Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: 2010
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 6:8 (KJV)

Friday, December 31, 2010

400-year anniversary of King James Version

An interesting article at the Washington Times about the upcoming 400-year anniversary of the King James Version.

Reading list

Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum.

This is an overdue book, since historians have not given the history of the Soviet Union the attention it deserves. In her introduction, Applebaum attempts to give an explanation for why this is so.

Applebaum shows that, contrary to popular belief, the existence of the extensive system of Soviet prisons was a known fact for many decades. She also finds that Alexander Solzhenitsyn (author of Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956) was correct in his assertion that the Gulag system was not some aberration of an otherwise humane Soviet system (the view of many scholars even today), buy a key factor in it very existence.

Today's verse

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

Psalm 116:5-7 (NKJV)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Update on Asia Bibi

The Pakistani government seems to be at odds with itself. Deputy information minister Samsam Bokhari has said there will be no changes to the country's blasphemy laws. This contradicts earlier promises made by Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs, to review these laws.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Psalm 6 (KJV)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today's verse

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Ecclesiastes 1:4 (KJV)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lutheran Malaria Initiative

If you are looking to make a worthy year-end contribution that will help to do God's work, may I suggest the Lutheran Malaria Initiative?

For the record: I have no connection with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. My interest in the subject comes from the fact that I was sick with malaria several times while I lived in Tanzania. Curiously, my wife (who is Tanzanian) has never had the disease. It seems that weakling wazungu like myself are most susceptible to it! :)

Update on Asia Bibi

There have been a number of events recently relating to Asia Bibi's plight:

  • Demonstrators both against and for her release have been marching in Lahore over Christmas.
  • The Pakistan Christian Post was hacked by Muslims.
  • An organization called Citizens for Democracy (which includes social organizations, lawyers and labor unions) is seeking changes in Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

    Also, Raza Anjum, Muslim city Councillor from Saffron-Walden, plans to meet Pakistan’s Prime Minister to call for Asia Bibi's release and for the Pakistani government to do more to protect the rights of Christians.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.
  • Churches in Egypt

    Egypt's State Minister for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Moufid Shehab, says the government may ease restriction on building churches.

    Please pray for Christians living in Egypt.

    Today's verse

    For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Galatians 3:26-9 (NKJV)

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Muslim cleric Muhammad Salim asserts that if Asia Bibi is pardoned and released by the government, someone will end up killing her anyway. "Any Muslim, if given the chance, would kill such a person. You would be rewarded in heaven for it," he said in an interview from the Los Angeles Times. The article goes on to note that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are being used against other Muslims as well as non-Muslims.

    There seems to have been a recent change in the tone of the media's coverage of Islam and persecution of Christians. After the 9-11 attacks the media seemed to adopt a "see no evil" approach to covering issues relating to Islam. Story after story fretted about Islamophobia, which was allegedly rampant in American society. But this article - along with a number of others - seems to have abandoned that narrative. Here is hoping that this trend continues, and that secular journalists will become more interested in reporting the news instead of trying to manipulate it.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
    I have set the LORD always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

    Psalm 16:7-8 (CEV)

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    Reading list

    Mornings on Horseback, by David McCullough.

    The ad wars

    A Christian megachurch replaces an atheist billboard with a pro-Christian message.

    For those who think that putting messages on billboards is foolishness, remember Balaam's donkey (Numbers 22:21-38). Who is to say that such a billboard message will not reach someone?

    Persecution: Christmas 2010

    It's not just Asia Bibi whose life is threatened by intolerant extremists. A growing number of leaders of Christian and post-Christian denominations are noticing this persecution - especially at the hands of Muslims.

    The comments by Anglican leader Rowan Williams are especially significant. Williams, who made headlines in 2008 when he suggested that parts of Islamic sharia law are somehow compatible with British law and should be adopted to maintain social cohesion, specifically mentioned Asia Bibi by name.

    Pope Benedict XVI had words of encouragement for Catholics in China and Iraq.

    It's not just Christians who are targets of Muslim extremists. Thousands in Pakistan are facing starvation after a suicide bombing by the Taliban ended a food-relief program in parts of that country.

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Christians protest in Lahore against the blasphemy laws and call for the release of Asia Bibi.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

    And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

    (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

    And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

    And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

    And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

    And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

    Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

    Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

    For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

    Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

    A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

    And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

    And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

    (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

    Luke 2:21-35 (KJV)

    Saturday, December 25, 2010

    Message from Apollo 8

    Today's verse

    And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

    And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

    And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

    And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

    But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

    And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

    Luke 2:15-20 (KJV)

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    The Pakistani government has pledged to review the country's blasphemy laws.

    Key quote:

    On pardoning of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy of Islam, [Pakistan's federal minister for minority affairs Shahbaz] Bhatti said the president will wait for the judicial proceedings.

    Bibi's lawyer has said that the proceedings might take years because the case is still in high court and may later go to the Supreme court.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Wycliffe's Christmas gift

    From 2009: Many in the Mara region of Tanzania will hear the story of Jesus in their tribal language for the first time:

    Today's verse

    Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”

    Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Bomb blast in Kenya

    al Qaeda may have been behind a recent bombing in Nairobi, Kenya. The bomber may have been a Tanzanian..

    al Qaeda has menaced East Africa before. Many people may remember the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, which were the work of the terrorist group.


    Abby Johnson, the former director of the local Planned Parenthood clinic who joined the pro-life movement, has a new book coming out about her experiences.

    (Hat tip: La Shawn Barber)

    Witness to the faith: Laura Davis

    Please pray to end abortion.

