They’re Not Resolutions

In earlier December, I started an informal list of ‘things’ I want to do to improve both my professional and personal life. While not classifying them as “New Year’s Resolutions,” they are more like resolutions that I care to admit. January 1st resolutions are really meant to be broken because when your resolution is to lose weight, you really shouldn’t gorge yourself on doughnuts eight hours into the new year.

In the middle of summer of 2017, I made the decision to declutter my life by getting rid of all those material things that I hadn’t used in a while. Honestly, I spent more days at the recycling center/dump dropping stuff off I think the guys there are going to name the place after me. Yet with all the elimination of “stuff” in an effort to declutter my life, there is still plenty to do. And the process continues until my stuff problem is normalized.

That is what prompted me to start my December list. It includes so many little odds and ends ideas that I wonder why in the world hadn’t I already accomplished those tasks?

For example, I want to make my internet life safer by utilizing a password manager. My password list is so long, I end up changing passwords a lot of the time because I just can’t remember the current password to a whole range of websites. Also, I wanted to make my  “passwording” stronger. I sometimes use the same password for similar websites. That’s a no-no, but I did it because it was easier to remember those passwords for say news sites.

By using a password manager, I could update all of my passwords with much stronger combinations and have them available through a web browser or sharing sheet on my phone that is “password” protected by my face (I have the iPhone X).

This morning at 3:45 AM, I started using a password manager and began what will be a laborious process of changing passwords and adding all those website accounts to the program. It won’t be completed overnight, but the move has begun. Continue reading “They’re Not Resolutions”

Monday Morning, November 13th

A few years ago when I was sick, one of my doctors told me rather emphatically to stay away from sugared cereal, especially every brand of Cheerios. Considering the advice was coming from a doctor promoting a whole food, plant-based diet, the “stay away from the presweetened cereal aisle” advice didn’t seem so far-fetched.

Yet to the doctor, the importance of staying away from added sugar was important since a number of studies showed that sugar helps feed cancer. And if you have cancer, my doctor believed the best way to stop feeding it was to stay away from added sugar in foods.

CheeriosA couple of days ago, the New York Times ran a story about Honey Nut Cheerios, asking whether or not this sugar-laden cereal was healthy. Over the years, General Mills, the creators of the Cheerios brand, have reduced the serving size of the Honey Nut cereal from one cup to three-quarters of a cup to reduce the sugar-per-serving visual on boxes. Honestly, have you ever eaten just three-quarters of a cup of Honey Nut Cheerios? No. Do people actually follow the serving size suggestions on the sides of their breakfast cereals? No. All of us end up pouring cereal into a bowl until our eyes smile saying “Yeah, that’s enough.”

My doctor from years ago suggested I eat a more balanced whole foods breakfast. Maybe some scrambled tofu with vegetables, or if I am more adventurous, eat a salad. But my doctor’s advice was clear – stay away from the cereal aisle.

Hat Tip to The New York Times: Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy? We Look Inside the Box https://nyti.ms/2hpLggR

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Yesterday, our Voters’ Body at church held their not-so-monthly, not-so-bimonthly meeting. Usually, we hunker down in the weeds of finances and budgets, the workings of ministries and calendar issues, business plans and worship thoughts. Essentially, it is a business meeting that most people don’t want to go to, but do because the running of the operations of the church is important.

One idea that I brought up was to start a conversation that builds on our evangelism team’s efforts to rebuild the outreach of St. Matthew’s. I asked if it would be prudent to sit down with our paid staff at church – our music director, church secretary, and pastor – and evaluate what we expect from and determine the future duties of our staff. Our evangelism team is working on the outreach part of our church life. Our Voters’ Body is going to focus on the structure of our operations. To me, both our Vision and Voters’ initiatives will help redevelop the direction of St. Matthew’s for the future. Both church entities are on the same page, yet are doing different and very important leadership tasks. Sunday’s meeting was good.

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This week, we are going to re-launch our Prayer Team’s digital webpage and newsletter. The webpage should be live on Wednesday, the same day we’re sending out the newsletter.

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One question that we received at church this weekend was when were church announcements due in the church office for publication on the weekend? Wednesday at noon has been our traditional date and time. We’re going to stick with it.

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The recent explosion in sexual harassment and assault allegations against a large contingent of male Hollywood stars and leaders shows us once again that our world is sick. Today, say a prayer for an end to this violence, healing for the victims, and that those who committed the acts repent.

