Thought for the day. My fathers testimony song.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15: 7-10)

My father was a middle school teacher in a city with many immigrants and refugee children from the second world war. There were Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Polish, Serbs and an occasional Jew. Many children came from single moms since this was a textile city.  So naturally he was a flaming liberal. But he had a very developed sense of right and wrong. He had a way with children, so the administrators gave him a large number of children from broken homes. He always tried his best to help them succeed in spite of hardships, and even now, 60 years later they call my mom in thankfulness, even going so far as to say “He saved my life”. Then in the 60’s and 70’s he saw the excesses of a socialist government, year after year taking more than the salary increases in additional taxes, so the take home pay every ear was a little bit lower. Meanwhile we had raging inflation. After his retirement my mom took a job as a therapist for people with cognitive challenges. Many had been in state facilities all their lives. The social administrators decided one day that they too should lead normal lives and gave them a dinner at the town’s most expensive restaurant. Not only did they not appreciate it, but they wanted to go back home and eat what they were used to. When my father found out the size of the bill he said bluntly: That’s it. From now on I am a conservative. But now he had to search out, how shall we then live, so he started going back to his childhood faith, the faith he abandoned as a young man because of the hypocrisy he saw in those to proclaimed to be Christians.

Meanwhile my wife and I had been saved and one of my brothers married a strong Christian, and he searched for the truth.

At his funeral we sang Eventide (Abide with me), and looking through his writings I found this poem:
There is a road that’s leading heaven bound.
A strait and narrow, not like others found.
It ends abruptly at a raging sea,
Don’t doubt, your faith your wanderer’s staff shall be.
That road is leading homeward just the same,
through evil seas of sin, and guilt, and shame.
There is a bridge appearing on the scene;
To land that no-one mortal ever seen.
This land of hope and grace and peace sublime.
Thank God, You let me find that road in time.
Written by my father (in Swedish) in 1978.

©Lars Bilén 1978 (1912-2004), tr. Lennart Bilén 2015

Wow! Looking at the poem I heard the roaring sea and i heard Finlandia in my head for the first verse. Then for the second verse, Eventide became the obvious choice.

My father indeed found the only way, reconciliation through Jesus Christ.  Only a few years later he lost much of his creative abilities, but he was ever thankful God had let him find that road in time.

 

Thought for the day. The just shall live by faith.

Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:38)

After having come to faith the first week in February 42 years ago after reading the Gospel of Matthew I grappled with what to read next. I remembered my school years in Sweden, where we had a daily dose of Christianity. Our teacher liked the old stories from the Old Testament, so every morning she drew a map of Palestine, as it was called at that time and talked about Abraham and Jacob and Moses. We were supposed to have Old Testament in grade one and the New Testament in second grade, but our teacher loved the Old Testament so much we never even got around to hear the stories about Jesus. So I read Genesis and Exodus, but when I came to Leviticus, I decided that was too much law for anyone, so I switched back to the New Testament, but which book? Having read the Gospel of Matthew I decided on the letter to the Hebrews, after a brief visit to first Corinthians 13. It was most powerful, but it raised more questions. Am I totally secure in Christ, of are there conditions I have to meet to be fully saved? Then in Hebrews 10:38 it hit me: I must live by faith. I didn’t have to know all the answers, it wasn’t even important I knew the questions. But the second part of the verse started to worry me: if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. I suddenly realized the faith part was not partial, I had to go all in. As a child I was baptized and confirmed, and I wanted to think that was enough; God knows who is his, but this time it was different, I had to take a stand in obedience and testify of my faith in Christ. So I signed up for baptism, and to my delight my wife decided to join, even though she was 6 months pregnant.

Coming out of the pool, I felt a wonderful release, my wife smiled in agreement; yes at that point I fully knew His soul has pleasure in me.

Through joys and hardships this has never left me, I regained my sense of wonder, and I can sing again the old Swedish hymn: How Great Thou art!

Thought for the day. To vote or not to vote. The height of ignorance.