    Christianity, Islam, and Asia Bibi

    One of my daily activities is to search for information regarding Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Recently I came across three articles that dealt with the growing persecution of Christians at the hands of Muslims.

    The first article came from CNN. It was written by Akbar Ahmed and John Bryson Chane. The authors express their concern about the growing persecution of Christians in Islamic countries.

    I have mixed feelings about the article. On the one hand, it is gratifying to see two members of the self-styled intellectual community - Akbar Ahmed is a professor at American University, and Chane is a bishop of the Episcopal Church - having the courage to bring up this persecution. Much of the secular media is deeply vested in the notion of rampant "Islamophobia", and it takes courage to contradict that narrative.

    But on the other hand, the authors have made several statements that indicate an alarming degree of isolation from the real world. Here is the first one:

    Extremist Muslims feel that Islam is under siege by the West and seek to lash out at Christians, seeing an attack on Christians in their countries effectively as an attack on Israelis, U.S. troops in Iraq or the intelligence agencies behind U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

    To quote George Orwell: only an intellectual could believe that. Such a view ignores hundreds of years of history in order to fit recent events into modern political correctness.

    Almost from the beginning Islam has had its share of leaders that sought to defend/expand Islam's influence militarily. The Prophet himself led a force of 300 Muslims in the Battle of Bedr in March 624 AD against an army from Mecca, which was seeking to stop raids on caravans by Muslims. After defeating the army from Mecca, Mohammad went on to begin expelling Jews from Medina. A year later, after his Muslim army lost to another force from Mecca and he was forced to flee, Mohammed's views against Jews hardened (he blamed them for his defeat).

    Umar (Omar) the 2nd Caliphate sent Muslim armies against Syria and Palestine, and in 637 AD the armies of Byzantium lost control of Jerusalem to Islam. Afterwards, the armies of Islam moved into Europe. Scarcely 100 years after the death of Mohammad the armies of Islam reached the French city of Tours. During the Battle of Tours Charles Martel defeated the Muslim armies, who were eventually driven out of Europe. There are other examples of Muslim armies conquering cities that refused to submit to Islam. The notion that Muslims are being goaded into action by recent military moves of the US and Israel has no basis in history.

    Another quote from the article is even more disturbing:

    Muslims will say that they cannot be a good Muslim without first being a good Jew and a good Christian.

    This is wishful thinking at its worst. In all of my time in Tanzania and America, not once did I ever encounter a Muslim that believed that a good Muslim must first be "a good Jew and a good Christian". Muslims were reserved about Jesus (although none of them believed that He worked miracles, despite the authors' claims to the contrary). They did ascribe all sorts of evils to Christianity, including slavery, pornography, and imperialism. Jews were universally despised: not once did any Muslim express anything except contempt and hatred for Jews.

    In fact, the authors seem mainly worried about the effect that Muslim persecution of Christians will have on the dialogue between Islam and Christianity. Having seen some of these dialogues (which are in reality boring monologues about "tolerance" and other politically correct topics), it is not something I will mourn.

    The second article was written by Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times. In his article he points out that Christians are suffering persecution in Communist countries as well as Islamic ones. In a refreshingly crisp and clear style he lists some of the dangerous places in the world for Christians.

    Brinkley's article is not without flaws. He suggests that one reason Christians might be suffering persecution because they "aggressively proselytize". How Christians can aggressively proselytize while hiding for their lives is a mystery. But overall, Brinkley's article is far better than the CNN one.

    But the best article may have been from Stan Guthrie. In it he notes the unblinkered hatred driving Osama bin Laden and other Islamic extremists. This hatred is usually ignored or glossed over by the secular media (it is rare to find an article in the secular media that does not rail against the Iraq War or the state of Israel or "Islamophobia" when talking about Islamic extremism). It is a curious omission: it would be like historians writing about the Holocaust or the Ku Klux Klan, yet avoiding any mention of antisemitism or racism. Yet this hatred is key to understanding why Islamic extremism is growing. Fretting about "interfaith dialogue" or "aggressive proselytizing" is a poor substitute for facing facts.

    I am thankful for independent media, and for groups like The Voice of the Martyrs. Because of their work, persecuted Christians are held up in prayer by Christians worldwide. It also forces the secular media to deal with stories they would rather not cover in the first place. My opinion is that the secular media views Islam as a rival to Christianity and Judaism (which they hate), and is willing to overlook Islamic extremism if it means striking a blow against Christians and Jews. In the Information Age they cannot always get away with that.

    Update on Asia Bibi

    A difficult Christmas in Pakistan.

    Key quote from the article:

    Raza Anjum, a British public official in Pakistan trying to secure Bibi’s release believes the situation over the Christmas weekend could be quite difficult, with the threat of violence high.

    Anjum, a councilor from the UK city of Saffron Waldon in Essex is now in Lahore, Pakistan to try to win Ms. Bibi’s release. Since his arrival in Pakistan, he has met with the Minister for Minority Affairs and plans to meet with the Governor of the province where Bibi is jailed and with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani over the next several days.

    The situation is growing worse for Christians in countries like Pakistan. Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    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.

    Luke 2:1-7 (KJV)

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    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)

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Witness to the faith: Dale Mcalpine

    Christian preacher arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin. In the end the British police who arrested him had to pay a fine plus legal costs.

    Freedom of speech seems to be safe for now in the UK.

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Voice of the Martyrs has the story about Sandul Bibi, who was falsely charged with tearing pages from the Koran. She has a wonderful prayer for Asia Bibi.

    Please keep Asia Bibi and her family in your prayers.

    The marriage gap

    La Shawn Barber has an excellent article about the growing number of out-of-wedlock births among the least educated members of the American public.

