Thursday, January 31, 2008

Please stop perpetuating email propaganda

The Truth About Obama’s Faith (by Obery Hendricks)

Everyday there seems to be some new outrageous charge leveled at Barack Obama. One of the most pernicious is that he is a Muslim who is dishonestly masquerading as a Christian. This charge is so malicious - and so untrue - that it is time to set the record straight.

Barack Obama has never been a Muslim. He has never attended a Muslim school. From about age eight to age nine Obama lived in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country on earth, with more Muslim schools than one can count, yet his parents chose to enroll him in a secular, non-religious school comprised of teachers and students of all faiths. Nor can it be said that during his brief sojourn in Indonesia that his worldview was tainted by Islamic extremism; when Obama lived there, the practice of Islam in Indonesia was still among the world's most moderate.

(Read the whole article)

Tell Burger King to stop being a Scrooge

Dear friend,

Farm workers who toil to pick tomatoes for Burger King's
sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of
tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen significantly in
nearly 30 years. Workers would have to pick 2.5 tons of tomatoes
just to earn minimum wage for a typical 10-hour day.

But instead of joining other fast-food chains in paying an extra
penny per pound for its tomatoes, this Christmas Burger King is
working to undermine those chains' existing agreements with the
Coalition for Immokalee Workers. As a result, tomato pickers in
Florida are facing the prospect of losing the first significant
raise some of them have seen in nearly 30 years.

I just told Burger King to stop being a Scrooge and and start
paying farm workers fair wages - will you join me?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ran across this by a youth pastor

Since a lot of people have been receiving and/or forwarding on that now infamous email accusing Barack Obama of being a Muslim, I thought that I'd bookmark this short article written about it by a pastor and Christian author. He makes a good point about how Christians get caught up in the emotional aspects of politics and forget to think. We somehow mistakenly think that Jesus NEEDS us to defend Him no matter what it takes, and as if in human warfare, the ends justifies the means, but Jesus is not Machiavellian, and He, being omnipotent, is perfectly capable of defending Himself.

Boyer Valley Community Schools,
Challenging all students to meet their full potential

Ted's Column & Cartoons in the Mapleton PRESS

JUST Cartoons

Art, photos, graphic design and more

Monday, January 28, 2008

What does it mean to be a "Christian?"
See Matthew 5

Contemporary American churches in particular do not require following Christ in his example, spirit, and teachings as a condition of membership—either of entering into or continuing in fellowship of a denomination or a local church.... Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have not yet decided to follow Christ.

- Dallas Willard
The Spirit of the Disciplines

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shining like Stars

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
~Philippians 2:12-18

Boy, it's been a long time since any kids have shown up for Bible Study, we might never get through Philippians. Guess I just have to call all of them every Saturday night. Post cards and emails aren't enough.

Anyway, let's break this passage down to it's core basics. Think of Paul like he's talking to you like a Coach.

  • Character is who you are when no one's watching. You should play the way I taught you even when I'm not around.
  • Let God use you, He's the one who works through you.
  • Quit your belly achin', we want winners, not whiners!
  • Don't complain and don't argue- just do your job. Stay focused.
  • Keep your nose clean and you'll stand out- especially in this day and age.
  • Make me proud.
I think that once again, Paul is trying to encourage us to keep going. Like a coach (or a Drill Sergeant) , he's running along side us trying his best to spur us on.

Take that first part of the passage: "continue to work out your salvation."
Lutheran churches are really careful about always reminding their members that there's absolutely nothing we can do to be saved- Jesus did that for us by dying on the cross and rising again on Easter morning, so don't make the mistake that Paul is telling the Philippians to work hard so they can get to Heaven. Think of it this way, "Workout" your salvation- don't let it get flabby, use it or lose it. So how do you workout your salvation?

