Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Ways We Worship

Standard

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…

View original post 373 more words

symbiosis

Standard
symbiosis

n. pl. sym·bi·o·ses (-sēz)

1. Biology A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.

2. relationship of mutual benefit or dependence. 

As a self professed introvert relationships sometimes seem to be a lot of hard work. I mean, do you know how emotional people can get!? Its exhausting, almost nobody just says:

‘Hey, You take a nap while I bring you some wine and dark chocolate.’

I suppose that would fall under number one of the symbiosis definition, and that wouldn’t be very fair. Definition number two, the one that says a relationship is of mutual benefit, is probably the better deal though. 

While everyone has great capacity to be selfish, and lazy; absolutely no one was put on this earth solely to be served. Not even me. God’s own son (think about that) came not be served but to serve. Therefore, I can hardly expect someone else to leave me in introvert paradise, with only the occasional appearance of a loyal maid or butler. People, like it or not, need other people. We are designed that way.

Genisis 2:18  The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  

Side Note Ladies: By ‘man’ I’m including the meaning ‘man-kind’.

Sure it’s work to have and be in relationships, but that’s because we’re a fallen people in a flawed world. If everything were the way God first intended us to be, then the best part of our relationships today could be considered but a glimpse, a shadow of the reality it could have been. What I believe we can expect in heaven.

In the mean time, we just need to continue to drown our old selves in our baptismal waters and allow our Christ renewed selves to fill the relationships we have.

Amen.

Iron Sharp

Standard

This article was originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador and also reprinted with permission in The Lutheran Digest.

The book of Proverbs tells us:

A friend loves at all times.”

It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t want that kind of acceptance, isn’t it?  Yet recent studies reveal that 25 percent of Americans have no close friends at all;  another 19 percent have only one confidante (usually their spouse);  and that these unfortunate trends have been increasing over the past 20 years.

A good friend can be an important element in our spiritual life and development.  Now, by good friend I don’t mean the kind of friendly acquaintance with whom we share some common interests or activities.  A true soul friend knows us and accepts us as we really are.  We are honest and vulnerable with them.  We trust them to hear our confessions and keep our confidences.  They love us no matter what, and they always point us toward Jesus.

David found such a friend in Jonathan, who “helped him find strength in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16).  One author says, these are the friends who make us “run hard after God.”

I have been blessed by a number of spiritual friendships, including a long-lasting relationship with my college roommate, Nancy.  We don’t see each other very often because we are busy people who no longer share a room or go to classes together.  We stay in touch by writing letters and sending emails.  Once or twice a year, we meet at a church about midway between our homes.

We bring our lunch and eat together.  We pray.  We share our experiences.  We talk openly about our families, our problems, our joys and our struggles.  Nancy rarely tells me what she thinks I should do,  Instead she asks me to consider what God would have me do.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Nancy sharpens my awareness of God.  Meeting with her and writing to her becomes a spiritual practice, a life-giving activity that helps me notice how God is working in my life.

Some spiritual friendships, like my friendship with Nancy, just seem to evolve and deepen over time.  When this happens, it’s a bit of God’s grace.  Give thanks if you already have this blessing!  However, we can also be intentional in our pursuit of sould friends.

If you do not have such a friend, pray about it and see who God brings across your path.  You might start by asking someone you know and trust to become a prayer partner.  Meet regularly, share concerns, pray with each other and for each other.  You will be amazed to find your friendship drawing you closer to your true self, closer to other Christians, and closer to God.

New Month/New Theme

Standard

Since I didn’t get any suggestions for an August theme, I decided to continue with another aspect of the unity theme:  relationships.  If we go back to the beginning of humankind, in the book of Genesis, we see that God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.  These relationships were to be true unions meant to foster wholeness and health.  When sin entered the world, all this changed.  Adam becomes fearful of God and tries to avoid Him;  He and Eve blame each other for the unfortunate state of affairs created by their misdeeds.  Instead of wholeness, we find brokenness;  instead of health, disease and death.

