Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rereading and aroma

I don't like to reread something. I will read a book once and then probably not pick it up again. Why? Because I know how it is going to end. I know the ins and outs of the plot and I know that the good guy will win over the bad guy (unless it is a darker type of book). I am not a big fan of those dark books unless they are part of a set where the good guy wins in the final book. Star Wars is an example of that. It always seems that the dark side of the Force is winning. Even Anakin turns to the dark side. Is there no hope? Of course there is. Good wins out in the end and the universe is saved. Takes a while to get there - but good things come to those who wait. Kinda like the people of Israel who waited thousands of years for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. Many, many generations died before they saw the fulfillment of that promise. But good (translate that to GOD) always wins in the end.

But I digress (as if that is something new). The one book I will reread (and I do this often) is the Bible. Yes, I know the outcome. God wins. Good rises above evil (quite literally in Jesus' resurrection). A sure and certain hope is given to all who believe. You would think that after reading and rereading the Bible, I would not find new thoughts and new things. But I do.

I was reading this morning in 2 Corinthians. Read an interesting section. "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death and to the other, the fragrance of life." (2 Cor. 2:15-16 NIV) I didn't remember that section. What is amazing, I had read it before because I had underlined those verses. Wow!

I thought about what it was saying. We are the aroma of Christ among people. Made me think. What type of aroma am I? A good aroma or a bad aroma? To those who believe in Christ and are saved, it is a good aroma. It is pleasing. It is an aroma that you want to smell again and again. It is like lighting your favorite candle and having it fill the house with it's wonderful fragrance. The aroma that a Christian gives off to another Christian is the aroma of life, the aroma of hope, the aroma of Christ.

But to those who don't believe, the aroma we give off is a stench. It fills the person with disgust. Paul says that "we are the smell of death." Who wants to smell death? There is nothing more foul than the smell of an animal at the side of the road in the heat of the summer. Ugh! Who wants to smell that? The unbeliever sure doesn't. They want nothing to do with those who believe in Christ because it is the aroma of death and they want away from it and from us.

Makes sense, doesn't it? How often does the unbeliever fight hard to keep the believer and the message he brings away from themselves? The world, dying in sin, apart from Christ, wants nothing to do with the believer for he brings the aroma of death - not the death of the believer but the death of the unbeliever. What the unbeliever is smelling is themselves. Why? Because the believer has life.

Think of it this way: No one wears deodorant. Everyone smells. No one pays attention because everyone smells. Suddenly one person in the group showers and begins to wear deodorant. Now he doesn't smell bad. He smells good. The others begin to smell the difference. They smell bad but don't want to start wearing that "sissy" stuff. So they despise the person who smells good just to remain as they are. Who really smells bad? The people with the terrible body odor not the person who wears deodorant. Who says that the other smells bad? The ones that actually smell bad. They remain in their odor and refuse to change and in the process, blame the one who smells good for all the problems of odor.

So it is with unbelievers. The problem is not that we smell of death but that they are smelling their own death and are blaming the believer. How can you smell so good while there is such a stench of death in the air? How? Through faith in the One that brings that wonderful aroma of life - through Jesus Christ. We smell good because of the life that Christ gives. The world smells horrific because the stench of death lays heavy upon it.

Today I reread that passage and it made sense to me. Thanks God.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Psalm 33

If you haven't read this Psalm lately, please do so. I was reading it this morning and there were so many thoughts that came to me that I was blown away. Just a few thoughts about it.

"Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him." (vs. 8 NIV) Unfortunately this is not the case any longer. The people of the world do not revere God. Yes, there are many who do. There are many faithful people who hold to the Lord, follow the Lord and love the Lord. You may well be one of them. Praise the Lord for that. But does the world revere the Lord any longer? Is He really seen as the God of the universe, who made all things at His word? (The Psalmist talks of that as well.)

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." (vs. 13 NIV) Why does the US have such problems today? It is because we no longer revere the Lord nor is God the Lord of our nation. Day after day we thumb our nose at God - abortion, same-sex marriage, self-centered greed, lust for power, despicable acts (There was a poll on Facebook asking if there should be a national holiday in honor of Michael Jackson! Can you imagine? A man who was the epitome of self-centered, egocentric, pleasure driven, child molesting entertainer, and there are those who want to honor him? Where is God in that? Where is the nation that reveres the Lord? Who is greater in the minds of the nation? God or Michael Jackson? I don't even want the answer to that question for it would greatly trouble me.)

"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." (vs. 11 NIV) Praise the Lord for that promise! No matter how the nations rage, no matter how sick people become, no matter how far we fall from the way that He would have us live, His plans stand firm. What are His plans? To save, to bring the lost and the erring to life eternal. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Gospel. Scowl fierce as they will, they can harm us none, the Kingdom ours remaineth. How can we say that when it appears the opposite in today's world? Because the plans of the Lord stand firm forever. In the end, it is the purpose of the Lord that wins because He is still God and Lord. He is the Almighty. He is the potter and we are the clay. We cannot prevail against Him (though many think they can).

"The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." (vs. 18 NIV) That gives hope when the daughter and son stand at the bedside of their mother who dies. The Lord was watching over her. That gives comfort to the parents whose son or daughter is driving down the road in the middle of the night after having an argument with the significant other. The eyes of the Lord are upon them. They are not alone. Never alone. His love is with them. Does that mean they won't die? Does it mean they won't be hurt when the deer runs out in front of the car? No. It means that the Lord is with them even then, and that, my friends, gives comfort and peace.

Thank You Lord for Psalm 33. I needed it today. And there it was.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The need for prayer

Prayer is important. No it is not a Means of Grace (Word and Sacraments). We could get into that whole discussion but we won't. Prayer is our talking with God through word or thought. It does not move God to action as some suppose. God is not sitting in heaven waiting for us to pray before He can act in our lives. He acts according to His divine will - with or without our prayers. We can be thankful for that because there are many times we do not pray at all. If God couldn't act in our lives until we prayed to Him, then we would be in a sad state of affair. Then there are times when we don't know what we should even pray for. We are told that at those times, the Holy Spirit prays for us in words that the Father understands. Imagine what would happen if, when we are in the hospital, distraught over the emergency a loved one is going through, not knowing what to pray, and therefore God is unable to act. Eek! That would be terrible. God acts - even without our prayer.

