Discipleship #5

Regular Use of Spiritual Gifts:

Many seem to think that speaking of spiritual gifts is almost “un-Lutheran.” Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Peter’s first letter every Christian is a priest. The Reformation was founded on that principle. Paul adds that every Christian is gifted by the Holy Spirit to carry out the ministry of the priesthood of all believers. Not all have the same gifts, nor are all of us in competition to see who has the more noticeable gift. God gives the gifts for us Christians to use—to bring honor to His Name, to expand the Church, and to build and strengthen those already in the Church. Your gifts and giftedness are vital to the Church!

Romans 12:4–6 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

1 Corinthians 12:4–7 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1 Peter 4:10–11 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Discipleship #4

The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1880)
Image via Wikipedia

Regular Giving:

True stewardship is hard to find today. We are bombarded by abuses on all sides. People give according to law—the church’s, the leaders’, their own, the church budget—and the Church seems to financially be drained. This leads to long-term problems for the Lord’s work. BUT Christian giving is be based on the Gospel—what Jesus has done for us. Therefore, giving results from our relationship with God. The Christian recognizes that everything is the Lord’s, giving is first fruits, giving is done regularly, and giving is according to God’s riches and His blessings.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Discipleship #3

Regular Prayer:

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we read of God’s commands and His desire that all believers should pray, in fact, pray without ceasing. The number of prayer petitions can be as large as 6+ billion! Pray for yourself, your family, congregational members, churches in our area, pastors and churches in our church body, missionaries, chaplains, children, parents, teachers, nurses, doctors… I think you get the idea.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Matthew 7:7–8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Discipleship #1

Regular worship and study of God’s Word:

Worship is a precious privilege and responsibility. In worship, God comes to us through his Word and through the body and blood of his Son in the Lord’s Supper. We respond by praising his Name, giving him thanks for what he has done, singing praises to him, and offering ourselves and our resources to him and his people. Thus, worship is a vertical relationship between God and you. But worship involves the horizontal dimension—between us and other Christians. Our praise and worship follow the examples of saints from all generations. By our presence at worship we encourage our fellow Christians to be faithful in this vital area.

Hebrews 10:24–25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

John 8:47 [Jesus said:] “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Luke 11:28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Another View of Time

Here is an interesting quote indirectly about time:

When a Southerner took the trouble to pack a trunk and travel twenty miles for a visit, the visit was seldom of shorter duration than a month, usually much longer. Southerners were as enthusiastic visitors as their hosts, and there was nothing unusual in relatives coming to spend the Christmas holidays and remaining until July. Often when newly married couples went on the usual round of honeymoon visits, they lingered in some pleasant home until the birth of their second child. Frequently elderly aunts and uncles came to Sunday dinner and remained until they were buried years later.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, (Scribner: New York, 1936), p. 153.

So where does our sense of time come from? Schedules, work, traffic, travel, or people?

Something to think about.

A little Glitch with the Hero

This weekend my Hero alarm went off an hour later than it should have, like it went off daylight savings time one week early. But it was only the time on the lock screen, not the big clock display. Even more strangely, this morning the large clock display changed to be one hour early.

I had tried resetting the time, based on location. No success. The Sprint rep tried several things. Solution? At the Sprint store they finally did a soft reset (remove battery and restart). It worked. So, now I am happy again.

HTC Hero – Sprint

I had been using the Palm Centro for over two years. But alas, trying to upgrade the device software was a no-go, unless I paid for it. My decision was made for me. Having enjoyed the Palm, I had considered both the Palm Pre and the soon-to-be released Palm Pixie as the most likely replacement phone.

When I went to the Sprint store, the sales rep showed me the Palm Pre, but mentioned they had just gotten the HTC Hero in (released just a few days earlier). I picked it up and was instantly drawn to it. It was lighter than the Centro and the Pre. Within 15 minutes I was sold.

photos-hands-on-sprint-htc-hero-0

Positive Items:

Several things stood out: the time display is readable; that was a complaint I had about the Centro! I like the current weather conditions just below the time. And it really did feel comfortable in my hand. The more I held it, the better it was to hold.

As for using it, it took me a few days (including travel, learning on the go) to become familiar with what did what and how. Once I had the basics learned, it has become almost second nature, in only one week.

The touch screen is more responsive than the Centro was. That had taken me a while to get used to the smaller keyboard of the Centro. So I was a little concerned with a virtual keyboard. The virtual keys in normal position allow more room than the Centro physical pad. But when turning it sideways, the keys seemed to have more than enough space! Very nice.

The size is just right for me. The screen (3.2 in) is bigger, better quality than I was used to on the Centro, and while slightly smaller than the iPhone, I don’t notice because i have never even held an iPhone.

I have not begun to explore the applications.  Setup for email was instantaneous (I already had a gmail account), which made it even easier.

Slightly negative comments:

Using the Voicemail application is fine, but does not seem to work with bluetooth devices. I checked at the Sprint store yesterday and confirmed that was true. I use Bluetooth 98% of the time. Nuts

Voice dialer application is a good asset, but there are a few sound combinations (in names) that the application just cannot get right. Even with the shortcut on the main screen, for those combinations it is faster to use the People application and search. One name I had to change the first name to make it more distinct, which now works. Sigh

I was told that it will synch with Macs as well as Windows computers. After getting it home and exploring, such is not the case. I am looking forward to the Missing Synch app to be released next week to allow me to synch with my MacBook Pro.

