Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: January 2011
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)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Today's verse

If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

John 10:37-38 (KJV)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Today's verse

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Romans 12:10-13 (NKJV)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sweet Ps - a prayer for my son

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

I thank You for the wonderful blessing of my son J. Please bless him and watch over him every day of his life.

Lord, there is so little that I understand about my son's autism. Create in me a patient and kind heart. Help me to be not only my son's earthly father, but also his teacher.

Lord, I also ask that you create a clean and pure hear in me. Let my son see Jesus in me. Let him learn about the love of Jesus by watching me. Let him accept Jesus as his Savior. This in something that I cannot do by earthly means. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit may he come to You. Let me be an instrument of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, I thank you for my son's wonderful teachers at his school. They are so patient and kind, and have helped him so much. Please bless his teachers and their families.


Today's verse

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:29-30 (KJV)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pray for Joanne

Follow the above link to find out latest news. Please continue to pray for Joanne Heim.

Today's verse

Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice.

Psalm 51:8 (NLT)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) has called for Sunday, January 30, 2011 to be a "Day of Prayer" for the release of Asia Bibi.

Here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:22-24 (KJV)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Today's verse

Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NKJV)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today's verse

"The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven.

The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed."

1 Samuel 2:10 (ESV)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today's verse

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 (KJV)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

(WWJH) Who Would Jesus Hate?

A conservative "comedy" site is hawking merchandise claiming that Jesus hates President Obama. An ad designed to air during the Super Bowl promoting their site was rejected by Fox. (I refuse to link to the "comedy" site)

No, He does not hate President Obama. Just as He does not hate homosexuals, Glenn Beck, liberals, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, soldiers, William Jefferson Clinton, alcoholics, George W. Bush, conservative evangelicals, Ronald Reagan .....

Today's verse

Finally, Jesus said:

What is God's kingdom like? What story can I use to explain it? It is like what happens when a mustard seed is planted in the ground. It is the smallest seed in all the world. But once it is planted, it grows larger than any garden plant. It even puts out branches that are big enough for birds to nest in its shade.

Mark 4:30-32 (CEV)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Martyr: Asha Mberwa

Asha Mberwa, a Somali mother of four children, was murdered for her Christian faith.

Please pray for the family of Asha Mberwa.

Update on Asia Bibi

The European Parliament is calling for Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari to pardon Asia Bibi.

For those of you who are not familiar with her story, here is the background on Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Malaria vaccine research in Tanzania

The Bagamoyo Research and Training Centre of the Ifakara Health Institute is part of world-wide efforts to develop a vaccine for malaria. Annually, malaria kills 900,000 people.

Here is an earlier article that interviews Dr. Salim Abdulla, head of the Ifakara Health Institute.

Tebow ad wins award

Pro-life Super Bowl ad that featured Tim Tebow and his mother has won National Religious Broadcasters award.

Key quote from the aricle:

"Most importantly," NRB said, "one woman told Focus on the Family that because of the Tebows' story she decided to keep her own unborn baby after considering abortion."

Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said that he recently met the woman's baby, Avita.

Praise God! Here is the ad again:

Today's verse

And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Matthew 9:10-13 (KJV)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Prayers still needed

Please continue to pray for Joanne Heim.

Update on Asia Bibi

Lawyers representing Asia Bibi have asked that her appeal hearing take place in prison rather than a courtroom.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

UPDATE: Congregations who have voted to leave the ELCA

David R. Barnhart has an updated list of congregations who have voted to leave the ELCA. Some of the congregations on the list will need to vote a second time.

A prayer for the new semester

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

I thank You for the opportunity to teach.

I thank You for my wonderful colleagues, and for the fine service that they do.

I thank You for my students, and for their eagerness to learn.

I thank You for the college administration and the staff, who do so many thankless jobs they never get credit for.

May You bless all of them and their families. I ask for a special blessing on the families of my students. They have sacrificed so much so their children can attend school.

Lord, You know there are so many dangers in the world. Keep everyone at our school safe from harm. Send an army of your angels to protect them from illness and accidents. Remind students that learning is a privilege that is not to be wasted.


Today's verse

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14 (NKJV)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Update on Martin Gaskell

The University of Kentucky has settled its lawsuit with Martin Gaskell.

Gaskell is the scientist who was rejected by the University of Kentucky for the position of director of its Lexington-based observatory. Gaskell sued, claiming religious discrimination. As evidence, he produced emails that detailed how some members of the university were upset with his Christian views.

Gaskell is an astronomer and a supporter of evolution. However, he has expressed support for a dialogue between science and religion. He has rejected a purely materialistic view of natural history that leaves no room for God. Apparently this was too much for some professors at the University of Kentucky, who seem to regard him as some sort of potential Christianist theocrat.

Others worried about adverse media reaction. Here is a quote from the article:

“[A non-committee member] suggested, in particular, that we might one day wake up to a [Lexington] Herald-Leader headline citing ‘UK hires creationist as Observatory Director,’” wrote one member of the search committee in an e-mail. “Such a headline would probably not be a fair representation of Martin’s personal views, which are not simple, but the headline could appear nonetheless.”

I do not think that fear is unfounded. The secular media, whose scientific and technical knowledge is poor at best, seems more interested in eradicating every single possible idea that even suggest that God may exist than in giving the public the facts and letting them decide.

On the other hand ... whatever happened to courage in the face of ignorance and superstition? I am sure that many of these professors would have trampled each other to be first in line to stand up to (say) a preacher who criticized the university's position on homosexuality or the hiring of an avowed terrorist (William Ayers). It appears there is a difference between courage and, you know, courage!

Regardless, the University of Kentucky did not exactly cover themselves in glory with this debacle. Whether it was fear of the secular media that motivated the rejection of Gaskell, plain religious bigotry, or a combination of both, no one in academia can be happy with this.

Today's verse

I am lonely and troubled.
Show that you care and have pity on me.

My awful worries keep growing.
Rescue me from sadness.

See my troubles and misery and forgive my sins.

Psalm 25:16-18 (CEV)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today's verse

I am suffering and in pain.
Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.

Psalm 69:29 (NLT)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi may be moved to a women-only prison for her safety.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family

Prayers needed

Please continue to pray for Joanne Heim.

Today's verse

Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 2:11 (NKJV)

Monday, January 17, 2011

John 3:16 - no longer banned in Vermont

Shawn Byrne, a Vermont man, has won the right to display the Bible verse John 3:16 on his vanity plate. The state will also pay Shawn Byrne's $150,000 legal expenses.

Here is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Yup - really dangerous words. Don't ya feel safer knowing that government is working overtime to protect us from such obvious hate speech?

Today's verse

(The following verse comes from Psalm 46. The family of Joanne Heim, who suffered a stroke, has asked people to meditate over this Psalm.)

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Psalm 46:8-11 (KJV)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Prayers needed

Please continue to pray for Joanne Heim, who has suffered a stroke.

Update on Asia Bibi

Dilpazeer Awan, the brother of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer's assassin Mumtaz Qadri, says his brother will never be prosecuted for the crime. Salman Taseer had supported Asia Bibi and called for changes to Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

For those needing good news in these dark times.... is a picture taken after a successful adoption in Ethiopia.

May God bless the new mother and father, and their baby boy.

Today's verse

(The following verse comes from Psalm 46. The family of Joanne Heim, who suffered a stroke, has asked people to meditate over this Psalm.)

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Psakm 46: 4-7 (NKJV)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prayers needed

For those who read this post, Joanne Heim desperately needs your prayers. She has suffered a stroke, and needs the swelling in her brain to go down.

Today's verse

(The following verse comes from Psalm 46. The family of Joanne Heim, who suffered a stroke, has asked people to meditate over this Psalm.)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Prayers needed

Joanne Heim, who blogs at The Simple Wife, has suffered a stroke.

