Saturday, November 27, 2004

213 Why are his enemies upset about his faith?

On C-Span2 today I watched part of a conference on Religion and the Presidency, held November 18-19 at The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. The section I saw was on Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. Unless the speakers were making up the quotes, I can't imagine why the media gives President Bush such a hard time about his prayer life, his beliefs, and his values.

Also this week-end on C-Span was Richard Dawkins discussing his book "Ancestors Tale." By the time I caught it he was answering questions with pokes and asides at the "nut cases" who are creationists, and receiving a smattering of applause when he said that at least in Britain they aren't in the government. Evolution he says, is true. I am always amazed at the dogged, fundamentalist, fall-down-and-worship faith that evolutionists have. Proof of the Creator is all around us; proof of evolution is nowhere observable.

According to his own publicity: "In The Ancestors Tale, the renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on our planet. The Ancestor's Tale is at once a far-reaching survey of the latest, best thinking on biology and a fascinating history of life on Earth. Here Dawkins shows us how remarkable we are, how astonishing our history, and how intimate our relationship with the rest of the living world."

Friday, November 26, 2004

212 Oops! Wrong church

Huge Thanksgiving services Wednesday evening and Thursday morning at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, known around here as UALC. But spell checks won't tell you when the words are spelled right but in the wrong order. So yesterday's bulletin welcomed us to "Upper Lutheran Arlington Church." It got a good laugh when our pastor mentioned it--most of us hadn't even noticed.

This item has been cross posted at my other blog, Collecting my Thoughts.

ULAC Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

211 New Baby on Board (the Blog Roll)

Amy Welborn, over to the right on my blogroll has had her baby--November 19, I think. Amy holds an MA in Church History from Vanderbilt University, taught theology in Catholic high schools, and served as a parish Director of Religious Education. And she's a mommy again, and can now bend over again, she says. She is the author of "The Words we Pray; discovering the richness of traditional Catholic prayers," and "The DaVinci Code; the facts behind the fiction." She has also authored childrens' books.

De-coding DaVinci Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Hot Jobs in 25 Years

The December issue of Wired has an article, "Hot Jobs in 25 Years," in which experts give their opinions of future growth areas. Dick Bolles, author of the famous and periodically reissued and updated, "What color is your parachute" laughs at the question. He says a film produced in 1975 that predicted hot fields caused howls of laughter when shown in 1985.

Here's my prediction. Audiology and ear drum replacement surgery or implants. Deafness is definitely in our future. But it is hard to convince a 35 or 40 year old, who is already in the early stages of hearing impairment and will probably have to take the headset or wireless earphones out of his ears and ask you to repeat your warning.

I walked to the door of Fellowship Hall at church Sunday for the "Book Fair," bringing the books to the people with the help of our volunteer library staff and local Christian retailers. But I was beaten back at the door, hammered, clobbered, kicked in the head by a live Christian rock band warming up for the 11:15 X-Alt service (jeans and t-shirts demographic). "Informal" or "contemporary" (slacks and layered sweaters demographic) is for the aging baby boomers, and "traditional" or "heritage" (dresses and suits and ties demographic) is primarily for those of us over 60 and a few transfers from liturgical churches hoping for something familiar.

No matter how it is packaged, these musical offerings in enclosed spaces with hard edges and no noise control, is an assault on my ears. And in my case, my heart. I have arrythmia, so I have to immediately leave the premises, and go to a room or hall where only the floor and walls tremble and vibrate, not my heart valves and ear drums. I had to leave our church's spring concert this year to wait in the hall for my husband and our 84 year old guest because the volume was so overwhelming where I was sitting (different building), I was actually in pain. About 10 minutes later, my elderly neighbor joined me in the hall. She couldn't take it either. It's scary when people in their 60s, 70s and 80s have better hearing than 20 year olds. But it does open up numerous career possibilities when all the bass players and drummers are learning sign language.

(Read about new research on the molecular key to hearing: Sound first enters the external ear, traveling through the ear canal until it reaches the ear drum, causing it to vibrate. This then causes the three bones of the middle ear (one of them attached to the ear drum), called auditory ossicles, to vibrate as well. The auditory ossicles carry the vibrations into the inner ear and cause the fluid of the inner ear to vibrate. The fluid in the inner ear then causes a ribbon of cells called hair cells to vibrate up and down. That up and down motion causes tiny hair cells called cilia to move back and forth.

The back-and-forth motion cause the newly discovered protein, which forms pores located at the tips of the cilia, to form pores or channels that open and close in response to sound waves. When the pores open, ions flow into the cells and transform the vibrations into electrical signals.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

209 A Christian and Muslim Talk about Good Deeds

She was still fuming in the parking lot; I could hear her slamming her 12 packs of soda and bags of chips into the back of the SUV. I wheeled my cart to the corral which was next to her vehicle and said, “I apologize for holding you up in the store; usually he doesn’t talk. I‘m really sorry.” “Yeah, whatever,” she snarled.

There was no one behind me at the check out when the clerk and I were comparing what God expects of us in the area of good deeds--I had asked him to separate my food pantry items because I was taking them to church on Thanksgiving Day. He then told me that as a Muslim he had an angel on his right shoulder keeping track of his good deeds, and an angel on his left shoulder tracking his bad deeds, and he hoped that at the end of his life, the totals would work in his favor and he would be allowed into Paradise, but first (difficult to hear because of his accent) he’d have to go to hell for awhile during the computation period. “Are you worried about this?” I asked. “Oh yes, I’m so afraid to do anything bad, and now they are using computers.” (Picture here angels with laptops!) “We Christians believe we are already forgiven for our sins because of Jesus death on the cross, but we too will be asked to account for our deeds on Judgment Day,” I offered. “However, there are many Christians who believe as you do--that they will have to be very good to get into heaven.”

