Brugge’s Notes

Please call back!

For those of you who have tried to get in touch with me, I apologize. Most likely I didn’t get back to you, and I’m sorry. It’s not that I think your call is unimportant [but let’s be frank, sometimes they are], but it’s just that I’m so disorganized. It has been very hectic since my mother died and then moved my father into a retirement village. I plan things that I am going to do for the day and something else always comes along. I stay busy, but don’t seem to get much accomplished. Believe me, I know how frustrating and sometimes aggravating it is to leave a message and not have it returned. I know, I know. I get mad about it when it happens to me. I just pray that you will be understanding, and patient with me. God knows full well how frustrating it is too. He gives me spiritual calls all of the time which I never get around to answering. It’s not that I think God unimportant, it’s just that I have to take care of “more important” things before I can take the time out to answer him. I fully intend to get to him, I know it’s important, but I confess all too often I get caught up in my own worldly troubles and put God on the back burner. That’s the great thing about God. His patience is unending. (2 Peter 3:15) He does not get angry with me the way I get

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Roe v Wade. Can we Talk?

Roe v Wade. Can we Talk?

This January 22 will be the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. This case is widely known as the Supreme Court opinion that made abortions illegal. Of all of the Supreme Court decisions, perhaps Brown v. Board of Education (that ended segregation of schools) is the only one that produced more social turmoil. American society has divided neatly into two camps–those who agree with the decision and those who don’t. There are very few fence sitters on this issue. Those who agree with the decision identify with the phrase [A Woman’s] Right to Choose, while those who disagree, rally around the slogan, Right to Life The two sides continue to pitch battle with fervent zeal. Rarely is there a cross-over. This divide extends to our Christian family as well. The debate about abortion, if you can actually call it a debate, has proven time and again to be a rich environment for Satan to breed hatred and resentment. The odd thing is, each side thinks the other as lacking love and compassion. Those supporting Right to Life see it as: taking a human life. In their view, life begins at conception. Thus the willful ending of that life is murder. Case closed. Those who side with the Right to Choose are not quite as unified in their beliefs, but can still be summed as: abortion it is a personal choice for a woman, not a legislative body, to make. There are some things wrong with both of these arguments. I would love to expound wisely on the

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Law and Diet

to make my diet stick, I need more than resolutions. I need to stop thinking about how my pants don’t fit and think more about what it means to have a heart attack or a stroke! I need a strong reminder of the consequences of my actions.

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As My Mother Lay Dying.

My mother is near the end of her struggle with cancer. It has been a long and hard ordeal for the family. My mother was first diagnosed with this particular cancer over four years ago. We have had plenty of time to get ready, perhaps too much time. Many of the things we wanted or needed to do, we put off. Even though we knew we had limited time, the present time never seemed the right time to do things. Then, suddenly, it is too late. My mother took a turn for the worse and has gone downhill rapidly. My mother has been a fine Christian woman all of her life. Her spiritual affairs have always been in order. Spiritually speaking, her bags are packed and she is ready to go. I cannot say the same for all of my friends. Many do not have their spiritual affairs in order. Some have only a faint glow of faith, others deny Christ entirely. It has always been my intention to witness to them gently, so as to persuade them to embrace the love of Jesus. It has been my intention, but there always seemed to be plenty of time. There is nothing I can say that will bring to faith. No clever argument that will convince them. What must be done must be by the Holy Spirit. The bible tells us that in the Holy Spirit works through the Word. Not our compelling arguments, not our fine examples, but from our simply sharing the

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What is the Measure of a Man?

