Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: October 2010
O LORD, God of my salvation,
         I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
         Incline Your ear to my cry. 

Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today's verse

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.


Psalm 33:20-22 (NKJV)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Today's verse

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering." Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.


Matthew 8:5-13 (NIV)

Friday, October 29, 2010

A prayer for my family



Almighty and gracious Heavenly Father, I come before You with thanksgiving. I thank You for my beautiful wife and our son. I thank You for all the members of my family - my mother, my mother-in-law, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins. Keep all of them in Your care.

Lord, it is not possible to give You enough thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. I thank You for the opportunity to teach. I thank You for my wife's opportunity to attend college. We thank You for the wonderful special education programs and its teachers who take such excellent care of our son.

Lord, in these days when we are so busy with our activities, help us to remember these blessings. Remind us that our place in Heaven awaits us, and all the work we do on the Earth will not be what gets us there. Rather, it is the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that has reconciled us to You.

Amen.

Today's verse

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

John 10:1-5 (NLT)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today's verse

[John the Baptist said] "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Matthew 3:11-12 (NIV)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Today's verse

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!


Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Today's verse

I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.

I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.

I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me.

Men of perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with evil.

Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret,
him will I put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
him will I not endure.



Psalm 101:1-5 (NLT)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today's verse

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth."


The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.


Acts 8:26-39 (NIV)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The intolerance of "tolerance"

David Harsanyi at the Denver Post has an interesting piece on Islam, Juan Williams, and "tolerance".

Writing about the recent firing of Juan Williams by NPR for supposedly making "bigoted" remarks, Harsanyi had this observation:

There are many books — a genre actually — that expound on the profound stupidity of religion and its followers. Though I enjoy some of these works, I can't help but marvel at how the most severe accusations are reserved for modern Catholicism or Evangelicalism while, if we're lucky, some tepid criticism will gently fall on the faith featuring the most fundamentalism in the world.


Indeed. Harsanyi is a devout skeptic, so he can hardly be considered a shill for Christianity. Yet he is able to detect the cowardice in much modern writing about religion that professes to see dangerous Christian fundamentalists lurking under every bed, yet is willing to ignore the rise of 7th century barbarians who shriek, "Allah Akhbar!" while lopping off the heads of infidels, set off nail bombs in crowds, and fly jets into buildings.

Here is what I wrote back in April about Comedy Central's decision to block an episode of South Park that showed Muhammad in a bearsuit:

I believe that the real reason the entertainment industry and the media will attack Christianity at the drop of a hat but avoid anything even remotely critical of Islam and other religions is simple - they just don't like Christianity. They view Islam and other religions as competitors to Christianity, and are willing to cut non-Christian religions a tremendous amount of slack.

I am not suggesting that many in the entertainment industry and the media are Muslims, or even sympathetic to Islam. But it is clear that their humanistic view is directly at odds with Christianity. Christianity holds that humanity is fallen, and is in need of a Savior. Many secularists do not believe in any Savior at all (expect perhaps Barack Obama). "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" seems to be the operating idea here, not a deep attachment to any non-Christian religion.


Modern secular progressivism is a profoundly anti-intellectual political philosophy that rejects reason and freedom while celebrating the subordination of the individual to the dictates of an all-powerful State. The media's willingness to join hands with Islamic fundamentalism is a calculated political decision (a modern-day Hitler-Stalin pact between two competing groups of totalitarians) rather than an outbreak of respect for opinions that differ with theirs. Should progressive ever believe that Islam is a threat to their power they will treat them just the same way they treat Christians and Jews - with hatred, contempt, and fear.

It is important to remember that while Christians may be a primary target of secular progressives (the unhinged reaction by the media to Christine O'Donnell is just the latest example), they are not the only target. Anyone who does not bow the knee to the State is a heretic. Christians, atheists, libertarians, conservatives, Jews - in the media's eyes we are all becoming enemies of the State. Unbelievers like Harsanyi are coming to realize that.

Tell me what I want to hear - or I'll call you a bigot

Weekly Mass for gays ends in San Antonio.

Key quote:

"Our faith teaches us that the Church is a community of people, not a building," said local Dignity President Fred Anthony Garza. "So we will continue to meet in a more welcoming environment."


Aside from the Orwellian name - does anyone seriously believe that DignityUSA is doing this to promote "dignity"? - the fact that the Catholic Church was lax about enforcing its own beliefs is probably the most troubling part of this story.

One can only wonder what would happen if adulterers, racists, pedophiles, thieves, rapists and others decided to clamor for "dignity".

Witness to the faith: Prem Singh Gurung

Prem Singh Gurung has been sentenced by a court in predominantly Buddhist Bhutan to three years in prison for “attempting to promote civil unrest” by showing films on Christianity.

Please pray for Prem Singh Gurung and Christians in Bhutan.

Today's verse

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Philippians 2:3-11 (NKJV)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Return of a killer

Actually, it has never completely left. Malaria death in India may be 10 times greater than estimated.

Having seen for myself what malaria can do, the subject is quite important to me. Remember that malaria is both 100% preventable and 100% treatable. The Lutheran Malaria Initiative is dedicated to fighting malaria in Africa, where there has been some success.

(Hat tip: Professor Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit)

Parents prevented from forcing teen to have abortion

A 16-year-old Texas teen wins restraining order preventing her parents from forcing her to have an abortion.

Being a teen parent is perhaps the hardest parenting situation ever. But murdering her child is not the answer. Forcing her to have an abortion may make some pro-abortion advocates and the media feel better, but what happened to the "right to choose"?

Please pray for all who fight the holocaust of abortion.

