Keeping Perspective…

I have a horrid anxiety disorder.  It’s awful, really.  I have had it since I was young and frankly, it’s one of those things about me that I wish I could get rid of for good.  It makes me more sensitive to things at times.  Other times it makes me overreact when I should really reel it in.  But, all in all, the worst part about my disorder is it makes me into my own idol.  It makes me into my own god.  It makes me doubt the goodness of God Almighty and basks in the fear and the control I can make myself.  It’s a horrid cycle, too, because the more I worry, the more I grasp for control, the more I grasp for control that is out of reach, the more I worry.  It affects me in all aspects of my life- my marriage, my work, my friends, and my faith.  It’s embarrassing, it’s bothersome, and it affects me in the most personal and profound ways.

But even in this my baptism hasn’t dried up.  Though my panic may make me feel as if God has abandoned me, it isn’t true.  My relationship with God has nothing to do with my feelings.  It has nothing to do with if I am afraid of my own shadow or if I think I have it all under control.  God still has me in His hands, forgiven and beloved that has nothing to do with my own merit or worthiness.  That’s the great thing about God’s love.  It’s not dependent on my “accepting it”.  It’s not about whether or not I have done anything.  It’s objective.  Focused on God, not on my feeble sinful self, I can be reassured that although I am a sinner, and actively sinning against God when I have an anxiety attack, I am forgiven, not because of who I am, but because of Who Christ is, and what He did for me on the cross at Calvary.

It’s not the “cure” for my anxiety disorder in that I will be rid of it, but it’s THE cure, the eternal cure.  The cure that Christ won for me on the cross, the cure that knows that though I carry this burden now, I am now and will be complete without this disorder.  Odd to think about but makes perfect sense in view of eternity.

Aw, Heck, no!

The best thing you can do if you want to see what someone can accomplish, is to make them angry.  The joke is, if you ever hear a country girl say, “Aw, he!!, no!”, you’re in big trouble.  Well, someone pulled out the stop for me.  Actually, its been brewing for a while, it’s just this someone put it in words, and well, this rant is for them.

In the LCMS, CRM status is a black mark on a pastor’s career.  Kiss that career goodbye, because if you congregation decides that they can’t afford you, you’re not a good fit for them, if you decided to be Confessional instead of church-growth, or if they decide to harass you and your family until they leave, and you are forced out, it’s all your fault, your not a good pastor, and your done.  That’s how it’s seen with many, too many, pastors who are good and faithful servants of God’s Word.

My husband was forced out of a call.  He was on CRM.  Now he’s part time.  Did he make mistakes?  Sure, everyone does.  Everyone is a sinner.  Everyone has a point where they don’t handle a situation well.  Everyone has a place where they are vulnerable to make a mess.  But should that be a career ender?  Let’s put this into perspective.  A person who is struggling in a job can actively look for another job.  They can put their resume out there.  They can interview and hope to get a better match for them in the same career in the secular world.  Especially in a world where company loyalty is at an all time low and people are always out looking for the better fit instead of working through the issue presented, the reason for looking for a new job might be the location, the co-workers, the boss, the work assigned, the clients or customers doing business with the company, and the like.  Who, in the secular world, could cast the first stone and state that they have never gotten so frustrated with their job that they have actively hunted for or gotten a new job when they felt they couldn’t take anymore?  Now, what is it that a pastor can do?  Give their file to a DP, who the pastor hopes will give the information to the calling congregations in each district, and pray for a new location.  This process can take months or even years at times.  That doesn’t work if a congregation is running out of money and telling the pastor to seek employment elsewhere.  That doesn’t work for the pastor who has a minority of his congregation threatening to make life unbearable until he finds a new call.  That doesn’t help the pastor who is all but fired from his call for not scratching itching ears.  So what is a pastor to do?  For his health, for his family, for his own congregation sometimes, he will resign.

So then what?  Because he did the best he could with the sinful situation at hand we will judge him, play Monday morning quarterback, and bar him from serving any congregation ever because he did what he thought best?  We aren’t talking about gross outward sins such as adultery, slothfulness, or other Biblical reasons for a pastor to be removed from his call.  We are talking about sinful situations where the pastor did what was best in a lessor of two evils choice.  We shouldn’t be telling them that their careers are over, lives are shattered.  We should do what we can to both heal and uplift these pastors and put them back out to serve Christ Jesus and the Church He has entrusted his under-shepherds with bringing Word and Sacrament.  It’s time to realize that mercy, forgiveness, and understanding should abound where judgement and condemnation once stood.  Most (I will not say all) on CRM don’t deserve to be there permanently.  They deserve a “second chance” as it were to get back into the system of the clergy roster of the LCMS.