Quora is a question and answer website where questions are answered its community of users. Readers can up vote or downvote answers so that the favorites percolate to the top. Each week I get a summary of some of the most interesting questions. The following question had a number of answers, but this answer had over a million upvotes. I thought that I would share it with you. Q: What is the single most revealing thing about any person? A: How they treat the less fortunate. I was recently sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting for an appointment. A man approached the reception desk with no shirt on, using it as a sling around his leg. He was sweating profusely and he stunk. He was dirty. He looked like a bum. He was pleading with the receptionist to get a doctor to see him because he didn’t have any pain pills. The receptionist and I smirked at each other and the waiting room all shot each other a knowing glance.. As if we were all thinking, “oh brother”. The receptionist patronizingly explained that he would have to make an appointment and the doctor was too busy to renew his prescription. She refused to ask. I felt like rolling my eyes at this man. I mean HELLO DUDE make an appointment and for God’s sakes, put on a shirt and have some self respect. He disgusted me. At that moment the man dropped to the floor and looked up at the

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An Epidemic like Ebola is Terrifying. Trinity Has Experienced It Twice.

In 1873, a seminary student came to Memphis to help the congregation. Immediately on his arrival, Memphis was struck with a devastating outbreak of Yellow Fever. The epidemic took thousands of lives and made many thousands more deathly ill. Trinity’s pastor, Dr. G M A Gotsch, became gravely ill, as did his children. His wife and young Henry Sieck worked day and night to bring assistance to the sick, find care for the children newly orphaned, and keep a level of calm. In addition, Henry took on the pastoral duties of Dr. Gotsch. Trinity lost nearly a hundred of its members to the disease, oftentimes, entire families. In the fall of that year, the epidemic subsided and Memphis and Trinity did its best to carry on. Dr. Gotsch found himself too weak to carry on as pastor so on his recommendation, the congregation called Henry Sieck to be its pastor. Five years later, Memphis again was struck with Yellow Fever. Having experienced the death and devastation of the last epidemic, thousands of Memphians fled the city.  It had not been discovered yet how Yellow Fever was spread.  Outlaying communities set up armed militias to guard the roadways and train lines, stopping anyone from or having passed through Memphis. Caught in this panic, was Pastor Sieck and his wife, who was pregnant with their first child. You can read Pastor Sieck’s diary of his experiences being stranded without food or water, hunted by “Health Department” posses, and watching the suffering of his

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What if God DID give you everything you wanted?

What if God DID give you everything you wanted?

I just finished reading a very interesting article that Arthur C Brooks wrote ad an op-ed piece for the New York Times’ Saturday Review. Entitled “Love People, Not Pleasure”, I almost skipped over it. The title sounds like one the prevalent be nice to each other kind of pablum. Instead I found a well researched and well thought out piece on the effects of fame, fortune, and getting what we think we want out of life. In his article, Mr. Brooks does stray into the popular notion that our emotions have evolved based on the survival instincts or our stone age ancestors, and he borrows from the teachings of Gautama Buddha. But I think God and Buddha are very much on the same page on this subject. God warns us about the distractions of physical goods. When we are hurting, it is sometimes impossible to see that God really is taking care of us. When God does not answer our prayers the way that we want, or the way that we expect, we feel that God is ignoring us, or has abandoned us. It could very well be, that God is giving us what we need, not what we want. Here is a link to the New York Times article.

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The Lord will never give you a burden greater than you can bear… umm, not quite!

The Lord will never give you a burden greater than you can bear... umm, not quite!

According to the news, the economy is getting better. That might be hard to prove to some. Many are still struggling to get by, trying to keep from sinking deeper into debt, to keep their nose above the waterline. People, who just a few years ago had successful jobs find themselves on hard times. People finish school and there are no jobs there. Loans are suddenly due. Cars break down, appliances stop working, ceilings leak, dogs bite, collectors call. People find themselves dealing with sudden illness. Not in just themselves, but those they care for, or those that were caring for them. Relationships fall apart, families split, loved ones die. Things keep going from bad to worse. A Christian friend, hoping to give encouragement tells you, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” If you are down and anyone ever says this to you, please resist the impulse to take a poke at them. This phrase never gives encouragement. On the contrary, it discourages. It tells us that if we cannot handle what’s going on in our lives, it’s our own fault because God gave us the means to overcome our hardships. It makes it sound as if God has already done what all he is going to do for us and now it’s up to us on our own. The truth is, God often gives us more than we can handle—sometimes much more. To be more precise, God allows more troubles to come into our lives than we can manage. God never said that he would protect

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Praying for Paula Poundstone.

