Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: June 2013
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, June 30, 2013

Roman siege of Jerusalem

New evidence has been found confirming Josephus’ account of the last days the Roman siege of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Today's verse

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:1, 13-23 (KJV)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stumbling through mathematics: The chaos game (Part 2)

This is a followup to an earlier post. Again, the basis is the Chaos Game which is as follows: plot a point inside a regular n-gon (a polygon with n number of sides). Then plot a second point by calculating the distance between the original point and a vertex picked at random, and plotting the second point some fixed percentage of that distance towards the vertex. Repeat this process for as many points as you wish.

I wrote another Matlab program using the corners of a regular pentagon as the vertices and letting the percentage be 1/3. For 1000 points the result was following plot:

For 10,000 points:

For 50,000 points:

The plot is a fractal similar to the SierpiƄski Sieve.

Movie night

The African Queen (1951).

Today's verse

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Psalm 138:8 (KJV)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Today's verse

Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.

Jeremiah 14:13-15 (KJV)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Update on Asia Bibi



A report detailing Asia Bibi's husband's recent visit to see her in prison:
Earlier this month Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq, was able to visit her in jail. At the time of his visit Asia was sick and receiving treatment from the jail doctor. She complained of a lot of pain in her legs, shoulders and arms. Ashiq told Asia, “Take good care for your health and recover soon. The children are worried for you. They are daily praying for your good health and soon release.”

Asia said she is regularly praying in jail for her release and requested [Voice of the Martyrs] readers to pray with her.

Several days after Ashiq’s visit to the prison, Asia was transferred from Sheikhupura jail to Multan jail. This change means that, in order for her family to visit her, they will have to travel around five hours instead of only one hour. The extra travel also raises security concerns for the family.

Asia’s daughters in particular were discouraged by the news of their mother’s transfer.

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

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 43 (KJV)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today's verse

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Matthew 7:15-16 (KJV)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today's verse

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (KJV)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Today's verse

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

1 Timothy 6:10-11 (KJV)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Today's verse

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Today's verse

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. And the Word was made 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 1:1-5; 14 (KJV)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Today's verse

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 (KJV)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Update on Asia Bibi



A reminder that Asia Bibi continues to languish in prison. God will never forget her, and will free her at a time of His choosing.

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

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:36 (KJV)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bible study

The Promised Land, by Ray Vander Laan.

Today's verse

And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Luke 18:15-17 (KJV)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Today's verse

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Today's verse

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Luke 7:36-50 (KJV)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Today's verse

In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

Psalm 31:1-3 (KJV)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Today's verse

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Philippians 3:20-21 (KJV)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Today's verse

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

Amos 8:11-12 (KJV)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Today's verse

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (KJV)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Today's verse

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Proverbs 28:9 (KJV)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Today's verse

I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.

Psalm 3:4 (KJV)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Today's verse

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Today's verse

The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

Habakkuk 3:19 (KJV)

Friday, June 07, 2013

Today's verse

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33 (KJV)

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Today's verse

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Today's verse

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Psalm 121:1-3 (KJV)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Today's verse

Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.

1 Chronicles 29:11 (KJV)

Monday, June 03, 2013

Update on Asia Bibi



Tabish Irfan of the Pakistan Christian Post writes a short editorial about the plight of Pakistani Christians and the inability of the government to help them.

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

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:1-3 (KJV)

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Looking for Josiah

The ELCA has elected its first gay bishop. Even though we all knew this sad day was inevitable, the wounds this ordination has inflicted on the Church are still painful.

Key quote:

Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin was ordained as a pastor in the ELCA two years ago. A press release by Lutherans Concerned/North America at the time stated “R. Guy Erwin, a teaching theologian at California Lutheran University (CLU), was ordained in the Samuelson Chapel of that institution at 10:00 a.m. on May 11, 2011. He is both gay and in a committed same-gender relationship. His ordination, the fulfillment of a lifetime desire, is made possible by the change in policy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that followed the decision of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to allow ministers in committed, same-gender relationships to serve in the church.”

The above quote notes that Dr. Erwin was a pastor only two years prior to becoming bishop. Even by the troubling standards of affirmative action - which judges people solely by their skin color, gender, and sexual orientation instead of their ability and character - this is alarming.

Yet even now there is still time. Time for the leadership of the ELCA to rediscover the faith once delivered to the saints. Time to throw away the false god of political activism they have created only to please themselves. Time to repent and humble themselves before the one true God.

In case anyone thinks that this is impossible, they should consider the story of King Josiah (2 Kings 22: - 23:3 ) . Josiah led the people of Judah in a period of national repentance:

And [King Josiah] stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

2 Kings 23:3 (KJV)

Pray that God raises up in the ELCA someone with the faith and courage of King Josiah.

Today's verse

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Hebrews 9:28 (KJV)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Reading list

The Surgeon's Mate, by Patrick O'Brian.

Ye shall know them by their fruits...

Christopher Swindell, a journalism professor, believes people he disagrees with politically should be slaughtered by the US military. Apparently, so do the editors of the Charleston Gazette, who decided to publish Professor Swindell's death threats. Here are the screen shots, in case the editors decide to dump the professor's calls for murder down the memory hole:

Publishing death threats has not normally been a function of American newspapers - at least until recently. Readers were more likely to get long-winded lectures on the need for more civility in politics.

The Charleston Gazette is not the only American newspaper which thinks making death threats is acceptable editorial policy. In the Des Moines Register Donald Kaul called for the torture and murder of political leaders he opposes.. Remember: these are supposed to be respectable American newspapers, not crackpot KKK or neo-Nazi websites.

It would be easy to dismiss the angry ravings of Professor Swindell and Mr. Kaul as being of no consequence, and the decision to publish their explicit death threats as just momentary lapses in editorial judgement at the Charleston Gazette and the Des Moines Register, but that would not be wise. These were not sudden outbursts that were quickly regretted but a careful, deliberate series of decisions. There were numerous opportunities for sanity to prevail, but it did not. Someone made the decision to write these death threats. Someone else made the decision that they are acceptable journalism. Someone else again made the decision to publish them. And the wider world of journalism has not yet mustered up any sense of outrage over Swindell's and Kaul's calls for cold-blooded murder.

(There is another component to this story, and that is the world of education. Swindell is a professor of journalism. While I am not hopeful, I will wait and see if the college he works for has a shred of decency and integrity and fires him.)

Journalists as a group tend to lean to the far left politically. That by itself is not a problem, but there is an undisguised hostility towards anyone who does not share their worldview chapter and verse. There is nothing subtle about it: slanted editorials have long ago been replaced by slanted stories. For that reason I do not believe the actions of the Charleston Gazette and the Des Moines Register are some kind of outlier, but represent an escalation of hostilities fueled by a combination of arrogance and hatred of opposition.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Matthew 7:16 (KJV)

Today's verse

How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: and I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

Isaiah 1:21-26 (KJV)