Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Great Post on Justification

Growing up in a more liberal and contemporary church, I have always had a harder time understanding the doctrine of justification. Now that we are in a Confessional Lutheran church who holds to teaching God's Word in its truth and purity, I have a better understanding of justification. I couldn't explain it as eloquently as Scottius Maximus explained it in one of his recent posts though so I would like to share it with you in its entirety.

The Importance Of Getting It Right- Justification

Justification. Was Christ's death a justifying, atoning act for all, or only to a few?

If justification is not universal, how can you be sure Christ died for
YOU? Because if he didn't justify everyone, but only the "elect", then maybe he didn't die for YOU, because maybe you are "unelect". Which makes you nothing but the unholy sinner you are, and your life is a wasted sham.

It's a shame some people believe in a limited atonement, despite the number of scriptures to the contrary, starting with the most basic, John 3:16.
And to the Lutheran, there is comfort in knowing he paid for ALL SINS on the cross. Every single thing. Everything. It is all forgiven. And the forgiveness is already there, all you have to do is accept it in faith. It is finished. It is done. There is nothing a person has done, or will do in the future, that was not already paid for by Christ on the cross. All the sins we have ownership to, every rotten thing we have done and will do. Because Christ paid for the sins of the whole world, and for His sake, God forgives us all our sins. Mine, my kid's, my neighbor's, my friend's, my great grandfather's, and all of my descendants' sins. Even "uglier" sins, like Muslim bombers and Nazi sins. Every single sin made by every single person who ever walked this planet is already forgiven by God, including the "most evil" of us. Because Christ took on the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.

Isn't that great? All that we have to do is have faith this is so.

But even God does that for us through the Holy Spirit. So we have nothing of ourselves, but everything by God.

So how could anyone believe Christ did not die for all? That would make me terrified.

It also keeps me from worrying every time I fall down that God won't forgive me this time. But because He paid for everything, I no longer fear I will sin so much I will no longer be forgiven. Sure, I need to repent daily of my continuing sins, which is a part of the ongoing conflict we are promised we will fight until we leave this world. But I don't despair that God will abandon me when I keep on sinning. And I do.

I love this summary of the doctrine of justification found in Albert Kohler's "A Summary Of Christian Doctrine." He writes:

"Thus, the reconciliation of the whole world by Christ and the forgiveness of all sins of all men is an accomplished fact, which, in itself, is not affected by the attitude of men (Romans 3:3). This fact is proclaimed in the gospel to every slave of sin; and the very moment that he applies this fact to himself, believing that for Christ's sake also his sins are forgiven, he has the forgiveness of all his sins, is free from the guilt and punishment of sin, and is personally justified before God...

If we tell a heathen man that for Christ's sake God has forgiven all his sins, we are simply stating a fact, which the unbelief of man cannot make ineffectual, "without effect" (Romans 3:3). The function of faith in this matter is merely instrumental; it does not achieve forgiveness of sins; it does not earn it; it does not make us worthy of it; nor does it move God to forgive our sins. It is not a condition we must fulfil before forgiveness is available for us...

Justification is that forensic act of God, by which He, on the basis of the perfect vicarious atonement wrought by Christ, declared the whole world to be justified in His sight (objective justification), and transmits and imputes the effect of this declaration to all whom He brings to faith by the work of the Holy Ghost through the means of grace (subjective justification)."

Friday, February 24, 2006

I Just Love Lucy

Lucille Ball, the queen of comedy, was a genius of a comedienne. She was beautiful and glamorous and yet so goofy and nutty. The jams she would get herself in were unbelievable for most people. However, for Lucy they were believable situations, for the most part anyway. She was a woman of many facial expressions and memorable sayings which could crack up anybody. I have to realize that there are always those people who didn't like her although I have yet to meet anyone who has said that they disliked her.

Lucy definitely was the star of the show; however, the show would not be complete without Ricky, Fred, and Ethel. Who could forget Ethel, Lucy's scheeming partner who always seemed to be manipulated into the craziest of situations? Boy, did Lucy have a hold on her! And what about good old stingy and grumpy Fred whose bark was always worse than his bite? There usually was a teddy bear underneath that rough exterior! Then there was Ricky who was always trying to figure out how to keep Lucy out of show business and always loved a good plan to foil Lucy's plan! It was always funny to hear his bellowing laugh in the background laughter along with the audience!