So why pray? Because in prayer we are opening ourselves up to the Lord. We are emptying ourselves of ourselves and saying, "Lord, I am Yours. Let my will be in accord with Your will, my thoughts with Your thoughts, my ways with your ways." Prayer is for us - not for God. Prayer is our coming to Him with open, willing hearts and minds, looking for His guidance and strength. Prayer puts us in a right relationship with Him.

Perhaps that is why the body is so important in prayer. Kneeling before God in prayer says, "I come to You in faith and humility, not in arrogance. I come needing You in my life." Bowing the head in prayer is saying, "I am in need, Lord." Folding the hands or lifting them up is a way of saying, "I am not going to let other things take my life right now. You are all that matters." All right, when you are driving down the road and saying a prayer (which I do regularly), you shouldn't do any of the above. But you can do it in your heart. It is an attitude of the heart. All those outward signs are meant to show what lies inside your heart and what is guiding your soul.

What made me think of all this? In the Gospel reading yesterday, right after feeding the 5000, Jesus sends the disciples away, dismisses the crowd and then goes off by Himself to pray. He knew the importance of being one with His Father. He knew that prayer was this lifeline with the Father. He spend a lot of time in prayer, seeking the Father's will and being guided by the Father. And I thought, if Jesus is in prayer so much, doesn't that tell us something about how much we should be in prayer?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Something lighter

I look at the pictures and go back. I am talking about our train trip in June. It was great. We are getting the pictures back.(Yes, I still use film. I know, I know, I should go digital. But I really like film. It gives you an original. Digital gives you, well, not an original. And I know that you will tell me how beautiful the images are on digital. I am glad. And one day I will go digital. Until then, my Canon Rebel gives me some great shots.) The mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the cities, the trains, and all the views are something I really enjoyed. I looked back on them and think that the trip was amazing. I enjoyed the relaxing, the sitting and being with Penny, the views, the people we met, the food we ate and the times we had. It was great.

I would do it again. Really. I would. I would hop a train today if I could. I would go wherever it was going. I enjoyed it that much. Would I do it alone? Probably not. It wouldn't be as much fun. Matt and I took the train to Chicago one summer, just for the day, just to do train watching around downtown Chicago, and we had a blast. I would like to do that again. Would it have been as much fun without him? No way. It is something I want to share with someone else that enjoys it. Matt does, so it was great. Penny does, so it was wonderful. It has been years since I shared a train trip with Rachael (we all went on the Capitol Limited to DC.).

So, maybe one day, I will take someone with me, tickets in pocket and will board the train to who knows where. But we will have fun. We will see the sights. And we will enjoy the relaxing travel of a day gone by and a day of today - train travel, it's not just for your grandparents anymore.

Life and death

"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 NIV) Paul writes those words. I have said them many times. They come to mind this morning as I think about life and death, having had one member pass away this week. I expected Arline's death. The surgery had gone well. Things looked good. Then everything changed. And it didn't look well. Visiting in the hospital intensive care ward, she was still positive, not positive that she would live through this event. She was positive she would live. "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Faith guided her thoughts at that moment. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Jesus asks. (John 11:25-26 NIV) The answer she gave was a resounding, "YES!" Living in Christ, dieing in Christ, gaining in Christ. What more can be needed?

Entering the room at the nursing home of another member, Penny with me, and we wondered, "Was she still alive?" Perhaps I have gotten used to watching as one is on the cusp of death. I was insensitive to Penny at that moment. I forgot that while I have spent countless times walking through the valley of the shadow of death, she hadn't. I am sorry that she was facing that. I know her pain. I know the feelings. Been there, done that, got the scares upon the heart to show it, and still, Penny understands. Her faith is strong, very strong. She understands those words of Paul, the words of Jesus, the faith that guides her. Without that faith, the look of death scares. Death is overwhelming. She has faith in Christ. She recovered quickly. And she proclaims that life that is given.

For me to live is Christ - every moment of life is about Christ, sharing Christ, loving Christ, living Christ, being with Christ. To die is gain - is it? Is it gain for you? Are you terrified of death? Do you fear what is to come? I don't want to face death - not because of what is coming, but because I am a wimp. I don't want pain. I don't want suffering. I don't want to see my family cry. But I am not afraid of what is coming when I die. I gain! I gain eternal life! And I will see my loved ones again in heaven - at least those who believe in Christ Jesus.

If you don't believe in Him, I offer to you one thing. Christ. He is your Savior. He is your life. He is the One who suffered, died and rose again for you. That's right, for YOU! The Father loved you so much He sent His Son to die for you so that you may live. Through faith in Him, and in Him alone, you may have life. Without faith in Him, death is terrifying because it means eternal damnation. It means going to hell. It means never knowing the love of the Father again. It means not seeing your loved ones ever again. It means - loss, great, total and complete loss. Loss of your life, loss of love, loss of everything including the presence of God in your life.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. We will all die one day. We will. That is a fact. No matter what we do to try to prolong life, it won't work. We will all die. The question is, "Is it gaining or losing?" It is gain in Christ. It is loss without Him. Now is the time to believe and call upon His name and be saved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Funny the way it is

Listening to the Dave Matthews Band this morning, one of my favorite songs of theirs came on Jam On (Sirius radio!). "Funny the Way it is" is from their new CD (yes, groups still put them out even though more and more people just download them. I am still in the dark ages. I buy CDs and then rip them to my computer. I would do vinyl if I could!) It is a unique song and gets me thinking.

Funny the way it is if you think about it, one child walks 10 miles to school while another dropping out, Funny the way it is right or wrong, one man's broken heart is another man's favorite song. And when you think about it, that is so true. One person is in the middle of a crisis while another is dancing happily because life is so good. One person is rejoicing at the birth of a child while another is mourning the loss of a loved one. What a world we live in. And the fact is, we can be up one minute and down the next. One phone call will fill our hearts with joy that is never ceasing, until the next phone call that sends us into the depths of despair. Funny the way it is if you think about it.

