When trying out new things – even breakfast cereal like Raisin Bran – buy it from Kroger in a normal size, instead of from Costco. 

Have you ever been talking to someone and then you realize they aren’t there? They walked out of the room or something, and you didn’t know it.

This week I had a discussion like that – a disagreement, really, and with a guy who lived 400 years ago.

John Donne was an English poet, back in the early 1600s. He was the one who said “no man is an island” – yeah, he would have fit in with the inter-connectedness of everything now-a-days. That isn’t what I had a problem with.

He also said “every man’s death diminishes me”. We have had several deaths recently, including Starla’s mom just this week. Now I understand what he is saying – there is a loss each time someone breathes their last.  That’s true. But he used the word “every” – not some, not most, but every. So that has to include Jesus, who was fully man, while being fully God. And what I disagreed with, talking to the man from 400 years ago, is that Jesus’s death actually enhanced his life – and mine – rather than diminishing it. Yes, there was very much pain and suffering on the cross. I am sorry that Jesus had to suffer so, and I am terribly sorry that He had to do it for my sins.

I am also glad that He did, and my life is enhanced in uncountable ways because of Jesus’s death, and I will spend eternity in heaven because of that death. If that isn’t an enhancement, instead of a diminishment, I don’t know what is.

As all Christians take the bread and the juice, let us remember that death – and that resurrection. Romans 14:9 says “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  Let’s pray.

Lord God, thank You for sending Jesus to pay the price for our sins – for my sins. Thank You for His death, and thank You for His resurrection. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

(communion meditation for March 26, 2017)

I did a very non-scientific study recently, of love songs on the radio. After removing all the Oooooohs and Babys and Yeahs, I was left with these three themes:

  • I will always love you
  • I will never leave you
  • We’ll be together forever

Now I’m not a scientist. I don’t even play one on television. But I see a common thread in those. And I know the reason why. Believe it or not, it’s God.

Laugh if you want, and considering some of the stuff they play on the radio, God doesn’t seem to enter the picture. But Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has put eternity in their hearts“. These people are trying to replace God with something that won’t last. Human love is wonderful – it’s a gift from God! – but it isn’t eternal, regardless of what the songs say.

But Godly love is eternal, because it doesn’t depend on humans. It depends on God, who never fails. In Romans 5:8, it says

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s true love, eternal love. It says “I will always love you, I will never leave you, and We’ll be together forever”. That love, that sacrifice, is what we are celebrating with the wafer and the cup. Let’s pray.

Lord God, I sometimes imagine you up in heaven, looking down at our silly efforts to fill that God-shaped hole in our lives with something besides You. Thank You for providing for that need, in the person of Jesus. It’s in His name that I pray, amen.

(communion meditation for January 8, 2017)

Sunday morning, January first 2017, started off foggy. 

That makes for a good year for headlight manufacturers and body shops – not for me, just in general. 

Sunday ended with me winning (through no fault of my own) a fantasy football league I didn’t want to join. 

Thanks, Mark

Monday morning, January second, starts out foggy again. I’d like to make a prediction about how this year is going to turn out, but the crystal ball is, predictably, foggy. 

When the nurse asks you which arm you want the tetanus shot in,  there are consequences when you sleep on your side. 

It all started innocently enough, just a regular day-after-Christmas organ delivery. While releasing a tie-down, I got a scrape that needed to be band-aided. My last tetanus shot was about 8 and a half years ago, so it was time. 

Show up at the doctor’s office at my scheduled time (missing work), and they tell me I can’t do it because I haven’t seen the doctor in over 6 months. Wish they would have known that when I made the appointment. I do mention in passing that I could get it at an urgent care place without having seen their doctor, but to no avail. 

The Little Clinic at Kroger filled the bill (with an upsell to include diptheria and pertussis – whooping cough). No reaction, so all is well. 

It could have been weller had they mentioned that if I was a side sleeper, I should get the shot on the ceiling-facing shoulder to avoid a few nights’ discomfort. They didn’t, and I didn’t think of it.

All is well. Still,  note to self . . . 

. . . frying pan?

Yes.  Despite rumors of my best Christmas present being a rubber band (it was fun, but it came in second), I am currently elated with my non-stick Food Network frying pan from Kohl’s.