On a side note, help them while they are still in “limbo”.  Buy a t-shirt.  Raise awareness.  Call your DP and admonish him to seek out the CRM pastors in his district and find them calls.  See if you can find out the CRM pastors in your district and call them up and ask them how you can help.

Perspective…

My husband has often lamented that he is no longer a full time pastor.  He hates the fact that he has a clock in, clock out, forty hours a week job at Wal-Mart.  This isn’t to say that Wal-Mart is a horrid place to work, more that he spent so many years prepping to be a pastor, and though he has all the training, all the experience, all the readiness to serve full time, God placed him in a congregation that couldn’t pay him enough to live on and he had to maintain his second job.  But Wal-Mart isn’t where his heart is.  His heart is with the people of his church.  He wants to be there for their hurts, their challenges, their victories, and their lives.  It’s hard for him to wake up and not put a clerical on, but what he calls the “Wal-Martian” suit and head off to a place that holds so much of his time, much more than he would ever prefer.  If he gets a phone call that someone is sick, he has to wait until he has time to go there instead of rushing to be at the side of the infirm.  How frustrating!

Then, I think, God doesn’t make mistakes.  God doesn’t just accidentally “stick” someone in a part time call.  God doesn’t just put someone in a church because there wasn’t another place to put them.  God has a plan, an intricate design, a place for everyone.  It’s hard to think that while my husband was going through his hardships in Kansas that God was prepping him for where he is at now, but He was. The time my husband spent in Minnesota with his congregations there prepared him for what he is doing now.  He may not feel prepared and he may feel like his time is wasted at Wal-Mart, but that’s not how God sees it.  God sees His own beloved child working to better the lives of the neighbors around my husband in at least two vocations he calls jobs.  God provides when we need to do what seems impossible.

There isn’t a more loving congregation out there than the one my husband serves now.  Understanding, patient, loving, they have never caused any rumblings of trouble because my husband can’t be there full time.  They accept him for who he is and where he is and never make any complaints that he isn’t around more.  Much the opposite, they respect it and work around it so that all can be done to God’s glory.  It may be a frustrating situation for all, but Christian love abounds as there is no blame, no resentment, only  understanding and patience on all sides.  Perhaps it could be that God gave my husband a place to heal after what he endured in Kansas?  I’d like to think so.  Even the most frustrating situations can be gifts from God even if we don’t always see it.

This isn’t to say that we don’t work to better ourselves and our situation because it is important to have that drive.  However, it’s good to know that we will be provided for by a loving God who sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we could be in heaven with Him.  He provides eternally and temporally all that we need to support this body and life.  In that perspective, my husband isn’t in some “holding pattern” until he gets back into the full time ministry, he is right where God wants him to be.  That assurance, through faith, makes it so that my husband not only can perform at both jobs, frankly, he rocks it!

Ever Wonder?

Back a couple of years ago, my husband, sitting in his collar, was complaining to me that his job was worthless, no one appreciated him, and that he was a poor pastor.  After everything we had endured with him being forced to resign and not being called to a new congregation, he was, to say the least, depressed.  We walked into Qdoba to talk it over.  After hearing his many complaints, frustrations, and problems over dinner, we began to clean up our table when a young man walked over.  He wasn’t a member of a church that my husband had filled in for that we could tell.  The young man was just a “joe” on the street, but he came over anyway, shook my husbands hand, and thanked him for all the hard work that he does in the church.  Though it might be hard at times and things may look grim, he appreciated the pastor and his role as the bringer of the Gospel, and he wanted to make sure my husband knew that.

Ever wonder if God really pays attention to the conversations you have every day?  That day, both my husband and I were sure!  It’s easy to forget that God is involved in our every day lives as well as the things we do every day to remember that He is is present, prayer, devotions, going to church, Bible study, and the like.  Talk about feeling self-conscious!  It’s easy to go about live and compartmentalize God to just the activities that involve Him.  But He cares for us enough to not just be involved when we choose to involve Him.  He’s there for the complaints we tell our friends, the laughter of a stupid joke that makes us have tears in our eyes even if it wasn’t that funny, the long conversations that happen in a car on a road trip that might be about cows, deer, and the crazy driver who just passed us.