Please pray for her and her family.

Update on Asia Bibi

An interesting article about Pakistanis living in Utah that mentions Asia Bibi. According to the article, there are about 2000 Pakistanis living in Utah. Roughly 1700 of them are Muslim. The article is about their concerns for what is going on in their home country.

While I am gratified to see that the secular media has not completely forgotten Asia Bibi, I found this paragraph in the Salt Lake Tribune's article to be very strange:

Long-simmering tensions between the two faiths erupted again Jan. 4, when a bodyguard gunned down Salman Taseer, the Muslim governor of Punjab province who questioned the draconian blasphemy laws and opposed Bibi’s death sentence.

Er, no. By "the two faiths" I am assuming that the writer means Christianity and Islam. The assassination of Salman Taseer was not another violent act in a war between Christians and Muslims. It was a case where one Muslim murdered another because he dared to question the barbaric "blasphemy" laws. In other words, it is a symptom of the war going on within Islam itself. While it may comfort the secular media to suggest that Christianity is somehow culpable in this case, it is not true.

When it comes to the conflict between Christianity and Islam, the secular media seems to be of two minds. The first is to label any criticism of Islam "Islamophobia" (which I believe to be a jab at Christianity). The second is to adopt the attitude of a pox on both your houses when their first attitude will not achieve the desired political effect. Rarely do I see an honest, accurate analysis of the presecution of Christians in Islamic countries from the secular media.

It is important to remember that it is not just Christians who are the targets in Pakistan. Salman Taseer was a Muslim, but that did not stop his murderer. Naushad Valiyani is also a Muslim, yet he was arrested for "blasphemy" (throwing away a business card with the name "Muhammad" printed on it). There are other examples of Muslims being persecuted by Muslims.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

No go

Westboro Baptist Church will not picket any of the funerals of the six who died last Saturday in the shootings in Arizona.

Apparently they got what they believe to be a better offer. Radio talk show host Mike Gallagher will interview Shirley Phelps-Roper, a church spokeswoman for Westboro Baptist Church.

Key quote from the article:

“No question it’s a painful process,” Gallagher told the Associated Press of allowing Phelps-Roper on his show. “Believe me, I’m doing this show with a heavy heart. I don’t like the idea of giving them the satisfaction of this, but I believe my radio airwaves are less important than them hurting families.”

He said the timing of his offer flies in the face of the debate raging over whether conservative talk radio contributed to the shooting spree in some way.

“For all of the accusations that talk radio is so destructive and the claims that vitriol of conservatives has led to Jared Lee Loughner’s actions, here’s an example of talk radio doing something I think is pretty good— to stop families from being harmed by the Phelpses,” Gallagher said. “Nothing else has seemed to work.”

I don't know. To me it's like interviewing Fidel Castro or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: a highly distasteful idea. Let's hope Gallagher asks some tough questions and helps to unmask these false prophets.

Today's verse

And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses

Exodus 14:31 (KJV)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

President Obama's speech

President Obama gave an excellent speech yesterday. I rarely agree with him on political issues, but he did a fine job.

In the hours after the shootings in Arizona, there seemed to be a fit of insanity among some Americans. Some claimed the attacks were politically motivated (there is no evidence to back this up). Others indulged in death wishes against political leaders and commentators they hated (such as this one).

As Christians our orders are clear. We are to pray for those we consider our enemies; not wish them dead. Praying for someone you oppose politically does not mean agreeing with them or their policies (that is a common misconception about praying for someone). It is recognizing that they are God's children as well - something that is far too easy to forget.

Please pray for your enemies. Whether you do it in public or private is irrelevant. Just pray for them. If you don't know how to pray for your enemies, ask for God's help.

Pray for Gabrielle Giffords and her family, and all of those who lost loved ones on Saturday in the shootings. Pray for the man who did it, and for his family. Pray for President Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Just pray.