Deliver Us From Evil…

There is one thing about God that all of us need to realize: He doesn’t sit on a throne in heaven eating popcorn while watching what’s going on down here on earth on the large TV in His room. God doesn’t have His holy computer opened up to His huge contact list where every now and then He comes across a name and hits a “PAIN” button so that person could be hurt or sick or have some evil come into their lives.

If this was the God I prayed to, then I wouldn’t want to pray or believe in Him.

The horrific events that have hit our nation in the past week – the terrorist attack last Tuesday in New York City that took the life of one our neighbors here in New Milford or the crazed gunman who hated his former mother-in-law and went in and shot up her church – have brought out the worst in us. From the left, we have attacks calling for the end of gun rights in America and anyone who disagrees with this idea hates little kids because children were slaughtered in that church in Texas. From the right, calls for greater control over immigration and anyone who disagrees with the motivation of curtailing immigration clearly supports letting terrorists into America. On Twitter, hate filled tweets assail anyone who disagrees with a tweeter’s opinion.

America is angry.

It has been for a long time.

The debate over how and why hatred and anger is what now fuels our debate is something that our nation will have to tackle.

An LCMS pastor is under fire for an article he wrote for The Federalist website where he wrote that the congregants who lost their lives in the Sutherland, Texas church had their prayers answered by God. The atheist left on Twitter went apoplectic and some websites have assailed him for being out of touch, and that is being kind.

Our words sometimes get us in trouble.

It is not that the pastor, a gentleman I went to seminary with, was incorrect in his understanding of God and Holy Scripture. But sometimes we say things that may make sense in our minds, but in reality they come across as cold. Pastor Fiene’s words, while theologically on par with our faith, they came across as cold and unfeeling. When people are mourning and are planning to bury their loved ones hear that God answered their dead relative’s prayers, one can’t but see those words as lacking heart.

That was not Pastor Fiene’s intention.

My words have gotten me in trouble in the past, especially when I either said or wrote something I thought was a clear as the summertime sky, but others read it differently.

The only thing us pastors can do is work harder to make our ideas clearer in our spoken and written word. Our confession of Jesus Christ must remain bold, but understandable to people.

The God I believe in and trust in and have hope in tells me that while I live in this fallen world, He’s still near. My faith keeps me on the path of loving those around me and keeping Him at the center of my life. I’m not perfect; I sin more that I like. But God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ is mine.

All around us we see the heartache of our fallen world. The pain and suffering caused by diseases and the actions of people drive us to question whether there is a God. We want a God who stops evil and curtails sin in real time. But that is not realistic.

The seeds of evil and sin are planted all around us, even in each of us. We fail ourselves and others all the time. The crazed man in Texas should have never been able to purchase the guns He used in his attack. Apparently, the Air Force never forwarded to the FBI this man’s record of assault against his wife. If they did, then he would have never been able to buy the guns because he would have failed a background check.

We don’t live a perfect world.

In a perfect world, bad things wouldn’t happen. Evil wouldn’t exist.

But it does.

It is how we respond to sin and evil that shows Christ living in us. And yes, we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” May the will of God for those who are mourning be for comfort in this dark time. May His will be for His people to be a strong arm for those whose lives are shattered. And may His will be for us that we be better people.

 

Luther, Trump.

I’m just saying, but never trust a Roman Catholic priest trying to explain the Lutheran Reformation while comparing the leader of said Reformation, Martin Luther, to President Donald Trump.

Plus, whenever the “Luther hated the Jews” or the not used a lot “Luther hated the Muslims” mantra comes up from a Roman Catholic priest, there is an easy response: The Pope of the Roman Catholic Church did nothing and said nothing to stop Hitler from trying to exterminate the Jews, and it was the Roman Catholic Church who led the Crusades to kill the Muslims.

Just saying.

Let’s be honest – show me an anti-Semitic Lutheran Church. You can’t. Lutherans believe and want all people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. This is and has always been our mission, one that was given to us by Jesus in Matthew 28. Luther’s anti-Jewish writings and his anti-Muslim writings are his own. They are not mine. Luther was not perfect. None of us are. We are not God-like or equal to God (like the Roman Catholic Church believed at one time the Pope was). All of us do and say dumb things, at times. Luther was not immune from it.

We Lutherans follow God’s Word as the core of our lives and faith. I can’t get to heaven because I may have read and believe one of Luther’s Table Talk writings.

I only get to heaven by faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Continue reading “Luther, Trump.”