How do we survive all this? By turning to the One who is never changing, to the One who is right there with the joyous phone call and with the terrifying phone call. We turn to the One who has been to the mountain top with us and also into the valley of the shadow of death. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow." (Hebrews 13:8 NIV) Never changing with the tides of life, Jesus is the constant. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19a NIV)

Things change. Life never stays the same. But Jesus Christ is always the same - the anchor, the rock, the security that we need in this world that is just plain crazy. Funny the way it is, if you think about it, Jesus remains the same, no matter what happens in our lives. Thanks Jesus for being the one firm thing in my life. The phone is going to ring and things are about to change.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I was reading and this popped up!

Pop ups. Don't they drive you crazy? You think you have your computer set up with enough different programs that you won't get any pop ups and BAM! there is one when you least expect it. It gets frustrating.

Pop ups happen for me when I am reading in the Bible. Pop ups are those moments when you are reading along and something just jumps out at you. It was there all along but you just had never seen it before. These pop ups are good.

I was in Psalm 12 today. Don't ask me why, I just was. And a verse struck me. Psalm 12:8 "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." (NIV) I was blown away when I read that verse. Was David really writing a couple thousand years ago or was he writing this just yesterday? Was he writing this about Israel or about the USA? I couldn't tell because we find that today we honor that which is vile.

Marriage is to be between a man and a woman - and we say it is all right to have same sex marriages. God looked upon homosexuality and was repulsed by it and yet we say it is an acceptable way of life. I have even heard it said that "God made me this way, therefore it must be all right." What? God made you in a way that He has forbidden? When did God change on this issue? Sin made you that way. In the same way that sin made the adulterer not God. Should the man who is extra horny say, "God made me horny so it is all right if I sleep around with a variety of women." Would we agree with that? Wait a minute, often society does say it is all right - look at the pornography industry. Search the Internet and see how many men and women expose themselves to the world, just to make a buck and to get their kicks. Is it right? No. Pornography is wrong. But we hold it up as something wonderful. Watch some of the "reality" shows on TV (i.e. The Girls Next Door - which glorifies the life with Hugh Hefner - all right, maybe I have the wrong name of the show, but you know which one I mean). It sounds just like what David has written, "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." Once it was a shameful thing to have anything to do with Playboy, only the perverts read it. Look at where we are now.

We strut about pushing abortion down people's throats. The new Supreme Court nominee won't say that abortion is wrong, because she will lose support. Then again, she doesn't believe it is wrong. She accepts it as a normal, acceptable thing to kill babies before they are born! What is up with that? How can anyone in their right mind say it is all right to kill a baby? It isn't.

Then again, the real problem isn't abortion. The real problem is a misuse and abuse of the wonderful gift of sexuality. God says keep the sexual relationship between one man and one women who are united in marriage. Abortion wouldn't even be an issue if we followed what God said. The married woman wouldn't need the abortion for the child created in an adulterous affair, if she was faithful to her husband. The teen wouldn't need an abortion if the two young people would wait till they are married to engage in sex. The young business woman wouldn't need an abortion if she wasn't out getting laid by some man she met in a bar the month before. We wouldn't even need the "morning after" pill - which is truly and abomination. All it is meant to do is to give people the freedom to strut about freely and honor that which is vile - the cheap sexual relationship that occurs when one gets horny enough to need it from someone new.

I am sorry for the soap box today. No, I am not. The pop up in Psalm 12 is what got me thinking. Why do we honor what is vile in the eyes of God and why do we call wicked that which is honorable in the eyes of God? Because we are sinful men and women. We live in a sinful world. And it is hard to follow the way of God. We must keep proclaiming the way of God, the Word of God and work to help one person at a time to follow the life that God has given to us, not the wickedness that Satan, the world and our sinful nature wish to follow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

40 years and counting

Looking up at the moon on this day, July 29, 2009, I think back on what took place. It was 40 years ago, at this moment, when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. I can remember sitting with Mom and Pop and my brothers, watching the black and white TV as he stepped from the pad of the LEM to the surface of the moon. What could it have been like. Standing outside, looking up at the moon, I wonder, what would it have been like to have been one of those men who stepped out onto the moon. What would have gone through your mind?

I think I would be have been excited - and scared. Leaving the security of the Command Module to go into the LEM, would have been overwhelming. Floating around the moon in the Command by yourself would have been such that I would have been overwhelmed and terrified. 200,000 miles from the earth, in the command module, all by yourself. WOW! I watch the movie "Moonshot" and I am overwhelmed. I am in awe.

And the one thing that I think about when I marvel at the event, is this thought - even on the moon, in the command module, in the wide open expanse of space, God is right there. While Michael Collins was alone in that command module, he was not alone. God was with him. When Buzz and Neil walked on the moon, God was with them. We are never alone. God tells us, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5 NIV) Never, where ever you are, on earth, the moon, in a command module or driving in your car, the Lord is with you. He holds you in His hands. He will be with you in all that you do and where you go.

WOW! On the moon - God is there. Soaring through the heavens - God is there. Sitting in your living room - God is there. Going down the road - God is there. 40 years ago we were taught that very fact - God is there!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rest for the worker

I was preparing for the sermon for today (Sunday, July 19) and found that there were more thoughts to be expressed than could be in any one sermon. I am always amazed at how Scripture is that way. God has packed so much into His Word that no matter how many times you have read it, studied it and unpacked it, you will always find more when you come back to it. You will never get to the final thing that God would have you learn from His Word. It isn't until you are in heaven that you will be able to no longer read or study the Word. Then you won't need it. You will have the Word Himself (Jesus Christ, John 1:1) to talk with and what more would you need?

So I was studying mark 6:30-44, the Feeding of the 5000, which is quite an amazing event in itself. It started with the return of the apostles (notice they are not called disciples here for they were "sent out" by Christ, meaning that they were truly "apostles" at that point, not disciples). They came back with the report of all that took place. There must have been a designated time for their return, a certain number of days or the like. They were all a twitter about what took place (and they would have 'tweeted' about what was happened if they would have had the technology). They wanted to tell Jesus all about it.

Reminds me of the youth coming home from a National Lutheran Youth Gathering or the women from a LWML convention such as just took place in Portland, OR this last June. There is so much to tell. This happened. This took place. We met this person and talked with that person. We helped out at this food bank and painted this school building. So many things to tell about.