Overall Impression:

Since I picked up the phone only seven days ago, I offer only a preliminary evaluation. This phone is just right for my needs; I am glad I got the Hero. It is a step up from the Centro, and it has me wanting to learn more of its capabilities. The feel of the phone is winner. The screen is bright and easy to navigate; the touch/feel for navigation is sensitive. That took a little getting used to, but it is now almost second nature.

I’m not sure about the battery life; I am on the phone 5-7 hours every day. So it is often plugged in at my desk or in the car to ensure that I won’t be left without phone capability. I know that when I check email, etc. The battery power drains much faster. I understand that HTC/Sprint will issue a firmware update soon to correct that.

Good job, HTC and Sprint. You made my work environment much, much better with this phone!

The people of God… today

Between prep for travel and now on the road for 15 days, it makes it hard to blog.

Visiting congregations is very rewarding. People in smaller congregations can feel overlooked, forgotten, ignored. By visiting them on-site, preaching, and teaching, and allowing questions, we can bring a small amount of assurance to them. They are not forgotten. There are no unimportant congregations. They have a critical role in presenting Jesus Christ to the world around them. God has placed them in that spot for this exact time.

Yesterday, I preached on Psalm 122:1 “I rejoiced with those who said: ‘Let us go up to the house of the LORD.’” What joy the believers in the OT had when journeying together to offer sacrifices, but more importantly to receive the forgiveness of sins. Even the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8 highlights the forgiveness of sins as crucial to God’s dwelling presence with his people.

May God continue to bless his people, in congregations, large or small. May they rejoice when they are invited to go to the house of the LORD.

I miss Grandpa

I miss Grandpa. Well, technically he was my step-grandfather, being my grandmother’s second husband. But they had already been married for many years long before I was born. He was the only Grandpa I really knew. Last month would have been his 105th birthday; he died in 1985. Every year I reflect on this simple, yet strong, good-hearted man. And I miss him.

He always had time to take my brothers and me fishing, summer or winter. He worked swing shift at the iron mines, yet he seemed ready to fish at the drop of a hat. I have several photos of our fishing adventures. He made sure we had a chance to pull them in, even if a struggle for us.

One time on opening weekend of fishing season, he took us fishing. He left my brother and me on the small inlet while he parked the car. Being an eager young fisherman, I cast out into the shallow water. Before the car was parked, I had a five pound bass. In my great pride I ran down the gravel road to Grandpa wanting to show my trophy. One look and Grandpa whispered as loud as he could “Throw it in the trunk!!” “Why, Grandpa?” He only said louder, “Throw it in the trunk!” It wasn’t until we got back home that I realized that bass season didn’t start until two weeks later; Grandpa didn’t want to let go of the trophy!

Ice fishing was another adventure. He didn’t believe in fish houses. No, he carried a hand auger to get a small hole in the ice, then we had to strain ice out of it every 5-10 minutes. One time we caught a fish that was bigger than the hole. That really bothered Grandpa. “Hell’s bells!” was the extent of his foul language and reserved for the most dire circumstances. This was one of those times. I miss Grandpa.

For a short while in the mid 1950’s they lived in a small trailer house about a half block from the railroad tracks. I still have vivid memories of that time: his distinctive cough in the middle of the night, the sound of the railroad activity, and the smell of tobacco. Not long after that he gave up cigarettes. They had bought property and were getting ready to build a house. As he had done for so many others through the years, he was right there building the house from the basement up. At least this time he didn’t need the team of horses to dig out the basement.

In 1955 he took my older brother and me to a professional wrestling event in a little town west of us. What an eye opener for a young kid! What a most exciting place to be! And we even saw women wrestlers. Grandpa loved pro wrestling, even in his old age. As he watched on TV, he would sit in a straight-back chair with his hands clamped on the seat by his sides. Soon he would be twisting and grunting and groaning with the wrestlers, but his hands never left the seat! I miss Grandpa.

When I was younger, Grandpa seemed a little grumpy or gruff, not in a negative way though. As the years rolled by, I understood that he really wasn’t grumpy and certainly not with us. He didn’t always know how to show love, but he was a very loving man. After he retired and arthritis began to take its toll on what he could and could not do, I occasionally saw the tears of pain. And when our own children came along, he wasn’t afraid to show emotion with them and us. I have learned to be more open with my own grandkids.

During this last decade as my mother wrote her autobiography I learned a lot more about my Grandpa. My respect for him has grown considerably. He had endured a lot, yet remained steady, faithful, and dependable. And he never complained.

Now, as we have five grandchildren, I realize how much he taught me about life, and especially about being a grandpa. With one major difference: growing up, we lived six miles from my Grandpa and saw him many times during the week. But now, our grandchildren live more than a 1,000 miles away. What a blessing it was to have Grandpa that close to us; at the time we took it for granted. I’m sorry we did. I miss Grandpa.

My middle name carries on his legacy. I miss Grandpa!