And he (Kish, a Benjamite) had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:2)

The Israelites, after they entered the promised land were told by God not to have any rulers over them except God. But there must be order so they had judges. A few were good, among them Gideon and one woman, Deborah. The country had peace for forty years under their judgeship, but most of the judges were bad. It got so bad they cried out for a king. After a series of events which you can read about in 1 Samuel 8 thru 10 Saul, the tall one was chosen and appointed.

We still tend to elect tall Presidents. To be tall seem to have its advantages, and according to evolutionary thought women tend to be attracted to tall men. Men also respect  other tall men, since they are better at intimidating others. With a larger body comes a larger brain, and according to early evolutionary thought a larger brain means they are further along in evolutionary development than the rest of us.

Evolutionary thought tend to enhance prejudices. One early thought was that since a man’s brain on average is 40% larger than that of a woman, this must be a good reason why women should not be allowed to vote. We now know it to be true, a man’s brain is larger, but a woman’s brain cells are smaller, meaning that the cells communicate faster with each other. While we men take our time to get our threshing machines of brains in gear, a woman’s brain acts like a bolt of lightning, coming up with a plan of action before we even have defined the parameters. They have usually gotten good training dealing with active two or three year olds. An argument could therefore be made a woman would make a better president, having to deal with petulant people like Congress.

Lest this is a praise of women exclusively, they are not without their prejudices. The famous humanist Margaret Sanger, the inspiration to Planned Parenthood, idol of feminists and role model for Hillary Clinton once said:

“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population….”

Choose carefully, look into each candidate’s positions on policy matters, check their character and convictions, then make your decision.

It is the civil duty for every citizen over the age of 18 to cast a vote.

Get involved, get informed!

Only let not height be your choice this year.

Thought for the day. The difference between “for Christ” and “in Christ.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” ( Jeremiah 1:5)

I woke up this morning with a chorus we sang in Church in the 70:s.

With eternity’s values in view, Lord,

With  eternity’s values in view.

May I do each day’s work for Jesus

With eternity’s values in view.

Then it hit me: Is this really right? It sounds so good, but is it right? The words from Jesus in Matthew 7: 21-23 rang in my ears:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

In the case of the prophet Jeremiah God knew him before he was even conceived, but in the case of  the false disciple Jesus never knew him in spite of all the things he did for Jesus. Why the drastic difference? Does God pick winners and losers, or is there anything we can do to be assured to be on God’s side?

The answer may lie in one more quote, this one from the apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There we have it: God doesn’t want us to do things for Christ, God wants us – all of us as a living sacrifice. He wants us to die to self and be resurrected to new life in Christ. This is available to anybody – a new life in Christ. Then the Holy Spirit can lead us into God’s perfect will.

One more quote. Many can quote Ephesians 2:8-9, but the answer is really in verse 10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By the way, the word handiwork is in the Greek ποιημα (poiema) from which we get the word poem. We are God’s poem. I like that.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the day: Rejoice always.

Rejoice always, (1 Thessalonians 5:16) 

It often is hard to rejoice.

As always I don’t have a choice

but to praise, pray and sing

to my Savior and King.

To Jesus I lift up my voice.

At my mature age I try to keep my brain active by making Limericks. There are many types of Limericks, and millions have been made and printed over the years, some straight forward as the one above, some with a twist. I try to stay with the clean ones.

In my childhood’s Sweden we started learning English in fifth grade. The first semester, since English has weird spelling we learned the basics in phonetic script, and right from the start we were introduced to finer English poetry, such as this Limerick:

There once was a lady from Riga

who rode with a smile on a tiger.

They came back from the ride

withe the lady inside

and the smile on the face on the tiger.

Since then I have always loved the format, a strict  rhyme scheme (AABBA), and a predominantly anapestic meter  88668, or in this case 99669.

