Brugge’s Notes

Just How Great Is Your Sin?

Lent is the time for self-reflection. Of looking inwardly and taking an inventory of the state of our lives. There are times that we can look with satisfaction and the improvements that we have made over previous times, and there are times we come up short. The second week in Lent is traditionally the time when we recall the Parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15: 11-32) Th reason is obvious, we are all at one time of another the Prodigal Son. In the story, the son demands his inheritance early and squanders if in a “far country”. In time, life beats him down unmercifully. At his lowest point, he takes stock of the mess he has made of things and quips to himself, that even the lowest servant in his father’s house lives much better than he. With nowhere else to turn, he returns to his father, hoping to admit his wrong and beg for forgiveness. He hoped that at least be might be hired on as a servant. Of course we know what happened. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” We don’t need the bible to tell us we have done wrong. Nature writes that on our hearts. Anyone who is honest with themselves knows how far from perfect their lives are. Many today are tormented by, in the words of

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When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers

When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayers

oes God answer your prayers? Are you sure? How do you know God answers your prayers? You get what you pray for, right? But what if you don’t get what you pray for? Has God still answered your prayers? God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He says “yes”, sometimes He says “no”, and sometimes He says “wait”. Oh pleeeeease!!!! This is just about the lamest platitude there is. I can say the same thing about praying to a rock. If I get what I want, the rock said “yes.” If I don’t get what I want, the rock said, “no” and if I don’t get what I want but later on I do, then the rock must have said “wait.” But I can’t hear the rock any better than I can hear the voice of God. The Bible suggests that before sin came into the world, God would walk in the Garden and have pleasant conversations with Adam and Eve. If the Garden of Eden was like that, then sin put an end to it. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin there is a barrier between God and man—no more dialoging face-to-face. If God is answering my prayers it is without using any voice that I can hear. If I can’t hear His voice, I’m left asking the question “Is THIS what God wants me to do, or should I do THAT? Or should I do something else entirely? God, show me a sign.” … and of course, that clear

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What’s Up With That Masonic Symbol?

Almost every one of the stained glass windows in Trinity has at least one Christen icon or symbol. None of them elicit more questions than that of the All Seeing Eye. “So what’s up with the Masonry symbol?” people ask. It appears at the top of the window on the East side, closest to the front of the nave, overlooking the area where Pastor and the Deacon sit, and for generations, was seen by small, fidgeting children as God’s disapproving eye on their distractful restlessness. The All Seeing Eye, also known as The Eye of God or The Eye of Providence has been used for centuries as a Christian symbol. Art work, depicting the watching eye of God started appearing in Europe in the late fourteen hundreds, usually as a huge eye floating in the sky, or looking through the clouds. As people became more familiar with the meaning of the symbol, it began to appear with a triangle drawn around it to represent the Trinity. By the late seventeen hundreds, it had become a universally accepted symbol throughout Christendom. When the United States was founded, the All Seeing Eye was incorporated into the Great Seal of the United States, appearing above an unfinished pyramid. The idea was that God (or Providence) oversaw and gave his approval of the growing nation. The Pyramid was made of thirteen rows, with room for more. Popular legend has it that the founding fathers were greatly influenced by the Freemasons and that these mason’s

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Struggling With a Sin That You Can’t Stop Repeating – Part 2

Last week, I talked about being held captive to a particular sin from which you felt powerless to break free. I gave you four tough questions that you needed to ask yourself. This week, I have just three more questions for you to ask yourself as you enlist God’s help in helping you fight the power of this sin. Have I distanced myself from temptations or triggers? This is one of the hardest steps. We talked last week about how a certain sin may bring you a temporary pleasure and that you can become addicted to this pleasure. In the same way, there may be relationships that you have with friends, with loved ones, or places you like to frequent, or activities you like to engage in that lead you into sin, or weaken your resistance. If you are serious about freeing yourself from the chains of this sin, you may have to give up some additional things that bring you comfort. Sometimes this means breaking off relationships, changing a job, finding a new set of friends, or giving up things you enjoy. It may mean no more romance novels or no more browsing the internet. Whatever it takes to separate yourself from those things that lead you back into sin. A good idea is to write down an action plan that lists the changes that you must make in your life. Be honest and prayerful. As you do so, read 1 Corinthians 10:13 Am I willing to set aside

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Struggling With a Sin That You Can’t Stop Repeating – Part 1.

As a Christian, you know what God doesn’t want you to do—and yet you continue to do it. Sometimes, you are held in the grip of a particular sin, a sin that you just can’t say no to, a sin that grieves you, a sin that damages your relationship with others, or might even cost you your job. Such a sin may even cost you your relationship to God. It might be that this sin has become an automatic response in you. It may be something that you don’t think about, something that you don’t even make a conscious decision to do. It may seem that all of your attempts to resist this sin are in vain. Like trying to struggle your way out of a muddy hole, you slide all too easily back in, working yourself deeper and deeper into the mire. Praying about it seems to be ineffective. This is the first part in a two part series about freeing yourself from the grips of sin. So you recognize that this sin is a problem. You’ve tried to stop and can’t. What do you do next? It’s time to ask yourself some hard questions. Am I a believer? We do not come to believe in God on our own. The Holy Spirit works in our heart to bring faith. But we can lose that faith on our own. The idea of “once saved, always saved,” is a fallacy. The bible makes no such promise. We each have a

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Does Anyone Know Where The Love of God Goes?

