Friday, December 28, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
December 19, 2007
Here is an interesting interview with former Mormon cartoonist, Steve Benson.
Ex-Mormon Cartoonist Says Romney Not Telling Truth
By Dave Astor Published: December 18, 2007 3:50 PM ET
NEW YORK As an ex-Mormon, Arizona Republic editorial cartoonist Steve Benson has strong opinions about current Mormon Mitt Romney. He said the Republican candidate's recent speech on religion should not be trusted by media people and other Americans.
In his talk, Romney said "I believe in my Mormon faith" while also noting that the church's "teachings" would not influence his decisions if elected president.
"Yeah, right," responded Benson, adding that "Romney also believes in misrepresenting what his Mormon Church actually espouses."
Benson is the grandson of former Mormon leader Ezra Taft Benson.
please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the world
"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen."
There is nothing attached.... This can be very powerful.... Just send this to all the people in your address book. Do not stop the wheel, please...
Of all the gifts you could give a US Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine & others deployed in harm's way, prayer is the very best one.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
I always found “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to be one of the more annoying Christmas songs. If you’re like me, you may enjoy many of the parodies like Jeff Foxworthy’s red neck one or Bob and Doug McKenzie’s 1980’s hit.
Turns out, some scholars believe that the original song represents the twelve days from Christmas until the Epiphany, January 6th (December 25th until January 5th).
Epiphany is usually celebrated as the time the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ child. Because of this, many cultures don’t exchange gifts on Christmas, they wait until Epiphany. There used to be a tradition in some countries to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Just like with Christmas, by the time of the renaissance, Europe and Scandinavia cultures had combined the twelve days with pagan festivals celebrating new year’s. Usually the idea was to try to drive away evil spirits.
The Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last “day of the Christmas” before Epiphany This usually meant a big feast and a Christmas decoration removing party. Fruit cake was originally “King’s cake,” bejeweled with candy, spices, and nuts, this perennial Christmas doorstop of a gift represented the expensive gifts of the Magi.
The "true love" mentioned in the 12 Days of Christmas is not boyfriend or girlfriend, it represents God Himself. He gives gifts each day that represent aspects of the Christian faith. Some people think that the song was originally a way to teach children their catechism lessons.
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, who’s birthday is Christmas day. He’s symbolized by a mother hen who shelters us under her wing and whom we follow. Remember the opening of the Partidge Family TV show in the ‘70’s? (Luke 13:34)
On the 2nd day of Christmas…
Two Turtle Doves
The Old and New Testaments
On the 3rd day…
Three French Hens
The three virtues that Allan Jackson sings about in his song about 9/11; Faith, Hope, and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13). When I was a kid, I always thought it was three French HORNS, which would also be a nice gift and unlike chickens, you wouldn’t have to feed them.
4th day... Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
FIVE GOLD RINGS! Sing it LOUD.
The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They kind of give a background of how messed up humanity is, therefore needing a savior.
6th day… Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation (Genesis 1). Think of the planet Earth as the goose that lays the golden eggs. If we take better care of her than we’ve been doing, she’ll keep producing. If we get greedy and just cut her open for the eggs inside, no new eggs. Could be why more and more people are acknowledging the veracity of global warming.
7th day... Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion (Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). Kind of like those practical presents; food processors and power drills, these aren’t worth much if you just play with them or show them off. You have to use them. That way they become gifts that keep on giving.
8th day... Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10). Whatever happened to those peacemakers anyway? Probably out in the garage with that drill, or up in the attic with the fruitcake.
9th day...Nine Ladies Dancing
No, these aren’t those ladies at the club by the airport with all the poles. These are the nine fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). You can always tell a tree by it’s fruit. How fruity are you?
10th day...Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: I’m running out of room so I’ll let you look them up yourself (Exodus 20:1-17).
11th day...Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven faithful apostles- minus #12, Judas Iscariot of course.
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father… 2) Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) …conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pilate, crucified, died, buried. Descended into hell 5) Third day rose again. Ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God. 6) Will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) Holy Spirit, 8) Church, 9) communion of saints, 10) forgiveness of sins, 11) resurrection of the body, 12) life everlasting.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
A former student of mine from Lutheran High in LA told me about her friend who is a "Gospel Poet." I'd never heard a Gospel Poetry Slam before and thought it was pretty cool. Listen closely to the part about Alicia Keys, Neyo & Soulja Boy.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th).
