Monday, March 31, 2008

Cleveland, Ohio

I have a fondness for Cleveland since my mom grew up in the Cleveland area, and when I was growing up, my parents and I would go visit my grandparents (and aunt) in the Cleveland area every year. Cassie and I took a great trip to Cleveland years ago too. One of Cleveland’s most famous landmarks now is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which is pretty cool. There are also other museums, the zoo, shopping, and great restaurants (like Lola, which will have a post itself!). I also saw a baseball game at Jacob’s Field once (it is now called something else), and would say the Cleveland Indians is my second favorite baseball team. The city takes a lot of pride in its Indians and in its football team, the Browns. Something else I think is cool about Cleveland is this area called The Flats. It’s an entertainment area which has a lot of restaurants and bars, but it’s cool cause it’s located right along the Cuyahoga River. Cleveland Rocks!

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article II Original Sin--Philip Melanchthon

"The knowledge of original sin is absolutely necessary. The magnitude of Christ's grace cannot be understood unless our diseases are recognized. (Christ says in Matthew 9:12 and Mark 2:17, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician.') The entire notion that a person is righteous is mere hypocrisy before God. We must acknowledge that our heart is, by nature, destitute of fear, love, and confidence in God...

...we will never be able to recognize Christ's benefits unless we understand our evils."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

This was such an engaging crime drama about private investigators searching for an abducted little girl in Boston. There are twists and turns, and the end is really interesting and makes you think. The movie was directed by Ben Affleck and is based on a novel of the same name. Casey Affleck, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman are great in this film.

Why I Am a Lutheran by Daniel Preus

Preus does an awesome job of addressing the central doctrines of sin, grace, Law and Gospel, the Sacraments, worship, ministry, etc., always focusing on how Jesus is at the center of all Christian teaching. He lays things out in a way that's easy for people to understand and beautifully speaks of what Christ has done for us. Excerpts from this book can be found in my theology posts. Awesome book!

Royal Ontario Museum--Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This museum is definitely something to check out if you're in Toronto. I love the extension on the building, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, which the Museum's website calls, "one of the most important architectural projects of our time and a distinctive new symbol of Toronto for the 21st century." I think it's awesome looking! There is quite a lot to see in the museum--lots of World Culture and History Galleries. The Canadian gallery is cool, displaying various images, symbols and emblems of Canada.

"Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia"

Christ has arisen, alleluia.
Rejoice and praise Him, alleluia.
For our Redeemer burst from the tomb,
Even from death, dispelling its gloom.

Refrain: Let us sing praise to Him with endless joy;
Death’s fearful sting He has come to destroy.
Our sin forgiving, alleluia!
Jesus is living, alleluia!

For three long days the grave did its worst
Until its strength by God was dispersed.
He who gives life did death undergo;
And in its conquest His might did show.

The angel said to them, “Do not fear!
You look for Jesus who is not here.
See for yourselves the tomb is all bare;
Only the grave cloths are lying there.” Refrain

“Go spread the news: He’s not in the grave;
He has arisen this world to save.
Jesus’ redeeming labors are done;
Even the battle with sin is won.” Refrain

Christ has arisen; He sets us free;
Alleluia, to Him praises be.
Jesus is living! Let us all sing;
He reigns triumphant, heavenly King. Refrain

Text: Bernard Kyamanywa,; tr. Howard S. Olson
Tune: Tanzanian

I first heard this hymn several years ago, and immediately loved it. The Tanzanian tune is awesome, and really captures the joy of Easter. And of course the words wonderfully convey the Scriptural accounts of Easter and of what Jesus has done for us. It is a beautiful hymn.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ocean's Eleven (2001)

This movie is just plain fun. It's a caper, a movie about a casino heist. Such an awesome cast which includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, and Elliott Gould. It is fun to watch how they pull off the heist.

Why I Am a Lutheran, Conclusion Lord, In Your Mercy--Hear Our Prayer--Daniel Preus

“I am a Lutheran for the same reason I am a Christian. It is not by choice but by grace. The teachings of the Lutheran Church place Jesus at the center because the teachings of the Scriptures place Jesus at the center. No other confession demonstrates such fidelity to the truths of God’s Word. No other confession so glorifies Christ by placing Him at the center of all it confesses and teaches. Being a Lutheran is truly all about Jesus.
· The entire sinful world is loved by Jesus.
· God saves us through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
· The Holy Spirit creates faith by showing us Jesus.
· In Baptism, we die and rise with Jesus.