The disciples had been on a spiritual "high." They were running on pure adrenalin. It was a big time for them. Jesus knew exactly what they needed. They needed time to get away, to deprogram, to let down from the mission events and to let all that took place soak into their hearts and minds. We are told in vs. 31 "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" (Mark 6:31 NIV)

"Come away with Me," Jesus says. I think that is good advice. We need to encourage our pastors and other church workers to attend retreats where they can be in relation with Jesus, reading His word, communing with Him, listening to His voice and refreshing their hearts and lives. Church workers spend so much time and energy helping and guiding other people, that we forget that they need that themselves. They need their spiritual lives refreshed and it is impossible to do that in the hustle and bustle of the every day events of church life.

I know that through the week, there are few times to spend in personal reflection and growth. i have to get up early (when the rest of the world is still sleeping) to find that quiet time to commune with God and to listen to His voice. I must "come away with Jesus" to be refreshed through the week. But that often isn't enough.

Caring for the spiritual lives of others wears on a person. Satan uses that to tire a person out, to frustrate a person or to cause a person to doubt the work he/she does. There is the person in Bible class that hears what you say but refuses to listen and won't come back because he doesn't like what he is hearing. Let it go! But you can't. You care for his soul and wonder if you could have said it differently, if there is any way to reach him or to help him to continue to hold to Jesus. There is the constant pressure to produce a sermon that will capture the people, keep their attention, feed their soul and do it in 15 minutes or less because they have places to go, people to see, things to do. And God forbid that you go much longer than the allotted time. There is the family tearing apart, the young person in jail, the drinking, the drugs, the sex outside of marriage (before and after marriage takes place), the illicit relationships, the temptation of sin, lusts of the flesh, thoughts of the mind and needs of the soul - all before noon each day! OK, maybe not that bad, but some weeks, you would be surprised.

How do you survive? By listening to the Good Shepherd who wants to lead you to the green pastures and who invited you to sit beside the still waters. By letting Him guide you away from the hustle and bustle of the daily life to a spiritual retreat. We need out church workers fresh. When we have needs, we want them on top their game (so to speak) not dragging in the ditch filled with stale, dirty, mucky water. That can only happen as they are fed daily by the Word, weekly by the Sacrament and each moment by the Lord. AND they need to "come away" with Jesus to get the rest they need, so that the next time you come to them, they are ready to help you. Not only are they ready, their "cup overflows" with the love of Christ, the Word of the Lord and the power of the Spirit.

Next time your church worker asks to attend a spiritual retreat, think of what Jesus says to His disciples, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Let them go - and maybe you should even help pay for it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It is amazing the difference one night can make. Last night, when the All Star Game was taking place 20 miles from here in St. Louis, it was a beautiful night. The temperature was cool and the humidity was down. The stars were shining - both in the sky and on the field. It bums me out that the Junior League won again. It was NOT a typical night in the metro area.

Then there is tonight. It is as different as the Cubs and the Cards. (BTW - think Cubs awesome, Cards not so awesome.) As cool as it was last night is is hot tonight. As low as the humidity was last night is is humid tonight. The air tonight is so heavy that if your legs are not strong enough you would find yourself crawling through the grass. You don't have to move to break out in a sweat (I now understand the different between "wet" heat and the "dry" heat). We spent a few days in Sacramento with triple digit temps and a dry heat and you could sit in the shade and not break into a sweat. Tonight, you have to push hard on the screen door just to get it to open. Welcome to St. Louis and the metro area summer.

What will tomorrow be like? Listening to the weather, it is supposed to get cool and have below average temps. What happened to global warming? How can it be getting hotter in the world and yet cool air hits the area? I don't understand. Oops. I have digressed into another topic. As you can guess, I am not one who buys into the global warming threats. I think that...better not go there because someone might just be upset and come after me. (If you are coming after me, I am in the north part of southern Alabama, next to Louisiana and halfway to California. Good luck finding me.)

Back to the humidity. I enjoy it. Kinda. I hate it. Kinda. It feels like summer. It isn't summer without the humidity. So many people complain about the heat and humidity but it isn't summer in the Mississippi River Valley without it. Plus, we will really appreciate it when the heat breaks and the humidity drops. We look forward to it and we revel in it when it happens.

So excuse me, I think I want to step outside and break out in a sweat. Really, I am going to do it. I am on my way. OK, I guess I will stay in the AC and avoid that sticky feeling.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Star Extravaganza!

The All Star Game has come to St. Louis. That is all we have heard about on the St. Louis new channels for the past week. The game is great as it gives the bragging rights to either the National League or the Junior (American) League. I know that the American League has won quite a bit recently. I am pulling the National League just because the Cubbies are in the National League. Yes, I also know it is more than just for bragging rights. It gives home field advantage to the winning league for the World Series.

The All Star Game is to bring the best of the best together for one game. It brings in the top hitters (which has also spawned the Home Run Derby), the best pitchers and the best fielders. There will always be someone that is left out because the balloting for the team is done by the fans, which is a great thing. Let the fans say who they think is the best. After all, the game is about the fans, giving them the show they want. The best of the best, standing together for one game, showing what they got and who they.

I thought about that this morning and I realized that the All Star Game is described in Hebrews 11. All right, so that is a stretch. But the Bible All Star team is listed in Hebrews 11, the great chapter of faith. Listed there in Hebrews 11 we find all those that stand by faith in God. The refrain that runs through the chapter is "By faith..." By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. Why? Because he offered his sacrifice by faith, that's why. It wasn't that Abel was really a better person. He was just as sinful as Cain. The difference between them is that Abel was guided by faith in God while Cain was guided by faith in himself.

As you read through Hebrews 11, you come to realize that the men and women described there were not really "All Stars." They were common people, doing common things, living common lives, being common sinners. The thing that set them apart from the world around them is the fact that they continued to live by faith in God. They sinned, oh did they sin. And yet, they still trusted in God, turned to Him for forgiveness and lived the faith.

That, my dear reader, is what we are called to do. We are All Stars as we live by faith, faith that is planted in us by the Holy Spirit and nurtured in us through the Word and Sacraments. By faith we live each day. We will sin. We will continue to sin until the day we die. Why? We are sinful by nature. Our natural self is corrupted, totatlly and completely. Then the Spirit comes to us, cleanses us from our sins (read Isaiah 6:1-8 for Isaiah's cleansing and realize that is what the Spirit must do for us too!).

