Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: December 2012
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)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Today's verse

Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 (KJV)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



Our sister in Christ, Asia Bibi, has just spent her fourth Christmas in prison.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Psalm 24:7 (KJV)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Today's verse

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 8:13 (KJV)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading list

The Fortune of War, by Patrick O'Brian.

Today's verse

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Psalm 84:10 (KJV)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Today's verse

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 6:1-8 (KJV)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

This holiday (celebrated in many parts of the world) has its origins in Britain of the 1800s, during the time of Queen Victoria. From the above link:
Boxing Day got its name when Queen Victoria was on the throne in the 1800s, when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor.

Churches also played a part in the creation of Boxing Day. Through the year they would take money from churchgoers in the form of a collection, and hand it out at Christmas.

Many of them stored the collection money in a box, which they opened on Christmas Day. The money was then handed out to the poor the next day, on Boxing Day.

Now those boxes aren't as popular. However some people leave out extra money for people like binmen or milkmen in the weeks before Christmas, and call it a Christmas box.

There is something to be said for doing something about the poor and needy yourself. In modern Western countries charity has mostly been turned over to the government. From the New Deal to the Great Society Americans nave been content to let government take the lead on halping the less fortunate.

Not surprisingly, the results have been disastrous. In the midst of what the media describes as a "growing" economy, more than 43 million people now receive food stamps - a 14.2% increase over last year. Not surprisingly, the percentage of workers participating in the labor force declined to 63.6% in November - a level not seen since the early 1980s, or almost a third of a century. If the secular media considers this a recovery, I would sure hate to see what they think constitutes a recession! The record deficits that the US has run over the last four years do not seemed to have helped much.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this whole mess is the fact that the so-called War on Poverty has been the creation of a massive (and hideously expensive) bureaucracy to fight this war. By any rational measure we have decisively lost the War on Poverty, yet much of the media and the academic community wants to spend even more money on this quagmire.

It is a sad fact that many Christians helped to start this War on Poverty, and still insist on fighting it even though the human cost of this failure has been enormous. They also believe that lobbying government officials for more taxpayer money for this-or-that pork barrel project is an acceptable substitute for rolling up their sleeves and actually helping the poor.

This Boxing Day, I urge Christians to lay aside the notion that charity can be outsourced to someone else.

Today's verse

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (KJV)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



Our sister in Christ, Asia Bibi, remains unjustly imprisoned this Christmas day.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, and thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Matthew 2:1-12 (KJV)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hot weather...

... and even hotter rhetoric. Richard Parncutt, a Professor at the University of Graz, Austria, is calling for the death penalty for skeptics of global warming.

Let's leave aside the fact that threatening to slaughter your opponents is not a sign of confidence in your argument. Let's also leave aside the fact that Parncutt is a Professor of Systematic Musicology (whatever that is), and can in no way be considered an expert in climate. Professor Parncutt's proposal for witch hunts and kangaroo courts to seek out and destroy "deniers" is scientism in its rawest form.

Scientism is the belief that science alone can explain every phenomenon, and that the scientific method is the only rational method for solving problems. To some, that has been expanded to the belief that science is a god. Not surprisingly, trouble will always follow.

When political goals become the most important, and religion is harnessed to achieve those goals, the result is a religion that bears no real resemblance to what its followers profess to believe. Most Christians look back with shame and embarrassment at many of the political antics of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. For the same reason science, if it is used to further political goals, can cease to be science. Much of the public debate (if it can be called that) about global warming has a definite intolerant religious fervor to it.

Prior to starting this blog, I used to argue with people on other websites about issues such as evolution and homosexuality. In the process I learned three important things. The first was that the less someone knew about science, the more likely they were to bring up "scientific consensus" as a way to invoke cloture on debates they would rather not have. The second was to never respond to anyone who thinks the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or the network news programs are reliable sources of scientific and technical information.

And the third? One of the reasons I blog anonymously is because of the "behead the anti-science infidel!" attitude of some of the folks I encountered. Rather than disprove what I said about homosexuality, evolution, or whatever, I found myself accused of all sorts of crimes against humanity. Much of what passes for debate on the Internet - and much of the media, for that matter - is not debate so much as an Inquisition in which those who do not hold the same views as secular progressives are criminals to be prosecuted. Professor Parncutt has a definite Grand Inquisitor attitude about him.

An atheist chaplain?

One wonders ... what sort of liturgy this chaplain teaches:
We don't believe in god

(Except maybe Charles Darwin)

We are all just a big accident

We came from nothing produced by nothing destined to end in nothing

No, we can't prove any of it

Just have faith in unbelief

Amen

Oh, I give up. Some things are beyond parody.