    It's hard to believe that there are those who celebrate the growing reluctance of people to get married and fulfill their responsibilities. But then again, maybe no one should be surprised. Among many of our self-anointed secular progressive elites (they can be found by the truckload in the media and academia) there is a disturbing Utopian streak that seeks to remake society into a single progressive Whole without individual liberty to muddy the waters. Family and church tend to get in the way of this Whole, since men and women who are loyal to God and to their families are less likely to give unconditional allegiance the State. For that reason it's no wonder that the secular progressives hold traditional marriage in contempt.

    This desire of secular progressives to remake society in their own image has led to some absurd extremes in the media. Witness the rock-star popularity of the MTV show Teen Mom, which (despite half-hearted denials) is a show dedicated to promoting single motherhood and multiple sex partners. The political environment is downright toxic: it is now almost impossible to discuss the connection between single motherhood and the rise in poverty and crime without being accused of "intolerance".

    Here is the key quote from the article:

    Thirty years ago, only two percent of babies born to highly educated mothers were outside marriage; today it’s six percent. Thirty years ago, moderately educated mothers had babies out of wedlock at the rate of 13 percent. Today, 44 percent of their babies are born out of wedlock. Fifty-four percent of babies born to the least-educated mothers are outside marriage.

    These are sobering facts, yet to discuss them is forbidden in today's political climate. Even Christians seem frightened to bring this up.
    Don't expect truth in a political system when the truth is politically lethal.

    Ironically, simple economics may put an end to this situation before Christians find their voice. The present US Administration in on pace to run up more debt than all 43 previous Presidents combined. Public pension systems are drastically underfunded. Despite constant infusions of cash the public education system is melting down. A Greece-style collapse may put an end to the secular progressives' mad dreams of Utopia before the Church does.

    Today's verse

    Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot — yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

    And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

    Isaiah 11:1-2 (NLT)

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    The Pakistan Christian Democratic Alliance (PCDA) announced it will hold protest demonstrations against Pakistan's blasphemy laws and call for the release of Asia Bibi this Christmas Day.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family

    Today's verse

    “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
    Because the LORD has anointed Me
    To preach good tidings to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives,
    And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
    And the day of vengeance of our God;
    To comfort all who mourn,

    To console those who mourn in Zion,
    To give them beauty for ashes,
    The oil of joy for mourning,
    The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
    That they may be called trees of righteousness,
    The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

    Isaiah 61:1-3

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Update on Martin Gaskell

    Over at Instapundit, University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynonds (who is not noticeably sympathetic to Creationism or Intelligent Design) has been following the story of Martin Gaskell and the University of Kentucky's decision to pass him over for a position because of his religious views.

    Gaskell says he believes in evolution. Nevertheless, University of Kentucky officials rejected him for a post at their university because they feared he was "something close to a creationist" and "potentially evangelical."

    As Reynolds noted in his post, if the University of Kentucky rejected Gaskill because they were concerned about bad publicity over hiring some sort of closet Creationist, they certainly blew that one. It's also hard to imagine that if Gaskell was (say) a fundamentalist Muslim the University of Kentucky would have been quite as blatant in rejecting Gaskell for religious reasons. Some religious litmus tests are unacceptable to the academic class, while others are mandatory.

    Martyrs: Iraq

    In the October 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad, Iraq, 58 people were murdered. A three-year-old boy named Adam told the al-Qaeda backed terrorists that murdered these people (including Adam's parents) "Enough, enough, enough!" until he, too, was killed.

    Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Please pray for Christians suffering persecution in Iraq.

    Today's verse

    I will tell the promise that the LORD made to me:

    "You are my son, because today I have become your father.

    Ask me for the nations, and every nation on earth will belong to you.

    You will smash them with an iron rod and shatter them like dishes of clay."

    Be smart, all you rulers, and pay close attention.

    Serve and honor the LORD; be glad and tremble.

    Show respect to his son because if you don't, the LORD might become furious and suddenly destroy you.

    But he blesses and protects everyone who runs to him.

    Psalm 2:7-12 (CEV)

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Today's verse

    Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

    Isaiah 7:13-14 (NKJV)

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Asia Bibi remains in prison. According to Todd Nettleton at Voice of the Martyrs, she can be released or killed at any time by the government.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Creation vs. Evolution debate

    Actually, it has been more of a monologue than a debate:

    Scientist rejected for post at University of Kentucky because of possible skepticism of evolution.

    I do not know the merits of this particular case, so it is possible that Martin Gaskell does not have a legal leg to stand on. But it is clear that evolution - whose scientific foundations are shaky at best - is more of a cult than a science. Skeptics like Gaskell are heretics who will be punished.

    Today's verse

    Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

    Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

    Psalm 45:6-7 (KJV)

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Today's verse

    “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
    Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
    The One to be Ruler in Israel,
    Whose goings forth are from of old,
    From everlasting.”

    Micah 5:2 (NKJV)

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Today's verse

    When Elizabeth's son was born, her neighbors and relatives heard how kind the Lord had been to her, and they too were glad.

    Eight days later they did for the child what the Law of Moses commands. They were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, "No! His name is John." The people argued, "No one in your family has ever been named John." So they motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son.

    Zechariah asked for a writing tablet. Then he wrote, "His name is John." Everyone was amazed. Right away, Zechariah started speaking and praising God.

    Luke 1:57-64 (CEV)

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    NALC Mission Director

    The Rev. Dr. Gemechis D. Buba has accepted a call to serve as Missions Director for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

    Please pray for Dr. Buba and his family.

    Today's verse

    The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
    For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

    Isaiah 9:2 (NLT)

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Is the Pakistani government giving way to the demands of Islamic extremists?