It's not just a secular "nonsense song," they will be reminded in one more way of the grace of God working in transforming ways in their lives and in our world. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway? I'll tell you that the 12 Drummers Drumming are the 12 points of the Apostle's Creed.
Click here to find out the other 11
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
"A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act."
Sunday, December 09, 2007
- If you hear something really funny in church and smile as loud as you can, you might be a Lutheran.
- If you have an uncontrollable urge to sit in the back of any room, you might be a Lutheran.
- If you tap a church visitor on the shoulder and say, "excuse me, but you're in my seat," you might be a Lutheran.
- If it's 110 degrees outside and you still have coffee at the church function, you might be a Lutheran.
- If you automatically sing 'amen' at the end of every song you sing, you might be a Lutheran.
- If all of your casserole dishes have your name on the bottom, you might be a Lutheran.
- If you believe that Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there will be a free-will offering," you might be a Lutheran.
- If your house is a mess because you're "saved by Grace," not by works, you might be a Lutheran.
- If you sing "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" while sitting down, you might be a Lutheran.
- If you're watching "Star Wars" and when they say, "May the force be with you," you have the urge to answer, "and also with you," you might be a Lutheran.
Friday, December 07, 2007
I thought that this was a really interesting article in NEWSWEEK.
How to Find an Angel
Debunking the myth of cherubs, wings and rosy cheeks.
By Rabbi Marc Gellman
In the iconic 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life" by Frank Capra, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, who was fresh from bomber duty in the Air Force during World War II, is saved from suicide by Clarence the angel. Clarence, played by Henry Travers, finds George freezing and desperate on a bridge and saves him. Then, as a bell rings on George's Christmas tree in the happy-ending scene, we know Clarence has earned his wings at last. Except for the wings and the bells, I wonder, how did Frank Capra know that this is exactly how angels work?
Recently, Mitt Romney gave a speech trying to calm fears of the religious right of his Mormonism. I know that as a political liberal, I'm supposed to preach religious tolerance, but as a theological conservative, I want readers (especially my Bible study students) to be clear that Mormonism is not a Christian denomination. Even if you do not consider it a "cult," you have must realize that it is a drastically different religion unto itself.
For Governor Romney to claim that he believes that Jesus "is the son of god and the savior of all mankind" is grossly misleading. If he's willing to perpetrate this kind of deceit about his religion, how else could we expect him to lie?
Mormonism in a Nutshell
"Mormonism teaches that God used to be a man on another world and that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of his god on his home world. He brought his wife to this world, a woman he had married on the other world. She is, essentially a goddess."
According to Mormonism, God had sex with Mary to produce the incarnate Jesus. Pre-incarnate, Jesus and Lucifer (Satan) were brothers. Satan did lead a revolt and he and his followers were turned into demons, that much is the same as Christianity.
"In Mormonism, men and women have the potential of becoming gods. President Lorenzo Snow said, "As god once was, man is. As God is, man may become." In order to reach this exalted state of godhood, a person must first become a good Mormon, pay a full ten percent tithe to the Mormon church, follow various laws and ordinances of the church, and be found worthy."
Mind you, I have no doubt that many Mormons are unaware of their church's actual doctrines and may indeed believe in the same true Jesus that Christians do- the LDS church after all, is notorious for it's secrecy, misrepresentation and changing it's official positions for the sake of legal and political expedience. They taught that minorities were the inferior and damned children of Cain. They practiced polygamy and the oppression of women, but now promote themselves as pro-family.
I may be a hypocrite and even a religious bigot, but I think that it is important that people know that Romney is either lying or deluded when he calls himself a Christian.
I consider myself a passionate believer. My faith in Jesus and my relationship with him constitute the core of my being. Be that as it may, the fact that Romney is so shamelessly pandering to the religious right is a bigger reason for me not to vote for him than his Mormonism.
Like it or, the United States is not a theocracy, it is a pluralistic- if not secular democracy. And that is as is should be. Our founding fathers deliberately wanted to avoid the kinds of conflicts that kept Europe mired in perpetual war for centuries.
After Christian Europeans were done killing Muslims in the crusades, they began killing each other. First Eastern Orthodox and Catholic, then Catholic and Protestants, then Protestants took revenge on Catholics and so on. Is it any wonder that atheists so often blame wars on religion?