The instructions might just be earlier in the chapter, go back and re-read Chapter 2, verses 1-4 and make yourself a list. It might look something like this-

  • unity with Christ,
  • comforted from his love,
  • with the Holy Spirit,
  • be tender and compassionate
  • like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
  • humility consider others and look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Of course, verses 5-11 show us what Jesus' nature is like, selfless, caring, loving, hard working. It is a hard list. Workouts are never easy, that's why they're called "work." Sound like a coach or a drill sergeant again?

Well, in class this morning we focused mostly on the "being united with Christ" part from verse one. The more time you spend with a friend or loved one, the more alike you tend to become- even sharing mannerisms, behaviors, and speech patterns. Of course, if you never spend any time together, you'll soon grow apart. The same is true with our relationship with God.

How can we spend time with God so that He can teach us, influence us, and so that we can become more and more like Him? To the point that we begin to be "like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose? There are at least three simple but powerful ways:

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Pray
  3. Spend time with other Christians talking about what God reveals to you in prayer and his word, working together to serve others or worshiping Him together (this 3rd one is called "Fellowship").
Sure, you can get all three once a week at church, but you can do it one on one with a support partner or a mentor, or you can do it in a small group- prayer group, Bible study group, support group- heck, I bet you could even do it online (for instance, in our Facebook group).

The more you do these three things, the more contact you have with Jesus, the more like Jesus you will become. Amen to that, we need more people like Him in this world.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Luke 23:34

"Never must the church tire of reminding men that they have a moral responsibility to be intelligent."

Luke 23:34

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Specific people to pray for

  • Please pray for me and my family. After some plumbing disasters, we've had to take on some major home repair. It's been disruptive and anxiety producing. Please pray that the Lord will continue to hold us in His hands, provide for us, and grant us the faith to trust in Him and endure these hassles.
  • Please pray for John. He gave his life to the Lord just a month or two ago, but he is facing some pretty serious problems left over from his "old life." Please pray that he would find the courage, faith, and support that he needs in prayer, Scripture, and fellowship. Pray that God will guide and direct him in his new life in Christ.
  • Please pray for Cody who continues his battle with cancer, but meanwhile also has all the challenges and adventures of adolescence that any teenager has to cope with.
  • Please pray for Brian and Alisha (and Daniel too, I think) because the lost their mom to cancer this week. I can't imagine lonely, sad, frightened, or hurt they must be, so be in middle school, high school or just starting college and to lose a parent. Pray for their comfort and healing.
  • Pray that kids in my church will start coming to Bible Study on Sunday mornings so I don't have to just sit there, picking my nose, all alone in the kitchen in the church basement.
  • Pray for peace
  • Pray for economic stability
  • Pray for social, legal, political, and economic justice for the weak, the poor, and the abused.
  • Pray that America will some day live up to it's promise
  • And pray that Christians will some day truly be "little imitators of Christ," the meaning of their name, "Christian."
  • In Jesus Name, Amen (let it be so)

Jim Wallis on Jon Stewart's Daily Show

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Revolutionary idea

'Trying on New Eyes'
By Travis Mamone, Relevant Magazine

Unfortunately, I do not see Jesus in the faces of the poor, or anyone else for that matter. I see everyone as idiots...

In my head I cursed him out and wished that every bad thing would happen to him. Suddenly an idea popped into my head: why not pray for him? So I did. I swallowed my pride, and prayed that God would bless him and guide him throughout his life. After I finished praying, I felt relieved. Instead of wasting my energy thinking negatively of him, I let go.

Read the entire article

Hard to do. We need to pray to ask God to help us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. But what if instead of voting against people, or arguing against them, we prayed FOR them. Hmmm... I wonder how it could change things.

Romans 12:2

"By opening our lives to God in Christ we become new creatures...
Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit."

'Strength to Love' 1963

12 principles that ALL Christians would do well to practice

I’m a big one on lists. I’ll have a list of things I need to get done during the course of the week and then another list for things to do that particular day. Sometimes I’ll have one list for work and another for home.

There’s a list that most of us never learn that has helped millions of people recover who suffer from a debilitating disease that not only destroys their own lives, but sometimes irrevocably damages the quality of lives of the people around them.