Update on Asia Bibi

Pakistani government not taking extra precautions to protect the life of Asia Bibi. One almost gets the feeling that if she were killed by Islamic extremists it would save the government a lot of trouble.

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in the US since the Tucson shootings on Saturday. Much of the talk has been about how certain political leaders and political commentators "caused" the shooting simply by advocating their points of views, although not a shred of evidence has been put forth to support these claims. The assassin, Jared Loughner, is a young man who is deeply disturbed and does not appear to be following any coherent political philosophy, yet some journalists and politicians have tried anyway to exploit the tragedy for political gain.

In this time of national mourning over the victims of the shootings in Tuscon, and the often self-serving talk about "civility" that is threatening to drown out that mourning, we would do well to remember that in countries like Pakistan you can be tortured, imprisoned, and murdered for your beliefs. What happened on Saturday in Arizona was not the norm, but an evil and ugly aberration caused by a mentally-deranged young man. What is happening to Asia Bibi and other Christians in Pakistan is the norm.

Please pray for the victims of the Tucson shootings and their families. And please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

“My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle.
They end without hope.

"O God, remember that my life is but a breath,
and I will never again feel happiness."

Job 7:6-7 (NLT)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's verse

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Psalm 42:1-5 (NKJV)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A prayer for the new semester

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

I thank You for the opportunity to teach. I thank You for my students and colleagues. I thank You for my family and the sacrifices they must make so I can continue to work.

Lord, I ask a special prayer for my colleague, M. He suddenly decided to resign his position with no explanation to anyone. Please be with him. If he his troubled, please show him Your love.


Today's verse

Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:19-21 (NKJV)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Voting to leave the ELCA

Eleven congregations voted this past Sunday to leave the ELCA. David R. Barnhart has the details. If I am understanding the process correctly, some of these will require a second vote later on.

Please pray for these congregations who are in the midst of this difficult transition.

Update on Asia Bibi

Pope Benedict XVI again calls for Pakistan to eliminate its blasphemy laws.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

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

Psalm 6:2 (KJV)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Today's verse

Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!

For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD!

Psalm 117 (NKJV)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Two articles

There were two recent editorials about Asia Bibi and the situation in Pakistan that caught my eye.

The first was from the Guardian in the UK. Here is the final paragraph:

[Pakistan] now has two specific problems: what to do with Asia Bibi and Mumtaz Qadri [the assasin who killed Salmaan Taseer], short of hanging one and freeing the other. But it has surely larger ones. Every time television commentators, judges and politicians appease religious fanaticism, the social space occupied by them grows. It is already out of all proportion to the electoral prospects of the religious parties who back and give them shelter. The slow, agonised fissuring of the state of Pakistan is to be measured not only in bombs and the blood of innocents. Nor only by earthquakes and floods. It can be measured, too, by a moral collapse, a cowed ambivalence of the silent majority. Those who are too frightened to confront sectarian bigotry today will find themselves being consumed by it tomorrow. Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer, who is next?

First of all, notice what is missing in the paragraph (in fact, in the entire article)? The word Islam! The phrase Islamic extremists appears one time; otherwise, the authors of the editorial seem to prefer foggy (not to mention misleading) phrases like religious fanaticism and rightwing religious leaders instead. The net effect is to present an inaccurate picture of the situation in Pakistan. It would be as if someone wrote an editorial denouncing Hitler's brutal militarism in Europe yet avoided using the term "Nazi".

Then there was the troubling comment about the "cowed ambivalence of the silent majority". Really? What evidence does the Guardian have that the majority of Pakistanis disapprove of what is being done to Asia Bibi and others who incur the wrath of the radical Muslims? This hypothetical "silent majority" (if it exists) is facing a determined, resourceful opponent in radical Islam.

Also, as several commentors on the Guardian web site pointed out, the Guardian has not exactly been on the front lines in the fight against radical Islam. Given the degree to which the secular media shouts "Islamophobia!" at the slightest criticism of Islam, we should not wonder that Muslims who might disapprove of what is being done in the name of Islam should be reluctant to stick their necks out.