· In the Lord’s Supper, we receive our inheritance with the body and blood of Jesus.
· The pastor proclaims and distributes the merits of Jesus.
· All our prayers go to the Father through Jesus.
· All our good works flow out of hearts that trust in Jesus.
· In the bearing of all crosses in this veil of tears, our eyes are fixed on Jesus.
· We wait with joyous hope for the day when we will see the face of Jesus.

Thus the Christian faith is all about Jesus. Being a Lutheran is all about Jesus.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I love this classic! A lot of interesting characters. Some are quite funny like the irritating Mr. Collins or the obnoxious Mrs. Bennet. Then there are the silly sisters chasing after the military men. Jane's a little too perfect. She always puts the best construction on everything and on everyone's actions which really is a wonderful way to be, but she doesn't always see (or acknowledge) what's really going on. I love Elizabeth who doesn't give in to the expectations and pressures of her mother or society. She tells it how it is. I relate to her in that pride is something I abhor in a man. And perhaps I judge men quickly if they seem full of pride. This book is a good reminder of the prejudices we have. And all people do have prejudices and are fooling themselves if they think they don't! Often situations and people are not what we first think (or judge) they are. Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship and how it evolves is quite fascinating. And I also like seeing the affectionate, supportive relationship the sisters Elizabeth and Jane have with each other. It's interesting to get a glimpse of life in Britain in the nineteenth century--what society was like, reasons people married etc.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why I Am a Lutheran, Chapter 7 We Will Live Forever (Resurrection)--Daniel Preus

“Jesus conquers death by raising Himself from death to life. The importance of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be overestimated. The Christian faith stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus. Any faith without the resurrection of Jesus is nonsense. If the one who came to save us from death lies still and cold forever in the grave, Christianity is a sad joke. St. Paul says: ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). Those who would deny the resurrection of Jesus and who would reduce Christianity to a set of moral principles have little to do with the apostle Paul, who declares: ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:9). Paul even said that if Jesus did not rise, he, Paul, was a false witness and a man without hope (1 Corinthians 15:14-15).

Either Jesus rose from the grave or He did not. If He did not, there is little in life that really matters. We can have no hope. We can have no lasting joy. We can have no solid foundation on which to base our faith and our lives. But if Jesus did rise, the future has hope, our lives have meaning, and His Word provides a strong foundation on which to build and by which to live. And Jesus did rise! St. Paul declares: ‘But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). Again, in reference to Jesus’ resurrection, Paul exclaims: ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57). And Jesus’ resurrection is a victory for us.

Frequently, it is difficult to believe that our lives contain anything victorious. It is difficult to believe that evil does not triumph over good. It is difficult to believe that Jesus really accomplished anything for us when we see how faithful Christians suffer and our faith seems at times to be futile. Then we look at the passion and death of Jesus. History has known many dark hours but none as black as those hours when the Son of God was on the cross. There the powers of evil converged on Jesus and released their full fury. Who could have believed that any good could have come out of this? But God took this darkest moment and out of it He brought forgiveness, life, and everlasting glory. That is why our faith ultimately can conquer evil in this world—not because nothing will ever go wrong for us and we will never suffer, never sin, and never succumb to temptation, but because the Son of God took on Himself our human flesh and through His suffering, death, and resurrection robbed the devil and his evil forces of all hope for a final victory. In fact, Jesus’ resurrection is the declaration that God already has defeated all evil through Christ, His son. In the resurrection God has passed sentence on Satan and on all the evil that nailed Christ to the cross.”

What an amazing passage from an awesome book! This beautifully expresses what the Resurrection means to us as Christians, and what joy and peace we have because of it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"I Don't Mind at All" Bourgeois Tagg

I remember hearing this song on the radio from time to time in the 80’s, and I always liked it, but didn’t know who performed it. A couple years ago, I was thinking about this song again, and found out it was performed by Bourgeois Tagg. This group eventually split up, reportedly because Bourgeois recovered from his substance abuse problems and wanted to focus on more Christian themes in their music, and Tagg did not. Brent Bourgeois then went on to release albums under a Christian label, and wrote songs for various Christian singers and bands.