Today's verse

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Mark 1:17 (NKJV)

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Christian roommates

Michigan Woman Faces Civil Rights Complaint for Seeking a Christian Roommate

What is frightening about this case is that the ad was posted on a church bulletin board. At what point will the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan start monitoring our private conversations, emails, and phone calls in the name of "fairness"? Just how much privacy do we have left? And just how many decisions will our self-anointed moral betters like Executive Director Nancy Haynes let us make?

What we are witnessing here is the attempts of a hate-filled minority to eradicate opinions and ideas they do not like. The evil ideology of organizations like the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is all too familiar for those who read the history books. Those who said the horrors of the modern totalitarian state could never happen here are being proved wrong on a daily basis.

Do not think for a moment that this is an isolated case. American Christians, who up until recently enjoyed civil liberties, can expect them to disappear as the princes of this world try to force everyone to bend the knee to them. Many American Christians do not realize it yet, but they are about to experience what many of their bothers and sister in Christ around the world experience on a daily basis.

New leadership for the NALC

Please pray for the new leaders of the North Americal Lutheran Church.

Sweet Ps: A plea for peace



Almighty and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for the many gifts that you have given us. We thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ. We thank You for never giving up on us.

Lord, this month the people of Tanzania will go to the polls for the general election. We ask that You lift up the people of Tanzania, that You give them the wisdom to choose the candidates who will best run the country. We pray for peace in Tanzania, that the country avoid civil conflict due to the election.

Lord, we give thanks for the leaders in Tanzania. Help us to remember the words of Your Son when He said, "My kingdom is not of this world." Remind all political leaders everywhere that government is a gift from You, that serving the people is a privilege from You, and that political office is not the possession of anyone. Bless all of the candidates and their families. Bless all election workers and voters. Bless all news reporters who report on the elections.

Amen



Today's verse

"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.

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land;
but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword."
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.


Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today's verse

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

John 18:36 (NIV)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today's verse

Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.

James 5:3 (NLT)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today's verse

Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.


Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NKJV)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Today's verse

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:16-17

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today's verse

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:10-14

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Social justice?

I missed this one when it happened:

ELCA drops out of Lutheran Malaria Initiative; Lutheran World Relief and LCMS to continue joint effort to combat malaria.

Interesting how when it comes to its obsession with secular politics the ELCA never seems to run out of cash. I understand that all denominations have budget priorities, but any organization that engages in race-baiting, funds Washington lobbyists, or issues political proclamations about everything under the sun has no business calling itself a Christian church.

I wish that all denominations - be they conservative or liberal - would take a decade-long break from secular politics of any kind. Stop yammering about "social justice" and instead work to feed the poor. Re-discover the Gospel of the Lord, and engage in some serious prayers. Stop "organizing the community" and actually live in it. If Mark Hanson, Pat Robertson, Jim Wallis, or any other Christian leader wants to be a politician, let him or her run for office and stop trying to hijack God for their own selfish purposes. Using church donations to help politically powerful groups while ignoring the cries of dying children - that is evil.

I suppose that this should not bother me, since I am no longer a Lutheran. Yet since the decision of August 2009 to reject the Gospel in favor of secular politics the ELCA has started giving voice to every filthy, dirty instinct the human spirit can vomit forth. How much longer will God let this go on?

At any rate, if you wish to donate and help to actually do something for social justice click here.

Witness to the faith: Youcef Nardarkhani

Voice of the Martyrs is reporting that Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani, a leader in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” network, has been sentenced to death for what is being called a “thought crime.”

Please pray for Youcef Nardarkhani, his family, and all Christians in Iran.

Today's verse

I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me.

Psalm 71:23 (NLT)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sweet Ps: A prayer for the midpoint of the semester



Almighty and gracious Heavenly Father,I thank you for the successful completion of the first half of the semester.

Lord, I have learned many things in these two months. Help me to remember that my students are struggling with this material, just I struggled with it so many years ago.

Lord, protect my students from accident, violence, and other dangers in their lives. Please bless their parents, grandparents, and all who love and care for them.

Lord, I thank you for my colleagues. I thank you for their kindness and patience in helping me.

Lord, I thank you for my family. Please bless my wife as she works towards completing her degree. Please watch over our son as he attends school.

Amen.


Witnesses to the faith: San Diego

A California appellate court has upheld a jury verdict which found that four San Diego firefighters should not have been forced to participate in the city’s “Gay Pride Parade."

Key quote:

During San Diego’s 2007 “Gay Pride Parade,” four firefighters from the SDFD were sexually harassed through lewd cat calls and obscene gestures at the event, which was replete with sexual displays and graphic images.


My own experience (as an instructor at a state community college) is that the homosexual movement's leadership is extremely vicious and intolerant of anyone who does not share their narrow-minded beliefs. In many ways they are much like the hardcore religious fundamentalists they profess to see lurking under ever bed.

It's not just government employees that will be forced into kneeling before powerful, politically-connected groups. As the ELCA delves more and more into the seedy world where politics is merged with religion Christians can expect the lines between extremist secular political organizations and the ELCA to become even more indistinct. Already there is talk of pressuring ELCA pastors to become active participants in "social justice" activities to promote gay/lesbian issues. The promises made by the ELCA's leadership to faithful Lutheran pastors to respect their views is already sliding down the memory hole. The ELCA's new god of secular political activism is a jealous god.

Please pray for government employees like the San Diego firefighters who are persecuted for their Christian beliefs. Please pray for faithful Lutherans who will be pressured to join in the ELCA's worship of secular political activism.

Reading List

An Imaginary Tale: The Story of i [the square root of minus one], by Paul J. Nahin.

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914, by David McCullough.

Today's verse

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV)