Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: August 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, August 29, 2011

Today's verse

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 (KJV)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

Shahbaz Taseer, the son of the murdered Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, has been kidnapped. Shehrbano Taseer, Salman Taseer's daughter, has already left Pakistan due to death threats.

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

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family, and for the family of Salmaan Taseer.

Today's verse

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34 (KJV)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zanzibar and Ramadan

Tourists to Zanzibar (an island that is part of the United Republic of Tanzania) have been advised that "it would be to their benefit if they refrain from eating and drinking in public during Ramadhan".

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I was often embarrassed by the poor behavior some Western tourists showed when they were in Tanzania. Many young European women dressed (and acted) like they were on their way to a pole-dancing contest. The overt sexual behavior that has decimated Western culture is not yet fully established in Tanzania, and many Tanzanians want to keep it that way. It would be nice if some Westerners would stop viewing Tanzanians as backwards, sexually-repressed morons who need to have their consciousnesses raised - even if it against their will.

On the other hand, I know from experience that this advisory against eating and drinking in public has less to do with respect for local customs than with the safely of Western tourists. While In Tanzania (I lived and worked on the mainland) I never had anyone warn me against public eating and drinking during Ramadan. But the islands are different - the population is 99% Muslim, and the guarantees of religious freedom are not always available to non-Muslims. Church buildings have been attacked in Zanzibar, and Christians live under a constant threat of oppression. My wife knows of cases where non-Muslims living in the islands have been dragged from restaurants - and even their homes - and beaten for eating during Ramadan.

In my opinion, this warning to tourists is the result of the growing influence of radical Muslims who have no interest in religious pluralism or tolerance. To the best of my knowledge, no Western tourists have ever been attacked for public eating and drinking. But given the fact that the islands seem well on their way to becoming a de facto Islamist state, that situation may not last.

Today's verse

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired [Jesus] that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

Matthew 16:1-4 (KJV)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today's verse

Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

Proverbs 4:13 (KJV)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Train ride

Yesterday we went to ride the Bertram Flyer. Here are some pictures:

Lord, I thank You for the chance to spend time with my family.

Today's verse

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

John 8:12-18 (KJV)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ramadan in Zanzibar

Tanzania has long had an interesting religious/political division. Tanzania originally was Tanganyika, and later incorporated the islands such as Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania.

The people of the mainland of Tanzania are mostly Christians, while the coastal area and islands are 99% Muslims. This has caused a great deal of political strife, and has weakened the central government's authority over the islands and coast. It basically amounts to a country within a country.

Now the Zanzibar government wants the police on the islands to "arrest and charge anyone caught eating, drinking, or selling food at daytime during the current month of Ramadhan". This includes non-Muslims. This also violates Tanzania's guarantee of religious freedom.

New Catholic bishop in Tanzania

A new diocese - the Kondoa Catholic Diocese - has been created in Tanzania. On August 14 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Bernardino Mfumbusa to be the first bishop of the new diocese. Fr. Mfumbusa had been vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of St. Augustine of Tanzania (SAUT).

Please pray for Bishop Mfumbusa.

The aliens are coming!

Space aliens, that is. And they are angry about our carbon footprint (I wonder if Al Gore is exempted from their wrath).

Key quote:

It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.

This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a Nasa-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.

Perhaps those Penn State scientists have been watching too many movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still. At any rate, someone please remind me again how global warming is science.

Today's verse

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

Psakm 21:13 (KJV)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani minister who was murdered by Muslim extremists because of his opposition to the country's blasphemy's laws, will not be honored by President Zardari. However, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer (who was also murdered) will be honored. Both men defended Asia Bibi - and paid with their lives for it.

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

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Planned Parenthood update

Planned Parenthood will stop performing abortions in three Arizona cities. God be praised!

The above article by the Associated Press is rather whiny in tone. This is not surprising, since the secular media has been one of the abortion industry's loudest cheerleaders. But it shows that ordinary men and women can make a difference for the better - even in the face of massive amounts of campaign money spent against them, and a media determined to demonize and dehumanize all opponents to abortion.

Please pray to end all abortions.

Today's verse

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 10:12 (KJV)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reading list

To infinity and beyond, by Eli Maor.

Today's verse

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

James 3:13-14 (KJV)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Movie night

The Fox and the Hound.

Today's verse

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3 (KJV)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Witness to the faith: Susan Ithungu

A 14-year-old Ugandan girl was tortured by her father after converting to Christianity.