Then we live by faith. We are guided by faith - at home, with the family, by ourselves, at work, at school, at the playground and even at the All Star Game (for those of you who are going). Faith guides our actions. It empowers us to follow the will of the Lord each day. While Hebrews 11 shows us all those who have been in the spiritual All Star Game in the past, the team is made up of people today - people like you and me, people living out their faith each day in ordinary situations as well as in situations that seem overwhelming.

By faith Arline lays in the hospital bed in Barnes and says, "I'll be all right. God will help me." By faith, Agnes couldn't talk, walk or even breath on her own but she still trusted in God, following Him with her whole heart. By faith, you are facing personal crises, knowing that they may turn out terrible but God is still with you and you will make it through. Living by faith doesn't mean that it will always go the way we plan. Living by faith means that we trust the end result is always the same - life in Christ, here on earth (even if that means we must face pain and suffering for a time) and then life forever with Him in heaven.

By faith, you and I are in the Game of life. By faith, we are All Stars in that Game.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thoughts on Music

There are many different types of music - country, classical, rock (classic, metal, hard, light) and of course, that one type that is debatable that it is actually music, rap. As you can tell I am no fan of rap music. I am not even sure if it can be called music (now all those who like rap can leave a comment on what they think about that statement). I have seen too much of the gangster lingo and life in rap music to give it credence. It demeans women, other people, and makes sex into something sick and sadistic. I guess i have some real feelings about that genre of music.

Music is up to the individual. Some like country. Some love classical. Some like pop. Others are into classic rock or light rock. And of course, there are the metal heads. You can find what you like in music. (Of course there are a whole host of other types as well. I just didn't feel like touching on Indie, polka and the like.) I was thinking about this tonight as I talked with Penny's cousin Bill. He is a rocker from years gone by. And talking with him made me think of a lot of different music.

Most specifically it made me think of the music I really enjoy. It is as varied as the day. It all depends on my mood as to what I like to listen to. Let me tell you, I really enjoy classic rock, but some of the modern jam bands have attracted my attention too.

Then I do enjoy some of the Christian rock groups. If you haven't listened to Audio Adrenaline, you should. Listening to DC-10 really opens one's eyes as to what might happen (reminds me of what happened to a young man from Ferrin who lost his life in an auto accident at 27.) I have really grown to like Casting Crowns, though at first I wasn't sold on them. The more I have listened to them, the better they seem to become, or at least the more I like them. Then for those of you who like a little harder music, listen to Kutless. They are hard driving rockers with a solid message of life in Christ. I have been introduced to many of these groups at the National Lutheran Youth Gatherings. What a wonderful opportunity our youth will have to hear some of the class acts as well as some up-and-coming acts when they attend "We Believe" in New Orleans in 2010.

Where am I going with this? Enjoy the music you enjoy. Listen to it. But remember to not let the non-Christian message of many of the secular groups influence you and your life. One group that I cannot listen to (at least one specific album) is Pink Floyd. When I was in college, I couldn't listen to "The Wall" for it would cause me to go into a deep depression that wasn't pretty. Penny ended up throwing that album away. She didn't ask. She just did it. That was wise of her. Penny and the kids still won't let me watch "The Wall" when it comes on one of the movie channels. It only goes to show that you need others around you to help you, for Satan can use something so small as a song or a musical group to cause you deep problems in your life.

If you want to talk music sometime, let me know. Join me on Facebook. I love to talk music. You might even be surprised at the collection that I have acquired over the years. And yes, you will find music on when I am working, reading or just relaxing. Me and music - we go together. Thank You God, for creating music and putting a song in my heart.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thinking back

I look at the pictures and remember our trip out west. We picked the pictures up for the 1st 3rd of the trip. As i looked at the pictures, it came to me how quickly you travel when you are on a train. We were leaving Chicago and the next set of pictures show us arriving in Milwaukee. Soon we are moving Wisconsin, and before you know it, it was the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Night came and we woke up in North Dakota. It was amazing to think that we were sitting in the train, watching the world go by and traveling hundreds of miles. It was 700 miles across Montana! Imagine that - over 700 miles! And all we did was sit there.

I enjoyed that trip. I think about over and over again. I will think about what happened. Look at the pictures and remember the joy of it. If you haven't taken a train trip, you ought to. And if you really need a guide to help you on the trip, let me know because I would do it again in a heartbeat. The biggest problem is the cost of it. That is the way of all trips.

Aching knees

Well here it is Sunday evening. It was a good weekend. The wedding rehearsal on Friday night was good and it was fun being with the Schlemer and McLaughlin families. Saturday we had the Men's Breakfast with a good turn out. It is such a good time to sit and visit with the men of the congregation. It helps to talk with those men. Makes one feel like he is normal. What a great bunch of guys. If you haven't had a chance to attend - it is the 2nd Saturday of the month at 6:30 am. Then the wedding in the afternoon, and it went well. It came off with a hitch - the couple was brought together by the power of the Lord, showing them what true love is all about. The service Saturday evening was inspiring. We installed the new officers for the year. Sunday morning was good. The bible class went well. We discussed the Lord's Supper and the practice of closed communion. As always, it caused a little controversy among the people. Then we had a really good worship service. We had a baptism of Jonathon York, which is always a moving experience.

Think about it, that little baby is now a child of God, one who is going to heaven. How is that possible? It was only a little bit of water and a few words spoken. That makes no sense to the human mind. But it isn't about what we think. It is about what God does. In the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit works faith in the heart of the child. Peter writes, "Baptism now saves you." Can that little baby believe? Yes! Because the Lord has promised it. The Spirit has done it. And now, Jonathan William York is a child of God, believing in Jesus as his Savior, forgiven of his sins. Does that mean all that needs to be done for him is done? No, his parents now have the task of raising him in that faith. They need to show him Jesus as the Savior, help him to hold firm to that faith, bringing him to worship, Sunday school, and teaching him to pray.