This song is beautiful with the acoustic guitar and strings. And I always kind of dug the lyric:
“Several years ago I said goodbye to my own sanity. But I don’t.. No, I don’t...No, I don't mind at all.”

Casa Loma--Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Casa Loma is definitely something to see while in Toronto. In 1911, Sir Henry Pellatt drew up plans for his dream castle. It took 3 years and cost $3.5 million to build. He had made a lot of money by founding the Toronto Electric Company, enjoying a monopoly on supplying street lighting to the city and having stock in the railroad and other companies. Eventually Pellatt went bankrupt, largely due to him losing his monopoly of electrical power when public ownership of electricity was allowed.

The castle is beautiful. It has 98 rooms, secret passageways, and underground tunnel, stables, gardens, etc.

Why I Am a Lutheran, Chapter 5 Mount Zion and the Sacraments (Remembering)--Daniel Preus

“Anyone who has experienced the suffering and pain of Alzheimer’s disease can begin to grasp the importance of remembering in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus did not give us this Meal only so we could remember Him; the Lord’s Supper does far more than remind us of what He did. It is a family meal in which our Father gives us food to eat. It actually places into our mouths the crucified body of Jesus and His blood, which was shed for the remission of our sins. Along with His body and blood, the Lord’s Supper gives us all the blessings that Jesus’ suffering and death procured for us. Luther clarifies these blessings for us: ‘In the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.’ Thus when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we participate in the suffering and death of Christ. Jesus places into our mouths everything that His death achieved for us.”

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thai Iced Coffee

"Thai iced coffee is brewed using strong black coffee, sweetened with sugar, heavy cream (or half-and-half) and cardamom, and quickly cooled and served over ice. Some variations are brewed using espresso. Thai iced coffee can be served with whipped cream on top for a layered effect, and garnished with cinnamon, vanilla and/or anise. It is a common menu item at Thai restaurants and works well after a spicy meal." This stuff is so good! It has a great sweet taste, and pretty much anytime I go to a Thai restaurant, I will order this.

The Game

This movie is a great psychological thriller featuring Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orten, a successful businessman who is cold and detached. His brother (played by Sean Penn) gives Nicholas an unexpected birthday present--enrollment in "a game." As various things happen to Nicholas to shake him up and to even make him fear for his life, he (and the viewer) is left to wonder what the game really is--is it just a game or a con, a scheme to get his money, etc.?

I love the suspense of this movie and how it leaves you wondering throughout what's going on. I've discussed this movie before with my friend Cassie who hates the ending. I can see where she's coming from as it does seem far fetched and questionable, but I still love how thrilling this movie is and think it's unique and fun to watch.

Matthew 28:1-10

The Resurrection
1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Easter is the day when we commemorate Jesus’ Resurrection. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sin. But death could not hold Him! He rose from the dead showing His victory over sin, death, and the devil. And because He lives, those who have faith in Christ Jesus shall live also. What joy and peace and hope we have from this! Christ has triumphed! He is living! Alleluia!

Friday, March 21, 2008

John 19:16-30

16Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:sc JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."
22Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."
23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."[
a] So this is what the soldiers did.
25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
The Death of Jesus
28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“It is finished.” Those three words say a lot. Christ accomplished His work of redemption for us. He suffered, and bled and died willingly for us. And what joy we have in knowing it is finished! There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It’s all been done by Christ.

Good Friday

Good Friday is when we commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a time to ponder Christ’s suffering, His sacrifice for a world of undeserving, sinful people. We cannot begin to comprehend what Christ endured on the cross. But we call it Good Friday because it certainly is good for us. We deserved to suffer everything Christ did, but He was our substitute. He took our place. And because He did, we will never know that kind of suffering; we will never know what it’s like to be forsaken by God. Christ conquered sin, death, and the devil. He atoned for our sin, and because of this we have peace with God. Our God loves us so much. Looking at the cross we see just how much He loves us. All other religions point to people’s good works. But Christianity is about a God Who took on human flesh and suffered and bled and died for us. It’s a love we can’t explain. But it’s a love we know is true, and by faith in Christ, we receive forgiveness and eternal life. I am so thankful for what Jesus Christ did for me. I know my sinfulness and unworthiness. And I know because of Jesus’ death on the cross, I am forgiven. I am a baptized child of God and know that because Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil, I too am a conqueror.

