27 February 2016

First wedding...

...with iPad pro. It worked quite well. A little weird, but it did work. 


Performed Amy's wedding today. It's February 27th and it is 70 degrees and sunny here at the lovely Silver Heart Inn, owned by Amy's mom and her husband Perry. Missing David terribly today, and I know I'm not alone in that. Some pics:

24 February 2016

We are absolutely pitiful

...the power went out around five due to a wet snow and blowing wind. Got the fire going in the fireplace and the temp in the living room has warmed up to bearable. But the thing we're grousing about? Coffee! Power flickered back on and I started coffee maker right away. It made 1/2 a pot before the power went out and has not come back on again. And we're laughing at ourselves for complaining...about NEEDING the coffee...

23 February 2016

Patristic Quote of the Day

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12 Whosoever shall deny that this prayer is in this life necessary for every righteous man who knows and does the will of God, except the one Saint of saints, greatly errs, and is utterly incapable of pleasing Him whom he praises.—St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants Book III:Chapter 23.

22 February 2016

The collect for Lent II

Is surely striking. It's so familiar, we may not hear it anymore for the shocker that it is:

We ask God's gracious protection ("by Your mighty power defend us") against two kinds of dangers. "All adversities that may happen to the body" AND "all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul."

Do you see how the evil thought is not a passive thing? It actually attacks! It actually hurts and damages the soul. I am reminded of the way that Evagarius could speak of "logismoi" almost as the demon itself. The words, the thoughts, by which Satan would seek to assault and damage and finally destroy us.

"God can't love you after you've done THAT."
"Did God really say?"
"Why doesn't God want you to be happy? Would He really consign you to this miserable relationship?"
"If God really loved you, you (your spouse, your child, your parent) wouldn't be dying!"

And so on and on. The terrible interior dialogs in which the demon would speak in you to plant his doubt, fear, hatred within.

And what can battle this but prayer for God's help (as in the Collect) and allowing His Words instead (filled with the Spirit - John 6!) to inhabit you. His words bring peace, and healing, and joy; and they show the talking devil the door!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As God alone knows what is good and needful, it behooves us to place His will before our will and to prove obedience in patience.—Martin Luther, Sermons for the year 1545

Patristic Quote of the Day

As, therefore, by the answer of those, through whose agency they are born again, the Spirit of righteousness transfers to them that faith which, of their own will, they could not yet have; so the sinful flesh of those, through whose agency they are born, transfers to them that injury, which they have not yet contracted in their own life. And even as the Spirit of life regenerates them in Christ as believers, so also the body of death had generated them in Adam as sinners. The one generation is carnal, the other Spiritual; the one makes children of the flesh, the other children of the Spirit; the one children of death, the other children of the resurrection; the one the children of the world, the other the children of God; the one children of wrath, the other children of mercy; and thus the one binds them under original sin, the other liberates them from the bond of every sin.—St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Book III, Chapter 2

21 February 2016

A Sermon for the Sixth Commandment

Ephesians 5:17


5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness

must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 


Small Catechism, p. 321. 


The Sixth Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.




In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Do you know what is apparently the biggest business in the world? Porn! Apparently the human appetite for it is voracious! But have you pondered what it IS? It is looking at pictures or videos of intimacy. One after another. Always more, always new. But a picture. Fixation with a fiction, a picture of an intimacy that isn't even real. And yet the human race obsesses on it. Can't seem to get enough of it.


And here's the thing: that's only a variant on what we do with sex in general. God gave it to us to be a picture, or better a window, what the old theologians would call a sign. Something not to look at but to look through, because THAT's when it's its true self. But the fact is that we stare obsessed at the picture itself rather than use it as the window it was intended to be. And so the pileup of crashed relationships on the highway of life. 


That woman in John 4 isn't alone, is she? Five husbands and a sixth fellow she's just shacking up with. Why? She was "looking for love in all the wrong places." She was focused on the picture or the window, rather than looking through it to the reality. And if you focus on the picture itself, you indeed will be disappointed, soon get bored and itch for another picture to look at or another window to gaze at. 


Countless is the marriage disrupted by the man or woman who "falls in love." Rare is the person who realizes that he or she is not actually "in love" with another person, but in love with a feeling that's by its very nature fleeting. It hangs on novelty and novelty just doesn't last. 


