Friday, March 24, 2006

What thoughts are you carrying?

Two monks were traveling by foot when they came to a river.  There was a prostitute there who asked the first monk to carry her across.  He was horrified at the prospect and refused.  The second monk knelt for her to get on his back and carried her across.  She thanked him and left.  A little later the first monk expressed his disapproval that the other had let that woman touch him. The second monk replied, "I put her down when we had crossed the river.  Why are you still carrying her?'

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Now wait a minute, shouldn't it be the Christians that are offended by the Easter Bunny?

I'm not saying that the Easter Bunny is offensive to Christians, but rather that it doesn't really represent the religious meaning of Easter, but it seems that these symbols have come to represent important religious events in the eyes of non-Christians.

St. Paul City Office Boots Easter Bunny

Thu Mar 23, 9:31 AM ET

The Easter Bunny has been sent packing at St. Paul City Hall.

A toy rabbit, pastel-colored eggs and a sign with the words "Happy Easter" were removed from the lobby of the City Council offices, because of concerns they might offend non-Christians.

A council secretary had put up the decorations. They were not bought with city money.

St. Paul's human rights director, Tyrone Terrill, asked that the decorations be removed, saying they could be offensive to non-Christians.

But City Council member Dave Thune says removing the decorations went too far, and he wonders why they can't celebrate spring with "bunnies and fake grass."

Internet article here

Friday, March 17, 2006

Second follow- up to Logical???

I am getting emails that show people are posting comments, but blogger is having a spaz attack, and I can't get to the comments section, so....
I want to clarify something:
>>>1) I think the church group that I was referring to doesn't talk so much about "faith" as about correct knowledge. Sometime I should ask, "Are you saved by your knowledge or by God's actions?">>>

What I meant here is that I need to ask the people who constantly come to my door with their religious brochures if they think that they are saved by all the work they do and by their "correct" knowledge, or if thy are saved by God's actions. Why do I let them in? Because they are a mission field that comes right to my door step. The same woman has been coming here since about 1977. I have found that her statements and questions have challenged me to find out more about the doctrines that I grew up with.

I know that God saved me. I was saved about 2000 years ago, not at a specific time when the light bulb went on over my head.

I think that I can see that I need to be very clear as to when I am asking a seeking question and when I am asking a rhetorical question. But it is really gratifying to get feed back on my thoughts and opinions and statements of faith.

Regarding experiences: My personal expressions of faith is based on a mixture of what I have been told, what I have read and heard, what I have been given through the gift of faith, and personal experience. I have had times when a thought comes to me that urges me to do something good that is totally out of character, so I have interpreted that as God somehow speaking to me. Yet recently, when I expressed this on another Lutheran blog, I was told that (don't remember exact words) God only comes to us, at least reliably, through the scriptures and through the sacraments. Then this blogger went on to explain that these personal experiences were some sort of heresy, which he named, and maybe of Satan.

Yet we have God's word: Be still and know that I am God. Are we not to listen? And Psalm 50: 3 Our God comes and does not keep silence.

Granted, we need to check these "news flashes" against the Bible. But in the same vein, my good friend used to tell me, "don't necessarily accept anything a pastor says. You have the right to check it against the Bible."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

follow up to Logical??? and comment

1) I think the church group that I was referring to doesn't talk so much about "faith" as about correct knowledge. Sometime I should ask, "Are you saved by your knowledge or by God's actions?"

2) I'm intrigued by your use of the words 'personal experience' and 'personally experienced.' Are these quotes? I am wondering about this concept because I've heard different slants put on the reliability of personal experience. For example, if my faith rests too much on personal experience, then when I am in the valley, I can conclude that I have no faith. As a Lutheran I've been taught to remember my baptism, to realize that my faith and salvation don't rest in my feelings.

OTOH, those branches of American Christianity that put a strong emphasis on experiential faith, would see Lutherans as having a "head" religion rather than a "heart" religion [American, not Hebrew interpretation of the word 'heart.'] And perhaps, that is a weakness in the Lutheran expression of faith, ie because we aren't "experiencing" it as strongly, we don't act and react as strongly, at least traditionally.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Lutheran, but I never learned about faith and expressing it and feeling it and experiencing it until I participated in Bible Study groups with people of other branches of Christianity. Or is it possible that this stuff was always there in the Lutheran church but just not talked about? If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? If a traditonal Lutheran has faith experiences and feelings and has nobody to express them to, do they really exist?

So I've been wondering if and how this relates to "Lutheran Spirituality" which is the topic of WTM Carnival I: Lutheran Spirituality.