Salvation came at a price. And today (and every day) let us remember what it cost Jesus to grant us forgiveness and salvation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Pierced, crushed, oppressed, stricken, smitten, afflicted—all these words paint a picture of what our Lord endured for us. He suffered for us. He poured out His life unto death for us. The perfect Lamb of God was the perfect sacrifice for us. Thanks be to God. I especially love v. 5, but the whole chapter is just beautiful.

Why I Am a Lutheran, Chapter 5 Mount Zion and the Sacraments (Incarnation)--Daniel Preus

“Therefore, the Lord’s Supper is an affirmation of the incarnation of the Son of God. As we receive Jesus’ body and blood, we confess our belief in the incarnation. Every time we receive the Lord’s Supper, we confess what the apostle John proclaims in the first chapter of his Gospel: ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14). Every time we receive the Lord’s Supper we celebrate Christmas. Every time we receive the Lord’s Supper, we say amen to the angel’s announcement: ‘Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). Every time we receive the Lord’s Supper, we eat the true body of Him who was gently carried in the arms of Mary, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Thus in our eating and drinking, we confess that God the Son became a man to save us, and every celebration of Holy Communion is a celebration of Christmas. As children of God, we are excited and joyful to receive the eternal gifts of this Meal. Unlike Christmas presents, this Supper has no batteries to die, parts to break, or sleeves to outgrow

…To be saved, God must come to us, which He does in the incarnation. Therefore, Jesus with His body and blood is the one at the center of the Sacrament. It is not about our piety, our love, our dedication, or our commitment. It is about Jesus and His love, His dedication, and His commitment to us.”

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CN Tower--Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The CN Tower is Canada’s National Tower. Info. on the CN Tower says it is the World’s Tallest Building, though some other sources say technically this is no longer the case. At any rate, it is certainly one of the tallest buildings in the world at 1,815 ft, 5 inches (or 553.33 metres). At 1,122 feet., there is a glass floor you can walk on that looks straight down to the ground. It is actually way stronger than a commercial floor, but psychologically it is freaky walking on this glass and seeing the ground WAY down below. At 1,136 feet there is the Look Out Level which provides a fabulous view of the city of Toronto and beyond. Then you can go up even higher to the Sky Pod which is at 1,465 feet. The CN Tower is an awesome place to visit, and going there was one of my favorite things to do in Toronto.

The pic on top is the CN Tower of course. The picture below it was taken from The Look Out Level of the CN Tower—you can see what an awesome view you have.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto is a fabulous city! There is really quite a lot to do there—lots of attractions, shops, restaurants, etc. They have a City Pass which is awesome. For about $60, you can purchase the pass and gain admission to a bunch of the attractions (which would cost WAY more if admission was purchased separately for each place). Some of what Toronto has to offer includes—Casa Loma which is a beautiful castle, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Toronto Zoo (with many indoor pavilions--great when it’s cold outside), The Royal Ontario Museum, St Lawrence Market, 5 Chinatowns, The PATH, which is an underground mall and walkway, and my favorite--the CN Tower, one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. There are all kinds of restaurants. I love that there are so many Asian restaurants. There is plenty to do in Toronto—it’s a beautiful city.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why I Am a Lutheran, Chapter 5 Mount Zion and the Sacraments (Cup)--Daniel Preus

“Christians are sinners and saints at the same time. The old and new Adam coexist in us. Faith in Jesus is our only hope. We need grace and forgiveness, not new precepts and laws. In the Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus gives us pure Gospel without Law. It is a cup filled with grace and forgiveness, one that can never be emptied. No matter how much we drink, it remains full. God’s mercy and forgiveness never come to an end. No matter how often we fail Him and break His Law, God always stands ready to forgive. King David knew of such mercy and in Psalm 23 he demonstrates that though he had not seen the institution of Jesus’ cup of mercy in the Lord’s Supper, he truly understood the concept: ‘My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:5-6).”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Romans 8:1-11

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

NO CONDEMNATION—such sweet words for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. We are set free, we are alive because of Christ. He did what we could not do and gives us so many blessings we don't deserve.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Baklava, is a sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. This is a very rich and very good dessert.