God in His Word warns us of this danger constantly. This "no adultery," no sex outside of marriage is one theme that the Scriptures hammer home in uncompromising clarity like we heard in the reading today. And yet the Scriptures show at the same time an utterly frank picture of the mess, the hurt, the damage we do to ourselves and to others by ignoring God here. From David and Bathsheba to the woman at the well. Never forgets why God hates sin: He hates it because of the damage it does in us, the people He loves.


And this drives us to the heart of it. What ARE you looking for? What is sex itself was given to you to make thirst for? It's HIM. It's the Blessed Trinity Himself. You know what you ache for? You ache for a relationship of love, a relationship where the love is so solid and fixed and sure and unchanging that it doesn't hang one little bit on you. Because you know you screw up all the time. You need a love that doesn't change when you fail. That's the love God gave you when He sent His Son into your flesh to make you His friends, His beloved. That's the love that hangs on Calvary where far from letting your sins drive Him away from you, He draws you into His embrace by taking every last one of them into Himself as His own. And His faithfulness to you is then absolute. Don't mishear the strong warning in the Epistle: it's not that your sin causes Him no longer love you, but that sexual sin in particular has this horrible power to make you no longer care about His love. That's why it's so dangerous. It can lead you to despise the very thing that sex itself was given you to see through; what Saint Paul would call worshipping the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever.


This is the whole point of Hosea. This is the whole point of Jesus calling himself the bridegroom. It's why in the Eucharist He comes to you, touches you, puts His body into you to have communion with you and engender in you His own divine life. That ache, that desire you try to still with the changing pictures, the oh-so fleeting orgasm or the only slightly less fleeting feeling of being in love, it only is finally satisfied in Him, in His unalterable, unshakable love for you. Love that covers every shame and holds you tight.


Don't focus on the picture. Don't stare at the window. Look through sex to what God gave it to be a picture of. He's wildly, passionately in love with you and He wants your sexuality to picture His fidelity and be grounded in His own unchanging and ever-forgiving love. Because that's the real deal.  Amen.


Well, I did it...

...I decided on an iPad Pro to replace my aging iPad mini. It was a lot of moolah (GULP), but I've been very impressed thus far. I think it will largely render my work laptop needless. The keyboard is a delight to type on, although I have a habit of slamming the keys when I type (just ask Cindi!!!) and so it will be a bit loud for anyone sitting in the same room with me at a meeting! It will be great, though, for writing in my office or at home, for delivering addresses or sermons, for emails and for just about everything that I have to do. I already have this Monday's Thy Strong Word set up with my intro sheet in Pages and side by side with that the Greek and ESV text of Luke 4. Major sweet. 

The display is an absolute beauty. The sound is astounding. And thus far the battery life seems to be utterly respectable. I'm eager to try it out for a solid week at work as my sole devise for work and home. Given my limited experience this weekend, it will do the job with no problem whatsoever. 

This is basically my only personal computer (together with my iPhone 6; the iPad mini has been relegated to the living room stereo). I long since have lost my MacBook. I did a fair share of book writing on my old iPad mini for Celebrating the Saints, but with this devise writing will be a thousand times more pleasant. I have a number of presentations, sermons, and articles due and can't WAIT to put this Pro through its paces with the Smart Keyboard. I'll let you know how it goes as time progresses, but thus far it appears to be yet another Apple home run.

19 February 2016

Book Recommendation

I'm almost finished with Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking. I cannot recommend it highly enough, particularly to teachers and to parents of young children. How I WISH I had understood all this growing up and in my early ministry! I listened on Audible and kept shouting out in the car "Yes! Yes! And YES!" My only complaint is that it is tilted so much toward business. But even so, great, great insight. And yes, you extraverts would find it beneficial too. You know to whom I'm talking.

One of the ironies of my life is that I am quite comfortable as a public speaker, but not at all comfortable in large groups socially. I don't mind preaching or teaching to hundreds or thousands, but don't put me into a meeting where I have to deal with lots of noise and lots of people. I freak out. Quite literally. I shut down and need to go and hide. Sounds silly to you? Read the book. Sounds familiar to you? Read the book.