Today's verse

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:1-14 (KJV)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today's verse

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Luke 1:39-56 (LKV)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie night

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Today's verse

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2 (KJV)

Friday, December 21, 2012

No reason at all...

...except that it's fun!

Today's verse

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On-line courses in Tanzania

Not sure how well this will work (or if it will work at all), but here is the key quote from the article:
In an effort to reach increase student enrollment, the Arusha-based Institute of Accountancy (IAA) is scheduled to introduce e-learning a move that omits the geographical limitations of tradition on campus system but is an also much more appealing financial option for many students in a country where income levels are still some of the world’s lowest.

Update on Asia Bibi



Jennifer Marshall writes about religious freedom in the United States and elsewhere.

Key quote:

In Pakistan, spring 2012 marked the grim anniversary of the assassination of two leaders who had promoted religious freedom. Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab Province, was killed January 4, 2011, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet, was murdered two months later. Both had spoken on behalf of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death under blasphemy laws that, as with Pastor Nadarkhani, make conversion from Islam a crime.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:18-23 (KJV)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reading list

Chaos: An Introduction to Dynamical Systems, by Kathleen T. Alligood, Tim D. Sauer, James A. Yorke.

Religious leaders warn about growing religious and social unrest in Tanzania

Key quote from the article:
The leaders made this call during a two-day workshop in Dar es Salaam, where they deliberated on issues of maintaining sustainable peace and social cohesion in the country. The workshop was organized by the National Committee for Prevention of Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, Crime against Humanity and all forms of Discrimination.

Although, to be honest, it is not clear what government officials could possibly do. Perhaps avoid making things worse? It is foolish to trust the princes of this world.

Today's verse

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38 (KJV)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The new civility - again

University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis calls for the murder of those who want elementary school teachers to be armed.

Whether or not people think arming teachers to protect their students a good idea, there is no excuse for calling for the deaths of those whom they disagree with. In the past this incident would have ended his employment with the University of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, I have a sinking feeling the death threats he made will only enhance his career. Just remember - defenders of the Second Amendment are the violent, dangerous ones. Or so the secular media wants us to believe.

For the record, with proper training I do think it is a good idea to arm teachers to protect their students. It is clear that making schools "gun-free zones" has been a deadly failure.

Today's verse

The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

Psalm 146:9 (KJV)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bible study

Walking with God in the Desert, by Ray Vander Laan.

Put not your trust in the princes of this world..

...for in fact they don't really give a damn about you.

In the wake of recent gun-related violence in this country (most recently, the horror that took place in Newtown, Connecticut), some political leaders and media personalities have called for more laws banning guns. Yet the history of such laws is checkered at best: Britain, which has some of the strictest gun-control laws on the planet, has experienced an 89% rise in gun-related violence over the past decade (h/t: Instapundit). I thought gun-control laws were supposed to prevent this from happening. At least, that what politicians and the media promised.

I don't belong to the NRA. I don't own any sort of gun, and have no plans to do so in the future. Yet the willingness of citizens to surrender their very lives to the care of an all-powerful state astonishes me. From the near bankruptcy of the US Post Office, to the bungled handling of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, to the massive Federal budget deficit (does anyone seriously believe that we will actually pay back one thin dime?), to the botched Fast and Furious operation where the US government sold guns to Mexican drug dealers who used them to kill hundreds of Mexican nationals and a US border agent (so much for gun control), to the corrupt crony capitalism of government deals like Solyndra, to the complete and utter collapse of the War on Poverty and War on Drugs, the failure of government-as-god is apparent for those with eyes to see. Yet - unless I am in error - we appear to be poised to re-invest even more of our lives in the very people who have failed us time and time again. How did it come to this?

As many Americans have turned away from the one true God, they have chased after other false gods as a substitute. Giving government god-like powers is one example. Another is celebrity worship, in which to millions of people the antics of rich socialites like the Kardashians seem more real and important that the sufferings of their neighbors. We know more about President Obama's marriage and family than we do about his plans for dealing with the deficit. Science, sex and drugs are also competing for our loyalties.

Some Christian clergy have publically talked vaguely about a "culture of violence" in the United States. Yet so far very few of them have tackled the prevalent violence in movies, TV and games, the makers of which are big campaign money donors to politicians these clergy seem to prefer. The slaughter of unborn children through abortion does not seem to trouble these clergy, nor does the increasing pressure on the elderly to die and get out of the way of society. These clergy may profess Jesus as Lord with their lips, yet their hearts are firmly secular. They are false prophets who will probably continue to promote the idea that government is the one true god worthy of our allegiance.

Today's verse

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37:9 (KJV)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Update on Asia Bibi



Asia Bibi's husband pleads with the Spanish government to pressure Pakistan to release his wife.

The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.

Isaiah 43:11 (KJV)