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    By You I have been upheld from birth;
    You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
    My praise shall be continually of You.

    Psalm 71:6 (NKJV)

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Asia Bibi continues to be held in prison, and her release does not appear to be coming anytime soon. Now a doctor in Pakistan has been arrested under Pakistan's blasphemy laws for throwing away a business card with the name of Muhammad on it. The doctor, Naushad Valiyani, is a Muslim.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family, and for all in Pakistan who suffer under the unjust blasphemy laws.

    Today's verse

    I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”

    I answered, “A plumb line.”

    And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins. The pagan shrines of your ancestors will be ruined, and the temples of Israel will be destroyed; I will bring the dynasty of King Jeroboam to a sudden end.”

    Amos 7:7-9 (NLT)

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Today's verse

    Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

    Matthew 1:18-21 (ESV)

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Sweet Ps: A prayer for final exams

    Almighty and gracious Heavenly Father, I come before you with thanksgiving.

    Lord, you know that my students and my colleagues are tired and ready to rest. At this time of year, grant them good health and safe travel. Keep them safe from harm, and grant them the opportunity to return in the spring.

    Lord, I ask a special blessing on the family and loved ones of our students. They have worked very hard and made many sacrifices in order to give these students the chance to attend school. Given them the strength and patience to counsel and guide these students.

    Lord, I thank you for my family. They have been so patient and loving in dealing with my absences from home. I especially thank you for my wife, who has had to shoulder so many responsibilities herself, including her own schoolwork.


    Today's verse

    Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.

    Psalm 105:4 (NLT)

    Thursday, December 09, 2010

    Today's verse

    “Behold, I send My messenger,
    And he will prepare the way before Me.
    And the Lord, whom you seek,
    Will suddenly come to His temple,
    Even the Messenger of the covenant,
    In whom you delight.
    Behold, He is coming,”
    Says the LORD of hosts.

    Malachi 3:1 (NKJV)

    Wednesday, December 08, 2010

    Today's verse

    But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

    Jude 20-1 (NKJV)

    Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Christians must not forget Asia Bibi.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored

    1 Peter 2:4 (CEV)

    Monday, December 06, 2010

    Today's verse

    “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 5:17-19 (NKJV)

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    Today's verse

    If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
    and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
    for you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the LORD will reward you.

    Proverbs 25: 21-2 (ESV)

    Saturday, December 04, 2010

    Recommended reading

    Don Kriefall at Common Sense for a Senseless World has written one of the best posts I have ever read. Be sure to chack out his other posts.

    Today's verse

    I know that the LORD will maintain
    The cause of the afflicted,
    And justice for the poor.

    Psalm 140:12 (NKJV)

    Friday, December 03, 2010

    Sweet Ps

    Almighty and Gracious Heavenly Father, I come before You with thanksgiving.

    I thank You for the wonderful and welcome report on my sister's cancer operation. I thank You Lord for Your love and protection, and for the comfort that You showed to her.

    I thank You for my students and colleagues, and for the chance to teach.

    I thank You for my beautiful wife, and our wonderful son.

    I thank You for good health, and for the chance to use it to serve You.

    I thank You for my brother and his family, for my mother, and for all in my family in the United States. I thank You for my family and friends in Tanzania.

    Lord, I thank You for the peaceful elections in Tanzania and the United States. Please bless all of the candidates and their families. Help them to always remember that service in government is a privilege from You and not a right.

    Lord, there are so many that are suffering persecution right now. Especially I lift up to You our sister in Christ, Asia Bibi. Send your angels to comfort and guard her. As you did with the apostle Paul, soften the hearts of those who would seek her death.

    Lord, there are many who are suffering from job loss or the threat of job loss. Give them hope and courage. Open every door and remove every barrier. Heal the souls of those who dispair, and give light to those who feel consumed by darkness.


    Update on Asia Bibi

    A radical cleric in Pakistan offered a reward of 6,000 dollars to anyone who kills Asia Bibi.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people

    Romans 16:17-18 (NLT)

    Wednesday, December 01, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    UPDATE: Asia Bibi is not the only one in Pakistan facing persecution. Five Christians have been murdered under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

    Update on my sister

    The surgery went well. A more complete biopsy will need to be done, but the initial one showed the cancer was not malignant. Praise God!

    Today's verse

    “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

    Luke 12 6-7 (NLT)

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Today's verse

    A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

    Isaiah 42:3 (KJV)

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    The Chief Justice of Lahore High Court is blocking President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Asia Bibi.

    Keep in mind that in Pakistan radical Islam is very strong. Even if a judge wanted to free Asia Bibi he may be afraid to do so.

    Please keep Asia Bibi and her family in your prayers.

    Today's verse

    Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

    Galatians 1:11-12 (NLT)

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Today's verse

    How sweet are Your words to my taste,
    Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

    Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    "You can't possibly believe THAT!"

    That is the reaction I sometimes get when I mention the fact that I am both a mathematician and a Christian. It is as if I have confessed to cannibalism or some other horrible social ill.

    It is interesting to note that often the strongest proponents of the belief that science has disproven the existence of God are those whose own scientific knowledge is minimal or even non-existent. Often these individuals quote from Time, Newsweek, or - God spare us! - Scientific American without any apparent sense of irony that they are relying on people who may know less about science than they do. Talk about the blind leading the blind!

    Here is an interesting list of famous scientists who believed in God.

    Today's verse

    Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

    Psalm 98:4 (KJV)

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Are you legally married?

    A million marriages in England might not be legal because of an error in the words used in the wedding ceremony.

    This reminds me of the plot of the 1952 movie We're Not Married.

    You might be a Christian if ...

