Saturday, September 29, 2007

Would Jesus be a Right-Wing Republican?

Would Jesus Be a Liberal or a Conservative?
Adapted from an article by Jack Clark (

Conservative Christians certainly would not think that Jesus would be a liberal, yet -- as with most things -- they are wrong.

  • In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus proclaims that how you treat the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and other "least of these," is how you treat Jesus himself. And if you fail to help the "least of these," Jesus promises, he will send you to Hell.
  • There is an overwhelming concern for the poor and for economic justice permeates the Old Testament.
  • There is the redistribution of wealth injunction of the Old Testament Jubilee Year, when slaves were released and land returned to its original owners.
  • And last but not least, do I even have to bring up the clarion words of Jesus repeated in virtual identical fashion in three of the Gospels: Mark 10:25

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Such a teaching directly out of the mouth of Christ does not indicate a favorable attitude towards the type of unbridled accumulation of wealth celebrated by conservative "right-wing pseudo-Christians". To hear the conservative pseudo-Christians, the Messiah's real name must have been Jesus “Adam Smith” Christ. Could someone please tell me where Jesus extols the effectiveness – let alone the morality -- of trickle-down economics? Or the genius of the "free market"? Or where Jesus indicates even in the slightest way that the Matthew 25 suffering "least of these" should not be helped?

The average liberal, at least in his or her concern that the world's goods be distributed equitably and that the suffering "least of these" be helped, seems a lot closer to the words of Jesus, the entire Bible, and Church social doctrine than does the blind, idol-level market-worship of conservative pseudo-Christians.

In short, is not "Do unto others…" the essence of liberalism's goal, and the opposite of the operating principle of the conservative Golden Calf, unregulated capitalism? Liberal vs. Conservative Jesus: The Big Picture On the overall question of redistribution of wealth and income, having rich people is fine, as long as no one is dying because the rich hoard too much of the wealth. Once everyone is at least minimally taken care of, then the super-greedy can be allowed to have more than their fair share.

The liberal case, however, is that because the rich monopolize such a grotesquely huge share of the income and wealth, there's not enough left for everyone else. The top 10% of individuals in the United States receive 46% of the income and control 71% of the wealth in this country. Globally, 25% of the people receive 75% of the income, and the richest 20% of the world's population monopolizes 86 per cent of global wealth.

In other words: 80% of humanity must try to survive on a mere 14% of the world's wealth.

To look at it in perhaps more comprehensible terms: Dividing up $100 among ten people in the same proportions would produce two people with $4.30 each, and 8 people with 18 cents each.

How can anyone doubt that such an inequitable division of the world's resources means that those at the bottom will suffer and die as the very least of "the least of these"?

Bottom line: it really isn't about liberalism, conservatism, or any other -ism. It's only about ensuring the well-being of "the least of these." The purpose here is not to argue that Jesus would be a "liberal" and not a "conservative" if he were alive today. It is to point out how ludicrous it is for people who profess to be Christians to hyperventilate solely because serious measures to ameliorate economic injustice are proposed.

At the very minimum, Jesus would be for enough regulation of capitalism to accomplish the Matthew 25:31-46 goals, not for the law-of-the-jungle, let-them-suffer-it's-their-own-fault Hobbesianism of conservative philosophy.

Bad news, good news...

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." ~Romans 3:23-24

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sr Hi Youth Gathering

IDW- Senior Youth Gathering - 2007
Registration Information

Where: Embassy Suites, Des Moines Senior Youth Gathering - 2007
When: November 23-25, 2007
Theme: "Connected"
Keynote Speaker:
Chaplain "Bo" Wes Baumeister
Music: Remedy Drive
Banquet Entertainment: Bud Anderson
Sunday Worship band: Chosen
Rev. Dave Dahlke

Bible Verse:
Romans 8:38-39

"There are many things
that are essential to arriving at true
peace of mind,

and one of the most important is faith,
which cannot be acquired without prayer."
~Coach John Wooden, UCLA

"O God,
Thou hast given
so much to us

Give us one more thing-
a grateful heart."
~George Herbert (1593-1633)

"O God,
Grant us in all our duties
Your help
In all our perplexities,
Your guidance
In all our dangers,
Your protection
In all our sorrows,
Your peace
through Jesus Christ,
our Lord.

~Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Monday, September 24, 2007

About this blog

Changes in latitude- I used to teach at a Los Angeles Lutheran Jr.Sr High School in Sylmar, CA. I loved it. It was not just a job, it was a calling. Forging relationships, fostering discipleship, praying with and for young people was an unforgettable experience. Helping kids get into God's Word and into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him was what life was all about.Yet, when my wife and I had our first child, we decided to move back to Iowa so we could raise our kids around grandparents and cousins. We also thought that grass was nice for kids, not just apartment complex parking lots.

Burn Baby Burn- When I started teaching at a public school, I missed being able to openly minister to kids. I guess God's Word is so much a part of who He made me, that like Jeremiah 20:9, it burns in me, right down to my bones. So I started "" as a sort of personal journal for recording prayers and devotions.

Avast! There be rough water ahead- Since 9/11/01 I have watched our country and it's policies get more and more radicalized toward the far right. I for one fell that it seemed like one faction of Christians were being politicized for a pro-business, pro-war, pro single-party agenda that was eroding, ignoring or destroying our Constitutional.

Jesus said "Love your neighbor," it was the code of Hammurabi that said "eye for an eye. On the one hand, Fundamentalist Christians are right to believe that Jesus' work on the cross is for our eternal life, but at the same time, I believe that Jesus is about love, forgiveness, healing and helping in the here-and-now as well. American Christianity seemed to become more and more judgmental, exclusionary and hypocritical.

So I started addressing my frustrations on this blog. I dropped the bland, banal, safe facade and put on the persona of a pirate rogue. I'd rather be scalding hot or frigid cold than luke-warm.

All that High School BS- After years as a Youth Group Counselor at my church, I stepped down because I needed to devote more time to my own kids. But not long ago, the woman who had taught Bible Study for the high school aged youth retired and I was asked to fill in. Since then, I started using this website as a repository for the lessons I teach Sunday mornings and the insights kids teach me.

Parental Advisory- Being a Missouri-Synod Lutheran, I appreciate that parents and pastors may not agree with or appreciate some of the opinions that I post here, so I have a link so that students can view only the High School Bible Study entries without being exposed to my politically liberal (though usually still theologically conservative) sentiments. Although, I once had a former student share with me that they were so disillusioned by the fanatically conservative Christians that they encountered that they may have lost their faith if I hadn't let them know that those weren't the only voices out there.

Which brings me to the disclaimers:

  • This site is not an official site of St. John Lutheran Church in Charter Oak, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, or the Iowa District-West. The views expressed here and the links provided here are the sole responsibility of me.
As John F. Kennedy once said, "I don't speak for my church, and my church doesn't speak for me." But believe me, I realize and readily admit that I am as or more prone to be wrong about things as I sometimes feel that they are. Use the Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to direct you, seek forgiveness if you screw up... but don't be afraid to speak up. Call it the Apostle Peter style of plowing ahead like a stubborn bull, but doing it for Christ's sake.

  • This is not an official Boyer Valley Community Schools website. The views expressed here and the links provided here are not necessarily those of the school, it's administrators or board. This site is the sole responsibility of me.

Unlike many evangelical Christians, I am of the opinion that a separation of church and state is not a bad thing. If anything, it protects the church from government intrusion and protects each denomination or church body from other church bodies. Sure the Pilgrims came here to escape religious persecution, but they were being "persecuted" by King James (of the King James Bible). And as soon as they set up their colony, they proceded to persecute enverone who's beliefs didn't align exactly with theirs.

Separation of church and state does not mean that students are denied their First Amendment rights to practice their religion at school or to freely speak about religion. It means that as a paid employee of a public school district and essentially an agent of the State of Iowa, it would be wrong for me to use my position as a teacher to take advantage of my classes (as a captive audience) to try prostelitize or otherwise indoctrinate them. In other words, if you're either already a Christian or interested in knowing Jesus and you approach me outside of class time, I will be more than happy to answer any question you have, listen to you, mentor you or pray for you- but I never want to force my beliefs on you. I don't believe that Jesus does, so why should His followers?

