Thursday, 23 February 2006

Temporomandibular joint disorder. Apparently I had it. I’ve been grinding my teeth for years, but in the last months it’s kicked into high gear. It’s likely stress-related. Oddly enough, I don’t recall much grinding when I used to smoke. Still, listing the pros and cons of smoking against those of TMJ, I’m inclined to believe that TMJ is a better deal.

So I’m currently seeing the best dentist I’ve ever known. I’ve never had a phobia of the dentist’s office, and have generally had good dentists. This guy tops them all. He’s so meticulous about it all. It’s hands down the most professional office in which I’ve ever been seen.

So anyway, the headaches were persistent and my jaw was popping more regularly, so he offered to fix it. Ususally it gets done with just a bite guard that you wear when you sleep. But there is apparently a new technology that can help. So I went in yesterday afternoon for a TENSing.

Transcutaneous Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation, it was. Basically they hook your jaw up to a couple of electrodes and put one more at the base of your skull. Then they apply regular electric stimulation for about a half hour, forty minutes. What it does is cause your muscles to unlearn the patterns they’re used to so that your jaw can reseat itself in its “happy place.” Darned if it doesn’t work. The headaches are gone, my jaw doesn’t pop, and things just feel altogether in better alignment. In a few days the bite guard comes in. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, talk to your dentist. If you can get TENSed, it’s worth it.


Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Yeah. I hadn’t posted for a bit, so I figured this one was worthy of some Latin so’s this here blog might look a bit more respectable. It probably didn’t work. Whatever.

But the quote is nonetheless appropriate. Yesterday I had the honor of speaking the Word that God both placed into my mouth and combined with water to extend the blessings of his reign to yet another soul. It couldn’t get any better. But in a coram hominibus way it did, and this due to the setting and circumstances. This baptism happened in jail, and this person had not, prior to incarceration, been a Christian.

The circumstances by which I got involved in this situation were odd. That is, one would have to absolutely discount the hand of God in them to see them as anything more than amazing — and I mean amazing — coincidence. My wife had made a spontaneous and otherwise inexplicable and uncharacteristic invitation to a group, and we met. A few weeks later this person was arrested and all the spouse had was a faint memory of “that one pastor guy.” It went from there.

Sometimes God works in obvious ways.

Jail restrictions make ministry interesting and necessarily creative. But it’s been frankly rewarding. To hear an inmate, who is potentially looking ahead at many years in a federal penitentiary, say of the experience that, “[Arrest and imprisonment] is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If this hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have known about Jesus and what he’s done for me,” is frankly beautiful and unnerving at the same time. The decision theology that is evident among the chaplaincy in the facility has been a struggle for this inmate, but one for which the inmate has been armed with a Bible and a Small Catechism.

So if you would, please offer a prayer of thanks for this child of God who has been added to your family in baptism. Please pray for strength and peace for the family. And please pray that God would continue strengthen and preserve this new Christian in faith in Christ Jesus unto salvation.

Barking up the wrong tree

Wednesday, 01 February 2006

Churches are magnets for telemarketers. Seriously. I thank God for my secretary. She is normally able to run interference for me and just take a message. But there are some pushy ones. Some tricksy ones. They get through.

There’s one particular organization that continually calls, whose calls occasionally get through, whose calling staff is as agressive as they come. Seriously, they should be working in the collection department for CitiBank. Reference the following segment of one such phone call:

Caller: Pastor, is now a good time to talk?
OSC: Not really. I’ve got an appointment in about five minutes. (a true statement)
Caller: Well, I just wanted to tell you about…
OSC: Ok, but like I said, I don’t have time right now.
Caller: Oh, right. Well, can I pray with you?
OSC: That’d be great, but since I’m in a rush how about you pray for me?
Caller: Great. Let’s pray. God I just ask…

Yeah. Probably bad form to hang up on someone while they’re praying for you.

See, a part of the problem is that they don’t properly identify themselves to the secretary when she answers. They give their name, but not their organization, and ask for me. And I’ve given specific instructions to the secretary on how to sort them, but they’re apparently a bit crafty. Then they interrupt my work.

Today I was a bit more forceful with the poor kid. It’s about this great youth program. I told him that we weren’t interested, hadn’t budgeted for it, and it simply wasn’t happening. So he asks what we do instead, and I told him. Enter into the conversation, gentle reader:

Caller:Yeah, but are your youth getting saved? Are they giving their hearts to Jesus? Do you guys do like altar calls and stuff?
OSC: (getting testy) Well, our youth confess faith in Jesus Christ, so they’re not in need of getting saved. They’re Christians. It’s already happened to them. In fact, for many of them it happened long before they had any cognitive idea of God, because they were baptized as infants. We don’t teach our youth that they have to accept Jesus, but that Jesus has chosen them.
Caller: Oh. Um, do you guys do any outreach? Because a lot of churches use this as an outreach thing.
OSC: (about to let sarcasm get the best of him) Yes, our youth regularly bring their unchurched friends to activities here at the church.
Caller: Oh. Hmm… Well, I want to encourage you in your particular doctrine and all.
OSC: Thanks.

Apparently they missed the word “Lutheran” in the church’s name. Or, for an even sadder possibility, they didn’t.