"Jack and Diane" John Mellencamp

In honor of John Mellencamp being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight, March 10, 2008, I had to do a post about one of his songs. “Jack and Diane” is such a fun song. It always makes me smile to hear it and I end up singing along. This song came out in the 80s, my “growing up” years so I think that’s another reason why it’s fun for me to hear it.

I always remember this book about music I read once that talked about how pessimistic/depressing the lyric is, “Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.” And yeah, as a Christian, I can’t embrace that lyric because even when life is hard, there is a joy and peace that come from knowing Christ, and life is a blessing, a gift from God, not just something to get through. However, I know when faced with challenges or having some crappy days, the lyric does seem to resonate, and maybe can remind us that when life gets hard or isn’t what we want it to be, we just keep going and don’t get stuck. Now that I’ve analyzed that, I’ll say I don’t think this is a song that should be overanalyzed. It’s a fun song!

I think Mellencamp is very talented. Seeing him perform this song in concert was really great. Now sing it, “Oh yeah, life goes on…”

Listen here

Grandma Alyce and Grandpa Claude

This is my mom’s mom and dad. When I was a kid, I pretty much only saw my grandparents twice a year—they lived in the Cleveland, Ohio area and they would come visit sometimes for my birthday, and my parents and I would visit them in the summer. (We lived in a suburb of Chicago). I have some fun memories of us going different places in OH—amusement parks or the zoo. And I remember playing games like Password. My grandpa would cheat sometimes doing different actions and stuff when he gave his clue. Looking back now, I wish I had known them more. My dad’s parents died before I was born so I never knew them, and with not seeing my mom’s parents very often, well, it makes it hard. My grandpa died when I was in high school. My grandma lived with my aunt in OH for awhile after that, and my parents and I would visit when we could. My grandma had various health problems including a stroke. She ended up coming to live at a nursing home near us for the last year or so of her life. I try very hard to live life without regret, but I think I do regret not going to see her more when she was in the nursing home. I was in college at Concordia then and lived on campus so wasn’t around a lot, and when I was around I found it difficult sometimes because my grandma couldn’t talk very clearly because of the stroke (though she remained sharp mentally) so it was hard to have a conversation with her. My mom was very faithful about visiting her every day when she was in the nursing home, yet something else I respect my mom for. My grandma had an awesome sense of humor and it was fun to watch her get into one of her laughing fits.

Even though I wish I had known my grandparents better, I recognize the influence they have had on my life. For instance, they (well, especially my grandma) brought her to church, had her baptized, showed how important faith in Christ was. My mom (and dad) then brought me up in the Lutheran faith. I also sense that in some ways, mom learned things from her parents that she wanted to do differently in bringing me up.

I am also very thankful to my grandparents. When I was little, they set up a trust fund for me for my college education. That money paid for my undergraduate and part of my Master’s. I am so incredibly grateful for that. When I was a kid I probably didn’t appreciate the trust fund they had set up, but I sure do now. They made my life easier. I didn’t have to struggle like a lot of people do. I know how blessed I am, and just wish I could thank my grandparents. I now have my Master’s; I know my grandparents would be proud of me.

Jamocha Shake (Arby's)

“Thick and creamy ice cream blended with the perfect combination of chocolate and coffee flavors.” I love the flavor of these. The Arby’s I went to up in the Chicago ‘burbs back in the day made an excellent Jamocha shake—you could really taste the coffee and chocolate flavors. Some Arby's seem to not put as much of those flavors in their Jamocha shakes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I love this psalm because it reminds us so clearly our help comes from the LORD. He is always watching over us, taking care of us. He never sleeps. What a comfort to be reminded He is always there.