As if we needed more of a reminder, before working out at the gym this past week, I was explaining to my husband the need to feel loved and wanted at home because I don’t get that type of support anywhere else.  I complained that at work I meant nothing and that I really wasn’t all that important.  After working out, there was a woman who recognized me as “her” pharmacy technician.  I had taken care of her earlier and she was very appreciative of the service and the fact that I didn’t just take care of her, I seemed to truly care about her well-being.  It brought a smile to my face knowing that I had helped at least one person and that is exactly what I thought as we walked to my car.  My husband and I were decided to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, and again, I was met with another patient who wondered when the next time I was working was, as “I was the best tech there” according to her.  We chatted for a bit and and then my husband and I went on our way.  My husband wondered if we could go anywhere where in town where I wouldn’t be recognized as somebody’s pharmacy tech.  I laughed but inwardly mused again that God was walking right beside me even as I walked through the Wal-Mart, worked out at the gym, and went about the rest of my life.  I mentioned this to my husband a little while later and he laughed so hard.  He thought it was funny that God did the same thing to me as He did to him.  Turnabout is fair play.

Now, this isn’t to say that this is how God promises to interact with His creation.  God promises to be found in Word (the Scriptures) and Sacrament (Baptism, Holy Communion).  If one is to look for God, don’t look for God in signs and wonders, or even through a patient appreciating hard work after a complaint session on how insignificant one is.  It is important to note that if one is looking for God, he need look no further than the Christian Church down the street, who brings God to the people every Sunday in the Divine Service, or in the Scriptures that is the Word of God themselves.  But, it’s also not unheard of for God to step outside these means to remind His children that He is there and listening, watching, and taking care of His precious little ones.  Not expecting it from Him, it is important to acknowledge He can work that way.  In a way that built both His precious prince, my husband, and His precious princess, me, He reminded us that we are not alone.  God is with us.

In Defense of Marriage

I’ll make myself clear right now, marriage is between one man and one woman.  Period.  That’s how God set it up.  That’s how the Bible has it.  That’s how God describes the relationship that He has with His creation, Christ and His Bride, the Church.  There is no way around it.

I am, however, fascinated by the craziness surrounding the “Defense of Marriage Act”.  Here’s why: If I don’t need legislation for Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, Funeral Rites, and the like, why do I need legislation on marriage?  Personally, I am starting to think that I would like the government to get out of the marriage business altogether.  Going against the 6th Commandment is for the Church to discipline, not the state.  After all, when was the last time someone was arrested for having an affair?  Living together outside of wedlock?  How about the “hook ups” that are reported to happen on Spring Break?  Let’s be honest here, it’s a little hypocritical to state that marriage is between one man and one woman but then “shack up” with whoever you are with personally.  If we are to follow this as the Bible commands, as so many cry and scream for when something like the Defense of Marriage Act comes up, we are to follow it fully.  “Thou shalt not commit adultery” goes for homosexual acts, living together, “hook ups”, casual sex, and the like.  We need to really legislate against all of it if we are going to do put some force behind using the Scriptures to defend marriage.  Which leads me to my original thought: Should we not allow the Church to take care of marriage and let the rest of the world decide what it wants to do?

Before that statement is misinterpreted to think that I am *advocating* sin, I will point out that any transgression against the 6th Commandment is exactly that.  Sin.  It shouldn’t be done.  For a Christian, it is “illegal”, not against the State, but against God and His Word.  So it not going to church (think 3rd Commandment) and taking an office pen for personal use (7th Commandment).  It is impossible in a free society to legislate entirely from a Christian standpoint.  Laws on the books that require one to go to church would undoubtedly cause unrest and anger towards the government and the Church.  It’s important that the government not govern our personal lives directly, as much as it is to allow us to live our lives as we wish.

This means that if the State wants to allow two men to marry, two women to marry, two men and a woman to marry, etc, it should be allowed, however, it shouldn’t be called marriage.  Marriage is given by God.  It’s a church thing.  I pledged my love, obedience, and faithfulness to my husband on May 20, 2006, in front of God and a gaggle of pastors, my family, and friends.  Those vows have nothing to do with the State.  The State could care less if I cheated.  God, on the other hand, will care.  That is a sin against Him (as well as my husband).  Instead, call it a business contract, call it whatever you wish, really, except marriage.  Marriage is something given by God in a religious context.  When it comes to separation of church and state, this is one place where the liberals will demand that religion enter into the government, but instead of putting God as the creator of marriage, it puts the government in place of God, thereby making an idol.

I believe that when the government entered the marriage business, even when it was just about one man and one woman, we were already headed for the “slippery slope” of today.  It was already problematic because you can’t legislate morals, ethics, or beliefs.  That’s church territory.  The government has taken on a lot of “church territory”, from charity and the care taking of the poor, needy, homeless, and infirm, to legislating how and when one can witness their faith, things that are not for a government to decide if it is built on liberty.

