Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wow! What a hockey game!

My dear, sweet wife and I had eaten our low-cal chocolate bars and it was time to turn out the lights and get some shut-eye, as they say.  But as I laid there, I kept thinking about what I was missing - Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin skiing in the Alpine combined event.

I was impressed how Shiffrin came back after a disappointing performance in the slalom, her best event.  She nabbed the silver medal.  Von, who raced last, hit a gate with the tip of her ski and was unable to complete the run.

With that done I was ready to head to bed.  But first I thought I should check in on the USA/Canada Women's Gold Medal hockey game.

It was in the third period, the Americans had tied the game and they were really taking the action to Canada.  Had it not been by stout goaltending from the Canadian goalie the Americans would have put the game away.

The 20 minute overtime period was equally exciting and, again, the American had their chances but couldn't score. 

The game would end with a shoot-out and I was quite concerned.  Even though the USA had really controlled the 3rd period and overtime, anything can happen in a shoot-out.  And the USA had a 20 year-old goal keeper in the pipes.

The teams were tied after five shots.  America went ahead with a beautiful goal that got past Canada's excellent goaltender.  Then Canada sent out their best scorer.  She tried to go through the legs of Maddie Rooney, the 20 year-old USA goaltender, but was turned aside.  With that the USA overcame years of disappointment (they had finished second to Canada in the last four Olympics) and celebrated - they were gold medalists!

It gave me a warm feeling to see the players celebrating - it was pure joy!  Watching them stand as a team while the Star Spangled Banner played gave me goosebumps.

But the most impressive things of all - the players were singing the National Anthem!

It frustrates me to see so many of our gold medalists remain mute while the anthem is being played.  You happens it over and over again.  And then you watch many athletes from other countries singing to their anthems with gusto and you can't help but wonder what is wrong with so many from our teams.

Not these ladies.  They sang with pure joy.  They looked proud to be Americans.  They represented their country well.  And I was glad to see it, even if it was past 1 am when I went to bed! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Love Thy Body by Nancy R. Pearcey

As a Orthodox Christian it's easy to feel out-of-step with the liberal world-view that permeates our culture today.  Nancy Pearcey can help you to better understand what is happening.

Her new book, "Love Thy Body" gets to the heart of today's life and sexuality issues.  She explains how the pro-abortion side has shifted the argument from conception to personhood.  She shows how when a person is no longer thought of as "human" but as a "person" then it becomes quite easy to accept abortion and euthanasia as acceptable, even normal.  Pearcy explains how the "hook-up" culture has turned sex into a non-emotional act which demeans the gift which God gave in sexuality.  She also shows why we should be concerned as the courts get involved in matters of sexuality and how they take a non-Biblical viewpoint, allowing a person to decide who they are no matter what kind of body they have.

"Love Thy Body" is well-researched and also is easy to read.  Pearcey concludes by offering ways Christian individuals and families can be beacons of light and hope in a world full of darkness and evil. The opportunities to minister to the lonely and disillusioned may present themselves sooner than we think.

This book was supplied by Baker Books for review.

A reflection on Psalm 32

This morning I want to share a couple of thoughts from Martin Luther on Psalm 32.  You might read the psalm before going forward with the post but it's up to you:-).

The 32nd Psalm is an exemplary psalm of instruction that teaches us what sin is, and how one might be freed from it and be righteous before God. Our reason does not know what sin is and tries to make satisfaction for it with works. but the psalmist says that even saints are sinners. They cannot become holy or blessed except by confessing themselves as sinners before God, knowing that they are regarded as righteous only from the grace of God, apart from any service or work.

In short, our righteousness is called (in plain language) the forgiveness of our sins. Or, as it says here: "sins not counted," "sins covered," "sins not to be seen." Here stand the clear plain words: All the saints are sinners and remain sinners. But they are holy because god in His grace neither sees nor counts these sins, but forgets, forgives and covers them. There is thus no distinction between the saints and the non-saints. They are sinners alike and all sin daily, only that the sins of the holy are not counted but covered; and the sins of the unholy are not covered but counted.

Martin Luther, "Reading the Psalms with Luther," CPH 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My Lord, my love, is crucified

I came across some poetry from Charles Wesley yesterday while reading my devotional book.  I don't know if these are hymn lyrics - I don't recognize them from any hymn I know. But I was taken by how Wesley ended each stanza.

O Lord divine, what hast thou done?
 The Incarnate God hath died for me!
The Father's coeternal Son
 Bore all my sins upon the tree!
The Son of God for me hath died
 My Lord, my Love, is crucified.

Behold Him, all ye that pass by
 The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
 And say, was ever grief like his?
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
 My Lord, my Love, is crucified. Amen.

Lent is the time that we are given the opportunity to see again with fresh eyes that sacrifice God - that's right, God - made to atone for all our sins.  May your observance of Lent cause you to fall in love all over again with your Lord and Savior.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Be a gift to someone today

I just finished reading Ann Voskamp's lovely book, "Be the Gift." The book is filled with examples of different ways an individual can be a gift by offering something of themselves to someone else.

I thought the book was best summarized by a comment a woman made after burying her husband.  She said, This is all I know now about living: every moment is a gift with each other - and every moment we get to be a gift to each other.  This is all there is.

To whom can you be a "gift" today?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Say that again?

Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together during church services. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had enough. “You're not supposed to talk out loud in church.”

“Why? Who's going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

No regrets following Jesus

            Have you ever had second thoughts about something or someone?  Ever wish you’d taken more time before you bought the new car…or said “yes” when asked to go on a date…or accepting the new assignment at work?  When the car breaks down or the date is a waste of time or the new assignment causes headaches and bellyaches, it’s so easy to second guess yourself about the decision you made.

            The people who received and read the letter to the Hebrews were having second thoughts.  They had converted from Judaism to Christianity.  The good news of God’s love in Christ Jesus had made their hearts glad.  But their decision to embrace Christ as Savior brought derision and scorn from those who had rejected the Lord’s forgiveness and love.  They lashed out at these new Christians in both word and deed.  For the new converts, there was the possibility of facing persecution and even death for the faith.

            The letter to the Hebrews was designed to help the Jewish converts deal with their doubts.  However, this is a letter from which we can all benefit.  You might even want to spend some time during Lent doing an in-depth study of this New Testament book. Using the inspired Word of God, the writer shows how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the promises of the prophets.  In times of persecution and struggle, whether 2000 years ago or today, Hebrews teaches us that there only one Lord and Savior to whom we can place our trust.  Trust in Jesus and walk with Him – there is no reason to ever look back!