Those first Pilgrims that came to Massachusetts looking for religious freedom? Were being persecuted by King James- yeah, as in the King James Bible. And while many of those founding fathers may indeed have been “Christians” as fundamentalist right-wingers are so quick to boast, they were also enlightened enough to know that no one denomination or sect should have too much influence lest they might behave very un Christ-like toward all the others.
Maybe when it comes down to it, perhaps our policy on a candidate’s religion should be “don’t ask-don’t tell.”
As a child I attended and as an adult I taught in Lutheran schools, but I’ve always believed in the separation of church and state. I believe that when he held up a coin with Caesar’s face on it and told His disciples to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s,” Jesus may have been saying that He does too.
As Kennedy said in his speech over forty years ago, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”
I have no doubt that many Mormons are unaware of their church's deeper doctrines and that they believe in the same true Jesus that Christians do- the LDS church after all, is notorious for it's secrecy, and changing it's official positions for the sake of legal and political expedience.
They taught that minorities were the inferior and damned children of Cain, now they claim to accept people of color. They practiced polygamy and the subjugation of women, but now promote themselves as pro-family.
Of course- The pre-reformation Church perpetrated all kinds of atrocities in Jesus' name, Catholics have the inquisition, Martin Luther was a pretty flagrant anti-Semite, Once the pilgrims got their religious liberty in New England, they proceeded to deny everyone else religious freedom (remember the Salem Witch trials?)... it goes on and on. No World religion or Christian denomination is immune. That's what we Lutherans call "original sin." We're all full of fear and hate.
I guess I still have lots of theological skepticism about Mormonism and trepidations about the possibility of a Mormon President, but that doesn't mean I should recklessly disparage Romney for being Mormon, or every single member of the LDS church.
Will Lutherans and Episcopalians refuse to vote for Mike Huckabee because he’s a Baptist? Or for Rudy Guliani because he’s Catholic? Or for Obama because he’s a member of the United Church of Christ, or for Senators Clinton or Edwards because they’re Methodists?
There's an old joke that goes like this; Guy dies, goes to Heaven, St. Peter gives him a tour. Through one door he hears this wonderful Gospel music, "Who's in there?" he asks, "Oh those are all the AME believers." A ways down the hall he hears shouting "AMENS" and "Hallelujahs!" "In there are the Pentecostals," Peter explains. As they pass another door he smells incense and hear sort of a droning of mumbles and chants. "who's that?" the man asks, "Greek Orthodox," replies Peter. A little further down the hall everything is silent, the man starts to ask St. Peter about it and Peter quickly puts his finger to his lips and whispers- "Shhh- those are the Lutherans, they think they're the only ones up here."
I googled this joke and it turns out that almost every demnomination hads their own version, including Mormons. Point is, we're all capable of tremendous bigotry.
The Lutheran college I attended was Missouri Synod and frankly, there was worse discrimination against kids who belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church than of non Lutherans.
I have to be theologically clear here.
- Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
- Orthodox ("orthodox" as in mainstream, not as in Greek Orthodox) Christianity recognizes the Apostle's and Nicean Creeds and does not recognize the Book of Mormon, John warns us in Revelation 22:18-19 "If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."
- But Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that "no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit."
- Romney did say that he believes that "Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of the world." Maybe that's something, of course if what I've been taught in the Lutheran church about Mormonism is true, he also thinks that Lucifer is Jesus' brother and that anyone can become god of their own planet if they're a good enough Mormon...
Want to have some fun? Check out BeliefNet's "God-o-Meter," supposedly it "scientifically measures factors such as rate of God-talk, effectiveness—saying God wants a capital gains tax cut doesn't guarantee a high rating—and other top-secret criteria."
Here's the cartoon I drew for the Dec. 13 Mapleton PRESS.
Hot issue. Gotta confess, I sometimes like to listen to Bishop T.D. Jakes and Robert Shueler- but I never send them money. I love Rick Warren, but I think that he's actually on the up and up, unlike these other guys. I really worry about my friends and family who watch Osteen all the time, but whatchya gonna do but pray for 'em?
On the one hand:
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
On the other hand:
"The God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister." ~Bono, U2
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Please pray for the families of the victims of the mall shooting yesterday.
