A little outbreak of joy at the airport in Belfast, Northern Ireland last Christmas. Yes. Joy to the World! This world has enough ugliness.
Happy Thanksgiving Day! We’re thankful here at the Schlueter house for a multitude of things. Ten weeks ago, one of our sons had a catastrophic fall from a truck at work, breaking his hip and femur in 2 places. They later discovered 2 additional fractures in the hip area, complicating the healing. He was in the hospital for 2 weeks and has been in a nursing home for 8 weeks for rehabilitation. He isn’t going to be able to go back to work for six months. What we are thankful for today is that he is able to leave the nursing home to have Thanksgiving with us and that he is up and using a walker now. It’s wonderful to see his improvement.
Emily woke up this morning and her first words to me were, “Happy Thanksgiving, Mama!” Yes, happy thanks to the Lord for so many, many things. For every meal, every friend, for every hug, for every laugh, and yes, for every tear and trial he sends, we can still be thankful, as God works all things out for our good and ultimately, for His glory.
I haven’t been able to write much here at the Hope Blog lately, but will hopefully have more to add soon!
Psalms 116:17 – I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
― George Eliot
Our friend Francis from Nova Scotia shared this photo he took. This verse seems to say it best. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! Psalm 72:19
Thank you, Francis, for using the gift of photography to remind us of the glory of our Creator.
Today I read an excellent post from Pastor Matt Richard of Zion Lutheran Church in Gwinner, ND. In the wake of the fall of another Christian ministry leader, it is worth looking at what the heart of repentance really is.
It is ironic that in huge swathes of fundamentalism, a false view of what sin is predominates–one that more closely resembles the Roman Catholic view of the 16th Century. Where there is no clear understanding of sin, there can be no true repentance and understanding of our need of a Savior.
Pastor Richard writes:
During the time of the 16th century Reformation the emphasis and understanding of sin was primarily on the series of actions that one did or did not do. Sin wasn’t based upon evil thoughts or inclinations of the heart but upon the actions that manifested themselves physically and visibly. As a result of this narrow view of sin some people did not consider themselves to be guilty of sin. The reason being, they ran to the monasteries and religious communities and diligently worked on repenting of external sins in order to be in the good standing of holiness. In the Smalcald Articles Luther comments on his days in the monastery saying,
“We fought against evil thoughts by doing such things as fasting, staying awake, praying, saying Mass, wearing coarse garments and sleeping on hard beds. According to our teaching, some monks were regarded as holy, without sin, and full of good works. Also, since we had more good works than we needed to get to heaven, we could communicate and sell our good works to others.”
Read the entire post by Pastor Richard here. To those who may say, “I know all this”, I have found it helpful to be frequently reminded of these things. We, as humans, have an unfortunate tendency to forget.
I find hymn playing to be a very restful thing. Will humored me, his mom, and gave me a few lessons on his Hauptwerk organ. One of the Swedish gospel songs I love is, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” Here I played a couple of verses. These are the words, written by a woman who had just gone through a very sad tragedy in her life. Her faith in God did not waiver.
Here is my version this Sunday afternoon. (The last note was Will’s doing on the stops, kind of loud!)
Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.
Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.
A friend of mine messaged me. She wrote:
Sitting in doctor’s waiting room…just endured a first in a waiting room – a couple eating sandwiches, bags of cookies, potato chips, liters of Mountain Dew. The guy, of course, is dressed in Packers gear including baseball hat on. Bunch of pigs! Sorry just so rude to everyone else.
Just last week the woman who has cut my hair for the last 23 years was talking with me about a recent trip to France to visit a relative. She said, “You would not believe the difference in terms of how people dress in public there versus here. We got off the plane in Milwaukee and the contrast was unbelievable.” She wasn’t talking about grand style, just the fact that people had some self-respect and dignity where she visited.
What she noticed here was the general slobbiness of people, the obesity and carelessness in appearance, like the wearing of PJ pants in public, the mass acceptance of human bodies as corporate billboards for the advertisement of virtually everything, people eating everywhere and shuffling around clutching vast jugs of soda with plastic sippee lids like overgrown toddlers.
Tom and I were looking for a piece of furniture for our daughter not long ago, and we looked around in vain for someone to help us with a question. At last we spied someone coming toward us. She had a store badge on, but she was deeply engrossed in eating Funyuns. If you don’t know what Funyuns are, the smell will knock you out before the grease hits your mouth. Wiping her greasy fingers down her smock, clearly annoyed at having her snack interrupted, she asked us if we wanted something.
This kind of thing is hardly unusual anymore. Asking anyone to delay oral gratification for ten minutes on the floor of a store as an employee is probably listed somewhere as a human rights abuse or maybe even an OSHA violation.
We’ve become a nation of pigs where any kind of expectation or rule regarding behavior is greeted by protesters and whining people claiming discrimination or some accusation being hurled about the rule.
Nothing says this better than a recent trend towards restaurants putting limits on customers bringing children during certain hours. The outrage! The indignation! Several stories have been in the news where managers, fed up with offended paying customers of the adult variety, set some rules regarding children. Why? Because there are entire swaths of the American parent population that are clueless about child training, and their kids run amok in public places. These parents think it’s perfectly normal for kids of all ages to run around, behaving in barbaric ways, destroying the atmosphere of the restaurant and angering those who paid for a quiet evening out. A lot of parents don’t give two hoots about the comfort of those around them. It’s all about me, me, me and my kids who are just being kids, as they swing from the lighting fixtures or put their ketchup-covered hands through the customer’s hair in the booth behind them. (This actually happened to me.)
Whether the issue is wearing night clothes to the store or your children’s effect on everyone around you, the bottom line is that all courtesy is rooted in concern for other people and their comfort. Nobody wants to see your pajamas, nobody wants to see your thong underwear (or any other kind), or smell your Funyuns, or watch and hear you slurp down an entire 2 liter jug of Mountain Dew in a physician’s waiting room. You may love your children dearly, but there is no excuse for not teaching them to be respectful of others, and speaking as a parent of six of all ages, that training starts early on.
It doesn’t get better from here in our culture, and every week there is some fresh news item about yet another degrading trend in public conduct. Our teen son sat down in a restaurant with his hat on the other night. Tom told him to take it off. “Why?” he asked. “Because we’re not adding to the decline,” was Tom’s answer. Good way to put it. We can all resolve not to add to the decline, and hopefully, demonstrate courtesy even in the middle of the American pig pen.