It brought back a memory from a dinner at a New York restaurant, Manatee's. Two close friends were pressing me. And pressing too close. "But what do you want?" they asked. I replied in utter honesty: "I want to be left alone." I still remember the perplexed and hurt looks on their faces. But I didn't mean that I didn't care about them; I mean they were pressing in way too close for my comfort. I needed to be left alone. Not for ever. But for a bit. Enough for me to regain some balance in my life. It's always the same pattern. My sister told me how she'd observed it years ago: "You always have to get away for time by yourself; you can only stay in the room so long with others." I was shocked that I'd never seen it, but it was absolutely true. I LIKE being with others, but only in small doses and then I have to recharge, or I come unfrayed.

Twenty-five or thirty years ago...

...come almost any Friday in Mebane, North Carolina, you'd find the Weedon children abed and their parents gathered at the dining room table with Ed and Muriel Rose and Ruth Holler and her friend Gene. We'd be quite intent on the game before us: Liverpool. Ruth taught it to all of us and it has since brought the Weedon family and friends countless hours of both grief and joy. Tonight, by the way, it was a SPLENDID game and yours truly soundly trounced both Dave and Cindi. I'll never forget playing once with Dave and Jo and the regulars, when Ruth looked over into Jo's hand and said: "I'll take that. You don't need it." Jo was nearly speechless and we were all laughing our fool heads off. 

Ruth Ellen let us know yesterday that Ruth passed away at 87. It might sound odd, but I think we're going to miss her a great deal.  She was a dear, dear friend. True, she was a generation plus older, but we looked forward to those Friday nights with our older friends and to Ruth's raspy voice and boundless humor. 

If you've followed this blog for any time at all, you know the big place Liverpool holds for the Weedons. Here's a tribute to the lady who gave us such a great gift! Ruth Hollar, we love you! Rest in peace!

An Outstanding Homily

preached at Chapel today by Pr. Arlo Pullmann today. Read, mark learn, inwardly digest!

Ninth Day Of Lent
February 19, in the year our Lord 2016
LCMS International Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Matthew 4:1-11

Excuse me, may I have a word with you.  I don’t know you that well but it seems that, with all the coming and going, you’re caught in the middle of this fight.

When you see who they are, of course you faithfully turn to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  But turning your back on that old evil foe is dangerous.  He starts pushing your buttons and pulling your strings.  He wants you to sound like him.  And somehow a part of you is too willing to join in the taunting and the implicit accusation: “If you are the Son of God, make this problem go away. If you were a loving God, you would not allow this disaster.  If you love me, why don’t you heal my cancer?  What did I do to deserve this?  If you had heard my prayer, my brother would not have died?  If you are the Son of God, do what I want.”  Sometimes you succeed in stopping such sentences before they slip past your lips.  But they thread themselves into your thoughts as a if they were a natural part of you.

At that point who can blame you for taking your eyes off Jesus to face that evil one?  But when you do you have fallen into his trap as he now accuses you: “If you were a child of God, you would not speak to Jesus that way.  If you believed in him you would not have done that sin.  He cannot forgive you now. Jesus says, ‘Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.’  If you were a Christian you would pray more.  God’s not going to listen to someone who’s sinned like you have.  If you really loved Jesus, you would not have half the problems you are facing now.  If you were...”

Stop!  Do not listen to that liar.  One little word can fell him.  That word is the word of God.  Listen to it now: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.  God showed his love for you in this, that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you.  God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son to redeem you.  God works all things for good for those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.  No one and no thing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”  That is the word that sets you free from manipulation and your own natural inclinations.  You don’t judge God’s love for you based on your current circumstances.  You know God’s love for you because Jesus has laid down his life for you, shed his blood for you, risen from the dead for you, gone to prepare a place for you.  And he says to you, “Come.”  Of course, he loves you. Listen to him speak to you now: “You are forgiven.  I have called you by name, you are mine.  No one can snatch you out of my hand.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  You are my child.  I am your Father.”  That is the word that acquits you from the accuser’s accusations.  Listen to the word of Jesus who loves you.  He says to you, “Come.”

The word of Jesus is the word of authority.  He who has authority says to one “Go,” and he goes, and to another, “Come,” and he comes.  In the wilderness Jesus finally used that authoritative word.  He simple said to the tempter, “Go.”  And the tempter went.  In the end, Jesus will finally use that authoritative word and say to satan, “Go to hell.”  So it will be.