The FBI reported in September that violent crime in Omaha increased last year at four times the national rate — a 7.6 percent increase compared to 1.9 nationally. There were 601.1 violent crimes per 100,000 Omaha residents last year, compared with 564.6 in 2005.
Conservatives no doubt will blame immigrants
Liberals will attribute it to increased poverty
My Pentecostal friends, I imagine, might speculate about spiritual activity, trying to name sins that opened the doors to demonic intrigue.
I'm not a sociologist, an economist, or understand much about the true yet hidden metaphysical nature of our world, but I do know that Omaha needs our prayers.
So please, pray for the big O.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
"May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!"
Sunday, December 02, 2007
HSBS&LYF at Saint John Charter Oak
High School Bible Study and Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) at Saint John Lutheran in Charter Oak, Iowa. For current LYF members, Alumni, and ANYONE interested in our Bible Study.
Come check out the high school Bible study every Sunday morning at 9 in the basement kitchen at St John Lutheran Church in Charter Oak.
There's no obligations whatsoever. you don't HAVE to stay for church, upstairs at 10, to bring any money for an offering, or even to come back if you decide you don't like it. But of course, you are certainly more than welcome to stay for church, or to join our LYF if you want to for that matter.
Right now we're studying Philippians. Philippians is the letter in the Bible where Paul is trying to cheer people on, to encourage them to stay on course and to keep there spirits up.
Philippians is a letter that has advice and exercises in it for hanging on and pulling through.
For everyone who faces stress and discouragement, whether you've had setbacks in school or relationships or you're going through hard times in your family or some goal or dream you've been chasing. Philippians helps you keep your focus and not let things grind you down and get you stuck in the muck.
Read what you've been missing at
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
My Alma Mater, Concordia University has incorporated servant leadership into its curriculum, under the slogan "Preparing servant leaders for church and world." Concordia students are required to take a servant leadership practicum in which they perform a 60 hour service project.
Jesus taught in the Gospel of Mark, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45)
Putting other's needs before yourself is the essence of effective leadership. It's the essence of good salesmanship and customer service, and it's the essence of effective diplomacy. In other words, treating others the way you yourself would like to be treated, not money, makes the whole world go around. It opens doors and gets things done.
"The Golden Rule" is actually something Jesus Himself taught- "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31 Keep that, along with Matthew 5:44 "Love your enemies" in mind as you read our passage for this week-
Imitating Christ's Humility1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The Serendipity Group Study Bible asks "How does this passage challenge the Madison Avenue advertising image of success?"
Good question. I am also reminded of the old adage? Do you love things and use people? Or use things and love people?
You see, here's Jesus- omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, all things were made through Him, and by Him, and yet He gives it all up to be with you, and what's more, He gives it all up and even dies for you. That's sacrifice, that's love.
Here's Jesus, humble, willing to do the dirty jobs, like Mike Rowe on the Discovery channel- doing what needs to get done to make life possible for the rest of us. Compare Him to Satan, AKA Lucifer (light-barer.) Lucifer was created as an archangel in charge of praise and worship. But old Lucy, decided he deserved the glory for himself.
Check out this great passage from Isaiah 14-
12What a comedown this, O Babylon!
Daystar! Son of Dawn!
Flat on your face in the underworld mud,
you, famous for flattening nations!
13-14You said to yourself,
"I'll climb to heaven.
I'll set my throne
over the stars of God.
I'll run the assembly of angels
that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon.
I'll climb to the top of the clouds.
I'll take over as King of the Universe!"
15-17But you didn't make it, did you?
Instead of climbing up, you came down—
Down with the underground dead,
down to the abyss of the Pit.
People will stare and muse:
"Can this be the one
Who terrorized earth and its kingdoms,
turned earth to a moonscape,
Wasted its cities,
shut up his prisoners to a living death?"
Sucks to be him. That's what you get for being selfish and conceited.
also notice that because Jesus humbled Himself, God the Father exalted Him. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Jesus tells us in Matthew 20:16, that "the last will be first, and the first will be last." If we put others before ourselves, in the long run it will pay off. People love to be with people who are kind and considerate toward them. Having a servant heart is a great way to win friends and influence people.
Friday, November 23, 2007
This November 23rd, environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in as many as 65 countries will hit the streets for a 24-hour consumer fast in celebration of the 15th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global cultural phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada. Read more.