But my real love has been for songs and music. I have a very hard time to memorize things, but if it is set to music I hear the melody inside me and it stays with me for life. Even now I sometimes wake up in the morning with a song in my heart, a song I heard maybe fifty years ago and have not heard since I emigrated from Sweden. Such is the power of music. The cadence in the song and the melody work together to bring to remembrance the emotions I felt as a young lad.

Coming to America I decided to join the Rochester oratorio society. We sang Handel’s Messiah. It meant nothing to me except fantastic music. But the next piece was Elijah, and at the performance, the great base William Warfield was Elijah. He didn’t just sing, he was Elijah!

We moved away from Rochester and I didn’t sing for five years. Things didn’t go so well moodwise, but circumstances led me to again sing Handel’s Messiah. This time it spoke to me and rekindled in me the joy I once had singing. So I joined a church choir, still unsaved, but they let me sing anyway.

Since I found new life in Christ I have found that whenever things go bad, as they often do, God brings back a melody in my heart, not always with words, but they usually come back to remembrance a little bit later.

Thank God for hymns and songs with melody and words that bring back to remembrance the greatness of God!

(Sometimes I wake up with songs I heard in my youth that has very little to do with God and His greatness, but that is another story).

 

 

 

Thought for the day: Thank God for pork chops and “frikadeller”.

 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. (Acts 15:28-29

The other day we found a whole pork loin selling at $1.59 a pound at Wegmans. We picked it up and my wife made the most wonderful stuffed pork chops. The meat juice, when heavy cream, flour, water and some secret ingredients are added, makes the most wonderful gravy. we had our son and family over last Sunday, and the two year old grand daughter, small for her age as she is, ate almost a whole stuffed pork chop by herself, saying “I like it” over and over again.

Another food I love are Danish “frikadeller”. They are like Swedish meatballs, but bigger and made entirely from ground pork. Properly spiced they are just magnificently delicious. See the picture!

884223The principal agricultural export product from Denmark is pork in all of its forms. They have the last few years exported more and more to Russia, but a few months ago, after the collapse in oil prices, they suddenly stopped importing Danish pork. The pork mounds grew, filling up the slaughterhouses. What to do?

It is time to introduce pork in the political discussion.

Denmark has received their fair share of mid-eastern immigrants and refugees. They are now so many that they have started to demand they be served certifiably non-pork based food exclusively. Some communities responded by stopping to serve pork altogether in schools and municipal institutions so as not to hurt the feelings of Muslims. Such was the case in Randers, a seaport city in Northern Jutland, a town with a large slaughterhouse, processing pigs for export.

Monday a week ago the city council had enough. They voted (16 to 15) that pork products must be served at all meals in all schools and institutions. The Muslim children can still opt out of their ham and cheese sandwich, taking only cheese on their sandwich.

Yes there is pork in Danish politics. How about good old U.S.A.?

Iowa is holding its annual Pork Congress January 27-28, just before the Iowa caucus. Time for pork politics?

As for me and my house: Thank God for pork chops and “frikadeller”!

 

 

alpolitikerne har stemt ja til et forslag fra Dansk Folkeparti og Venstre om, at det skal være et krav hos alle kommunens institutioner, at svinekød skal være en del af madplanen.

Byrådsmedlem i Randers for Velfærdslisten Kasper Fuhr Christensen var et af de 15 byrådsmedlemmer, der stemte nej til forslaget.

Han kalder beslutningen »unødvendig«, fordi der ifølge ham ikke har været problemer på kommunens institutioner.

»Jeg synes, at det er fuldstændig absurd, når der nu ikke har været henvendelser fra utilfredse forældre. Det er et problem, som man har opfundet ud af den blå luft. Det er stor svineståhøj for ingenting,« siger han.

Forslaget om at servere svinekød for både de muslimske og ikke-muslimske børn blev stillet efter, at flere af kommunens institutioner havde valgt at ophøre med at servere svinekød for børnene.

DF’er i Randers: Frikadelleforslag er blevet misforstået

Et af de steder, hvor man havde valgt at tage hensyn til de muslimske børn ved i stedet at servere halalkød, var Børnehuset Jennumparken, som Jyllands-Posten beskrev sidste år.