Susan heard the Gospel and decided to become a follower of Jesus. Her father, a Muslim, locked her in a sunless room for six months with no food or water except what her brother was able to smuggle to her. Susan was finally released, but is now unable to walk.

Please pray for Susan.

Today's verse

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

Psalm 138:8 (KJV)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today's verse

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Proverbs 16: 16 (KJV)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Today's verse

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

John 15:20-25 (KJV)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

CBN News reports that the VOM petition to save the life of Asia Bibi has collected over 200,000 signatures. You can see and sign the petition here.

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

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today's verse

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

Psalm 48:1 (KJV)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Opportunity at Endeavour crater

The NASA rover Opportunity has reached the edge of Endeavour crater. Opportunity has been traveling for three years over the surface of Mars to arrive at this point.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Reading list

After America, by Mark Steyn.

Today's verse

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 12:1-3 (KJV)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi is praying for those around her, and for those who are persecuting her.

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

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.

Luke 20:21-25 (KJV)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Today's verse

The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?

Amos 3:8 (KJV)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Movie night

Easy to wed (1946), starring Van Johnson, Esther Williams, and Lucille Ball.

Are interracial marriages necessary?

The answer is "Yes", according to Ralph Richard Banks, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. In a recent article titled An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage Professor Banks laments the declining marriage rates of black women in the USA, and suggests that they open themselves up to the idea of marrying men who are not black.

The article deals with the various reasons that black women either end up in bad marriages to black men, have few marriages to non-black men, or fail to marry altogether. Rather than critique the entire article (it is worth reading it for yourself and drawing your own conclusion about some of the interesting issues Professor Banks raises), I am going to write about a few things that captured my attention.

Here is one section that caught my eye:

Black women lead by far the most segregated intimate lives of any minority group in the U.S. They are less than half as likely as black men to wed across racial lines. Only about 1 in 20 black women are interracially married.

Part of the reason ... is the market. Numerous studies of Internet dating confirm that black women are the partners least desired by non-black men.

Several paragraphs later there was this:

To understand the intimate segregation of black women, we must go beyond the question of whether black women are wanted and look instead at what they want. For some black women, the personal choice of an intimate partner is political. They want to help black men, not abandon them. As one woman told me, "If you know your history, how can you not support black men?"

When I first read this paragraph, it sent a jolt through me like an electrical current. Just prior to marrying my wife in Tanzania, I had the chance to speak with an American lady who taught at an international school in Germany. She told me that she believed interracial marriage was the only hope of bridging racial differences. In other words, she saw my marriage to my beautiful Tanzanian bride as a political act.

There is something terribly sad - as well as disturbing - in the willingness to see marriage as political activism designed to bring about some desired social good. Some years ago I heard a story (perhaps apocryphal) about a white pastor who announced to his congregation that he planned to marry a black woman. He said that he was doing this in order to provide a living lesson in the need for racial tolerance and harmony. Not surprisingly, the marriage quickly fell apart. When human beings are reduced to mere tools designed to further a certain political outcome, disaster is usually the result.

The purpose of this post is not to provide a Biblical justification for interracial marriage. A very solid case can be found in the excellent book Just Don't Marry One. Nor is this post about the Biblical requirements in general for marriage (for a good source, check out Fit To Be Tied). Rather, this is a lament about the degree to which people are willing to deprive themselves of love and intimacy just to worship a god of secular political activism. Is it really worth it?

Finally, for anyone desiring to date (or marry) someone in order to further a political cause like race relations, I beg you: don't. The person you will be involved with is not some sterile political ideal, but a living human being with feelings. Do your would-be partner a favor by not messing with their lives in such a selfish and thoughtless way.

Today's verse

And [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14 (KJV)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

The Commission for International Religious Freedom wants Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to declare Pakistan a “country of particular concern.”

Key quote from the article:

"As human-rights concern with serious security implications, the need for greater respect for religious freedom and related rights should be an integral issue in the U.S. bilateral relationship with Pakistan," USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo and its commissioner Felice Gaer said in an op-ed in The Hill. "We have identified this as a problem, and the U.S. should be devising and demanding solutions. While it is complicated and awkward to do so in the case of an ally, the abuses and threats posed by a growing religious extremism threaten both countries," they wrote.