On a Mission from God- I'm not sure why God decided to have me be a high school teacher let alone a cheerleading coach. I always wanted to be an editorial cartoonist. I guess He did let me do that, just in a smaller way than I hoped. But I do know that His Word burns in my bones. I know that if there's anything in life that I want to do more than making fun of stupid politicians with funny drawings, it's helping kids know Jesus, know Jesus better, and gettin His Word from their heads to their hearts. That's why this website is here. Hope you find something somewhere that you can relate to.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Western Iowa News

Camp Okoboji- is always looking for volunteers to help around the camp? Their camp website is

The Orphan Grain Train in Ida Grove wants to send a load of infant & children's clothing (no shoes, no adult clothing- stricktly kid's stuff) to orphans in Nigeria. You may deliver to the Ida Grove OGT facility, call Barb Kotch at 712-675-4818 so someone will open the building for you. Please keep this load- and those who will receive it, in your prayers.

Immanuel Lutheran Church (Triple Parish),
Soldier Township (just west of Ricketts proper)
Annual Soup Supper- Sunday, September 30, 4:30 PM-7:30 PM
Serving Potato, Chili, & Beef Vegitable, Sandwiches and deserts
Carryouts available $5 Adults - $3 Children

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Times change...


Happy International Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day Aye, just wanted t' wish you the 'ery happy holiday. Gar.

You can talk like me too, just visit:

Me ka pule,
Pirate Ted

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, September 17, 2007


Avahst Mateys!

Arrgh, I'm hopin' ye all will be speakin' like one of us, insteadn' like yer usual land-lubbers this Wensdee, September the nienteenth! Arrgh. Sure'n it be a real holiday, just gives it a Google to find out! An' as long as I got ye here, say a prayer or two for the lass in this picture too, she's been through a lot in the last few years.

We'll be seen ya.
Me ka pule,
Pirate Ted

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's this blogger look like, anyway?

Argh! Lots n' ye has been wonderin' what ol' 'Pirate Ted' be lookin' like. Well, ifin' ye didn't see me in my cameo role in the big Simpson's movie this summer (because it wound up on the cutting room floor) HERE be a recent mug-shot.

Weekends; Open invitation

I generally try to observe the separation of Church and State, unlike a lot of Christians, I think it's actually a pretty good idea. Be that as it may, I do want to offer a standing open invitation to anyone who ever wants to come check out the high school Bible study that I lead every Sunday morning at 9 in the basement kitchen at St John Lutheran Church in Charter Oak.

Click here to see the kind of things we cover.

If you're nervous or shy or embarrassed or whatever, don't be. 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.

Just follow HWY L51 into Charter Oak, you can park by the back and come in through the back door on the North West corner, keep coming through the room with the refrigerator, water heater and trash cans and I'll be there to your left at the end of the kitchen table. Of course, if you live IN Charter Oak, scratch that whole part about highway L51.

Right now we're studying Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. In October we'll start on how to think positive and try to fight off depression with Paul's letter to the Philippians.

Everyone is always welcome, but I'll never try to force my beliefs on you in school, but I'm always here if you need someone to pray for you about something.

Are you Salt y & Luminous?

Once again this Sunday, we looked at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-4 (4 being the highest) on each of the 8 qualities prescribed in the Beatitudes:

  • Poor in Spirit/ recognize your need for God
  • Mourn/ admit your sin, take responsibility
  • Meek/ Don't always have to get your way or be in control
  • Spiritual hunger/ Want to know God better, He is #1 in your life
  • Merciful/ Empathetic, compassionate, concerned for others
  • Pure in heart/ Open, honest, known for integrity
  • peacemaker/ Work out differences without having to get even, constructive
  • Persecution/ Willing to stand alone for what is right, can take criticism without being defensive or feeling self-pity.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about the beatitudes;
  • Where did you rate yourself highest? What's your lowest area?
  • Do you know someone, a teacher, parent, relative, or friend who you feel demonstrates one of the 8 beatitudes in his or her life? How?
  • If you're honest with yourself, is there one that you've actually gone to great lengths to avoid?
  • Which of the 8 would you like to improve on the most? How do you think can God help you to get batter at it?
Now let's consider the very next 3 verses (Matthew 5:13-16):

13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

What is salt good for?

"Animals including humans need salt in their diets. Salt is used to season and preserve food. It is also used in making soap and glass...

Since ancient times, salt has been used to flavor and preserve food. Early trade routes and many of the first roads were established for transporting salt. Many ancient civilizations levied taxes on salt. Salt was considered so precious that it was traded ounce for ounce for gold." (

  • Perservative
  • Flavor enhancer
  • Medicine, antiseptic
  • Provokes thirst
  • Ice melt
  • Allows water to get much colder without freezing (like in home made ice cream makers) and allows water to get much hotter before it boils or evaporates.
  • Helps you retain water (it's in many sports drinks)

So ask yourself, how and why does God want you to be salt in this world? Would you be more useful to Him or less useful, depending on how many of those beatitude qualities you got '4's on?