The thing about liberty is, sometimes people will use it in ways we disagree with.  They will use it to get into same sex relationships and even bigamy.  The answer isn’t to turn to the government to decide what is morally right and wrong.  The answer is to understand what liberty means; the freedom to express oneself without trampling on another person’s rights within reason.  The Second Tablet of the Law must be followed.  The answer is to remember that to limit someone elses liberty is to limit our own.  This may mean that we congregate with like minded people.  The Lutherans will rally around the Lutherans; the gay and lesbian groups will rally around themselves.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean intolerance as this is happening already.  It means we respect each other’s differences, and we are willing to co-exist peacefully though we do not agree.  I would much rather have this set up than to be subjected to the whims of society as it is decided what is right and wrong for that age and then applied to all.  I would rather have the freedom to live as a Christian than the persecution of a martyr because the times changed and I am now being forced to do what someone else thinks is right.

So where am I on the Defense of Marriage Act and the recent Supreme Court rulings?  I don’t know.  The cat’s already out of the bag.  The government is already in the marriage business.  To that end, I agree wholly that marriage is between one man and one woman.  But is there a better way in our society to regain the liberties we had when the country was still being formed?  I still wonder if everything shouldn’t be contractual and leave the marriage business to the church.  For me, this is still open for debate on what is best.

What do you think?

It’s Alive!

One of the reasons why I push to get healthy is because I do want to get pregnant.  It’s important that body, mind, and soul are healthy to carry a baby successfully.  Getting my weight under control and my eating healthier than it has been is an important step to make sure that my baby’s first home- me- is healthy and a good environment to grow and develop.  Taking good care of me means that I will be taking good care of a life that I am responsible for (hopefully) in the near future.  Just as much as protecting baby from harm after s/he is born, I must protect baby from harm inside of me.  Toxins of unhealthy eating will effect baby, probably more than I realize.  Having a healthy weight, good cholesterol, low blood pressure, and no diabetic tendencies are important precautions just like making sure to use a safety seat in the car is, locking the door after coming in the house, and making sure that the plugs have covers on them to avoid mishaps.  Baby’s environment shapes who s/he becomes both in the moment and later in life.

So if baby isn’t alive until after s/he is born, why bother with prenatal care at all?  Why bother getting healthy if the first environment baby is in is out of the womb?  It really shouldn’t matter what I eat, how much I exercise, or even if I drink or smoke, if the baby isn’t alive until birth.  So why is it that certain products (alcohol, cigarettes, certain medications) and certain activities (roller coasters and other amusement park rides, even hot tubs)  have warnings on them cautioning women who may be pregnant that this could be hazardous to the unborn?  Logically, this makes no sense.  Why should it matter if the baby isn’t alive until birth?

The same scientists who claim that they can prove using evolution and natural processes that God doesn’t exist will argue on whether the lump of cells made of two different individual’s DNA to form a completely new DNA structure is a baby or a tumor.  Isn’t disproving God infinitely more complex than deciding if a lump of cells is cancer or a baby?  I had a tumor removed from my hip about a year ago.  I can tell you now it didn’t have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and a nose.  It truly was a lump of fatty tissue that needed to come out.  How can we scientifically not see the difference between that and a baby?  Logically, this makes no sense.

So, if the baby is only a baby if it is wanted, how does that effect the rest of life?  Are my parents only my parents (and by that I mean the physical DNA that my parents gave to me to make me who I am) if I want them to be.  If I decide I don’t want them, will my DNA change to who I want my parents to be.  If I have a cancerous tumor, and I choose not to have a cancerous tumor, will it change and become something less malignant?  I can hate my eye color, but the only way that I can change it is by covering it up and pretending that it is something it’s not.  I can’t change it to what I want simply by making up my mind that my eye color is something different than what it actually is.  So why is it that a baby is only a baby if we want it?  Logically, this makes no sense.

So if scientifically it’s a baby, and from the physical laws of our reality we can’t change it by wishing for something different, then what does happen when an abortion occurs?  Removing an organism from the environment that it is nourished, grows, and develops will kill the organism.  So, abortion kills the organism, the baby.  Why?  Is it inconvenience?  Fear?  Perhaps a hardened heart?  Whatever the reason, it’s not based on science, logic, or reason.  Neither is murder based on science, logic, or reason.  So if we legalize abortion, why not legalize murder?  Each murderer has an emotional reason why the person they killed needed to die.  So does the woman who has an abortion.

But murder is outlawed, based on the 5th Commandment, the laws of the land, and the natural law written on our hearts.  So why isn’t abortion?