WhenNorth America: 23rd November, 2007
Find out more
Monday, November 12, 2007
Pirate Ted thought you would be interested in this story: NPR : John Fugelsang: All the Wrong Reasons
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This writer/comedian is really smart, and really funny. I actually heard him on Air America this morning, not last April on NPR, but he has a great story.
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So... yeah... is Robertson no longer opposed to the things he formerly couldn't endorse Guliani for? Is he a hypocrite? Or is he governed more by Machiavelli than by Jesus Christ? Or was he more of a legalistic Pharisee than someone who's read, marked and inwardly digested the Words of Jesus to begin with? Don't get me started on Dobson, I'll blow a gasket. I'm sorry, I guess I am a hypocritical bigot when it comes to Mormonism.
Friday, November 09, 2007
A little vocab never hurt anybody!
Test yourself here
For each word y0ou get right, they donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations to help fight world hunger.
This is also a great mind-challenge! Of course, if you want to help and learn more words thereby stretching your vocabulary- instead of flexing intellectual muscles you already have; open http://www.merriam-webster.com in a separate tab or window so you can cheat! Hey, you're still helping people.
Ted's cartoons, artworks, photos, and commentary at:
"The gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." ~Garrison Keillor
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Ouch- kind of convicting of the folks who read "you've heard it said 'an eye for an eye'..." but never finish reading the " but I tell you when someone strikes you, turn the other cheek..." go the extra mile, give 'em the shirt of your back, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you parts (Matt 5:38-48)- let alone the bit about "blessed are the peace makers" earlier in in the chapter (Matthew 5:9). Wow. Controversial.
Did you know that Fish's publisher, "Harper's Weekly" is the same magazine that the father of American political cartooning, Thomas Nast drew for? Powerful expression. Whooa Nelly!
Click here to read Cartoonist and Editor Dayle Cagle's Blog about this cartoon
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The God-o-Meter (pronounced Gah-DOM-meter) scientifically measures factors such as rate of God-talk, effectiveness—saying God wants a capital gains tax cut doesn't guarantee a high rating—and other top-secret criteria. Click a candidate's head to get his or her latest God-o-Meter reading and blog post. And check back often. With so much happening on the campaign trail, God-o-Meter is constantly recalibrating!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[b] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
"13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." ~ John 4:13-21
Thursday, November 01, 2007
by Tony Campolo
Recently, I met with a group of religious leaders who have become increasingly disturbed by the alliance between evangelical Christians and the Republican Party. Karl Rove, President Bush’s political strategist, has brilliantly and successfully served as the matchmaker to arrange this union, which was consummated in the last presidential election when 83 percent of evangelicals voted Republican.
The meeting was joined by the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine; Father Richard Rohr, a well-known Catholic writer and speaker; Brian McLaren, a leader of the emergent church movement; the Rev. Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders, a prominent African-American pastor; the Rev. Noel Castellanos, a strong voice in the Hispanic community; and several other outstanding Christian communicators.
The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics. Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America. We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation.
Because being evangelical is usually synonymous with being Republican in the popular mind, and calling ourselves “progressive” might be taken as a value judgment by those who do share our views, we decided not to call ourselves “progressive evangelicals.” We came up with a new name: Red-Letter Christians.
Who first suggested the label? A secular Jewish Country-and-Western disc jockey in Nashville, Tennessee. During a radio interview he was conducting with Jim Wallis, he happened to say, “So, you’re one of those Red-Letter Christians - you know - who’s really into those verses in the New Testament that are in red letters!”
Jim answered, “That’s right!” And with that answer, he spoke for all of us. By calling ourselves Red-Letter Christians, we are alluding to the fact that in several versions of the New Testament, the words of Jesus are printed in red. In adopting this name, we are saying that we are committed to living out the things that He said. Of course, the message in those red-lettered verses is radical, to say the least. If you don’t believe me, read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
In those red letters, He calls us away from the consumerist values that dominate contemporary American consciousness. He calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications for how we think about capital punishment. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them. Most important, if we take Jesus seriously, we will realize that meeting the needs of the poor is a primary responsibility for His followers.
Figuring out just how to relate those radical red letters in the Bible to the complex issues in the modern world will be difficult, but that’s what we’ll try to do.
Gandhi once said that everybody in the world knows what Jesus was teaching in those verses - except Christians! We will try to prove him wrong.