The Bible is a book about relationships:  God and His people, men and wives, siblings, parents and children, teachers and students, kings and subjects.  Feel free, ladies to explore all of them!  How are your relationships going?  What helps keep relationships strong?  What hinders or hurts relationships?  Can broken relationships be restored?

There are an unlimited number of ideas to discuss, and everyone is also free to go “off topic” as the Spirit leads.  Happy blogging!

A Hymn About Church Unity

Standard

This has always been a favorite hymn of mine.  It was written in England in 1866 by Samuel Stone and was originally one of a twelve hymn collection inspired by the twelve articles of the Apostle’s Creed.

Stone created the collection in response to a period of heated theological schism within both the Church of England and the Church of South Africa. The Church encountered a crisis over the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the role of Jesus in God’s plan of salvation.  Stone’s deep conviction in the unity afforded by the foundation of Christ Jesus that led him to write it.”

An Image of the Trinity

Standard

Image result for rublev's trinity imagesThis icon of the Holy Trinity was painted by the monk Andrei Rublev.  It depicts the three visitors to Abraham, each angel symbolizing one of the persons of the trinity.  When you look closely, you will notice that each figure wears different garments, but has the same face.  Many comment on the feeling of invitation and inclusion experienced as you spend time gazing at this beautiful image.  I have a number of icons, and this is definitely my favorite.  It gives me a sense of peace and light.

Here’s a quote about this icon from Henri Nouwen’s book, Behold the Beauty of the Lord.

“During a hard period of my life in which verbal prayer had become nearly impossible and during which mental and emotional fatigue had made me the easy victim of feelings of despair and fear, a loving and quiet presence to this icon became the beginning of my healing.  As I sat for long hours in front of Rublev’s Trinity, I noticed how gradually my gaze became a prayer.  This silent prayer made my inner restlessness melt away and lifted me up into the circle of love, a circle that could nt be broken by the powers of the world.  Even as I moved away from the icon and became involved in the many tasks of everyday life, I felt as if I did not have to leave the holy place I had found and could dwell there whatever I did or wherever I went.”

Is there a Christian painting or work of art that has affected you deeply?  If so, please comment and tell us about it.

A Big Responsibility

Standard

Before I retired, I worked for a hospital.  I remember at one of our training meetings, our employer stressed that we, every one of us was the face of Frederick Memorial Hospital to the community.  If we were kind, caring, and helpful, that was how others would see the hospital.  On the other hand if we were rude, careless or disinterested, our workplace would be perceived in a very different way.  Once a person develops a negative opinion about you, it’s very hard to win back their approval.

Reading Leslie’s post yesterday, I realized that being one with Christ carries a big responsibility.  We, the church, the body of Christ, represent Him to the world.  That means, as my husband (a Pastor) keeps telling us, there must be something different about us.  Our actions and attitude must mirror the One we follow.  Otherwise, many will think … what’s the big deal?  Why should I give up my time and money to be part of the church?  Those people are just the same as everyone else.

In the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians we learn something about how we are supposed to convey the presence of Christ to the world:

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  …For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men as sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”  2 Corinthians: 2:14, 17

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual”  1 Corinthians 2:12-13

If we are one with Christ, our words and actions will become more and more like His.  We will be noticeably different because we have His mind and His Spirit within us.  We are His ambassadors, entrusted with sharing His good news with the world.  Are you up for this responsibility?

 

Freedom, Responsibility, & Unity With Christ

Standard
Freedom, Responsibility, & Unity With Christ

Good morning! Today is July 4th. It’s a day that we, in America, celebrate our country’s independence. We celebrate with cookouts, spending time with family/ friends, and of course fireworks.

As I sit and think about the idea of gaining independence, my mind gravitates to thinking about the responsibility that comes with it. Being independent does afford us freedoms, but are we truly, 100% free? The answer is no. We are still under the authority of our government, in fact three branches of it, at national, state, and local levels. We are all under the authority of the law of the land and we must obey it. If you are still finishing your education, whatever level you are at, you are still under the authority of your school and your teachers. In the workplace, we are subject to the rules and regulations of our superiors. If you are still living in your parents house, whether you are an adult or not, you are bound to your parents rules and the way they choose to run it.