How can you help preserve people? Bring out the best in people? Help heal wounds? Make people thirsty for Jesus, the "Living water?" Melt hardened hearts? Intensify God given talents? Help people to "keep the faith?"

Lighten Up

Think about being the light of the world. Do you ever feel like you're stumbling around in the dark? Do you know people who seem to be lost? Depressed, under a gloom of fear, doubt, anxiety, hate, guilt, or anger? Sure, we all do- heck we all feel like we are from time to time.

The light's not somehow "within you" like Gnostics, Taoists, Buddists, Hindus, or Scientologists all claim- rather Jesus is the REAL light of the world, but when God created us in His image, that means He intended us to reflect His love and His glory- sort of like how the moon reflects the sun's light.

Think about a lonely country road in the middle of the night. Way out in the middle of nowhere. When there's a "new moon" it can be pitch black. Without your headlights, you'd be blind. It would be easy to run of the road into a ditch, or to hit a deer or a tree. Ah, but on a night when there's a full-moon, you could practically drive without headlights. Once your eyes adjust, you can see deer, cows, owls, raccoons, everything out there. And if there's snow on the ground, the moon reflects the sun and the snow reflects the moon. Add a few clouds and they reflect the snow... "a luster of mid-day to the objects below."

Ever notice how the bugs flock to a light in the summer? If you are a humble, honest, caring, kind, person of character, if you have the qualities that Jesus talks about in the beatitudes, you will attract people. You will "win friends and influence people" as Dale Carnegie once said. They will be drawn to you as a leader and who will you be showing them? Who will you reflect? Duh, Jesus.

Are you a floodlight? Are you a 300 watt bulb? Just a 100 or 75 watt bulb? Just a tiny night light? How can Jesus help you to shine brighter?

Here's a great song by the Newsboys about learning to SHINE.

Yahoo Prayer Group Forward

The privilege of prayer!

Ever have difficulty believing that God hears your prayers?

The Bible teaches us that God does listen, and He wants us to pray.
Praying to the Almighty God is a wonderful privilege.
But it came at a price.

Romans 5:1 says:
"...having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ."

God has granted us the privilege of prayer through the sacrifice of Christ
on the cross.
It is only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I'm able to draw near the
It is only the blood of Jesus Christ that enables me to actually talk to
God freely and expect Him to respond to me freely.
All that came through the Lord Jesus Christ.

When you pray, are you conscious that it is a precious privilege that has
been lovingly and generously given to you?
Does it strike a chord of thanksgiving in your heart to realize that you
can have an intimate prayer life with God?

We can have a relationship with God.
We don't have to wonder whether God is listening to us.
We don't have to wonder whether He's going to respond to us because we
have access to the Father.

God says, "'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty
things, which you do not know'." Jeremiah 33:3.

Take time now to pray thanking God-
- for Jesus,
- for His death and for His life and
- for the incredible privilege of instantly being able to pray to your
Heavenly Father.

Hundreds of prayer partners will
pray for your needs at:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fwd: Chastity speaker at CO-U

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Allen & Peggy Staley
Date: Sep 14, 2007 11:29 AM
Subject: Chastity speaker at CO-U

Rollie Wiebers has been gracious enough to allow chastity speaker Jason Evert of San Diego, CA to speak at Charter Oak-Ute High School on Monday, March 31 at 7 pm.
Students in grades 7 - 12 are strongly encouraged to attend along with their parents. Evert's message is very timely, his presentation is witty and entertaining and you will not be disappointed.
Most importantly, Evert's message will educate parents and students as to the real, often unknown, physical and emotional dangers of sex outside of marriage.
Evert is a Catholic but his talk at CO-U will be secular in nature. If you want to know more about Jason, you can go to his website,, or watch his show "The Pure Life" which airs on EWTN (DISH network channel 261) on Thursdays at 9:30 pm.
I would love to see the area churches join forces in promoting this event. Please pass this email on to anyone you think may be willing to contribute. Thank you.
Peggy Staley
Box 146
Charter Oak

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

Sunday, September 09, 2007

HSBS: the Beatitudes

This hillside is the traditional site of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5-7).