    ... you are fat. At least, that is the conclusion reached by Tim Covell, the author of Born Atheist.

    There is not much that can be said in response to Mr. Covell's "research", except that the secular media appears not to be particularly fussy about accuracy when it comes to Christians. Imagine the reaction by the secular media if some Christian made claims that research "proved" blacks smell funny, or Hispanics are dumb in school, or that homosexuals are ugly. At the very least, it is unlikely that the Denver Post would be willing to give them a platform the way they did for Mr. Covell to flog his book.

    Atheism was once a well-reasoned, intellectual philosophy. Now it seems to be mostly concerned with "de-baptisms" and pushing crude stereotypes. If I were still an atheist, I would be embarrassed.

    A prayer for my sister

    Almighty and gracious Heavenly Father,

    I come before You with thanksgiving. I thank you for my beautiful wife, and for our son. I thank You for my family in Tanzania and in the United States. I thank You for my students and colleagues, and for the chance to serve as a teacher.

    Lord, You know that my sister will soon undergo surgery for cancer. I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice just how frightened she is. I ask that You heal her of this terrible affliction, and that You send an army of Your angels to surround her and comfort her. I ask that You restore her faith in You, and to once again call You Lord.

    Lord, I also ask that You be with my sister's husband and their two children. I ask that You be with them and help to give my sister the strength she will need.


    Sharia law - enforced by the West?

    A fifteen-year-old British girl is arrested for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran and posting the incident of Facebook. She was arrested under the new British "religious hatred" law passed in 2006. No word yet on when Madonna, who mocks Christianity with vulgar sexual references, will also be arrested.

    It appears that Western governments are now in the business of enforcing Islamic anti-desecration laws. Recall how the US government blew a gasket what a Florida pastor merely threatened to burn a Koran?

    I believe that this blatant favoritism shown by Western governments towards Islam is not because these governments are chock-full of secret Muslims. Western governments tend to be run by secular progressives who disdain all religious beliefs. Rather, Islam is seen by secular progressives as a rival to Christianity and Judaism. Christianity and Judaism hold that God's laws are superior to man's laws, and this enrages the secular progressives who view government as god.

    And - this has to be said, since it is true - the fact that Christians and Jews are routinely imprisoned, tortured and killed by Muslims in Islamic countries is actually considered a plus by secular progressives. Osama bin Laden and his followers do what many secular progressives long to do, but lack the courage to actually carry out.

    Thus, in the name of "tolerance" citizens of Western countries are ordered to be silent by their government. Meanwhile, Muslims (which in many cases are openly seeking a worldwide theocracy) are given a pass. That's why a 15-year-old girl incurrs the wrath of the authorities while those guilty of "honor killings" go unpunished.

    One final note. Consider this quote from the article linked above:

    The group that published the English-language version of the Koran is believed to have visited the school this week, to talk to pupils and explain the significance of the book to Muslims, the BBC reports.

    Just imagine the shrieks of "Christianist theocracy!" in this country if a Christian group came to a public school to explain the significance of the Bible. Even in Britain, that would not go down very well.

    Witnesses to the faith: Tanzania

    Two church buildings in Zanzibar have been torn down.

    Please pray for Christians living in Tanzania.

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Pakistani Muslims threaten violence if Asia Bibi is pardoned.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

    Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

    “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

    1 Kings 3:5-9 (NLT)

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    May everyone have a blessed Thanksgiving this year!

    May the God of your father help you;
    May the Almighty bless you
    with the blessings of the heavens above,
    and blessings of the watery depths below,
    and blessings of the breasts and womb.

    Genesis 49:25 (NLT)

    Today's verse

    Offer to God thanksgiving,
    And pay your vows to the Most High.

    Psalm 50:14 (NKJV)

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Have you been denounced yet?

    The Southern Poverty Law Center has released a new list of "hate groups" that includes many Christian organizations. Unfortunately, I did not make the list.

    My failure to draw the SPLC's wrath is disturbing, and makes me wonder what I am doing wrong. What does a poor math teacher have to do to get on the SPLC's blacklist, anyway? Alas, for the time being I must continue to toil in utter obscurity*.

    * - Unless one of my kind readers is willing to take pity on me and turn me in to the SPLC's Revolutionary Watch Committee to be lynched. It would make a swell Christmas present!

    Update on Asia Bibi

    The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to Pakistani President Zardari, has said, "President Zardari has followed the case of Aasia [Asia] Bibi closely, and will take appropriate action, if necessary, to issue a pardon or grant clemency to ensure that Aasia Bibi is neither incarcerated or harmed."

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Genetically-modified seeds are the Devil's work

    ...or so the ELCA seems to believe. There is an excellent post over at Farmer on a Mission about the ELCA's proposed social statement concerning genetics.

    I know the ELCA is obsessed with secular politics, but ... wow!

    God's law and "bound conscience"

    An excellent post over at Common Sense for a Senseless World.

    It should be pointed out that the whole "bound conscience" shtick employed by the ELCA is nothing but an effort to make the radical political gospel of the ELCA look brave and courageous instead of partisan and narrow-minded. If Luther were alive today, he would be nailing his 95 Thesis on the ELCA's door at 8765 W. Higgins Road in Chicago.

    Today's verse

    I have heard all about you, Lord.
    I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
    In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by.
    And in your anger, remember your mercy.

    Habakkuk 3:2 (NLT)

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    CNN is reporting that Asia Bibi will be pardoned. The article does not say if she has been released yet, so I would assume she is still in prison.

    Please continue to pray for our sister in Christ and her family.