Then we got ready for the water balloon fight. We started filling the balloons around 1:00. By 2:00 we had 500 of them filled. Thanks Penny, Matthew and Hannah Meyer. But then, the storm came up. It started to rain, the winds blew, and the lightning crashed. What will we do? Head into the gym of course. Volleyball ensued. (All right, so it wasn't immediate. We had to set up the net. The youth knew how to set the poles and then the hunt was on - we had to find the net. Where could it be? I know it was here a few weeks ago. Looking, looking, hunting, where is it? Then we found it in the back closet. What was it doing there?) And off we went. boys against girls - we rock! We won 2 in a row. Break time and then new teams. We played two more games (my team rocked! 2 wins again!). Break time and a final round. 2 more games - and guess what, the team i was on was only able to win 1 of those. What a great night. Thanks to all the youth who were there!

But my knees are aching tonight. I hadn't played volleyball for quite some time. Following that knee surgery last October and I can't move like I used to. And so I take my Aleve, sit here and wonder, will I be able to get up the stairs? Yes I will. And tomorrow will be another day.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Looking back

It's Thursday morning and I am reminiscing. I am thinking back over the 5000+ mile trip that Penny and I took as we traveled to the west coast. It doesn't seem possible that we traveled that far. I should have been exhausted but I wasn't. I should have been terribly grumpy, but I wasn't. It is amazing. What can I attribute that to? It must have been the train travel - how relaxing it was to just sit back and let the world go by while watching the scenery, reading a book and taking a nap. Crossing state lines meant nothing, for we never really knew when we crossed any lines. It was the easiest way to travel.

Or maybe it was the company I was in - Penny's. I really enjoyed being able to give myself completely to Penny, giving her my time and myself. There was no one asking for a few minutes that turns into a 1/2 hour or more. There were no meetings to go to and no deadlines to meet. The biggest question we had was whether we wanted to eat early or late, whether we wanted to go to the lounge car or sit in our own room. That was really fun. I enjoyed having the time with my wife, the love of my life. I wish it could be that way all the time but it can't. We do have to pay for the trip somehow! There is no government stimulus package coming to pay things off, though if President Obama finds a few extra dollars lying around, I would be glad to take them off his hands. I don't need the billions others have received.

In the end I think it was that the Lord gave Penny and me the time together to refresh and renew our relationship. The relaxation came from Him. We can figure out all sorts of reasons but the bottom line is that the Lord blessed us on our trip. He gave us the peace we had, the joy we shared, the fun we encountered and the food we ate (and boy did we we eat!). Thank you Lord for the wonderful trip you gave us.

This was going to actually be a look back on the actual trip, but the Spirit took it another direction. Maybe next time I will actually look back on the trip. I have been doing a lot of reflecting and remembering, especially as the pictures I took begin to come back. (Yes, I still use film. I am not in the digital era yet.) If I was looking back, 2 weeks ago today, we climbed aboard the Coast Starlight for the 24 hour run down the coast from Seattle to Sacramento. Wow, has it been 2 weeks already? Where does the time go? Oh well, I have a deadline to meet so I better get going...

Monday, July 6, 2009

An Ode to Michael Jackson?

Tuesday is going to be the media event of the day (unless you talk with the media and some of the crazy people who will be there). It is the day when they will have the memorial for Michael Jackson. Why am I writing about the event? What does it matter to me? In reality, it doesn't. I could care less about the memorial for Michael Jackson. I really didn't enjoy his music, though "Thriller" and "Beat It" were pretty good. The videos made the songs. He could really dance - I could only wish that I could moon walk like he did. My kids get a little frustrated with me when I pretend that I can. Nor did I think he was the best entertainer of the century. In fact, in these last years, I have been appalled by his actions and the media circus that surrounded him.

I look at the adoration that will be given to Michael tomorrow 9and these last days) and I wonder to myself, would those same people give that adoration to Christ? Do they give it to Him? Ask those same people to stand in line to hear the message of the Gospel proclaimed, and what do you think they would say? Would they do it? If you offered tickets to thousands of people to come to a national event of the Lutheran Church, do you think that they would come? The only answer I can give is - I doubt it seriously. A memorial service vs. a service of praise to God - which will come out on top? Take a wild guess.

But that isn't the only thing I think about when I think of the memorial for Michael Jackson. I also think about his soul. Now some of you will say, "You can't comment on his soul." And in some ways you would be right. I didn't know Michael personally nor did I ever ask him if he knew Jesus as his Savior. But I do know that the Jackson family was raised Jehovah's Witnesses. I don't know if Michael held onto that belief until he died. If he did, I am saddened. The reason - those who follow the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in Jesus as a Christian does. They do not believe in the Scriptural teaching of the Trinity (they believe the Trinity is a teaching of the devil). Those who follow the teachings of the JW's are not saved. They do not go to heaven when they die. And for Michael Jackson, either as a JW or as a non-believer, would not be in heaven.

That, my friends, is the greatest tragedy of all. Another soul has been lost. Satan has taken another one to hell. And that, through it all, breaks my heart. Rest in peace Michael Jackson? No, he won't rest in peace. Satan will make sure of that. Thousands and millions will mourn his death - but will they mourn the loss of his soul to damnation? That is where the tears should be shed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Spirit helps us

The OT reading for today was from Ezekiel 2:1-5. That is the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet of God to the people of Israel. Was amazing how that fit so well with the 4th of July weekend. Ezekiel was to go and preach to the people of Israel, a nation that was rebellious and stubborn. Sounds a lot like the people of America. We are people who know right from wrong and often chose wrong. We know how God would have us live and often, in our sinful stubbornness, we refuse to do what God tells us. We do that as individuals and we do that as a nation. Perhaps at another time, we can talk about it. Such things as same sex marriage, abortion, misuse of power, hatred, anger and a whole host of other sins we stubbornly hold onto in the face of what God says to us. Ezekiel is the prophet is Israel. God's Word and His men (called pastors) are the prophets to the US today. We must say, "Thus says the Lord" and focus on what the Lord has said in His Word.

But my thoughts are not about that aspect of what the reading from Ezekiel. Instead I was looking at Ezekiel 2:2 which talks about what happens for the son of man who is to be the mouthpiece of God to the people. The Lord tells him to stand upon his feet for He has something to say to him. The problem - Ezekiel was unable to do it. We are told that the Spirit lifted him to his feet and set him before the Lord.

