Category Archives: Features

Meditations – February 25, 2015

By Pastor Jenna Couch Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee

If you had to answer the question, “What kinds of things are you tempted by in this world,” how would you answer?
Maybe some would be able to name the temptation right away, while others might have to think about it.
There are many temptations in this world everyday; some are easy to resist, while others may be harder. But, temptation is everywhere.
Some of the pastors in the Jubilee Conference are involved in a book study in Cedar Falls. We just started “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.
If you’ve never read it before, it’s a chilling but fascinating story. It’s about two devils from the underworld; Screwtape, who is writing letters to his nephew Wormwood, advising him on how to properly tempt a “patient” as they call him. This “patient” starts out as an atheist, which makes it easier for Wormwood to manipulate his thoughts, but so far in the first seven letters, the “patient” became a Christian, which grieved Wormwood and his uncle, but they aren’t letting up.
The advice that is given in these letters is utterly disturbing, but it gives the reader quite a bit of foresight about how the temptation process works. An overarching theme that Screwtape gives his nephew is to continue to find ways to get the “patient” to turn in on himself. As uncomfortable as some of this is to read, it’s a pretty adequate description of the ways in which temptations can pull us away from God and turn us in on ourselves. And when we turn in on ourselves, we die. Sooner or later, we die a rather lonely death because life had been consumed with 1 person; ourselves.

I realize that this book probably isn’t sounding like a great book for a pastor, or Christian for that matter, to be reading, but I promise you….there is MUCH Gospel to be proclaimed in this book. Even while Screwtape would have his nephew Wormwood believe that everything God is and stands for is to be considered The Enemy, as God is frequently referred to in this book; what he is portraying as bad or opposing qualities, we uphold as Holy.
I’d like to share an excerpt from the book that better conveys what I’m talking about here.

“To us, a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense.
But the obedience which [God] demands of its [humans] is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for [humans] and His service being perfect freedom is not (as one would gladly believe) more propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become [children.] We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; [God] wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.” (C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, pp.38-39).

Here, Screwtape is lamenting to Wormwood about how God operates in this world. Their goal is to try to convince their “patient” that nothing and no one else in the world matters more than their patient’s own feelings or thoughts. They know that God is genuine, and that God calls people to places bigger than themselves. And that infuriates them. They can’t compete with benevolence and God’s call to people thinking outside of themselves. That thwarts their evil plot to dominate people with their own twisted selfishness.

Whatever temptations that are out there; they are a part of life, but they are something wholly other than what God has intended for us as God’s children.
Now, while C.S. Lewis’ book is fiction, there is beautiful truth in the way he describes God. God IS overflowing. God does call us to serve and God has united us together as part of creation through Christ. And that’s the “good news” that Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming. Jesus called people to repent and to believe. Both are things that render Screwtape and Wormwood utterly powerless.

Jesus is still very present in this world today, still proclaiming the message to us that God’s kingdom has come near; calling us to repent and believe in the Good News. As the Screwtape letters indicate; there is far more power in belief in God than in temptation; for they are utterly powerless against God and God’s work through us.

So when we pray later today, and week after week “Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil,” we pray with a confidence that no power on earth can ever compete with a God whose giving for creation is overflowing with love.