It would seem that the good people of Oklahoma can’t catch a break. Here it is, early in their tornado season, and they have had two deadly tornadoes back to back. The pain is heightened because both tornadoes developed in front of us—live—on prime time television. We were able to agonize with the victims as they awaited their fate and we were able to join with thousands in prayer that a merciful God would prevent tragedy from striking. And yet it did. So where was God? What good were our prayers? Gordon Lightfoot summed up the feelings of many of us when he sang, “Does anyone know, where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” After all, doesn’t scripture say, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”? John 14:13-14 So what effect, if any, did thousands of prayers have? Where was the love of God? To make the sting even worse, we read mocking comments on social media sites like Facebook. “So where was your God when all of those people were dying? How can a, so called God of love, allow such evil to happen?” Where indeed? I had a pet dog that went blind. In spite of her blindness, we still took her for walks around the neighborhood.  In fact, she quickly memorized where the end of the

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Piling on the Pope

There was a time when Lutherans would likely feel quite smug regarding the rumors surrounding the Pope and his resignation. Protestants and Roman Catholics have been at odd for centuries, and millions have lost their lives because of the bloodshed between the forces supporting one or the other. Far into the twentieth century, hostility and prejudice continued between the two groups, and traces of it linger still. But times have changed for both Catholics and Lutherans. No longer do we talk about the Pope as the antichrist.* Pope Benedict XVI has even spoken publicly about his deep admiration for Martin Luther and said that Catholics would benefit by being more like him. The fundamental difference now, from the centuries prior, is the roll of the Church in the daily life of the common man. And by Church (with a capital ‘C’) I am referring to the Communion of all Saints. At no time since 1517, when Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg castle church, has the Church been more marginalized by society. Where once the church ruled over every aspect of a person’s life, it is now looked upon as a voluntary club much like the Rotary, or the Lions Club. The Pew Research Center released a study that shows that in the United States, fewer than one out of three persons under thirty belong to any organized religion. The concept of separation of Church and State, a concept unheard prior to Luther, has for

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Secret Lutheran at Apple or Computer Glitch?

I’ve worked to keep the knowledge of the Twelve Days of Christmas fresh in people’s minds. I was delighted to see the following article in Scott Richert’s blog. Scott is a devout Catholic layman that knows more about the liturgical church than most, including Catholic and Episcopal priests and Lutheran clergy Is there a Catholic programmer secretly at work on Apple’s iOS 6, trying to make it easier for iPhone and iPad and iPod owners to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas? Probably not, but it’s fun to think that a little bug that kicked in on January 1 might actually be a feature for those of us who wish to make Christmas last a little longer. Read more at Scott Richert’s Blog…

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What Does Your Brand Say About You?

I met a man tonight who made his living helping businesses with their branding. Not the type cowboys do to mark their cattle, but the kind businesses do to differentiate themselves from one another. He explained that branding is more than just a good looking logo and some nice stationary, branding is everything a business does in the public eye. Branding is establishing in the public’s mind, what a business is about, what it promises to deliver. Not just the products it has, but what its core values are and in what ways it is different from other business. He said that he also helps individuals with their branding. He told me about a young fellow that came to him that had been trying to find job. He said that this fellow had a very professional looking resume and had a respectable portfolio of his work. He said that this fellow had been able to get interviewed for good jobs, but he never got a call back. Then the man looked this fellow up on the internet. He looked at his Twitter and his Facebook posts. Apparently, the fellow liked to party. He said that everything this fellow posted was about how drunk he had been the night before or what sexual conquests he had made at a party. The friends he had on line expressed the same sentiments. The man said that the interviewers were looking at this fellow’s posts as well. The man laughed and said that he

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Trinity’s Water Woes

Soon after Trinity’s building was first completed in 1860s rain water started seeping in. The problem was most likely poor construction methods combined with the use of very porous brick. Over the next hundred years, many attempts were made to alleviate the seepage—with mixed results. Finally, in the 1950’s, Trinity added a state-of-the-art facade made of a product optimistically named Permastone. The facade changed the look of Trinity from a nineteenth century Germanesque structure, to a Gothic style structure like one might find in medieval England or France. The Permastone did the trick. So in 1956, convinced the walls were not free from seepage, every bit of the plaster in the church, most of it cracked and crumbling, was chiseled away and entirely new plaster walls were put in its place. The members of Trinity enjoyed a church that was free of dank, moldy, crumbling walls for the first time that anyone could remember. The walls stayed solid and dry for at least thirty years. However, in the 1970’s paint started peeling from the walls in a few areas indicating a moisture problem. By the 1980’s sections of the walls were showing efflorescence, a sure sign of moisture seeping through the walls. Work was done to repair the roof and gutters, believed to be the source of the leaks. By the 1990’s Rev. Schmidt and the men of the church kept busy re-plastering and repainting the same troublesome areas and as the new century rolled around, plastering and painting was

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Getting Angry With God

Why can’t God just say yes? It’s really no skin off of His nose to grant us this one tiny petition. I bargain, I plead. I pray without ceasing. I mean, what’s it take for God to add a few more years to the life to one mortal?. What about that “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” Huh? (Psalm 50:15)

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Dust That I Am

The manufacturers are constantly waging war against dust. Specially built “clean rooms” have high volume air scrubbers that run day and night filtering and refiltering the air. Workers must don special garments made of non-woven cloth.

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