Paula Poundstone has announced that she is going to hell. This is not part of the popular comedian’s routine. She is not trying to be funny. She is dead serious. I like Paula Poundstone. She is sharp and extremely witty. She does not rely on blue material to be funny. I was listening to the radio program, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me a few weeks ago. Ms. Poundstone, who is a frequent panelist on that show, mentioned that she is an atheist. More than making a simple comment, she emphasized it several times. There was pride in the way that she said it. She did not state that she is going to hell, but the meaning is the same. Not long ago a public figure might be reluctant to disclose that they were an atheist. If they did, they did it knowing that they might be shunned . These times have passed. Atheist are a lot more visible, a lot more vocal and seem to be everywhere.  A local group called Memphis Atheist publishes a full calendar of events and boasts 500 members. Atheist student organizations can be found on almost every university campus across America. In the news, we hear of organizations like The Freedom From Religion Foundation, winning lawsuits against federal and local governments on an almost weekly basis. So what do we as Christians do? How do we quiet the din of atheists and convince them that they are wrong? How do we prove they need God’s salvation? In short, how can we save these people? Answer: we don’t. As St. Paul told the

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A Story About Forgiveness and Syrup.

Easter Sunday is full of traditions, the jubilant organ music, the stately processional, the white paraments, the apse decked out with Easter lilies, the reading of the Easter Story. Other traditions include new spring clothes, Easter Egg hunts, and baskets of candy and goodies. David Brugge takes a moment to reminisce about Easters of days past, of mishaps, and of forgiveness. Personally, my Easter is somehow never complete without breakfast served by the Trinity youth. I have no idea how far back the tradition of the youth group serving breakfast Easter morning goes. I know that when my wife and I were youth sponsors, sometime late in the last century, it had already been a very long established practice. The kids and their bleary eyed sponsors would arrive at the church near sunrise to began cooking pancakes and sausage and bacon. For nearly half a century, Mr.Greeley Parham, who ran the bakery for Seessels’, would also arrive to bake up batches of his famous hand rolled biscuits. Kids with aprons brought food from the kitchen and served beverages. Each table would have a basket in which diners were asked to make a donation. This money was then used by the youth to help fund their summer activities. I vividly remember the year that we were running low on pancake syrup. Looking through the cupboards, I found a jar of blackstrap sorghum molasses. I really wasn’t familiar with blackstrap, but knowing that molasses is a sweet syrup, I thought I could

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Does Your Faith Need a Recharge?

Not all submarines are nuclear powered. Those that are not rely on diesel powered generators to recharge their batteries. The diesel engines can only be operated when the submarine is on the surface of the water. This limits how long a submarine can stay submerged. Stay too long and the batteries would completely drain out and the submarine would loose the power necessary to operate. So time to time, it has to return to the surface to recharge its batteries. The same is true in the life of a Christian. When all is well, our faith is strong and our spiritual life runs smoothly. Although Christ’s redemptive work gained us our freedom, and the Holy Spirit has infused us with a saving faith, it is our duty and responsibility to maintain that faith. Scripture does not support the idea that “once saved, always saved.” With out care, it’s quite possible for us to lose our saving faith. From time to time, we need to “recharge” our faith batteries. The very best way to recharge one’s faith is by reading the Word of God. When reading the scriptures, the Holy Spirit works directly on our heart, pumping life giving faith back into our system. So to can be said of hearing the Word of God, not only in bible readings, but in hearing the Word preached in church. Another way is by sharing the Word of God. As you share your faith with someone else, your own faith is strengthened. And

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