    UPDATE: This is an alarming post. The author is calling for the release of Asia Bibi, but had this to say as well:

    I endorse capital punishment for those who bash Islam and its sacred symbols. And no one bashes Islam in Pakistan. Certainly not our Pakistani Christian brothers and sisters whose forefathers played a great role in Pakistan Independence Movement.

    We own and defend our great religion and our great Prophet. But harassing a poor Pakistani Christian woman in the name of blasphemy is not justice. The great, fair-minded leaders of Islam, like Omar and Ali, would never endorse this. Shame on these half-educated mullahs who can't offer a word of support to a weak and poor woman being wrongly accused of blasphemy.

    Sorry, but calling for the release of a Christian woman accused of "blasphemy" while endorsing "capital punishment for those who bash Islam and its sacred symbols" is nothing more than an effort by the author (Ahmed Qureshi) to work both sides of the street. In any event, this is the sort of article that does not do much to install confidence and trust in Islam.

    Today's verse

    “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD,
    “That I will send a famine on the land,
    Not a famine of bread,
    Nor a thirst for water,
    But of hearing the words of the LORD.

    They shall wander from sea to sea,
    And from north to east;
    They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD,
    But shall not find it.

    Amos 8:11-12 (NKJV)

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    The Pakistani Christian Conference (Holland Chapter) has filed a petition to the Secretary General EU to grant asylum to Asia Bibi, her husband and five children.

    There are also conflicting reports about Asia Bibi being released. At this point it appears she is still in prison.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    UPDATE: The Christian Post is reporting that she has been pardoned by Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and released.

    Today's verse

    Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning

    2 John 1:6 (NLT)

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Pakistan's president may pardon Asia Bibi.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    UPDATE: Here is a more detailed version of the Associated Press article.

    Today's verse

    Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

    Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

    Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV)

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Amnesty International calls for the release of Asia Bibi.

    Also, the Punjab governor calls Bibi’s case “disgraceful” and an “embarrassment for Pakistan”.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Sweet Ps: A prayer of thanksgiving

    Almighty and gracious Heavenly Father,

    This Thanksgiving I come before You to praise Your Name. You remember the widows and the fatherless. You raise up the broken-hearted and the weary. You shower your blessing on everyone - even if they did not ask for it. You have given me so many gifts - a beautiful wife and child, a loving family, and the chance to do meaningful work. I thank you, Lord!

    Lord, I have failed You in so many ways. I have not loved You with my whole heart. I have ignored Your wishes in order to pursue my own goals and desires. I have not loved my neighbor as much as I love myself. Forgive me for my sins, which have harmed You and others.

    Lord, I ask a blessing on my family this Thanksgiving. I especially ask for you to be with my sister, who is facing the possibility of surgery for cancer. Fill her life with Your love, remind her that You are Lord of all, and that You will never abandon her.

    Lord, teach me to always remember to thank You, to never forget that You love me as your child, that You sacrificed Your Son to pay for my sins. In the spirit of that love keep my lips from hasty, harsh replies. Remind me that everyone is loved by you. Keep Your Word before me every single day, that I will continue to study it and hear Your voice.


    Update on Asia Bibi

    Pakistan’s minister for minority affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, calls for a thorough investigation of Asia Bibi's case.

    Key quote:

    “We have requested the Punjab government that the trial should be fair in the high court. She must also be provided security in jail,” he said.

    Given the sway Islamic extremists have in the Pakistani government, this may not amount to much. However, it does seems to represent a break in the case.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do

    Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT)

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Today's verse

    Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

    Psalm 27:11 (KJV)

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi: An appeal from her husband

    Here is an appeal for prayers from Asia Bibi's husband (from Voice of the Martyrs):

    Here is an appeal from the Pope:

    Please keep Asia Bibi and her family in your prayers.

    Today's verse

    If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

    1 John 1:8-10 (NLT)

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Asia Bibi's lawyers are preparing to file an appeal in her case. It should be noted that even if she is found innocent and released she still faces danger from mobs being incited by Islamic extremists.

    Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!

    My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
    my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

    Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV)

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Respect for me, not for thee

    That seems to be the attitude of many Western governments, journalists, and intellectuals that make up our self-anointed ruling class.

    A recent editorial by the Calgary Herald expressed concern for this bizarre double standard. A key quote from the editorial:

    When Florida pastor Terry Jones announced plans to burn the Qur'an on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he was roundly, and rightfully, condemned. Christian groups worldwide were at the forefront of the protests, denouncing Jones and calling on him to respect the dignity of Islam. In 2005, allegations that U.S. military personnel had desecrated copies of the Qur'an at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp sparked an internal investigation to ensure no repeat.

    The recent murder of Christian aid workers in Afghanistan, the deaths of 58 Christians in Iraq, the continuing persecution of Christians worldwide has sparked little outcry among the ruling class. But any hint of "Islamophobia" (real or imagined) seems to provoke endless hand-wringing.

    The editorial goes on to say:

    Not one of these incidents has garnered even a fraction of the attention the proposed Qu'ran burning caused. This begs the question: Why?

    Perhaps it's because Christians rarely riot in difficult circumstances. They should not have to. In an enlightened world forever preaching equality and justice, no group should have to resort to death and destruction to get injustices remedied.

    I think the editorial writers are wrong here. It is my opinion that the largely secular ruling class is not motivated by sympathy for Islam, let alone being secretly Muslim itself. It is highly unlikely (for example) that President Obama is a closet Muslim seeking to impose sharia law. Nor is it fear of attacks by Muslim extremists that are behind this new "tolerance" for Islam. Rather, I believe that the antipathy of the ruling class towards Christianity and Judaism is fueled by the claims of both that God's law is superior to man's laws, that humanity is sinful by nature and needs a Savior that is not a mortal President or Prime Minister. Such a view conflicts with the ruling class's messianic desire to remake society in its own image.