Laughter really is good medicine for all of us. We certainly get enough of it around our house which makes life a lot more fun! Of course, we all have our bad days now and then because of our sinful nature and our decaying culture. When those days do pop up, we need to remind ourselves of this proverb: "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverb 17:22. May your house be full of laughter and good moments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Port Update

From Gary Bauer's End Of Day Report 2/22/06:

"Port Update"

"First, I need to make a clarification. Several of our astute recipients of
this daily report have correctly pointed out that it is inaccurate to
suggest that the U.S. has agreed to allow an Arab company to “buy” six of
our ports. I apologize for the imprecise wording.

What is in contention here is whether it is appropriate for a company
controlled by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to run the
port operations at those six U.S. ports. Previously, a private British
company was performing those services and they have now been bought by the
UAE government-controlled company.

The Bush Administration strongly defended its decision yesterday with the
president actually threatening to issue his first veto if the Congress acts
to block the deal. My sense is that he may have to use that veto because
virtually the entire Republican leadership has come out in opposition or is
demanding that there be a more thorough investigation. That sounds
reasonable to me.

Washington, D.C.’s conservative newspaper, the Washington Times, ran a
story this morning quoting unnamed security officials in the U.S.
government who oppose the deal. Here is a key excerpt:

“Allowing a Middle Eastern company to manage key ports ‘would be like
putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,’ said one security official,
who, like most other critics, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Another official said the problem is not the company but its location in a
region rife with Islamic terrorism.

‘You have to be concerned about a firm from that part of the world managing
the ports,’ this official said. ‘They are more vulnerable to compromise and
penetration by terrorists, even if they are just managing the port.’

“Company officials would be briefed on security procedures and
countermeasures that, if compromised, could allow foreign terrorists to get
through various screening procedures, the official said.

“The Coast Guard is responsible for port security, tracking ships, crews
and cargo and search vessels based on intelligence. There is no cohesive
hiring or screening process for port workers, however.”

There are reports today that neither General Pace, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld nor President Bush were
aware of this deal until after it had been approved.

What troubles me most about this mess is whether the president is getting
all the information he needs to avoid unnecessary controversy. How could
the White House be surprised by the furor caused by the announcement? If
there are factors we don’t know about, why weren’t key supporters of the
administration briefed ahead of time so they could make the case? Why is
the president now in a position of risking a showdown with his own party on
an issue of national security?

Please feel free to pass on this "End of Day" update to interested friends
and family members.

If you would like to receive this update by e-mail, you can sign up online

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Selling our ports

For any of you who do not know who Gary Bauer is, he runs the PAC, Campaign for Working Families. Besides this wonderful achievement he also ran for president in the 2000 elections as well as served on the Family Research Council and in President Reagan's cabinet. I always appreciate his end of the day bulletins because they are truthful and resourceful. He writes the following about the growing concerns of the controversial subject of our port selling:

"From: Gary L. Bauer, Chairman
Campaign for Working Families

Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Fallout Continues

The impending sale of major U.S. ports to a shipping company based in the
United Arab Emirates dominated the news this weekend. As this deal gains
greater attention, the fallout continues and public officials are
scrambling to react. The bi-partisan opposition is growing and now
includes powerful congressional figures such as Rep. Peter King, chairman
of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Yesterday, King publicly called on President Bush to step in, saying:

“I'm strongly urging the president to intervene to stop this, to freeze it,
to put it on hold. This contract should not be allowed to go forward until
there is a full and complete investigation. And there has not been a full
investigation of this company nor of its roots in the United Arab Emirates.
There have been allegations of weapons parts going…to Iran. There's been
allegations of corruption… None of these have ever been investigated by our

The administration is finding itself increasingly isolated in its defense
of this deal. Over the weekend, Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News
Sunday that the White House was “unbelievably tone deaf politically.” Also
voicing concerns are Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate
Majority Leader Bill Frist, who announced today that he would introduce
emergency legislation to block the sale. The Republican governors of New
York and Maryland are also threatening lawsuits.

