a day of rest.

Well, that’s it for me and what I have read, studied and learned about this week.  I’d like to hear from other writers and readers:  what are you reading?  What do you like/not like?  What has been edifying?  I want to hear your suggestions, too.

 

 

Book Learning

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“One Book is enough, but a thousand books is not too many!”
Martin Luther

I definitely agree with Martin Luther on this one.  Among my friends and family, I”m known as an avid reader, and sometimes even accused of being “obsessed” with books.  I read the Bible every week, but I’m also usually reading a novel and a book on some religious or spiritual topic at the same time.  That doesn’t include magazines, articles on the internet, etc..  After I retired, I worked at the public library for a while, and I’ve been in a book club.  I love being around books and discussing books.

When you’re a reader you are constantly learning.  Even a novel may teach all kinds of things about different times, places and people, You mull over ethical questions and are exposed to different points of view.   Here are some of the ways reading is good for you:

  1. It slows the process of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  2. It reduces stress.  Reading the Bible or other spiritual texts has been shown to lower blood pressure
  3. It expands your vocabulary
  4. Gives you stronger analytical and thinking skills
  5. Improves focus and concentration
  6. Readers are better writers
  7. Promotes inner peace and tranquility
  8. Provides free entertainment

We can thank the reformers and their desire to make the Bible accessible to everyone for our own ability today to read and learn about practically any topic we chose.  So read your Bible (and something from another book) every day.  You’ll be amazed at what you can learn!  In my next post, I’ll tell you what I’ve been reading and learning.

 

Learning to Count It All Joy

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Learning to Count It All Joy

One month after my husband graduated seminary, I got the worst phone call of my life… my brother, my only sibling, had committed suicide. I quickly hopped on a plane to Florida to be with my sister in law and the four young children he left behind.

So many questions ran through my mind…and I turned to God for strength. I knew I couldn’t change the situation but I asked God… what can I do to glorify you in this awful mess? God reminded me to be the light of Christ, and no matter what, He was there to be with our family. The last two years since that day, I have tried to show my family that no matter what we face in life, God wants us to always remember that all things work together for His good, to those that love Him, and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

As I have looked back on that part of my journey, I know why God had me rooted in the book of Philippians at the time… God wanted to remind me how to count all trials and tribulations in my life as pure joy. The book of Philippians helped me to understand that having the joy of the Lord is so important and vital to our faith walk because God’s Joy is our strength and power.

Both the Apostle Paul and James tell us when we are enduring trials count it all as joy… because when our faith is tested, our endurance grows, and when it fully develops we will be strong in the Lord and ready for the things life throws at us. The pursuit of deepening our relationship with God is continual because our world and our surroundings are constantly changing and little by little we increase the reflection of Christ in our lives.

Living a life of joy is a choice. You want to know the truth of how I got through… two important factors…

…with the help of some awesome ladies whose husbands were also in seminary with us… ladies who became my friends, ladies who are my sisters in Christ.

…and because deep down in my heart I have chosen to wholeheartedly trust that God’s promises are true…He loves me, He died for me, he doesn’t want me to be perfect but to be faithful and obedient, he wants me to share His love with the people I encounter, he wants the joy of the Lord to be my strength, and he wants me to always focus on Him. Sometimes it is hard to count your life as joy, I still struggle with it, and that is when I cling to God even more… so he can help me to find joy in the suffering.

I cling to Philippians 1: 9-11… “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation- the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God”.

God says that he has set before us both life and death. I say choose life. Live your life as God intended, counting it all as joy. Listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

New Month/New Theme

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It’s hard to believe that summer is over, and all over the country young people are going back to school.  It seemed like a good time to turn to the topic of teaching and learning.  Life is a journey, and we never stop learning.  Sometimes we want to learn something new because we’re interested and intrigued;  other times, learning seems to be forced upon us –we have to familiarize ourselves with new technology, navigate around a new area, or learn how to deal with a health concern.  Learning doesn’t just happen in school.  Teaching doesn’t have to be an academic exercise, either.  Parents and grandparents are teachers by virtue of their life experience.  Difficult situations teach us lessons we may not want to learn.  Relationships teach us how to get along with others –those who are like us, and those who are different.

So I am hoping this month, the Lutheran ladies will post about what they are learning and who or what is teaching them.  They may want to blog about their Bible studies.  They may also blog about life experiences that have taught them important truths.  What is the most important lesson you have learned?  Who or what was your best teacher?  Who have you taught?  Do you enjoy learning?  What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?  All of these questions are food for thought.

As always, the ladies are free to go off topic and post about the things that are close to their hearts.  We always want to be open to God’s leading.  He loves you and so do I.  Happy blogging!

 

Is This a Relationship?

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These days many people have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and other forms of social media.  I’m not on Facebook, but I understand how it can, in certain instances be useful and even good.  When you want to publicize something (like this blog), it gets the word out quickly to many people.  When you want to check out the latest pictures of babies and children in the family, you can do that.  Want to find a long lost classmate?  Facebook will help you.

However, social media has some drawbacks.

  •   It’s easy to lie, or at least distort the truth.  You can post only the pictures and experiences that make you look good.  Did you know that you can even hire a company to post for you?  This happens in cases when the person is busy, but wants to maintain an internet “presence” to advertise their business.  They want to look like “your friend” who is posting favorite recipes, when in actuality they are trolling for customers.
  • It’s easy to be rude.  The internet seems to be the place to “sound off” about politics, sports or employers.  People say mean things to others, things they would never say to someone in person. They “unfriend” or block family members who don’t agree with them. They forget that their words are directed to an actual person, a person with feelings.
  • It’s  easy to forget your posts are public.  Some people post damaging information about their spouses, employers and others. Or they post information that is potentially dangerous — letting people know when they’re away from home, or where they are every minute of the day. They’re surprised by being reprimanded, fired, losing friends, or even being robbed!

What’s my point?  Use these forms of communication wisely and see them for what they are:  tools to put out information you want others to access in a public venue.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking they substitute for real relationships.

“He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”  Proverbs 13:20

 

The Ways We Worship

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Read this post from my husband’s blog to understand why it’s important to worship with others.

goodnewsforabadworld

I’m preparing a few lessons for the adult Sunday School class on Lutheran worship–why we do it the way we do.  Now I’m perfectly aware that not all Lutherans organize their worship lives in the same way, and that’s generally okay with me.  But there are some things that I think must not be left out if our worship is to accomplish its principle goals.

Before we discuss the “ingredients” of proper worship we should probably say why we gather for worship at all.  Couldn’t we just be independent Christians happily reading our Bibles and meeting occasionally with friends to pray?  Well, the writer of Hebrews seemed not to believe that to be a good idea because he tells us we are not to cease to meet together as some have done. (10:25)  So Biblically  speaking, we are to gather with other Christians for worship.

There’s a funny web site…

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