"1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

~Matthew 5:1-12 (New International Version)

We started this week by taking a look at what Jesus taught. This brings us to Matthew 5, the Beatitudes (the blessings) from His sermon on the Mount. I used the Serendipity Bible for discussion starters and questions.

One of the things that we learned (that frankly, had never dawned on me before) is that in this passage, Jesus isn't DESCRIBING what He thought were good people, He was PREscribing how He'd like His followers to be. Also, just like with the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20), God offers a promise (a blessing or "beatitude") that will come to anyone who lives out each of these 8 qualities. EX: If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you'll be filled.

I thought it was important to look a little closer at "Blessed are the Peacemakers." Obviously if you look at the rest of this website, beyond just the high school bible study stuff, you'' notice my leftist political bent, needless to say I'm opposed to the war in Iraq. So let me be perfectly clear, Jesus is talking in more broad terms than that. He's not saying "blessed are the antiwar protesters."

To really understand it, it may be worth your time to take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:16-20:

16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Being a peacemaker, is being a bridge-builder, someone who reconciles rather than becoming defensive, entrenched or self-serving. A peacemaker is someone who helps heal and build relationships as opposed to holding grudges, burning bridges or hiding out on their own private island. Ultimately, a peacemaker is someone who helps others come to be at peace with God.

Jesus is the ultimate peacemakers since through His sacrifice, we who are born at war with God in our natures can become part of His family.

We also turned Matthew 5 :3-12 into a payer, (If this is your first time to this website, I try to make prayers blue and in Arial font, that way you know that you can pray it as you read it.)

Dear Lord,

Teach us to be poor in spirit, to always remember that we are nothing without Your grace and mercy- Thank You that because of Jesus, we can now be called Your children (1 John 3:1)
Help us to recognize that our choices and actions all have consequences, Lord. Make us responsible for our mistakes and our sins, and help us to see how our lives effect the lives of others.
Lord, help us to put the needs of others before ourselves and our own selfish desires.
Give us a hunger and thirst to know You, Your Word and Your will better, God.
Teach us to have empathy for others and to have compassion on others, and help us to learn from our pain and our struggles, so that we can bring comfort to others.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10)
Use me as a peace maker, as a bridge builder and a fence mender, help me to forgive those who trespass against me just as you have forgiven me. Make me Your ambassador, Lord.
Give us the courage to not be afraid to stand up for what we believe in and help me to not be ashamed of the Gospel, but instead, to let our light shine in this dark world, even if it means being made fun of or being unpopular.

In Jesus name we pray,

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Can we take our faith back from the "Religious Right" yet?

14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts

my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;

16 wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,

17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed. [a]
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.

18 "Come now, let us reason together,"
says the LORD.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

~Isaiah 1:14-18 (New International Version)

We're so wrapped up with opposing gay marriage and other wedge issues like abortion, stem cell research, evolution and denying the reality of and our culpability in global warming that we constantly forget the POSITIVE things we could be doing; Listening, caring, feeding, clothing, sheltering, soothing, mentoring, and loving.

As the Christian "Speed-wood" duo, "Lost and Found" says in the lyrics of one of their songs;


So many people pushed away Ones that are loved told they can't stay The question is what would Jesus say?

God's own people close the door The loud and the angry take the floor
We know what you fear But what are you for?"

Jesus, and therefore His true followers are positive and proactive. You will know a tree by it's fruit. When someone seems like a reactionary, xenophobic, sexist, racist, militaristic, bigoted, a moralist, a legalist, out to make some money or amass power or advance a political or social agenda... they probably are. Mind you, they may not know that they are- so we need to treat them with unconditional love and remember that Jesus died for them too.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law
~Galatians 5:21-23 (New International Version)
I'm sorry, I don't see lots of love and peace and self-control from our President. And I don't think that Bill O'Rielly, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are very gentle or kind or loving. I'm not saying that Democrats are all pure as wool, but I definitely think that we are kidding ourselves if we think that the United States is a "Christian nation." Christianity begins at home- well, maybe just next door, because I seem to remember Jesus saying something about "love your neighbor." Do you suppose that includes Mexicans, environmentalists, evolutionists, gays, poor people, Black people, and even Muslims?

Would Jesus wear a Rolex?