Oddly enough, the instigators of the opposition were Senate Democrats – New
York liberals Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, along with Sen. Robert
Menendez of New Jersey. But I find the liberal opposition somewhat
hypocritical. In voicing their objections to this sale, Senators Schumer,
Clinton and Menendez are suggesting that putting the ownership of our major
ports in the hands of an Arab company may not be in the best interests of
our national security. I believe they are right.

But these are the same liberals who block efforts to zero in on the
demographic most likely to be terrorists – young Arab Muslim men. So if it
is okay to reject the port company because it is Arab-owned, why isn’t it
okay to stop searching 80 year-old grandmothers at airports and instead
focus on passengers who fit the right profile?"

If you are as concerned as I am about this sell, I would encourage you to call or e-mail President Bush as well as your congressmen/women and senators. You can find the addresses and phone numbers by checking out this link: . To suscribe to his end of the day bulletins:

What do you think?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What If They Would Have Reconciled?

Ah, good old Lucy and Ricky - we always saw them kiss and make up at the end of their shows. Unfortunately though, we all know too well that that wasn't the story of their real lives together. I once heard Lucie Arnaz say that had Lucy and Desi really had the option of marriage counseling and known how to go through the process they might have made it.

Our pastor had a really thought provoking sermon about reconciliation last week, and here are the points that he made:

1 - God desires reconciliation. He takes the initiative for us to be reconciled to Him so we need to take the initiative to be reconciled to others.

2 - Christ humbled himself so we need to humble ourselves to reconcile with others, even if we don't think we did anything to hurt someone else.

3 - He suffered for our sin so we need to be willing to suffer the pain we probably will feel from trying to reconcile with others.

4 - He invites reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5:20) so we need to extend that invitation to others.

5 - He forgives our offenses so we need to forgive the offenses of others. After all, we want to be forgiven, don't we?

Believe me, I know all too well how hard it is to take that initiative. Though hurt and anger can almost paralyze us to the point of thinking we can never make that first step again, we must try. Unforgiveness in our hearts only hurts us and the people around us. And, we can never really be the "new creation in Christ" that Christ wants us to be if we focus on the hurt and anger which ultimately leads to death. While my husband and I were working through our very long reconciliation, I always said our love would be deeper than the pain. Christ was the source of our reconciliation so He was (and is) the source of our love. Was it hard? Oh boy, you better believe it! It was a step by step process and sometimes we would take two steps forward and three steps backward. In the end it was worth it! There is not a day that doesn't go by that we don't thank God for reconciling us together!

So, I would encourage you to reconcile with whomever may be hurting you in your life and trust that God can do immeasurably more than you could ever imagine!! And, I would also encourage you to take at look at yourself and ask God if you have hurt anyone. Sometimes we don't see our offenses because we are so busy focusing on the offenses of others. I need help with that all the time!!

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you , being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

So, what if they had been reconciled? What would that have done for their children, Lucie and Desi Jr. ? And what would that have done for us Americans who loved them so much and still do?

Chocolate and Toffee Lover's Delight

Reading the Daisies N' Chocolate post about chocolate got me thinking. I need to share a very easy and great recipe for making your own toffee.

Toffee Candy

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter (or margarine)
1 tsp. vanilla
6 plain Hershey bars
1/3 cup chopped pecans or brickle bits
dash salt

*Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in saucepan and cook over high heat for 10 minutes. Then lower heat and brown lightly. Arrange nuts or brickle bits on cookie sheet and then drizzle toffee over top. Lay Hershey bars over top and spread when melted. Cover and leave out for a few hours to cool. (Once it has cooled off, I place toffee in the refrigerator or freezer to harden it up a little bit. Word to the wise, it must be cooled off or the toffee and chocolate will not stick together.

As I was searching for a picture that somewhat looked like this toffee, I found a great recipe:
Chocolate Toffee Crunch Squares

Two 11 1/2-oz. packages milk chocolate chips

1 C. crushed toffee pieces or packaged toffee bits

1 C. salted peanuts

1 C. halved pretzel sticks

1/2 C. sweetened coconut flakes (optional)

1/2 C. white chocolate chips

1 t. shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)

Paper candy cups (optional)

Line a 9-inch square pan with plastic wrap. Place chocolate chips in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100 percent) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at HIGH an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

Immediately add toffee bits, peanuts, pretzels, and coconut, if desired; stir to coat.