    The ruling class's tolerance for the actions of Muslims - a tolerance they would not in a million years extend towards Christians and Jews - is nothing but an old political strategy: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Islam is seen as a rival to Christianity and Judaism, and thus benefits from the ruling class's desire to divide and conquer. If the ruling class ever came to believe that Islam could threaten their hold on the nation's government, universities, and media, they would attack Muslims just as savagely as they now go after Christians and Jews.

    I think that it may come as a shock to many, but the secular ruling class tends to view Muslims the same way they view Christians and Jews - as a bunch of ignorant, reactionary Bible-thumpin' (or Koran-thumpin') bigots. But for now the ruling class seems to view Islam as a useful political weapon against those they hate, and therefore Muslims benefit accordingly.

    Today's verse

    The LORD is my strength and song,
    And He has become my salvation;
    He is my God, and I will praise Him;
    My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

    Exodus 15:2 (NKJV)

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    The Voice of the Martyrs: Asia Bibi

    Here is a page about Asia Bibi maintained by Voice of the Martyrs.

    Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

    Today's verse

    So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

    1 Peter 1:13-16 (NLT)

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    North Dakota congregation leaves ELCA over social statement

    No, this is not about the ELCA's decision to discard the Bible's clear teaching on homosexuality in favor of secular political activism. Anselm Trinity Lutheran, a congregation in North Dakota, is leaving the ELCA over a proposed social statement concerning agriculture.

    The ELCA's target this time is farming and the use of genetically modified seeds. It would seem that the ELCA, in addition to finding the Bible's views on sexuality too square, is now turning up its nose at agricultural science. Like other extremist political parties, the ELCA seems increasingly isolated in its own alternate universe.

    Key quote from the article:

    [Church council president Jill] Bunn said the Anselm congregation feels the ELCA is making too many social statements that don’t have anything to do with the church.

    Indeed. As the ELCA abandons any pretense of being anything except an extremist political party, we can expect even wackier social statement to be coughed up by the leadership. The ELCA's new god of secular politics demends constant sacrifices.

    Sweet P's: A prayer for Asia Bibi

    Almighty and gracious Heavenly Father, we come before you with thanksgiving.

    Lord, today we lift up our sister Asia Bibi, who was unjustly convicted of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed and sentenced to death. We ask that You be with her, that You comfort her and remind her that You will never abandon her.

    Lord, we ask that you be with Asia Bibi's family. We ask a special blessing on her husband and five children. For the sake of her family we ask that she be spared this unjust punishment and returned to them unharmed.

    Lord, You were able to free Paul and Silas from prison and turn the heart of their jailer. We ask that You turn the hearts of the Pakistani government officials, to bring them to repeal this unjust sentence, and to respect the rights of all non-Muslims.

    Lord, we know that You are able, that You know what is best. We ask that if it is possible let Asia Bibi be spared death, yet let it be according to Your will.


    Today's verse

    Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

    Proverbs 5:18 (KJV)

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Christians in mathematics: Leonhard Euler

    Leonhard Euler may have been the most famous mathematician of all times. He was certainly one of the most prolific writers. For nearly fifty years after his death the St. Petersburg Academy (where he had been the head of the mathematics department) continued to publish his unreleased works.

    As a child Euler had shown an unusual amount of talent in the field of mathematics, a fact that was all the more remarkable since he had mostly studied the subject on his own or with private tutors. Euler's father, a minister, had wanted his son to enter the ministry and sent him to the University of Basel in Switzerland where in 1723 he completed his Master's degree in philosophy . However, Johann Bernoulli (another famous mathematician) eventually convinced the elder Euler to let his son study mathematics instead of theology.

    Although he never became a minister Euler was a devout Christian all of his life. Once, while he was working in the court of Catherine the Great, Euler had a debate with the atheist French philosopher Denis Diderot over the existence of God. Euler claimed that he had a mathematical proof which he stated as follows:

    Diderot, whose knowledge of mathematics was minimal, soon left St. Petersburg and returned to France.

    Euler and his wife had 13 childern, although only five lived past infancy. Euler was devoted to his family, and later said that he made mathematical discoveries while holding an infant in one arm.

    Euler's talents were not confined to mathematics. He also made contributions to the fields of physics, astronomy, cartography and music.

    Today's verse

    The works of the LORD are great,
    Studied by all who have pleasure in them.

    Psalm 111:2 (NKJV)

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Witness to the faith: Pakistan

    Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian mother-of-five, has been sentenced to death for "defaming the Prophet Mohammed".

    Please pray for Asia Bibi, her family, and Christians in Pakistan.

    Today's verse

    For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

    Psalm 149:4 (NIV)

    Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    Today's verse

    And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

    Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

    Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

    But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

    Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

    Matthew 15:10-14 (KJV)

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Today's verse

    Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

    1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Don't even think about leaving.....

    A convention in Pennsylvania is drawing fire for its stance that homosexuals can turn from their lifestyle.

    Future historians are going to write on the strange inconsistency of "tolerance" advocates who will defend to the death your right to agree with them. But if you are a homosexual and want to leave that behind and follow Christ ... well ... it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for you. Given the extreme intolerance of the homosexual movement towards those it regards as "traitors" one wonders: will former homosexuals wake up one morning to find a horse's head in their beds?