Dengang sagde institutionens leder Bente Gråkjær, at det vigtigste ifølge hende ikke var, hvordan kødet blev slagtet, men derimod om børnenen fik en ordentlig kost.

»Der er jo efterhånden også mange etniske danskere, der ikke spiser svinekød. Hos os har vi mange vigtige udfordringer at arbejde med, og så skal maden ikke gøres til en konflikt. Det vigtige er, at børnene får god og nærende kost,« sagde hun.

Muligheden for at forbyde svinekød har institutionerne i Randers Kommune med mandagens beslutning ikke længere. Fremover skal institutionerne i stedet sikre, at »dansk madkultur skal være en del af de kommunale institutioner.«

Danske muslimer ønsker, at der bliver taget hensyn – men får et nej

Under byrådsmødet stillede medlem af Børn- og skoleudvalget, Mikael Firlings Mouritsen (S), ifølge Randers Amtsavis spørgsmålstegn ved, hvordan en forældrebestyrelse skal kunne forstå begrebet dansk madkultur

Manden bag forslaget, byrådsmedlem for Dansk Folkeparti Frank Nørgaard, understregede dog ifølge Ritzau, at forslaget ikke handlede om mistillid til institutionerne og forældrebestyrelserne.

»Vi vil bare sikre svinekød i vore institutioner til de, der ønsker det. Det handler ikke om generel mistillid til institutionernes bestyrelser. Men flere steder i landet forsøger man at luske igennem, at der ikke skal serveres svinekød i institutioner,« sagde Frank Nørgaard ifølge Randers Amtsavis.

En undersøgelse, som Wilke sidste efterår foretog for Jyllands-Posten, viste dengang, at 83,4 pct. af de danske muslimer mener, at der skal serveres halalslagtet kød i danske vuggestuer, børnehaver og skoler.

Omvendt svarede kun hver fjerde ikke-muslimske dansker, at institutionerne skal tage hensyn til de muslimske børns madvaner.

 

Thought for the day: The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
I woke up this morning with what I thought was a true bible verse: “The word killeth, but the Spirit giveth life”. Looking up the verse in the Bible it turned out I was wrong. It says the letter, not the word.
Over 40 years ago my wife and I emigrated to America. She became increasingly disillusioned with life here and got more and more unhappy as we realized more and more of our life goals, two beautiful children, a good job, a new house, two cars, in short, all you could ever wish. But she was unhappy and started to question the meaning of life. Is that all there is? At the same time she started seeking, and enrolled in a study course on great literature. One of her assigned readings was the Gospel of Matthew, and reading it she asked me the question: Since Jesus said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28), can that be true? If that is so then heaven must be empty. Nobody can control their thoughts.
I tried to assure her that heaven is just a concept to make us desire to live as good a life as possible and let God sort it out. This didn’t go over well, so she grew more and more unsatisfied. A friend invited her to a bible study and she agreed to go with her once to ask some pointed questions, but to her surprise they didn’t get mad at her but answered all her questions patiently. She went back week after week and she finally accepted that she couldn’t do it herself, but she had to accept the fact she was sinful and only through believing and trusting in Jesus Christ could she find the meaning of life. That changed her attitude completely. Initially I was very glad for her, smiling and even occasionally laughing again, a trait that once made me fall in love with her. But then she decided I needed this new-found purpose of life also, so she started to work me over at least one hour every night and even longer on weekends. This continued for months and she had  no success in making me see things her way. The biggest point of disagreement was: What has Jesus to do with that?
Then one night she prayed and cried out to God: God, I can’t do it, you do it! She felt the spirit giving her assurance. “I sure will, don’t worry, just believe.”
From that day, she was different, and half a year later I too became a believer.
What made the difference? For months she had tried to quote scripture at me, thinking something must stick, but nothing worked. She tried to do it herself apart from the spirit thinking the letter of the word would do the work. This is, I believe one aspect of the verse, and I too can testify that the Spirit gives life.