I thought about it and it reminded me of something that Luther wrote. "I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel..." Ezekiel is placed upon his feet by the Spirit. We, too, people who need to hear the Word of God, who need the power of the Lord in our lives, are unable to bring ourselves into that relationship with the Lord. We cannot stand upon our own feet. We cannot bring ourselves to listen to the Word of God or understand it. We name it and we cannot do it.

We need the Holy Spirit to bring us to the Lord. We need Him to set us on our feet. He does that through the Means of Grace (your remember them, don't you? Word and Sacraments). He opens our ears as we hear the Word read. Opens our eyes as we read it for ourselves. Opens our hearts that are hardened by sin. Like Ezekiel He prepares us to serve Him and guides us as He opens our lives to live for Him.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hard to figure out

We went to St. Louis today. I love to go to that city, and now that we live so close, it is a lot of fun. Today, we went to visit Agnes Kelly, a member who has made a miraculous recovery. A month and a half ago, she was on death's door, on a respirator and we wondered if she woudl ever recover. Tuesday she is to come home from the hospital, not to a nursing home, but to her own place. God has done a miracle! He has given her healing that none of us could have ever imagined. It is true. "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 Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV) Who could have imagined that Agnes will be coming home? We prayed for it. We longed for it. We hoped for it. And now, God has accomplished it! Alleluia! Amen!

But the strangest thing happened to us today. We were in the parking garage, waiting for the elevator to go down. The door opened. And as Rachael moved to go into the door, it closed. The person in the elevator closed the door in her face. It was strange. We decided to do the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator. We talked about how strange it was. But then shook it off and went into the hospital.

We got the room for Agnes and went to the elevator. We got on, pushed the 6th floor. A woman got on with us and pushed floor 4. Nothing strange about that. We stopped on floor 4 and the woman moved in front of the buttons and then got off. As she did that, she pushed the 3 and 5 buttons and got off. We said how rude that was, to each other. Then Penny and Rachael dropped the bomb on me. That was the same woman from the other elevator! What was this? What happened? Why would she do that?

I couldn't figure it out. What was this about? We had never seen this woman before. We hadn't even spoken a single word with her. Was it racism? She was a woman of color and we were white. Was it that she disliked us because we were of a different race? Who knows? We sure don't know.

It made me think about the whole thing of sin - how it affects the actions of people on a daily basis. Sin shows itself as one person treats another person poorly for absolutely no reason. How many times does that take place each day? Thousands, perhaps even millions of times a day, people treat one another poorly, for no other reason than they don't like the other person. Sin shows itself.

And it made me wonder, how do you treat someone else, people that you have never met or seen before? How do I treat others? People that I have never met? My daily life should, the way that I treat someone, should reflect the love of Christ. How would Christ treat that person? And that is how I should treat them. I pray that the love of Christ shines through all my actions, my words, the way I treat that stranger on the street. I pray that I won't treat someone the way we were treated today by someone that we have never met.

Give that some thought as you go about your day today.

The California Zephyr or a late train only gets later

When we road the Capital Limited years ago (that was a fun trip too!) the car attendant told us the old adage "A late train only gets later." That has stuck in my mind. And the California Zephyr proved how true that adage was.

It was only about 10 minutes late arriving in Sacramento. I got a good video of it arriving and sent it to the kids so they could see that we really had a train and were coming home. We missed our kids but we were having a blast traveling across the country. Penny and I were really enjoying the "our" time. It was good for us. We hadn't grown apart nor were we struggling in our relationship. But it was still good to be able to spend time just the two of us. Every marriage relationship needs that time to reconnect and rejuvenate in order to stay fresh and exciting. This trip really helped ours.

At the outset, we realized the Zephyr was going to be different from the Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight. The car attendant wasn't at the door greeting us as we got ready to board. We stood there for a few minutes waiting for him but he never showed. The man in front of us finally said, "I guess we should go ahead and get on board." At that moment we should have known - but we didn't.

The car was a little older than the others we had been in which would show itself as we went through the mountains. The toilets wouldn't flush regularly at the altitudes that we were at. The attendant had to reset them before they would work. That is just an inconvenience that we would put up with. We didn't have that problem on the others but that is just the way it was.

There are two things about the Zephyr that come to mind. First, the staff was not nearly as good as on the other trains. The dining car staff was inefficient. Meals took much longer than they should have. The food was good but Melissa was sooooo slow. Getting drinks was a challenge. Taking our orders was slow. And she was even slower getting them back to us. Our car attendant wasn't that available. There were times we had no idea where he was. It was good that we didn't need him much but still, after Gary on the Empire Builder, this really showed a lack of attention.

The second thing I can say about the Zephyr is "WOW!" The scenery was spectacular. The Builder and the Starlight had some great scenery. But most of the trip was just a trip. On the Zephyr, from the time we left the valley and started into the Sierra Nevadas, it was great. All the way from there to Denver was breathtaking. Maybe that is why the staff didn't try so hard. They knew that people would be watching the scenery. There were canyons that were beyond description they were so amazing. We followed the Colorado River for 125 wonderful miles. I tried to capture it on film and on video (my phone, so I didn't have a video camera). The video was good. I will wait and see how the pictures come out. Boy, oh boy, was it amazing. All I can say is that God did an amazing job when He created that part of the world. OK, the rest of the world is amazing too but the views, wow, what can I say. It is something you need to experience to believe.

Yet a late train only gets later. We had slow orders through the mountains (which gave us more time to enjoy the views) and every time the train tried to gain back some of the time that it lost, Union Pacific would slow it down for track work. We were doing all right, only an hour late until we came out of the Moffat Tunnel on the east side of the Rockies. We stopped on the side of the mountain because UP had pulled a rail and was replacing it. A train can't go without rails so we sat there. 30 minutes passed and the conductor told us that it would be another 30 minutes. The sun was setting. The time was ticking and the train was getting later. Finally we began to roll again. Passing that point of rail replacement at a crawl slowed us further. And then we were passed it. We arrived at Denver in the dark and 2 hours late.

Going to bed after we left Denver, we hoped the run across Nebraska would gain time but when we woke in Lincoln, we realized that wasn't the case. We were still running late. No time had been gained. Still, Iowa could give us time. But as slow order after slow order came in, we got later and later. Calling the kids, we talked with them and made a decision. Rather than have them drive into Chicago to pick us up late (with the Taste of Chicago going on as well), we decided they should change direction and head to Galesburg. It would be easier driving, less traffic and we would get off the train sooner.