When we become adults, we feel as though we are free to do things we once weren’t allowed to do…drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, going to clubs, having a credit card, going into X-rated places, parading around at all hours of the night, buying your own car, buying your own house, marrying whom you choose to marry, speaking the way you want to, dressing the way you want to, acting the way you want to.

All of our freedoms come with great responsibility. Just because you are allowed to do things you once were not, does NOT mean you should. Each choice we make in life comes with consequences, both good and bad. Our choices don’t just affect us, but they affect the people around us as well. Let me give you some examples…

  • you can choose to drink alcohol (and that’s fine) but it comes with the responsibility to not become so intoxicated that you harm yourself or other people
  • you can smoke cigarettes (perfectly legal) but you are choosing to harm your body physically and harm the bodies of those most closest to you by breathing 2nd hand smoke
  • you can choose to do drugs but once you take that first dose of poison into your veins the craving for it becomes stronger and ultimately leads to death…leaving behind love ones to pick up the pieces your brokenness has caused
  • you can go to a club to go dancing (this can be pretty harmless) but it comes with the sexual responsibility of not hooking up with a different person each time
  • as an adult, to gain credit worthiness in our world, you must have a credit card… but it comes with the responsibility to NOT live outside of your means and NOT to become loaded with a huge lump of debt that you cannot pay for
  • you can choose to look at pornography or go to a strip club, but ultimately you hurt yourself and your relationships… both now and in the future… because those images are ingrained in your mind and lead you down a path that is very difficult to come back from (Just watch Ted Bundy’s last words and interview on YouTube, with Dr. James Dobson, before his death sentence was carried out… eye opening!)
  • buying your own car and house are things we all have to do, but comes with the responsibility of paying your bills on time and maintaining your property
  • Speaking how you want…dressing how you want…acting how you want… these are things that can be good, but come with the responsibility of being respectful of yourself and other people

All freedoms come with the price of responsibility, whether we like it or not. The responsibility we have keeps us in check, and ultimately keeps us from pushing the boundaries of sin. Freedom and independence are really about our relationship with God. If we are in an intimate, growing relationship with God, seeking to be more Christ like in our thinking and our actions, the more we understand the great responsibility we have and the price that was paid for it.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for ALL mankind when he took OUR sins, on HIS shoulders, and died on the cross. As sinners, saved by Grace, we have a great responsibility… and an immense freedom that comes with it.

Romans chapter 6 talks about freedom, responsibility, and being unified with Christ…

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is THE ultimate freedom, THE ultimate independence, THE ultimate responsibility.

Are you living a life foundationally grounded in the freedom found in Christ alone? Are you unified with Christ so well that you understand the great responsibility it comes with? Or are you a slave to sin and have lost that freedom?

Ultimately, it is your choice… but I say CHOOSE CHRIST! There is no better way to live your life, no better freedom, no better responsibility, no better unification, than in an intimate, growing relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ! I pray that if you haven’t already, today you will choose Christ, and ultimately choose an eternal freedom found only in HIM.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of christbiz.com

 

 

New Month/New Theme

Standard

On the 4th of July Americans celebrate the union of our states, so it was suggested that the Lutheran Ladies think and post this month on the topic of unity.  That gives us lots of ideas to explore.  The trinity is a mysterious union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Church has been described as a body –the union of many parts, working together.  It has also been described as Christ’s bride, a reminder of the union between man and woman, the two becoming one.

So ladies, what does unity mean to you? What is your understanding of the trinity?  How does unity in the Christian church exist despite a multitude of different denominations and theological ideas?  How do we achieve unity in our local congregation of individual believers with differing abilities, personalities and interests?  What does it mean to become “one flesh” with our spouse? What does it mean to become “one” with Christ? Is unity possible at all in a society that applauds diversity?  I’m sure this month, we’ll be studying our Bibles to find out what God has to say, and I’m sure I’ll be surprised and edified by the variety of responses.

Of course, as always, go where the Holy Spirit leads.  If another topic is on your heart and mind, feel free to post about it.  Ladies, and readers, send us your thoughts, comments and ideas.  We’re waiting to hear from you.