The list is the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the disease is addiction, whether to alcohol, drugs, or even things like gambling, pornography, shopping and over-eating.

I was blown away once at a Bible study by a man who revealed that he felt more spiritually connected to and more able to be open and honest with his AA brothers than with anyone at our church, even in small group Bible studies, men’s prayer breakfasts or Promise Keepers.

That got me thinking, so I researched the steps. While AA members identities are protected, I don’t believe that the 12 steps are any mystic secret like some kind of Masonic rite. What I do believe is no matter what your faith these steps could help us all.

I don’t care who you are, we all do and say things that hurt people. We all have things that damage our relationships with others and prevent us from having a healthier relationship with God. And, we all make choices that are against our own best interests out of fear, greed, or impatience.

Consider these steps and I think you’ll agree, our churches and civic organizations would be drastically different places- intimate communities; if they taught and encouraged their members to all follow these steps. Family members may be more genuine with each other, partners would allow themselves to be more vulnerable with each other. Businesses and governments would be more ethical and transparent if their members practiced these steps.

1. Admit we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable. Usually we’re all too proud to admit that we aren’t totally in control.

2. Come to believe that only a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. C.S. Lewis believed that we’re all born with a “God-shaped hole” that only He can fill. Someone else once said, “if God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat.”

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Don’t you wish that some of those corporate CEOs at the oil companies and sub-prime mortgage lenders would do this? How about our politicians?

5. Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Be ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Make a list of all the people we’ve hurt and be willing to make amends to them.

9. Make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it. It’s not a one time deal, it’s a continual, life-long process. “One day at a time” as people in recovery say. Martin Luther thought that people had to “die to sin,” and ask God to renew them every day.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out. Now me, I’d rather pray only for my own comfort, or maybe to win the lottery without buying a ticket- but as I understand His will for us, it’s more about looking out for others than myself.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to share the message with others and practice these principles in all our affairs. Amen. How about we ALL try this, rather than just leaving it to the addicts?

Do you practice Christianity or "Christianism?"

So why is it okay for Huck and Mitt to talk about their faith, but not Hillary? Mind you, I'm not Hillary fan, but I agree with this cartoonist that many in the Evangelical community love being so black and white, that once we've judged people, we refuse to hear anything else about them.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Photoshop Phun

What are ya supposed to do with a picture like this, anyway? This kid in my Yearbook class gets kidded sometimes that he looks like a red-headed Jesus. At the basketball game the other night he almost slammed into me. It was a fun little PhotoShop project.

Hope the real Jesus isn't too offended. I don't think He's too uptight and I'm pretty sure He has a good sense of humor, but I'm not one to go around blaspheming casually if I can help it.

Vinegar and oil, Huck, vinegar and oil- be careful what you wish for

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Talk about obscure websites! Check out

The Religious Affiliation of
Comic Book Characters

I couldn't believe this is an actual website. It's pretty entertaining. By the way, there are very few Lutheran superheroes. Probably because Lutherans tend to be self-effacing and work behind the scenes. We're introverts personally and Christo-centric theologically. The few Lutheran superheros that there are, are definitely second or third tier, definitely B-list as they say in Hollywood. I thought for sure that Thor would be, being Norse and all that, but then I remembered that he's a god himself, so that wouldn't work.

Some Top Super-Heroes
Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)
Wonder Woman
Greco-Roman Classical Religion
Greco-Roman Classical Religion
The Hulk
Catholic (lapsed)
Captain America
Invisible Woman
Egyptian classical religion
The Thing
The Atom
Jewish (lapsed)
Dianic Wiccan
Greek Orthodox

Joke from

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"


"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"


"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"


"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

So are you WELS, ELCA, or LCMS Lutheran? Red, Blue, or Brown hymnal?
How do you feel about the Seminex movent of the 1970's
Where do you stand on "contemporary" worship?
How about Layity participating in leading worship or reading lessons or liturgy?