So we pulled into Galesburg, IL at 4:00 p.m. (our arrival at Chicago was to be 3:50 p.m.) and there we saw Rach, Matthew and Brandon watching for us. It was good to see the kids (plus one). Getting our stuff, and we had more than when we left, we disembarked the California Zephyr, a late train that was going to be later getting into Chicago.

With the two whistles to say that it was leaving, we said good-bye to the Zephyr and to our train trip. It was great. When the kids asked if it was worth it, Penny and I said at the same time, "YES!" It truly was worth the trip.

Thanks Penny for making it a wonderful trip. I greatly enjoyed the train travel, the time spend with you, and the sights and sounds of rail travel. I hope we can do some sort of trip again. Happy anniversary Penny Anne. Thanks for 25 great years. And thanks for the last couple weeks.

If you want to travel by rail, I recommend it. It is a a relaxing way to travel. We read, dozed, ate, watched out the windows, took pictures, and then did it all over again. It was a very relaxing trip. I came back refreshed, ready for getting back into things. And I came back more in love with my wife than I thought was possible. Has it really been 25 years? No way. It has been great but will only get better. Is that possible? The Lord alone knows what is in store for us but I am sure that we are just getting started on our relationship. The best is yet to come!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Old Sacramento & getting ready for the Zephyr

After a great supper at the Dixie something or other riverboat (which was amazing!), we turned in. All right, so I ate wild boar. Never thought I would eat something like that but it was really good. What was funny is that Penny and I saw a place called the Wild Boar or something like that and we joked all day about boar breath and boar meat and then, for supper, I ate wild boar. Talk about ironic. Penny had bay scallops, which were not as large as she thought as she expected. But they were yummy.

We turned in and got ready for the next day. We weren't going to get up early but since we were still on central time, we rose early. Had a great breakfast at the Embassy Suites there in Sacramento and then went for a drive. We needed to return the rental car to Enterprise (thanks to my nephew Dave Thomas who worked things out for us). So we drove around Sacramento. It was an interesting town. There was quite the contrasts, just like any major towns. We enjoyed it a lot. We returned the car and walked back to the hotel. It was only 16+ blocks, but it was nice. We walked through the area around the state capitol. It was really pretty. Lots of pretty trees and flowers. Arnold does a good job - all right, so he doesn't do the gardening but at least it felt like the govenator could have done it.

The walk wasn't bad because it wasn't too hot yet. It started in the upper 50's but was quickly getting hotter. It was only in the 70's when we walked back, and it was a dry heat. Old Sacramento was next on our list. We wandered through watching people come and go. Saw a lot of homeless people. Why weren't they being helped? We live in a society that says it wants to help people but here they were, homeless, wandering around, picking up cigarette butts to get the tobacco out of them, picking through the trash for cans or drinks. It really was sad.

We sat and waited to see the Zephyr cross the bridge heading into the station, but soon got bored. It was getting hotter (a dry heat of course) and so we wandered into a history museum. Quite interesting to wander through. Learned about gold hunting, the history of ww2 in Sacramento (with the camps for the Japanese, a sad part of our history) and agriculture in the area. Wandering back into the head, we headed for the Old Sacramento train depot for a ride. It was only 10:30 and the line was long! Others like me, just a little bit crazy for a train ride, waiting in the heat for a ticket for a train that goes for a mere 4 miles. Isn't America great? Homeless people looking for something while we wait in line to buy tickets on a train that goes nowhere. Did I feel bad? No I didn't. Perhaps that is my shame, but I am not embarassed by it.

We bought the tickets for first class, meaning we rode in the car El Dorado, air conditioned and also received a soda and a cookie. How could it get any better? But it did. At the end of the line, the engine, a oil burning steamer, ran around to the other end, the side we were one, coupled up to the El Dorado, and began to haul us back. I got to stand on the back platform right next to the engine. All right, so for some of you, that would not be very exciting, but for someone with the illness of railroaditus, it was great. Penny sat in the ac, watched the scenery and the smile on my face, and felt the depth of love that we have between us. Thanks Penny, you are the best!

Back at the station, we wandered off to find lunch, eating at one of the many eateries that Old Sacramento has for people like us. It was a good burger. Nothing out of the ordinary but we sat on the patio and watched the river traffic go by. We even saw one boat covered in reeds, looking like a nipa hut. That is what Penny called it. It was a good meal.

We then wandered to the Old Schoolhouse museum. It was kinda neat to see how things were done at the turn of the century. Bought a few things that I will share with the teachers of St. Paul's and some with the students. Fun stuff. Can't wait to share it.

Off we wandered, shopping for friends and family. For Matthew we found a Japanese sword in an antique store, also a few old train postcards for me. Found a shirt of Brandon and magnet for mom. We finally made it to the Sacramento Railroad Museum. They have quite the display and good history. Could have had better lighting for pictures. Didn't stop me from taking them but they might not come out.

We spent way too much money there but it was great. A new shirt to wear home on the train, something for Penny and me to read, and off we went. Shopped our way through Old Sacramento, found Penny a hat. Boy she looks cute in it! And back to the hotel. It was hot - only 109 for a high, but it was a dry heat. We went back to the hotel, had a beer out on the patio while they cleaned our room, read a little, saw the train come back again, right by the hotel and then up to the room to clean up.

We ate supper in the Tower Bridge Bistro, had a great supper at a decent price. Was very enjoyable. Then walked back into Old Sacramento, just because we wanted to. Listened to jazz on the patio, good music but the lead singer was hard to look at - hard to describe. Suffice it to say she wouldn't go far if the lights were on.

Got up the next morning, ate breakfast at the hotel again (food seemed to be the focus of this vacation) and then packed. Off to the train station to wait for the Zephyr. We were looking forward to this trip. Everyone said it is the most beautiful trip. We couldn't wait. But we had to wait as the train was about 10 minutes late. That wasn't bad but was a sign of things to come. That, my friends, is another story.

We enjoyed Sacramento. We would go back to it. Not to Seattle though. No offense people, but we weren't really excited in Seattle. Off to another trip. And another adventure. Tell you more later.