Manksy: Christ with Shopping Bags
" 7Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8I robbed (not literally) other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
~2 Corinthians 11:7-15 (New International Version)

How about that, we've been dealing with televangelists, right-wing radio talking heads and hypocrites (and Republican Senators) since the Church first began! Before you send in your gift, or vote the way you're told in the handy paphlet you get in the mail or get handed on your way out of Church, always ask yourself the question in this Ray Stevens song-

Woke up this mornin', turned on the t.v. set.
there in livin' color, was somethin' I can't forget.
This man was preachin' at me, yeah, layin' on the charm
askin' me for twenty, with ten-thousand on his arm.
He wore designer clothes, and a big smile on his face
tellin' me salvation while they sang Amazin' Grace.
Askin' me for money, when he had all the signs of wealth.
I almost wrote a check out, yeah, then I asked myself


Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressin' room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well there's somethin' I'd like to know
Could ya tell me, Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His television show.

Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth?
Have His second home in Palm Springs, yeah, a try to hide His worth?
Take money, from those poor folks, when He comes back again,
and admit He's talked to all them preachers who say they been a talkin' to Him?


Just ask ya' self, Would He wear a pinky ring,
Would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressing room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well there's somethin' I'd like to know:
Could ya tell me, would Jesus wear a Rolex,
Would jesus wear a Rolex
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show-ooh-ooh?

Friday, September 07, 2007


I talked to Tyler tonight. He said you were "in-country."

I'm praying for ya.

Keep a level head. Especially if that means keeping your opinions to yourself. That way life will go more smoothly. Talk to NIGHTLINE or Bill Moyers or whoever you want once you get home, but you have to get home in one piece to do that. Army is just like playing football, there's going to be a few smart guys who want to win and a lot of dumb ones that just want to break things.

Try your best to not piss them off and you'll make it through okay. Don't let them piss you off and lose your temper, you're smarter than that. When in doubt, go to a Chaplain, memorize some prayer or psalm or something and repeat it to yourself (or to God) silently in your head all the time. Maybe that will help too.

Hang in there, only 14 more months to go. 16 more till a new Commander-in-Chief! Woo hoo! Some village in Texas will get their idiot back.

I KNOW this stuff won't get through the censors, so just know that I'm praying for ya,
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


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"If God looks at me, what does He see?"

In whatever work that you do, you should say to yourself at every moment: "If God looks at me, what does He see?" Then see how you answer yourself. If you condemn yourself, leave immediately. Stop the work that you were doing and take up something else in order to be sure to reach your destination. For it is necessary that the traveler be always ready to continue on the journey.

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Quoted in Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss

Obama; Faith and Politics

Dear Ted,

Faith. Action. Change.Faith and politics have long been at odds. People of faith struggle with how to reconcile their faith and their public lives.

A little over one year ago, Barack Obama delivered a speech where he spoke candidly about his personal Christian faith, the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life, and the faith-based attacks on his 2004 candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

"[The attacks] nagged at me, and I was also aware that my answer did not adequately address the role my faith has in guiding my own values and my own beliefs. Now, my dilemma was by no means unique. In a way, it reflected the broader debate we've been having in this country for the last thirty years over the role of religion in politics."

-Barack Obama, June 28, 2006 Call to Renewal Keynote Address

In the coming weeks, we'll hold a statewide series of forums on faith, values, and politics here in Iowa where we will tackle these issues head-on.

Forum to Discuss Faith and Politics
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Sanford Center
1700 Geneva Street
Sioux City, IA 51103
12:30 PM
Forum to Discuss Faith and Politics
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Council Bluffs Public Library
Meeting Room 2C
400 Willow Avenue
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
3:30 PM

We'll talk about how we translate values rooted in our faith into universal principles, and what Barack Obama has added to this critical conversation.

These forums are a chance for people of any faith (or non-faith) to come together and discuss the role of faith in public life. Barack often talks openly about both his own personal journey to his Christian faith and the uncertainties involved in religious belief.

These forums are free and open to the public. We encourage you to come and join in the discussion, or just listen and contemplate your own feelings on these issues.


Michael Blake
Iowa Director of Faith Outreach
Obama for America

P.S. -- If you can't make it to one of our faith forums, I encourage you to watch Barack's speech on faith and politics or visit the people of faith section of our website to get a better sense of how Barack is trying to address faith in the public discourse.