The USCIRF also brought up the case of Asia Bibi and the two Pakistani political leaders who were killed while defending her:

Both [federal minister for minorities Shahbah] Bhatti and [governor of Punjab province Salmaan] Taseer had angered extremists by demanding a review of the controversial blasphemy law in light of the case of Asia Bibi – the first woman to be sentenced to death under the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Bibi, a Christian mother of two and stepmother to three others, was accused of blasphemy against Islam’s prophet. Although she has denied speaking ill of the Muslim prophet, she was beaten and has been imprisoned since June 2009. Bibi is still in prison and waiting for a court hearing date for her appeal.

At a time when the secular media is promoting intolerance and hatred of Christians in the USA, it is important for Christians to remember that the persecution of their brothers and sisters in places such as Pakistan may one day come here. Jesus warned us, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." (John 15:18). The fact that Christians in America are not being imprisoned, tortured and murdered for their faith is no guarantee that it will not someday happen here. For a long time the secular media has turned a blind eye towards the fate of Christians like Asia Bibi, and there is little indication that they will suddenly change their ways.

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

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Matthew 18:23-35 (KJV)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Today's verse

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Psalm 2:1-3 (KJV)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Church burnings in Tanzania

Christian church buildings in Zanzibar and Pemba are burned by Muslim extremists.

Please pray for Christians in Tanzania who live under the threat of persecution.

Today's verse

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away

1 Corithians 13:1-8 (KJV)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Today's verse

O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

Psalm 7:1-2 (KJV)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Be civil, you $#@*&!!

One of the most damaging accusations leveled against Christians is that of hypocrisy. It is sometimes a fair charge. We are all painfully aware of the televangelist who cheats with every woman he can gets his hand on, the priest who molests children, the church treasurer who absconds with the funds. If there is one Bible verse every non-Christians knows and loves, it is, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged." (Luke 6:37)

But judging others - especially those whom they hate - is probably the secular media's favorite pastime. In the aftermath of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords earlier this year, the secular media rushed to condemn anyone whose political or religious views annoyed them. Christians, the Tea Party, opponents of amnesty for illegal aliens, Republicans, Sarah Palin - all of these and more were painted as the "real" culprits. The secular media was engaged in a vicious smear aimed at those who dared to disagree with the secular progressive viewpoint.

One self-serving result of the secular media's blood libel was an emphasis on what was called the "new civility". Anyone who has even been on a college campus or lived in a totalitarian state will instantly recognize the "new civility" as nothing more than the old cries for censorship. "Disagree with us," the secular media says, "and anything bad that happens in the country will be blamed on you, no matter who actually did it. Be polite, but don't you dare disagree with whatever we say." Numerous politicians chimed in, perhaps seeing the political windfall that could be had from muzzling political opponents.

But the "new civility" seems to be a strange state of affairs indeed. James Taranto has an interesting sample of the reaction in the aftermath of the recently-passed compromise on raising the debt ceiling.

Some key quotes:

A New York Times editorial calls the [compromise] deal "a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists. . . . This episode demonstrates the effectiveness of extortion. Reasonable people are forced to give in to those willing to endanger the national interest." Haha, remember "civility"?

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman is even huffier: "By demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, [the deal] will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status. . . . What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question."

Roars Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect: "The United States has been rendered ungovernable except on the extortionate terms of the far-right. For the first time in modern history, one of the two major parties is in the hands of a faction so extreme that it is willing to destroy the economy if it doesn't get its way. And the Tea Party Republicans have a perfect foil in President Barack Obama."

And, as Roll Call reports, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the Kansas City, Mo., Democrat, "said early reports of the new deal appeared to be 'a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.' " Hey, it's better than peas!

Not to be outdone, Vice President Joe Biden reportedly attended a meeting of Congressional Democrats who labeled their Republican counterparts "terrorists". No word if they were being force-fed Satan sandwiches at the time.

That is just a small sample of the reaction to the deal. For my part I oppose the budget deal, but ... supporters are now terrorists? Hostage-takers dispensing Satan sandwiches? Is this the "new civility" we were promised? And whatever happened to, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged"? If this is the "new civility", then include me out.

Incidentally, Congresswoman Giffords voted in favor of the compromise - her first vote since the shooting. Do her Democratic colleagues consider her a terrorist?

Today's verse

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

James 2:14-18 (KJV)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Update on Asia Bibi

CBN has a good article on Asia Bibi.

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

Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Today's verse

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3 (KJV)