But he does not say that to you.  To you he says, “Come.”  “Come, you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belong the kingdom of God.”  “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  The kingdom is yours forever. Amen.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

By this saying [Philippians 2:5ff.], St. Paul with one word flings open the gates of heaven, thus letting us behold the unspeakable, gracious will and love of the Father's heart toward us, so that we feel how from the beginning of time Christ's sacrifice for us has been well-pleasing unto God.—Martin Luther, Sermons from 1525

Patristic Quote of the Day

By eschewing covetousness we put off the old man, and by showing love we put on the new.—St. Augustine, On Man's Perfection in Righteousness, Chapter 5

18 February 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Either He speaks to us and we are still, listening to God, or He listens to us as we speak to Him, praying for what we need.—Martin Luther, Sermons from 1539

Patristic Quote of the Day

So in the inward man the soul is the thing, theft is an act, and avarice is the defect, that is, the property by which the soul is evil, even when it does nothing in gratification of its avarice, even when it hears the prohibition, You shall not covet, Exodus 20:17 and censures itself, and yet remains avaricious. By faith, however, it receives renovation; in other words, it is healed day by day, 2 Corinthians 4:16 — yet only by God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.—St. Augustine, On Man's Perfection in Righteousness, Chapter 2.

17 February 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For grace is not grace at all, unless it be altogether gratuitous. And so I look not upon my works for any ground of salvation; what is wrong in them God will correct; what is lacking He will graciously supply; what is sinful He will mercifully blot out. What He will not impute to me is just as if it had never been. And hence only as my salvation is of God is it sure and unchangeable.—Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XLII

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the unruly man is lacking in reverence, impulsive in speech, quick to abuse, and so unfit for stillness. He is a slave to listlessness.—John Cassian, On the Eight Vices

16 February 2016

Christ, the Life of all the living...

...Christ, the Death of death, our foe.

15 February 2016

That Book of Concord Reading Plan for Lent

is a gift from CPH:

An Odd Way to Start Lent

This was definitely the oddest beginning to Lent we've ever experienced. Cindi and I were cruising with dear friends in the Caribbean. It was an accident of time: two of them had taken new jobs and this was the only time they could get away (and the six of us dearly love vacationing together). But it was a blessed time indeed. I won't mention the outcome of the pinochle rivalry, but GO MEN!!!

Quinquagesima, the six of us gathered in the Chapel at the topmost deck of the ship and sang together Matins from Treasury. Such a joy!

Ash Wednesday found us docked at St. Lucia. We went to the Cathedral for service. It was a Roman service of the Word (I'm not sure how else to describe it). The school boys from St. Aloysius (over four hundred strong, in their uniforms and well behaved) led the service mostly under Mother Superior's guidance: reading the traditional Joel reading and then from Second Corinthians six. A deacon read the Gospel reading from St. Matthew six and then the priest preached upon it. Sadly, he neglected to connect the reading in anyway to the sufferings and death of Him who first spoke those words. The prayer of the faithful followed, led again by the school boys. Then the distribution of ashes, with a number of the teachers (mostly nuns) distributing them. 

Rather than the stark "Remember, O man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return" there was something ekse said. I can't remember what it was, but it made me sad not to hear the traditional memento resound repeatedly.

Still a blessing to worship with fellow baptized and remember the start of the 40 days and give our ears to hearing the ancient Words of Sacred Scripture. The service ended quickly after the distribution of ashes, a blessing and a song. We ventured out to return to the ship amid a light drizzle.

Later John and I reflected on the lack of Gospel in the sermon. It featured our actions big time (reform! repent! renew!), but the wondrous work of Christ on our behalf or of His Spirit within us? Not so much. How sad is that? 

I had downloaded earlier The Noonday Devil at the recommendation of several friends. It was an utterly worthwhile read for Lent. I'm working my way back through it with more care after an initial read through on the plane ride home. I was immediately struck with the fact that the Larger Catechism helps us meet the demon of acedia in the treatment of the Third Commandment (see today's Old Lutheran Quote of the Day).

It was a joy to be home for Invocabit and to hear again of our Lord's gracious work for us and His Spirit's work in us through the Word and Supper, and to sing the sturdy songs of our beloved Lutheran Service Book. We were given a sheet after church that suggested a way to read through the entire Book of Concord during Lent. What a great idea! Started on it today and playing catch up. 