Click here to see this article at its original site: Beliefnet
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Robert L. Short in his book 'The Gospel According to Peanuts' pointed out that "Charlie Brown" may have been a cleverly devised literary device for cartoonist Charles Schultz to inject the ideas of the great twentieth century theologian "Karl (Charles) Barth (Brown)."
Since he was one of my heroes, I always secretly hoped that since he was from Minnesota, Schultz was Lutheran, but I think actually he may have belonged to the Church of Christ or something like that.
So what if Schultz wasn't a surrealist! Reformation and Halloween are the same day, so I'm allowed to take a little license. I always felt that Linus was more like Kierkegaard, but Barth's hair is kind of crazy like Linus's is in this picture. Really, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's face and head look more like Charlie Brown, but how can you satirize someone who eas martyred by the NAZI's, I mean, come on, some things are sacred.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, German theologian and professor at Wittenberg, posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg and thereby ignited the Protestant Reformation.
The Ninety-five Theses were a series of propositions dealing with indulgences which Martin Luther drew up as the basis for a proposed academic disputation. They were written in reaction to abuses in the sale of a plenary indulgence by Johann Tetzel, who gave the impression that it would not only remit the guilt and penalties of even the most serious sins, but that its benefits could be applied to the dead in purgatory. Luther challenged this teaching because it led people to believe that forgiveness could be bought and to neglect true repentance.
Read them Here
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
So, I thought I was done, but in honor of all those Latino-Lutherans out there, I thought I'd give you "Frida Kahlo's self portrait with C.F.W.Walther" (as opposed to Trotsky).
Now I don't know if the WELS and ELCA Lutherans will know who he is, but he came over to St. Louis in the 1840s and helped start the Lutheran Church Miserable-Sinners (LC-MS).
I'm Ted, I'm a high school Art teacher and recovering Lutheran Youth Fellowship counselor. Concordia, Seward, class of '93.
I found your blog, Lutheran Surrealism (http://lutheransurrealism.blogspot.com) intriguing. It's inspired me to Lutheran-ize some paintings in PhotoShop.
Attached you'll find "Persistence of Liturgy." Feel free to use them if you like, or ignore them if you prefer.
Keep writing and pissing people off, Kierkegaard would be proud of you!
Pirate Prayers at:
Ted's cartoons, artworks, photos, and commentary at:
"The gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." ~Garrison Keillor
Monday, October 29, 2007
...Just three years ago, the leaders of the conservative Christian political movement could almost see the Promised Land. White evangelical Protestants looked like perhaps the most potent voting bloc in America. They turned out for President George W. Bush in record numbers, supporting him for re-election by a ratio of four to one. Republican strategists predicted that religious traditionalists would help bring about an era of dominance for their party. Spokesmen for the Christian conservative movement warned of the wrath of “values voters.” James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was poised to play kingmaker in 2008, at least in the Republican primary. And thanks to President Bush, the Supreme Court appeared just one vote away from answering the prayers of evangelical activists by overturning Roe v. Wade.Read the rest of the article at; Evangelical Movement - Religion and Politics - Presidential Election of 2008 - Christians and Christianity - Voting and Voters - New York Times
Today the movement shows signs of coming apart beneath its leaders. It is not merely that none of the 2008 Republican front-runners come close to measuring up to President Bush in the eyes of the evangelical faithful, although it would be hard to find a cast of characters more ill fit for those shoes: a lapsed-Catholic big-city mayor; a Massachusetts Mormon; a church-skipping Hollywood character actor; and a political renegade known for crossing swords with the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Nor is the problem simply that the Democratic presidential front-runners — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards — sound like a bunch of tent-revival Bible thumpers compared with the Republicans.
The 2008 election is just the latest stress on a system of fault lines that go much deeper. The phenomenon of theologically conservative Christians plunging into political activism on the right is, historically speaking, something of an anomaly. Most evangelicals shrugged off abortion as a Catholic issue until after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But in the wake of the ban on public-school prayer, the sexual revolution and the exodus to the suburbs that filled the new megachurches, protecting the unborn became the rallying cry of a new movement to uphold the traditional family. Now another confluence of factors is threatening to tear the movement apart. The extraordinary evangelical love affair with Bush has ended, for many, in heartbreak over the Iraq war and what they see as his meager domestic accomplishments. That disappointment, in turn, has sharpened latent divisions within the evangelical world — over the evangelical alliance with the Republican Party, among approaches to ministry and theology, and between the generations...