Bringing Down the House

This movie (from 2003) is hilarious. Peter (Steve Martin) is a lawyer who communicates with a woman online, whom he believes to be a lawyer. They set up a date, and when Peter opens the door, he finds Charlene (Queen Latifah), a wild woman who has escaped from prison and wants Peter to clear her name. My favorite part is where she first comes to the house, and Peter is shocked to discover this is the woman he has been communicating with. Steve Martin and Queen Latifah are both funny in this.

Why I Am a Lutheran, Chapter 2 A Matter of Mountains (Substitute)--Daniel Preus

“We were supposed to be punished for our sins, for breaking God’s rules and commandments, but God sent a substitute for that too. Jesus was punished in our place, bearing our sin and guilt so we could go free. John the Baptist says succinctly, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). Isaiah says it beautifully: Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

But Jesus did more than take on our punishment and death. He was our substitute in every way on every day of His life. Everything we should have been, our substitute was. Everything we should have done, our substitute did. Everything we should have suffered, our substitute suffered. Because Jesus kept every commandment perfectly, our God looks at us as if we had kept every commandment perfectly. Jesus took care of Mount Sinai for us, and He took care of us on Mount Calvary when He died on the cross for our sins. Therefore, God looks at us as if we already had died on the cross and paid for our sins. After all, our substitute did it for us. Jesus was our substitute with every breath He took, with every step He walked, with every word He spoke, with everything He did. From the moment of His conception in Mary’s womb to the moment of His death, Jesus took our place.” (pp. 40-41)

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Another great Mexican food. I love tacos, usually with ground beef, lots of cheese, onions, olives, sauce, sour cream. It is fun when places have a build your own taco bar.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"My City of Ruins" Bruce Springsteen

There is a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church door's thrown open
I can hear the organ's song
But the congregation's gone
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Now the sweet bells of mercy
Drift through the evening trees
Young men on the corner
Like scattered leaves,
The boarded up windows,
The empty streets
While my brother's down on his knees
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Come on, rise up! Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up! Come on, rise up!
Come on, rise up! Come on, rise up!

Now's there's tears on the pillow
Darlin' where we slept
And you took my heart when you left
Without your sweet kiss
My soul is lost, my friend
Tell me how do I begin again?
My city's in ruins
My city's in ruins

Now with these hands,
With these hands,
With these hands,
With these hands
I pray Lord
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray for the strength, Lord
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray for the faith, Lord
We pray for your love, Lord
We pray for the lost, Lord
We pray for this world, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord

Come on Come on
Come on, rise up Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up

Though Springsteen wrote this song about Asbury, New Jersey, the song took on a whole new meaning after 9/11. Shortly after 9/11, Springsteen opened the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon, performing this song. Whenever I hear this song, I think of September 11, and the words bring tears to my eyes. Yet there is hope in this song; it speaks about rising up after devastation and tragedy. And my favorite part is where Springsteen sings of praying. I don’t know what his faith is, but in the song he talks about praying to the Lord for strength, for the lost, for faith. It is an admission that the loss, devastation, and tragedy we face in life is overwhelming, and we cannot rely on ourselves, on our own strength. We can only rely on the Lord.

America: A Tribute to Heroes Clips (I like the version on this the best)
The Rising Clips

Augsburg Confession, Article XX Good Works--Philip Melanchthon

“First, they teach that our works cannot reconcile God to us or merit forgiveness of sins, grace, and justification. We obtain reconciliation only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ’s sake. He alone has been set forth as the Mediator and Atoning Sacrifice (1 Timothy 2:5), in order that the Father may be reconciled through Him. Therefore, whoever believes that he merits grace by works despises the merit and grace of Christ (Galatians 5:4). In so doing, he is seeking a way to God without Christ, by human strength, although Christ Himself said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).

This doctrine about faith is presented everywhere by Paul, ‘By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8).

…Consciences cannot be set at rest through any works, but only by faith, when they take the sure ground that for Christ’s sake they have a gracious God. As Paul teaches, ‘since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God’ (Romans 5:1)….