Over at National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg asks an important (if disturbing) question: what if the "extremist" Muslims are really the mainstream? What if Salmaan Taseer and other opponents of the blasphemy laws and the rest of the Islamist apparatus are actually the outsiders trying to seize control of Islam - and failing?

Since the attacks of 9/11 the Western secular media has been understandably opposed to turning the battle against radical Islam into a general assault against all Muslims. But since the start of the Iraq War (and the secular media's near-universal opposition to it), there has been a disastrous over-reaction. The secular media has adopted a see-no-evil approach to Islam while professing to find Islamophobes lurking under every bed in the West. Western secular media organizations like the Guardian has been at the forefront of that effort. To be honest, I find it hard to take them seriously anymore.

It is important to remember that Christians are not the only ones suffering in Pakistan. Muslims who for one reason or another attract the attention of the fanatics are also being persecuted.

Goldberg ends on this note:

While most of the enlightened chatterers remain mute or incoherent as they struggle for a way to blame Israel for all of this, the question becomes all the more pressing: How do we deal with a movement or a nation that refuses to abide by the expiring cliché, “Islam means peace”?

Indeed. We need to face the situation as it really is, and not how our self-appointed betters wish it to be. The Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc. have failed spectacularly in dealing honestly with us about the growing threat of the brand of Islam that torments Asia Bibi and others. We should not listen to them anymore.

List of mission churches

David R. Barnhart has an updated list of mission churches started by former ELCA members.

TX pastor indicted for allegedly selling fake IDs

Felipe DeJesus Coronel Pacheco, a Texas minister, and Luis Angel Tovar Cisneros, an associate, are accused of selling fake identification documents to illegal aliens.

Coronel, who work at Ministerios Epicentro Donde Nace La Bendicion in Austin, has been indicted by a federal grand jury. The charges are conspiracy to defraud the government, manufacturing counterfeit permanent-resident cards (a.k.a. "green cards"), and making false statements to immigration officials.

Today's verse

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Genesis 17:1-5 (KJV)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Today's verse

[Jesus said] "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Study linking autism with vaccinations labeled an 'elaborate fraud'

CNN reports that the British medical journal BMJ has concluded that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the author of a 1998 study linking autism and childhood vaccinations, manipulated or misrepresented the medical histories of the twelve patients whose cases formed the basis of his now-discredited conclusions. The journal also says there is no doubt that Wakefield was the one responsible.

Our son has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, yet we never considered not giving him his routine childhood vaccinations. Other parents, unfortunately, did withhold those vaccinations.

I do not know why Dr. Wakefield did what he did. Perhaps he truly believed that childhood vaccinations were harmful and was willing to fudge the data to support that belief. But, as the CNN article noted, the number of measles cases has increased since the study was released. And the damage may not be over.

Update on Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi may be target of suicide attack.

This is a good time to remember these words:

They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without a cause.

In return for my love they are my accusers,
But I give myself to prayer.

Thus they have rewarded me evil for good,
And hatred for my love.

Psalm 109:3-5 (NKJV)

Please never cease to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:22-24 (KJV)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Yellow fever in Tanzania

There is a possible yellow fever outbreak on the Tanzania-Uganda border. Yellow fever is a mosquito-carried disease killing an estimated 30,000 every year. Unlike malaria (another disease transmitted by mosquitos), there is no cure for yellow fever.

Please pray for the people of Tanzania and Uganda.

Update on Asia Bibi

A group of five hundred self-described moderate Pakistani scholars warn against mourning the death of Salman Taseer, Punjabi governor of Pakistan. The group, called Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan, has supported Pakistan's draconian anti-blasphemy laws and opposed the Taliban. (WARNING: graphic pictures at the link above)

Pakistan may be the most dangerous country in the world right now. One of the political parties forming Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's coalition has left, leaving him without a majority government. The country's military has nuclear weapons, and parts of the country are controlled by the Taliban. Osama bin Laden is alleged to be hiding in Pakistan.