    As a Christian with libertarian leanings I would be sympathetic to the calls for homosexuals to have the right to marry, so long as the Church is not forced to perform those marriages or recognize them. Homosexuality, prostitution, divorce, and pornography are all things that are bad for a society, but I do not believe that a government has the right to ban such things any more than a society should be forced to support the welfare state, "hate crime" laws, various "reform" proposals for immigration and campaign finance, or abortion. Each individual must choose whether to accept or reject Christ, and using the levers of government to force people to support some purely secular form of Christianity is evil.

    But the ugly campaign of violence and intimidation that many homosexual advocates engaged in over California's Proposition 8, and the Big Brother monitoring of speech for "homophobia" has shaken many potential allies (including myself). The real issue, it seems, is the efforts of homosexuals to use government to force their belief on everyone else. Tammy Bruce, a lesbian who is also a libertarian, has commented on the cult-like aspects of what she terms the "gay elite". Here is an interesting quote from an interview:

    I’ll give you an example when it comes to gay marriage. If Christians are against gay marriage, the gay elite don’t believe that’s because the Christian is concerned about tradition, concerned about the future of this nation, or has a series of issues (with it) surrounding their faith, instead, of course, the gay elite says, “Oh, they’re homophobes.”

    They’ve made a decision because they hate me, that they’re thinking this way because of me, that they’re making that decision because they want to hurt me – as opposed to, that they may be against gay marriage because, again, of faith, because of the importance of the tradition of marriage. In fact, God forbid should they ever consider that it might not have anything to do with homosexuals at all, but it has everything to do with (people's) families, that kind of deeper thinking beyond one’s self, they’re incapable of.

    That’s why on the abortion rights front there is no consideration that a pro-life individual is... really just a person of faith and really truly believes that (conception is) when life begins. Instead it’s about misogyny. It’s about hating women, it’s about controlling women, it’s about men’s jealousy of women, it’s all about us...

    This captures perfectly not just the attitude of secular politicians who are pushing the homosexual agenda, but also the attitude of the ELCA and other post-Christian denominations who have rejected Christ in favor of secular politics. You are not merely wrong for opposing homosexual marriage and ordination of non-celibate homosexuals, you are some sort of sociopath or criminal for daring to question the prevailing beliefs of secular society. And if you are a person with homosexual tendencies who wants to reject that sin, then you are a self-hating gay or lesbian who is the Enemy (all of this is for your own good, of course).

    Please pray for all who struggle with feelings of homosexuality.

    Today's verse

    The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham. Long ago the Scriptures said that God would accept the Gentiles because of their faith. That's why God told Abraham the good news that all nations would be blessed because of him.

    Galatians 3:6-8 (CEV)

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    'Christian roommate' update

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the case of a Michigan woman who was being investigated for "discrimination" for advertising for a Christian roommate on a church bulletin board. Now it appears that the government is backing off. Unfortunately, the law remains on the books even though it may be unconstitutional.

    The fact that the government is now monitoring private bulletin boards is also troubling. Aside from the Big Brother feeling of it, are there really no other more important issues to occupy their time?

    Please pray for Christians who are being persecuted for their faith.

    Today's verse

    I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

    I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

    In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.

    All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

    Psalm 138:1-4 (KJV)

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    Sweet Ps: A prayer for forgiveness

    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 our families, for the chance to work, and for the many wonderful friends we have.

    Lord, help me to remember that it is against You and You alone that I have done wrong. I have not loved You with my whole heart. I have not loved those in my life as much as I have loved myself. I have pursued my own interests, neglected You, and in doing so broken Your heart.

    Yet by the blood of Your innocent Son Jesus Christ I have been washed clean. My sins against You have been erased, and I have been reconciled to you. By Your love I am Your son again.

    Lord, keep my lips from hasty and harsh words. Keep me focused on the duties Ypu have set before me. Show me the paths You want for me to walk in. Send an army of your angels to accompany me and protect me. Help me to focus and meditate on Your Word.


    Preliminary election results: Tanzania

    Some early election results are available. Thankfully there has not been the type of violence that occurred after the 2000 elections. Unlike America, election results in Tanzania can take many days or weeks to become public.

    Nevertheless, there are a few disturbing things about this election. First, election fraud has not abated. Second, the number of seats won by opposition parties in the National Assembly of Tanzania is still a very small percentage of the overall total when compared to the ruling party (Chama cha Mapinduzi, or Revolutionary Party). Finally, the leading opposition party (Civic United Front, or Chama Cha Wananchi) has several officials with ties to al Qaeda.

    All the more reason for Christians to remember: Do not put your faith in the princes of this world.

    Martyrs: Iraq

    Attack on church in Iraq kills at least 58.

    Please pray for all Christians in Iraq.

    Today's verse

    Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again. The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    Mark 10:1-9 (NKJV)

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Christians in mathematics: de Moivre

    Abraham de Moivre (1667-1754) was a French mathematician and a contemporary of Sir Isaac Newton. De Moivre made great contributions to the fields of probability and analytic geometry. His most significant contribution may have been in the field of complex numbers, where he is credited with discovering what is now known as de Moivre's formula:

    where i is the square root of -1.

    In 1685 Louis XIV of France revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had granted religious freedom to Protestants. After being imprisoned for his Protestant faith de Moivre came to England seeking religious freedom, where he befriended Newton.

    Near the end of his life De Moivre noted that he was sleeping 15 minutes longer each day, and predicted that he would die when his sleep reached 24 hours. He turned out to be correct. De Moivre died on November 27, 1754.

    Today's verse

    Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

    Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Today's verse

    I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

    1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NIV)

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Today's verse

    Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    James 3:13-18 (NKJV)

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Today's verse

    Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

    “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

    Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

    “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected.

    This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

    Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

    “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

    “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

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

    “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

    Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

    “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

    They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

    John 18:28-40 (NIV)

    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.


    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.