Okay, you're right, it really shouldn't take 3 weeks to get through one chapter. But then again, there is SO MUCH good stuff in this book!
Here's what I got out of this week's passage-
"Never let them see you sweat"
or how about, "Don't Flinch!"
The bottom line is, don't be intimidated. Don't panic.
If you remain calm and can keep your cool while everyone around you is loosing yours- here's what's going to happen;
- You'll get through whatever you have to face
- The people who were trying to intimidate you are going to be intimidated BY you, without you ever having to become hostile or confrontational
- Other people are going to at least take your side, if not start looking to you as a leader.
Philippians 1:27-30 (New International Version)27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,30since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
That's great stuff- especially just before Halloween, when between horror movies and superstition, we can begin to be anxious about Satan and his demons. Don't sweat it. In honor of Reformation Day (also October 31) here's a song lyric to drive home this point;
A Mighty Fortress, by Martin Luther
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
But I also found verse 29 interesting too. Paul tells us that not only is it a PRIVILEGE to even believe in Jesus (we can only come to believe with the help of the Holy Spirit) but it is- get this, a PRIVILEGE to SUFFER for Jesus. Wha??!!
Wouldn't you be honored to get to say you were there at the Diet of Worms with Luther and stood up for the truth, even in the face of being burned as a heretic? Wouldn't you have been proud to have been in a concentration camp in NAZI Germany with someone like Corrie Ten Boon or Deitrich Bonhoeffer? Wouldn't it be a privilege to have been arrested with Martin Luther King Jr.? Wouldn't you be proud to say you were part of a team that did their absolute best in some championship, even if several of the players were injured and you ached the next day? Doesn't it feel good to get a major job done especially when you're helping someone, even if it's difficult at the time?
Nothing worthwhile comes easy. No Pain, no gain. That's some of what I talked about last week when I pulled up verses like Romans 5:3-5 and 8:28. Look back at your life so far, you wouldn't be who you are if you hadn't been through what you've gone through.
And yet Paul also tells the Philippians that they're going through the same thing he'd been going through. Not only does God know that He can use whatever you have to cope with to make you stronger and more useful- but He's willing to let you see some of what it was like for Him when He suffered for us. Our suffering doesn't make us any more "justified" (it cannot save us) only what Jesus already did can do that, but it can and will serve to "sanctify" us, that is to make us more like Christ and more useful to Him.
It's hard to understand, especially if whatever you're going through is really hard. But trust me, and trust Paul, it's a beautiful thing.
And here's my prayer for you:
"May the God of peace sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."- 1 Thessalonians 5:23
St. John Lutheran Church in Charter Oak will host a Christian concert by Dave and Barb Anderson on Friday, November 16 at 7 PM. St. John is located at 104 Birch Avenue.
Dave and Barb have recorded numerous albums and have led worship and music for dozens of church conferences and conventions. They were featured singers at a Billy Graham Crusade.
In 1993. they spent a week in a 3000-person community in Russia which had never before heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On their back to Alaska, their plane crashed into the Bering Sea, about 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle and 22 ½ miles from Nome, Alaska. The seven team members spent nearly an hour in 36-degree water (life-expectancy is between 5 and 13 minutes). Their rescue has been called “one of the most dramatic air/sea rescues in history”. This story has been told in Guideposts, Christian Reader Magazine, The Lutheran, The Lutheran Witness, and seen on TBN, CBN’s 700 Club, Daystar, and heard three times on Focus On The Family in English and around the world in 12 other languages.
Dave and Barb share their rescue story everywhere they go. God has used this story of miracles to minister to believers and unbelievers; to people in all stages of life, particularly those who are facing “impossible” circumstances.
Their worship concerts include a mix of contemporary and traditional Christian music…hymns, gospel songs, praise & worship songs, and children’s songs. Audiences are invited to sing along (so long, Dave says, as it’s the same song). They share from their heart personal experiences and from their walk with God.
Since the mid-seventies the Anderson have performed and led worship throughout America and in a number of other countries including Russia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, New Zealand, and Australia.
Dave Anderson is founder of Lutheran Youth Encounter (now known as Youth Encounter), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Renewal House (the first Lutheran-sponsored drug rehabilitation program in the US), and Fellowship Ministries.