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It’s really more of a cream than white, but let’s go with a good title.

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To break it in, I made an omelette with these ingredients (although a late adjustment dropped in crumbled bacon bits instead of the pepperoni).  I used some egg nog instead of milk.  Note to participants in the great 2016 eggnog-off: this one doesn’t rank highly.

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It warmed up nicely on low heat – you can see the cheese (white, of course) starting to sweat and melt.

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I finished topping it off with the salsa and bacon bits – the egg is firming up nicely.  The salsa spattered on the inside of the pan.  That was OK.

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The omelette slid off the pan smoothly. The butter (and the pan) did its job!

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And the cleanup was, as they say, a doddle.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for another fun piece of culinary gear.

Jesus Christ was a rebel.

In reading through the Bible, I find three places where he defied what people thought He was “supposed” to do.

When Jesus was twelve years old, he skipped out on going home to Nazareth after His parents brought Him to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem.  They looked for three days to find Him.

Later in His life, He was at the temple again, and instead of worshiping and singing hymns, He made a whip out of what was available and started beating up on some businessmen.

Right at the end of His life, he prayed to His Heavenly Father, saying that He didn’t want to do what was next.

Rebellion, pure and simple.  And the events are true – but they are also a lie, because they don’t tell the whole truth.  They don’t go far enough.  They don’t include the spiritual. Let’s look at these events from a spiritual perspective.

As a boy at the temple, Jesus wasn’t being disobedient – He was being obedient to His Heavenly Father.  He told His earthly parents “Didn’t you know I had to be about My Father’s business?”.

At the temple, when he drove out the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals, He said “Get your things out of here!  Stop turning My Father’s house into a shopping mall!”  And the disciples remembered the scripture “Zeal for Your house consumes Me”.

And there, at the end of His life, He did ask for that cup to be taken away from Him – and He continued, “not My will, but Thine be done”.

Jesus was not rebelling.  Jesus was being obedient to His Heavenly Father – and that led to His death and resurrection.  That’s what we are remembering now, with the wafer and the juice, which all Christians are invited to partake in.  Let’s pray.

Lord God, Jesus didn’t do anything at all that was outside of Your will.  We have all sinned and fall short of Your glory.  With Jesus’ sacrificial death, the price for those sins has been paid.  Jesus’ body and blood, represented by the elements of communion, are the price of obedience.  That infinite cost, that priceless gift for us – thank You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

(communion meditation from November 20, 2016)

He does his crossword puzzles in ink.

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My communion meditation for today.

I was happy, then I was sad, then I was very happy.

First, I thought I found a new proof for God’s holiness and perfection. I was praying through the Lord’s Prayer – not just repeating the words, but praying it, chewing on it, meditating on it. “Our Father, who art in Heaven“ – and that’s where I stopped to think. God the Father is in Heaven – that’s what it says. And we know Heaven is perfect, so therefore God must be perfect.

I was pretty proud of myself for a few days. A new proof that God is perfect, from little old me. Pretty proud of myself, yep.

Until I started thinking of the implications of that. If God needs Heaven to make Himself perfect, then God must not be perfect on His own, and I know that’s not right. So therefore it must be God’s perfection that makes Heaven perfect.

BOOM – there goes my brand new proof, my shot at being included in theology books going forward. So I was sad.

But as I kept on thinking about it, rolling it over and looking at different perspectives, I was really happy. Because when I bring it down to a personal level, I don’t have to be perfect for God to come live in my heart. In fact, I can’t be that perfect. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“.

It isn’t my perfection that spills onto God. It’s His perfection that fills me, that spills into every part of my life, that overflows onto others.

There was only one perfect man, and that was Jesus. His perfect and sinless life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection – that is what we are celebrating now with the wafers and the juice. My imperfection covered by His perfection.  That makes me very happy.

Let’s pray.

Lord God, it’s all about You. If you had not sent Jesus to die for me, I wouldn’t be here today. Thank You for creating a perfect plan, carried out by a perfect man – a plan that does not depend on my own unachievable perfection. Thank you for Jesus. It’s in His name I pray. Amen.