I was given some literature by a member of a church group that goes door to door.  There is an article about whether Jesus was God.  Of course, different groups read certain passages in different ways, but that isn't going to be my point.
"Many who believe that Jesus Christ is God have difficulty explaining why he is called the Son of God.  Logic suggests that he cannot be both.  Others think of Jesus as an important historical character, a wise man, or perhaps even a bona fide prophet of God, but nothing more.  What does the Bible really teach?  Does it matter what you believe?"
I am saved by the work that Jesus did on the cross.  I am saved because I believe and was baptized, but only because of what Jesus did.  Is it logical for God to send His Son to die on the cross?  Of course not.  Is it logical that I could be saved because of what someone else did for me?  Not logical, but it does happen in other contexts on this earth. 
There are a number of Bible verses about God's thoughts and mind being greater than mine.  I would hope so!  And I sure would hope that His logic is of a higher order than mine.  Yes, I believe this. 
So I say, logic, my human logic, doesn't really apply here.  I have been saved by an illogical act done by a person, who illogically, was God made man, who saved me because I didn't logically deserve it. 
Does the theology that I subscribe to have anything to do with it?  No.  I won't be saved because I may happen to belong to the church that interprets the Bible most correctly.  Or perhaps my denomination actually reads the Bible wrongly and is too closed minded to realize this.  I may or may not read the Bible.  That doesn't change the saving grace of God.
Salvation comes not through my logic but through God's actions.
Praise God for that.  And I do praise God that I know that I am a saved sinner.

Who is watching us?

Out of the Middens posted some interesting and thought provoking thoughts about the balance between National Security and our privacy rights. And can the government track what we are looking at on the internet???

Are you good enough?

I just overheard an ad on TV for a show having to do with weight loss.  The incentive for the weight-losers is that if they don’t lose enough weight, they will have to appear on national TV is a bikini that is too small.  I’m not sure who would want to tune in to gawk at that spectacle, but that is another story.


Not good enough.  Don’t we all feel that at various times? 


In the current TV-Land craze, if you are not good enough, or if the other contestants are jealous of you, you can be voted off the group, off the island, out of the boardroom.  Apparently, and I say apparently because I don’t watch these shows, apparently, the contestants, with their own human frailties, get to judge the others, who may have greater frailties or problems.  Hey, they are “just” human.


Some years ago, I heard a sermon illustration that has stuck with me.  The pastor said that our society rates us as though we must reach at least a certain mark on a yardstick.  But in the Kingdom of God, where we are members due to Jesus’ actions and our baptism, we are like the knights sitting at the Round Table.  There is no person who is above the others.  None have gotten there by their own works, so therefore no one is beneath any other person.  All are at equal places at the table.  All are brothers and sisters in/of Christ.




Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Denomination, etc.

Why do you belong to the denomination or type of church you attend? Were you born into it ie your parents went to this type of church? Have you learned about the theology of your denomination? Have you visited many other types of churches? Have you belonged to another church group that is quite different from your current church? What made you change?

What is the strength of the church you currently attend?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It is hard enough to build a church...

The reports on the news today about the three students (of a Christian college) who set fire to a number of churches makes me disgusted. Would I be any less or more disgusted if the arsonist were some Christ-hater? No, I guess not, but I might feel differently if I thought that the person was misguided/sick.
This is such a waste. It is a waste of all the materials that it took to build those churches. It is a waste of the hard earned money that went into the church buildings. It is a waste of time for everyone involved. I don't think there has been any reports of loss of life, but there easily could have been the waste of the life of a firefighter.
And it will be a huge waste of three lives if they get 40 years for these arson fire.
I couldn't help but think: what didn't these boys learn in their own churches, high schools, or their college? Remember the list of things about Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten? Surely there is something there about not breaking something that belongs to another.
I've often thought about the parents of people who end up in jail. Surely the parents are suffering now.
BTW, the unfinished church pictured next to my name has been in that condition for 30 years due to lack of funds to finish it.

Suspect: Church fires were joke that 'got out of hand'

3 Birmingham college students arrested

Wednesday, March 8, 2006; Posted: 3:11 p.m. EST (20:11 GMT)


(CNN) -- Three Birmingham college students were arrested Wednesday in connection with 10 church fires in Alabama last month, state and federal officials said.

One of the suspects said the fires began as a joke that "got out of hand," according to court papers filed Wednesday citing what a witness told investigators.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Should Christian Colleges let their students be exposed to ideas that they disagree with?

Rhetorical questions about what might be learned at a Christian college:

Christian college want their students to be Christian or at least strongly exposed to Christian ideas and ideals. They may want to restrict admission to people who at least profess compatible ideas. Perhaps they are open to others, hoping that those people will get exposure to the Christian faith. Or they may be open to anybody who desires to attend.

Once someone is a student, what is he exposed to? Does the college only except expression of the orthodox faith, as explained in that denomination? Are the teachers, students, and outside speakers allowed to explore contrary ideas? Is the faith and the ideals of the students ever challenged by being exposed to other ideas? If not, is this really an education?

Can a person of faith keep that faith and even defend it if he has never had it challenged by other ideas or life circumstances? Since different Christian denominations have very different interpretations of certain parts of scripture and claim to be "right," are these ideas explored at denominational Christian colleges?

Here is an article that explores some of these ideas. The specific topic is how Christian colleges deal with gay people. But in keeping with my rhetorical questions, above, subsitute any controversial issue in the church while reading it.

How does the college you attended deal with ideas that are not main stream? How does your denomination's college deal with contrary ideas?

A 'freedom ride' to anti-gay colleges

Four Minnesotans will be among a group of young people who will begin a bus journey to 19 Christian colleges that have anti-gay admission policies.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006