Anderson is also the President of Fellowship Ministries, based in Tempe, Arizona. Fellowship Ministries is a non-profit organization that has been sponsoring worship and music conferences and seminars, and sponsoring the Anderson’s concerts since 1975. Fellowship Ministries also publishes worship resources (including The Other Songbook, now 500,000 copies in print and The Best of the Best in Contemporary Praise and Worship, 180,000 copies in print), and sponsors
Dave and Barb Anderson make their home in Phoenix, Arizona. They have a stepson who is married and they have two step-grandchildren.
Any time you hear about an accident involving kids it's sad. When I heard that this accident happened so close to us, I was also nervous. My wife teaches at Mapleton, but I let it go when they didn't call her in to work (she's also a guidance counselor).
So it was terrible when I came in to school and Rena told me who one of the kids was. Bradley was an insanely gifted mascot. I had really hoped that he would continue on in high school but he struggled with grades and than his family moved out of our district. I had lost touch with him, but Rena has remained close to his sister, Nichole who cheer in both middle school and Varsity.
Heaven must need mascots. Bradley will be a great one.
Please pray for Nichole and the rest of Bradley's family and the families of the other kids in this accident. Please also pray for the kids at Boyer Valley, Maple Valley, and Odeboldt-Aurthur schools who know these kids, including the girls on the cheer squad I coach at Boyer Valley.
Associated Press - October 28, 2007 7:24 PM ETMAPLETON, Iowa (AP) - Two teenagers were killed and a third person was injured in a crash near Mapleton in western Iowa.
The Iowa State Patrol says that 19-year-old Michael Babcock of Odebolt, and 15-year-old Bradley Kline Jr., of Schleswig, were killed in the wreck on Saturday.
Twenty-1-year-old Scott Mau of Odebolt was taken by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Hospital officials did not give any information on his condition.
A patrol report showed that a pickup truck driven by Babcock left the road at a bridge just south of Mapleton in western Iowa.
The patrol says that two people were thrown from the truck and trapped underneath. The other occupant was found inside the truck.
The accident is believed to have happened about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The truck wasn't found until 12 hours later.
The investigation was continuing.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com
Thursday, October 25, 2007
These are some photos from some of my students from this weekend… We also have several colleagues and friends that live on campus…several of them were in real danger of losing their homes…the flames literally stopped feet from their homes on campus… Don Lawrence, M.Ed. Director, Inter-cultural Affairs Pepperdine UniversityI don't know Dr. Lawrence personally. These were sent to me by my friend, Dr. John L. Hoffman from Irvine, he and his wife Joy work and teach in the student-services field, including multicultural affairs at other Southern California colleges.
Even though the fires are now contained, the death toll is up to 10. Please keep these victim's families, all of those displaced and of course, the firefighters in your prayers.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Soul Journey through Philippians
A two week daily devotional to shift your faith into high gear
The disparity between positive and pessimistic minds is especially prominent in areas of the brain that have been linked to depression. "The same areas that malfunction in depression are very active when people think about positive events," says Tali Sharot, a post-doctorate fellow at University College London, who conducted the research at New York University.
In the study, Sharot had subjects think about emotional events, both positive and negative, like winning an award or ending a romantic relationship. They did this for past events and those that could plausibly occur in the future, while their brains were being scanned in an MRI. Afterwards, subjects filled out a questionnaire that measured their level of optimism. What Sharot found was that when participants thought about positive future events, two regions of the brain became much more active than when they thought about negative events.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Okay, maybe it was hyperbole for me to compare this year's SoCal fires to Hurricane Katrina, so far only one person has died due to the fires and only 200 homes have been lost- be that as it may, it is still dangerous and tragic, so please keep praying. (Incidentally, New Orleans recently received over 8 inches of rain in just a day or so, so many of the neighborhoods that suffered the most during Kartrina are under water again, please keep those folks in your prayers too.)
I've heard from a few of my friends in the LA area who are all okay, but they all know someone who's affected, and of course the smoke makes a place plagued with pollution and allergy problems even worse.
One of those friends shared these links with me for anyone interested:
Also, here is a link to the fires currently burning. You can get an exact picture of where each fire is. I've been watching it today:
I've been listening to KCRW.com, the NPR station in Santa Monica for updates.
Please keep Southern Californians in your thoughts and prayers!