It’s Been a While

Six months to be exact since I have posted here.  I need to do it more often.  I do.  Life tends to get in the way.  However, it seems, that I am not without deep thoughts, just not always thoughts that I share.  However, the more I watch The Blaze, the more I realize that maybe I am not alone in my thoughts, that maybe I am not the only person who feels the way I do, and maybe, just maybe, there are fellow Americans out there who believe, as I do, that we are on the wrong path in our government, that the focus of the American people is being fundamentally shifted to something that is dangerous to individual liberties and to the freedoms Christians enjoy in this country.  The time is coming soon that active persecution will happen in America that will look more like what the Christians went through under Caesar in Rome.  It sounds so foreign, but it’s not.  Giving up our freedoms for free stuff gives others reign over our lives, which includes what we will eat (think New York’s soda pop ban), how we will live (ObamaCare), and what we will believe (the Boy Scouts recently were the latest to cave over bending to the will of the collective beliefs of our government about homosexuality despite stating that it went against core beliefs in previous statements).  My parents used to tell me that they paid the bills and therefore they got to tell me how I will live.  I thank them for that now, as my parents didn’t see me as a collective with my brothers, but attended to my needs personally and individually.  However, if the government is paying my bills, they could use the same argument and tell me what I have permission to do and what I don’t.  To be honest, one of the things that every child looks forward to when they grow up is the ability to get out from under their parent’s “rule”, so to speak, and right the perceived wrongs.  This allows people to live their own lives, doing as they wish.  Living under the government rule, there is no rite of passage, there is no “moving out”.  The government would be able to dictate from cradle to grave, the sole provider of all the needs of the people.

The government has some competition, however.  As a God-fearing, Bible believing Christian, who will tell you that I have nothing apart from what my Heavenly Father has given me through Jesus Christ, His Son, I have an issue with the government stating that it will take the place of God in my life, providing for my every need.  Sure, God could work through the means of the government, and has for many people, but that’s not what the government pushes to believe when the topic comes up.  Instead of seeing itself as an agent of the God who created heaven and earth, they see themselves as a means to an end all on their own.  Taking their authority not from God, but from themselves, they will decide that God is no longer in the picture and the only god who provides for meat and drink, house and home, clothes and shoes, fields and cattle, and all of the needs to support this daily life is the government itself.  That’s what God promises us in the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  I would much rather work hard on my own, earn my keep, and work to support myself and my family under God than I would give up my God and get all of this “stuff” supposedly for free.

Perhaps the biggest “war on religion” in the US today is not the one we suppose on the surface.  The government is fighting to take the place of God.  The government wants to be the one supplying our every need, ensuring that we are never uncomfortable.  In order to accomplish this task, they must remove God from the public arena, thus telling Christians that religion is private and should happen in the home, as if it was a shameful and embarrassing act, forcing the religious symbols out of the public view and even demonizing the religious as dangerous zealots who are radical and a threat to civilized society.  Popularizing secular accomplishments that glory in the actions of men rather than God working through men, the government cannot accomplish this quickly, as the backlash would be phenomenal.  Instead, attacking one freedom at a time, the government slowly turns up the heat so that people are unawares until it is too late.  It seems that it is at its peak now, with the IRS spying on the TEA Party and it’s members, the press and it’s workers, ObamaCare forcing people to turn over their healthcare to the government, and the gun control debate that relates directly to the freedom of the 2nd Amendment with the bulk of Americans seeming not to care because of either the “stuff” they can gain from it in terms of personal acquisition or opponents being suppressed for more seeming popular beliefs, but even a look to WWII Germany will state that it can get worse.  There is a fundamental problem when the government believes it is God.  Whether it is is Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt, Caesar in Rome, or Hitler in Germany, once the government believes that they are a god, trouble follows.  Rome fed Christians to the lions.  Hitler massacred more than just Jews.   The path the US is on is going to be just as destructive.

I am a part of a church who prays weekly for the government, that it be good and just.  This isn’t an anti-government tirade.  This is a cautionary tale.  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  I don’t want a repeat of the martyrdom of Christians because they will not accept the American Civil Religion of which the government is one of the religious leaders, and other religious leaders must follow suit or face serious consequences.  I want the freedom given me in the Bill of Rights to live a peaceable life as I wish without the government giving me all I need to support my daily life (and all the interference that comes with it).  I have my God who promises to provide for me who will see me through in this life and the next through Jesus Christ, who won my salvation and made me a princess in His kingdom.  I want the government to do what it is supposed to do: to allow me to live in freedom and peace so that I may go about my work uninhibited.