Eager to get back to work, but it was a blessed vacation indeed. For friends along the way, for times of refreshment and rest, for the ability to work out as much as one desires: Glory to God!

A few pics:

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Likewise, those fussy spirits are to be rebuked who, after they have heard a sermon or two, find hearing more sermons to be tedious and dull. They think that they know all that well enough and need no more instruction. For that is exactly the sin that was previously counted among mortal sins and is called akadia (i.e., apathy or satisfaction). This is a malignant, dangerous plague with which the devil bewitches and deceives the hearts of many so that he may surprise us and secretly take God’s Word from us [Matthew 13:19].—Martin Luther, Large Catechism, Ten Commandments, par. 99.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The demon of acedia suggests to you ideas of leaving, the need to change your place and your way of life. He depicts this other life as your salvation and persuades you that if you do not leave, you are lost.—Evagrius of Pontus, Deocto vitiosis cogitationibus 12, [Cited from the marvelous work: The Noonday Devil. Great Lenten reading!]

04 February 2016

Patristic Quote of the Day

 We have therefore even now begun to be like Him, having the first-fruits of the Spirit; but yet we are still unlike Him, by reason of the remainders of the old nature.—St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins Book I:10

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As for you, be content with God incarnate. Then you will remain in peace and safety, and you will know God.—Martin Luther on Isaiah 61

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the judgment, certainly, from one sin, if it is not remitted— and that the original sin— is capable of drawing us into condemnation; while grace conducts us to justification from the remission of many sins—that is to say, not simply from the original sin, but from all others also whatsoever.—St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Book I:16

03 February 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the New Testament there is no other sacrifice than the ministry of the church, those who by teaching the Word spiritually "kill" the animals, that is, people who submit to the Gospel. Then there is the second sacrifice, that each one privately presents himself as a sacrifice to God by cleansing his desires and by mortifying himself. These are the noblest sacrifices of the New Testament, prefigured in the Old Testament by outward and physical ones.—Martin Luther on Isaiah 60:7

Patristic Quote of the Day

While Adam produced sinners from his one sin, Christ has by His grace procured free forgiveness even for the sins which men have of their own accord added by actual transgression to the original sin in which they were born.—St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Book I:14

02 February 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

"Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace," he says, and this he means, Now I shall depart with my heart filled with joy; I see no death, I cannot even call it a death but a peaceful journey. He does not say, Now I wish to die, but now I wish to depart in peace. This was a song not just in his mouth, on his tongue, on paper, but in his heart! May our dear God and Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, His Son, grant us His grace through His Holy Spirit that we may join to sing along with beloved Simeon and also depart in peace. Amen.—Martin Luther, Homily for the Purification (House Postils III:283).

Patristic Quote of the Day

No doubt all they imitate Adam who by disobedience transgress the commandment of God; but he is one thing as an example to those who sin because they choose; and another thing as the progenitor of all who are born with sin.—St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, I:10.

01 February 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Healing means progress, increase, and your growth in this life and the next. A generous hand never suffered want. God's mercy is wider than ours.—Martin Luther, On Isaiah 58:8

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is more serious to lose hope than to sin.—St. John of Karpathos (Philokalia II:318)

Ancient Wisdom

I love it when you see alignment in what Lewis called the Tao. So, in Confucian practice there is apparently the custom of whispering to one's self before eating: Hari hachi bu. It's a reminder to self to eat mindfully and stop when you are 80% full. It's rather the antithesis of the Hobbitlike "filling in the corners."

And then you pick up the Philokalia and check out the words of Blessed John Cassian summarizing the wisdom of the fathers when it comes to fasting:  "They (the holy fathers) have not given us one single rule for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength; age, illness, or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: avoid over-eating and filling of our bellies." (On the Eight Vices)

Science, of course, explains a bit of the physical wisdom in this: we simply don't register how full we are as we are eating. It takes time for the belly to send the message to the brain: Enough! And if you eat quickly and till you are full, the message will come along too late.

Fasting this Lent? How about that wisdom from the Fathers being the first and foremost goal as you train your body that you do not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God: slow down and take time as you eat (avoid eat standing or on the go) and don't eat till you're full. Stop before the sense of satiety kicks in.