Hawkins’ Happenings – February 25, 2015

By Jolene Kronschnabel
Children won’t want to miss a monstrous Story Time on Thursday, February 26, at 10:30 AM. Preschoolers will read entertaining and silly monster stories, sing monster songs, and make monsters – not scary ones though!
Bring any type of craft or handwork and join others for conversation and inspiration from 1 to 3 PM on Thursday, February 26, at Hawkins’ Handcrafters.
LEGORAMA! Our new LEGO building program begins on Tuesday, March 3, from 4 to 5 PM. Sign up now to join us in creating robots in March with bins of new and exciting LEGO pieces. For ages 3 years and older.
101 Dalmatians (1961 animated version) is the flick showing at the library on Wednesday, March 4, at 1:15 PM. When a litter of Dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.
Swim into Story Time to read about fish on Thursday, March 5. There are plenty of fishy books and fun doings for preschoolers at 10:30 AM.
Send in your 2nd or 3rd grader for the Reading is Fun Book Club, meeting on Thursday, March 5, at 4 PM. All they need to do is read a chapter book so they can tell the other readers about it. It is a great way to share good books!
Limited selections of Federal income tax forms are now available at the library.
Designate Hawkins Memorial Library as your favorite charitable organization on AmazonSmile. This is an automatic way to support the library at no cost to you when you shop amazon.com. To choose your charity, sign in to smile.amazon.com, select “Change your Charity” in your account, type Hawkins Memorial Library, and select City of La Porte City. Thank you.
The library is in need of donations of LEGOS and Duplo Blocks for our LEGORAMA program, and t-shirts in good condition in children’s, youth, and adult sizes without printing on the back for the Summer Reading Program. Donations can be dropped off at the library.

Freckles’ Adopt-A-Pet – February 25, 2015

Kailua

Freckles and The Progress Review encourage potential pet owners who are loving and responsible to consider adopting a pet from the Cedar Bend Humane Society.

My name is Kailua and I was surrendered to the shelter because my owners had a new baby and could no longer care for me. I am 4 years old, spayed and declawed on the front. I am very scared at the shelter, so I get my own little spot to keep to myself. I am very sweet once you get to know me, but I am very timid at first. I am such a beautiful girl! My adoption fee is $80.
For more information about adopting a pet, contact: Cedar Bend Humane Society, 1166 W. Airline Highway, Waterloo, Iowa 319-232-6887
cbhsadoption@mchsi.comwww.cedarbendhumanesociety.com

Meditations – February 18, 2015

By Pastor Jenna Couch    Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent; the season of penitence, of fasting, of reviewing our sinful nature and journeying with Christ toward the Cross.
The question on everyone’s mind this week: What are you giving up for Lent?
Have you decided? Are you giving up anything? Some take this Lenten discipline very seriously. Many people have different Lenten disciplines that they partake in to help focus on the Sacrifice Christ made for us.
Giving up something for Lent is indeed a good practice, but what happens when those 40 days are over? When choosing a discipline, if we choose to do one, could it be one that we continue past the 40 days of Lent? Could it be something that is life-giving, that maybe even benefits others rather than simply denying ourselves? One of the assigned Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday is Isaiah 58:1-12. This text calls into question certain types of fasting and the reasoning behind it.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice? Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”
I absolutely love reading. God redefines what it means to fast in this text. Fasting is not solely about serving our own interests, or to make us more disciplined or deprived of our favorite treats for five weeks. Fasting, when described in this text, assumes a deep self-examination of ourselves to discover where our heart, and thus, our treasure, really is. Fasting, according to this reading from Isaiah, seems to be a call of repentance from the things that prevent us from serving others and a renewed commitment to fighting injustices in this world.
When we receive those ashes on our forehead, that trace of the baptismal Cross, how will God work in us as we seek to serve our neighbor in love, to uphold our baptismal promises to live among God’s faithful people, to come to the word of God and the Holy supper, to read the Scriptures, work for peace and justice; all in response to the abundant grace and mercy that was given to us in and through the Cross?
Ultimately, in this world, it’s really not about US or what we do. It’s about what Christ has done in this world is FOR us. As we walk in this Lenten journey together, may God walk with us, stirring in us new life in the one who gave his life for us; Jesus Christ our Lord.

Freckles’ Adopt-a-Pet – February 18, 2015

Gentry_web

Freckles-Adopt-a-Pet

One definition of Gentry is “the rank of a gentleman.” May we say our Gentry is quite a gentleman (for a cat). He is black and white and about 18 months old. Gentry is already neutered. He was left behind in a home before being brought to the Cedar Bend Humane Society. Stop out to meet him!
He is microchipped, FELUK tested, and started on flea/tick prevention.

For more information about adopting a pet, contact:

Cedar Bend Humane Society, 1166 W. Airline Highway • Waterloo, Iowa 319-232-6887

cbhsadoption@mchsi.com

www.cedarbendhumanesociety.com