Spread mixture into prepared pan; cover with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until firm.

Place white chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at HIGH an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Using fork, drizzle white chips mixture over chocolate mixture in pan. Cover; refrigerate 5 minutes or until firm.
Bring to room temperature. Remove chocolate mixture from pan and place on cutting board, top side up; discard plastic wrap. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares. Place each square in a candy cup, if desired. Store in covered container in a cool place.

Makes about 3 dozen squares.

Variation: Chocolate Toffee Haystacks — Prepare chocolate mixture as above. Instead of spreading square pan, drop chocolate mixture by slightly heaping tablespoons onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet or tray. Refrigerate until firm. Melt white chips as directed above; drizzle over "haystacks."

Enjoy!! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Commemoration of Martin Luther, Doctor and Confessor

This is from Martin Luther himself: "A penitent heart is a rare thing and a great grace; one cannot produce it by thinking about sin and hell. Only the Holy Spirit can impart it."

Repentance was the heart of Dr. Luther's teaching which comes from the very heart of God: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:24

What more can we say? We must always have a repentent heart before God and ready to go with Him to life everlasting. Are you repentent and ready?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Adoption Blessings

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " Matthew 25:40

Those are chilling words, aren't they? God does expect us to reach out and help others, does He not? However, we must ALWAYS pray for discernment about who to help and who not to help. We have to realize that we can't help everyone. We must always rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us to the people we are to help.

So what does this have to do with these adorable pictures of Korean children? Well, we are in the process of adopting a Korean baby. Our family is getting older and more independent so we are starting over raising a family!!! That's okay though, this little one will keep us young!! :) Hopefully this is one more soul that Christ can save and give the gift of eternal life, and hopefully all the lives who are touched by this little one can be touched by the love of Christ as well.

If you are thinking about adoption, I can give you a great reference: Lifelink International Adoption.

This is a Christian adoption agency that was recommended by several friends who had really good experiences with their adoptions through Lifelink. So far our experience has been very good, and we have a great social worker walking us through the process. Our adoption is presently on hold until we raise more money, but it will happen in God's timing. If you are thinking about adoption, I encourage you to really pray about it and trust Christ to lead you through the process. If it is God's will, He will provide the money. He provided the money to get started, and He will give us what we need for the rest of it in His time.

I encourage you to search the web for adoption resources and grants. There are many organizations (see my links) who are willing to give grants to adoptive parents. Also, there is the $10,000 adoption tax credit to be given to parents after the adoption is finalized.

Even if adoption is not for your family, you can still help by donating money to someone you know or to a reputable adoption organization.

Finally, you may ask why we chose adopting a Korean baby. Well, we know a lot of couples who have adopted Korean children and have had really good experiences. The health care that is provided is comparable to the United States. Also, when the baby is born, he or she goes to a foster mother immediately and stays with her until the baby is adopted. The adoptive parents have the choice to go over to Korea to pick up the baby or have the baby escorted here to the United States. We have chosen the latter option which is a wonderful option for us. As to my knowledge, Korea is the only country who has this escort option.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Lutheran Lucy!

  1. Americans discard enough Lutheran Lucy to rebuild their entire commercial air fleet every 3 months!
  2. Lutheran Lucy will give a higher yield if milked when listening to music.
  3. According to the story, Pinocchio was made of Lutheran Lucy.
  4. Fifty-two percent of Americans drink Lutheran Lucy.
  5. The only planet that rotates on its side is Lutheran Lucy!
  6. Lutheran Lucy once lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest.
  7. More people are killed by Lutheran Lucy each year than die in aeroplane accidents!
  8. All of the roles in Shakespeare's plays - including the female roles - were originally played by Lutheran Lucy!
  9. Owls cannot move their eyes, because their eyeballs are shaped like Lutheran Lucy.
  10. Lutheran Lucy is actually a mammal, not a fish!
I am interested in - do tell me about