And in the crossfire are innocents like Asia Bibi.

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Psalm 13:2 (NLT)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

Salman Taseer, Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, may have been killed because of his support for Asia Bibi.

Please keep Asia Bibi and her family in your prayers. Also, pray for Salman Taseer and his family, and for peace in Pakistan.

Today's verse

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 18:22 (KJV)

Monday, January 03, 2011

The End?

Some Christians believe the end of the world is coming on May 21, 2011.

Harold Camping is the leader of Family Radio Worldwide, and is apparently the one behind this movement. Camping details his evidence for the impending end of the world at the link above.

Where to begin? For one thing, how did Camping arrive at the date May 21, 2011? His calculations (if I am understanding them correctly) run like this:

  • In Genesis 1, one day must be interpreted as a thousand years. This is crucial to Camping's date of 5/21/11.
  • The justification for one day being a thousand years comes from 2 Peter 3:8 ("But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (NIV)).
  • By this interpretation of 2 Peter 3:8, Camping reasons that the world was created in 11,013 B.C. (and not 4004 B.C., as some Biblical scholars claim).
  • Following this reasoning, the Flood took place in 4990 B.C., which Camping regards as the crucial date for determining the date for the end of the world.
  • Using the formula 1 day = 1000 years, and starting with the 4990 B.C. date for the Flood, Camping comes up with the year 2011 (I have not been able to determine where May 21 came from).

    I am not a Biblical scholar. My knowledge of Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek is equal to exactly zero, so I cannot get into an argument over whether "days" and "years" have interchangeable meanings.

    But to me, there seems to be two serious problems with Camping's conclusions. For one, the link between the Flood story in Genesis and 2 Peter 3:8 seems extremely tenuous at best. Why (for example) does the "1 day = 1000 years" formula Camping relies on so heavily apply in this case and nowhere else in the Bible?

    Worse still, there are statements like the following ones. In attempting to explain passages like Acts 1:7 and Matthew 24 (which tell us that we are not to know the exact time of the end of the world) Camping writes:

    Therefore, regardless of how brilliant or how learned a theologian or Bible student might have been, or how diligently they studied the Bible or faithfully served Christ, it was impossible to learn from the Bible the timetable for the end of the world. Anyone who claimed he knew the time of the end was always wrong.

    This is followed up almost immediately with:

    In the Bible a wise man is a true believer, to whom God has given a profound trust in the authority of the Bible. True believers have been in existence since the beginning of time. But the timeline of history as it is revealed in the Bible was never revealed to the hearts of the true believers. For example, throughout most of the church age it was generally believed that Creation occurred in the year 4004 B.C.

    However, about 35 years ago God began to open the true believers’ understanding of the timeline of history. Thus it was discovered that the Bible teaches that when the events of the past are coordinated with our modern calendar, we can learn dates of history such as Creation (11,013 B.C.), the flood of Noah’s day (4990 B.C.), the exodus of Israel from Egypt (1447 B.C.) and the death of Solomon (93l B.C.)*

    However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible. This timeline extends all the way to the end of time. During these past several years God has been revealing a great many truths, which have been completely hidden in the Bible until this time when we are so near the end of the world.

    Camping seems to be arguing that even true believers could not possibly know the exact time of the end of the world - until now. How convenient.

    Camping's predictions are almost certainly incorrect, unless he has stumbled upon the actual time of the end of the world by blind luck. As to whether he is a crook or a sincere believer who has made a very embarrassing public error, only time will tell.

    Reading Camping's rather bizarre claim about how modern-day believers now somehow have knowledge about the Bible not available to others in the past, I was struck at how similar his reasoning was to the ELCA's attempts to find Biblical justification for homosexual behavior. Like Camping, the leadership of the ELCA claims special knowledge unavailable to past Christians (modern-day understanding of homosexual behavior) validates their position. Like Camping, the ELCA uses numerous Biblical passages and Christian beliefs that usually have little or nothing to do with the issue at had. Like Camping, the ELCA skips over any evidence that contradict their claims. Like Camping, the ELCA's claims are well outside hundreds of years of Biblical scholarship (I am not a fan of "scholarship by consensus", but it does have some weight that cannot be casually cast aside).