The Bell

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fourth Watch

So next Sunday, I take over the high school Bible class at our church. Who knows how many kids will actually come. I want it to be meaningful and practical, so naturally I started worrying about what to teach. (worrying of course is the 8th deadly sin).

I did some surfing around here on the web on "prayer," and one of the topics that caught my attention were "prayer-watches." Evidently, in a number of cities, it is a growing activity to be praying during specific times of the night while other people pledge to stay up praying about the same things at the same times. Kinda interesting.

Apparently there is some historical and Scriptural background to this. In Old Testament times, watchmen were assigned to one of three shifts throughout the night to watch over a city. The Romans had four such watches; First watch was 6-9 pm, Second watch was 9-Midnight, Third watch (like the now defunct NBC series) was Midnight-3 am, and the one I always seemed to get stuck with when chaperoning junior high lock-ins and high school youth gatherings... Fourth Watch was 3-6 am.

Jesus implored the disciples to "keep watch" and pray in the garden in Gethsemene. This passage always makes me feel guilty, even if Jesus meant it as an analogy rather than literally.
Maybe this is because for years I would get up at 4:30 in the morning to read the Bible, go for a walk and pray. It has been years since I've done this. Once you have kids, it's hard to find time alone with God (T.A.W.G.) and if you actually get up that early, you're bound to be grouchy and irritable, or at least sluggish during the day.

At any rate, one of these websites that I found, obviously not a very Lutheran one, suggested that the Fourth watch was special because there was so much more spiritual activity at this time and important things happen. Well, duh, armies always launch operations just before dawn, right? Because people need SLEEP! God designed us that way.

Needless to say, the power of suggestion is a terrible thing. It could be concern over several of my students who have been facing some life altering trials lately, it could be God actually wanting me to offer up the sacrifice of sleep deprivation in order that He might talk to me (like Samuel or something), or it might be that we were at a family reunion with 11 of us (ages 2-65) all sleeping in the same cabin. After the second child threw up, it was clear to me that I wasn't going to get much sleep the other night. My wife gave up and took the 2 year old out to the van around 1:30, my teenage nephew finally turned in about 2:30 and my 10 year old nephew was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6.

But I will tell you, it did feel good to spend so much time talking to God. I never did figure out if or what He was trying to tell me that night, but you can bet I kept telling Him how tired I was the next day.

Fwd: Junior Youth Gathering Reminder

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Iowa District West - LCMS <>
Date: Aug 23, 2007 11:37 AM
Subject: FW: Junior Youth Gathering Reminder
To: Iowa District West - LCMS <>

-----Original Message-----
From: Pastor John Schonkaes [mailto:]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:20 PM

Greeting in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The Fall is quickly coming upon us and with it the Iowa District West Junior
Youth Gathering at the Des Moines Marriott this October 13-14. This year we
engage the topic of Baptism with the theme "Clothing by Christ." We have
great speakers lined up for this Gathering as well as some new exciting
entertainment with the Fitz Family.

This year the Gathering is coming a bit earlier than other years and with it
an earlier registration deadline (which is September 5th). I encourage every
congregation to make sure that if you haven't already distributed the forms
and information, please do so now and make sure that it gets mailed along
with your registration deposit by September 5th.

Having hundreds of 6th, 7th, and 8th Graders come together is an exciting
experience and we on the Gathering Committee are working hard to make your
experience this year better than ever.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Junior Youth Gathering,
please feel free to contact me at 515-967-3349 (my church number) and I will
make sure that I or someone from our committee responds promptly.

I look forward to seeing your youth and counselors this October!

In Christ,

Pastor John Schonkaes
Dean of the Junior Youth Gathering

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

Local links you could use

Dr. Micah Parker at Denison "The Trust Guy"
Sunday, September 16 @ 3:00 P.M.
(Free-Will Offering Taken)
Denison High School Fine Arts Center

Dr. Parker’s mission is to share how God can use an ordinary man to get through extraordinary circumstances; to motivate others towards action in their relationship with Christ and glorify God despite the challenges of this world.

Micah went to Concordia Seward when my wife and I were there and his story is truly amazing. He's also absolutely hilarious.

IOWAY is a way that Iowa kids can go on mission trips to places like Urban LA, New Orleans, or Mexico on service projects to help others.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ted's Photography

You can see some great pictures "Pirate Ted" got at last Friday Night's football game, and some wild shots he took camping this weekend at

Or, you can see Cheer pictures from the game at