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