    And like Camping, even a layman can easily demolish the wishful think that makes up the ELCA's position by asking a few simple questions. Frankly, I find that more alarming than the end of the world.
  • Today's verse

    He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
    We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

    Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
    And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!

    Isaiah 53:3-4 (NLT)

    Sunday, January 02, 2011

    Don't burn witches - tax them instead!

    Romania has declared witchcraft to be a profession that can be taxed by the government. At least one witch has threatened to cast a spell in retaliation. Others affected by the new law are embalmers, astrologers, valets and driving instructors.

    Queen Grimhilde could not be reached for comment.

    Update on Asia Bibi

    The Express Tribune is unhappy with the Pakistani government's handling of the Asia Bibi case. The editors feel that the government is caving into the demands of the Islamic protesters who want to see the Christian mother of five dead and Pakistan's blasphemy laws unchanged.

    Perhaps so. But it is also possible that something is in the works that no one knows about. At any rate, please keep praying for Asia Bibi and her family. We should also pray for the leaders of Pakistan's government that they will do the right thing and release her.

    Today's verse

    When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

    Matthew 3:16-17 (NKJV)

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

    Former Atheist Aims to Reverse Negative Christian Stereotypes.

    The article is about the efforts of R. Brad White founder of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. to overcome negative stereotype about Christianity among the young. A key quote from the article:

    Dan Kimball opines in the beginning of his book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church, that the emerging generation is spiritually open to talk about Jesus but are very disinterested in joining or being associated with church.

    Kimball argues that pastors and ministers have lost touch with the younger generation by shutting out all other viewpoints and opinions but those of fellow Christians.

    White has taken the argument a step further and states that church members and leaders have blatantly turned them off by "hating the sin and the sinner." He said this is most evident with homosexuality. Church leaders have mixed the Bible with politics to condemn homosexuals for their lifestyles, he lamented.

    Though the sentiment may be based on the Bible, he noted, "The things we say and the way we say them turn them off."

    The above quote from the Christian Post article reminded me of this skit from Monty Python:

    I must confess (due to more than just a mortal fear of the soft cushions!) that I am not in sympathy with the goals of Mr. White and Mr. Kimball. For one thing, their approach has already been tried for decades in "mainline" denominations like the ELCA - and has been an unqualified disaster.

    For another, trying to make the church more palatable to the world will never work. Jesus warned us about the conflict between the church and the world when He said, "My Kingdom is not of this world." It is true that some Christians (including myself) have been guilty of hating both the sin and the sinner. But I do not think that is what is going on in this case. If anything, the church has been too timid in confronting the sin of homosexuality. Anyone who accepts the world's ground rules in any debate - rules which are stacked against Christianity - should be prepared to lose time after time. You cannot use the ways of the world to win converts to Christ.

    But above all, young people need to hear the truth so they can make their own decision. We must tell young people the truth about homosexuality and many other things acceptable in popular culture, such as casual sex, pornography, disrespect of the elderly, contempt of tradition, etc. It is important that folks like Dan Kimball and Brad White realize that when the world (smug in its own self righteous cocoon and judgemental of all opposition) demands tolerance of the homosexual lifestyle, what it really wants is 100% acceptance with no dissent. In other words: total surrender.

    Like the old women in the Monty Python skit: having the church confess to crimes it did not commit should be a cause for nothing except laughter.

    21-day Bible challenge

    Here is a challenge to read the Gospel of John in 21 days.

    Martyrs: Egypt

    A bomb blast at a Coptic Christian church's New Years Mass killed 21 people.

    Please pray for Christians suffering persecution in countries like Egypt.

    Today's verse

    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

    Psalm 23:1 (ESV)