…Without faith, human nature does not call upon God, nor expect anything from him, nor bear the cross (Matthew 16:24). Instead, human nature seeks and trusts in human help.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Velvet Red Wine--St. James

This is a sweet red wine. St. James Winery is located in St. James, Missouri and makes many great wines. Velvet Red is supposed to be one of the top selling wines in Missouri. Good stuff!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

It was fun going to Lake of the Ozarks. I went in 2004 with my friend Lisa. The lake was beautiful. I went parasailing, which was great. I thought it would be a rush, but actually it was more relaxing being so high above everything. You couldn’t even hear the sound of the boat. It was exciting when they brought me down so I could dip my feet in the water, and then brought me up into the air again.

The Four Seasons was a great hotel to stay at. Also, there were plenty of shopping opportunities at the outlet mall and souvenir shops. And there were lots of great restaurants and bars along the lake. Visiting the Salty Dog was fun; they had great food, and live music.

Visiting Lake of the Ozarks was a nice laid back, relaxing trip.

Romans 3:23-24

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

This passage is such a key one. It reminds us we are all sinners. We all fall short and can do nothing to merit salvation, forgiveness etc. We are justified or declared righteous totally because of God’s grace. Christ redeemed us with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar ("For You")--Martin Luther

“..there is besides this command also a promise…This ought most strongly to stir us up and encourage us. For here stand the kind and precious words, ‘This is My body, which is given for you…This is My blood…shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’ These words, I have said, are not preached to wood and stone, but to me and you. Otherwise, Christ might just as well be silent and not institute a Sacrament. Therefore consider, and read yourself into this word you, so that He may not speak to you in vain.

Here He offers to us the entire treasure that He has brought for us from heaven. With the greatest kindness He invites us to receive it also in other places like when He says in St. Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’…We must never think of the Sacrament as something harmful from which we had better flee, but as a pure, wholesome, comforting remedy that grants salvation and comfort. It will cure you and give you life both in soul and body. For where the soul has recovered, the body also is relieved.

…Here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin. It contains and brings with it God’s grace and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.

…If, therefore, you are heavy laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength (Matthew 11:28). If you wait until you are rid of such burdens, so that you might come to the Sacrament pure and worthy, you must stay away forever. In that case Christ pronounces sentence and says, ‘If you are pure and godly, you have no need of Me, and I, in turn, no need of you.’ Therefore, the only people who are called unworthy are those who neither feel their weakness nor wish to be considered sinners.”

Must Love Dogs

I loved this movie from the first time I saw it because it was such an accurate and funny portrayal of dating in the time we live in now. I have done the whole meeting other singles on the computer thing, and know it isn’t easy.

Diane Lane is wonderful in this movie as a recently divorced woman whose family worries about her and posts her ad on the computer hoping she will find someone. She is so dry in her delivery sometimes; it’s great.

One funny part is where she answers a personal ad only to discover it was her father’s ad (her dad is a widower). When she sees him at the restaurant and realizes she is answering her own father’s personal ad, he laughs, but she is horrified and says, “This is disturbing on so many levels.” Her sisters then tease her relentlessly, one of them saying, “It’s a shame I didn’t know before. I could have called Uncle Chet and we could have doubled.” The other sister then chimes in with, “How would you rate dad as a date—hot, superhot?”

I really like John Cusack in this too as a recently divorced man who is a little intense sometimes, but good hearted. This movie is a great romantic comedy, and I also like the family interactions. The siblings tease each other a lot, but are always right there to support each other.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sno Balls

My favorite Hostess treat is Sno Balls. “Coconut & marshmallow covered chocolate cake with creamy filling.” Incredibly yummy.

Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar (Worthiness)--Martin Luther

“…it is the highest art to know that our Sacrament does not depend upon our worthiness. We are not baptized because we are worthy and holy. Nor do we go to Confession because we are pure and without sin. On the contrary, we go because we are poor, miserable people. We go exactly because we are unworthy…

But whoever would gladly receive grace and comfort should drive himself and allow no one to frighten him away. Say, ‘I, indeed, would like to be worthy. But I come, not upon any worthiness, but upon Your Word, because You have commanded it. I come as one who would gladly be Your disciple, no matter what becomes of my worthiness. This is difficult. We always have this obstacle and hindrance to encounter: we look more upon ourselves than upon Christ’s Word and lips. For human nature desires to act in such a way that it can stand and rest firmly on itself.”