By then, some other shoppers were in my line, looking worried and anxious and glancing at their watches. I’d asked for paper bags which don’t work well in the new turn style system, and then he started doing “something bad,” maybe not in the eyes of the angels, but in their eyes--telling me about the long ordeal to get to the United States, his five years here, and his desire to be a citizen. I heard about the brother who sponsored him, and who will be sponsoring another brother and sister back in Pakistan who are waiting to immigrate. I heard about his selling all his property and worldly goods, about how his file was “lost” for 13 years until the family came up with the money to bribe someone (wasn’t sure if this was in Pakistan or the U.S.)

“See you next week,” I said after getting my change and heading for the parking lot. Although I apologized there (asked forgiveness) to the woman waiting behind me in line, she didn’t offer any forgiveness. Nor is it required. She’ll probably stew about it all day, and tell that story at work or over dinner tonight. Her stomach will be in knots and her blood pressure high, because she wouldn’t forgive. That’s the difference between asking God for forgiveness and asking my neighbor for forgiveness. My neighbor can spit in my face or say, “Yeah, whatever,” and choose to be miserable. God has to forgive me for the sake of Jesus Christ, for all my sins past, present, future. Unlike Muslims, we Christians have the assurance that God is faithful and just and will do what he promised.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

208 Source for Christian Book Reviews

The In Season Christian Librarian is recommending New Christian Books for previews and reviews of evangelical and fundamentalist books. Each entry contains a lengthy excerpt, book jacket blurbs, links to other books on this subject, reviews, author bio, and purchasing information.

207 Off Shore Fisherman

Take a look at the web log of Off Shore Fisherman, for inspiring thoughts, mini-sermons and wonderful photographs. He bravely started blogging in July.

Making every effort to stay alive in the coliseum of ministry.
The lions are big...
The crowd cheers on, I know it's about life and death.
Glad the armour fits.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

206 Fifteen minutes with a Condemned Man

A middle aged woman in your congregation asks to see you privately. In tears, she tells you her son has exhausted his appeals in the courts, and will be executed next Friday morning. You are trying to get your mind around this startling fact as she describes the heinous crime with tears pooling behind her glasses.

How could this be, you wonder. Such a good, kind, decent family--you've known them for years, your predecessor baptized their children, including the condemned man. But this chapter in their life's story had never been revealed in choir, church dinners, food pantry or at the communion rail.

You're brought up short and bumped out of your fog when she asks, no, begs you to spend 15 minutes with him before he dies. Just 15 minutes to tell him about Jesus, she pleads. Your mind races. No anecdotes. No cute family stories from your past. No sorting through what Jesus might have meant in the parables. No clarification of values. No vague references to "our hope." No sports analogies. No vision for church growth. No theological Old Testament types or prophecy to point to the New Testament. Just 15 minutes before a condemned sinner is escorted to the death chamber.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The alarm. You wake up. You're in a sweat, the sheets are soaked. Whew. It was a nightmare, thank God. It's a new day. It's preparation day--sermon polishing day. Your heart sinks. You realize as never before you now have to plan a sermon of 15 minutes to tell 700 condemned sinners about Jesus. Maybe the nightmare isn't over?

As your head clears, the words of confession begin to creep in. . .phrase by phrase, a bit rusty from disuse.

we poor sinners confess
we are sinful and unclean
we have sinned in thought, word and deed
we flee to your infinite mercy for grace
for the sake of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ

who was given to die for we poor sinners
and for his sake, God grant remission of our sins
and give the Holy Spirit enabling us to be obedient
to become the children of God
and to receive everlasting life.

Yes, there's a good foundational message for the condemned-to-die on which to build a message of hope and 21st century relevance for Sunday's sermon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

205 Ashland University new hiring policy

The group known as the Fraternity of German Baptists, and later the German Baptist Brethren had a three way split in the 1880s. They were known as Dunkers, Tunkers, Täufers, and Dunkards and some, including my ancestors, spoke German for many generations. Although I don't think the terms conservative (Old German Baptist Brethren), progressive (Brethren Church) and moderate (Church of the Brethren) apply today, they did have different approaches to cooperating with the dominant culture of the United States. All the Brethren believed the New Testament contained God's will for his people, but differences split the small anabaptist group into many smaller groups. This page gives a more complete explanation with charts of the divisions.

Recently, the second largest Brethren group, The Brethren Church, made the news by deciding to limit its faculty at its only university to Christians and Jews.

"Only Jews and Christians will be hired as full-time faculty members at Ashland University under a policy recently approved by university trustees.

The policy, which could be reviewed by trustees in January, is meant to reinforce Ashland's historical ties to the Brethren Church, according to Steve Hannan, a university spokesman. Church followers founded the private university in 1878." Story in Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 9

When the church split, the other colleges remained with the larger group, The Church of the Brethren, which now include Manchester College (1902), Juniata (1876), Elizabethtown (1900), LaVerne (1891), and McPherson (1887). Mt. Morris (1879) and Blue Ridge College (1930) have closed.

Monday, November 15, 2004

204 The Family and Families of God

The three children in the pew in front of me were sitting with their grandparents. The oldest looked so much like her mother it almost made me smile. She even had the same pouty scowl. Maybe just on the cusp of the teen years--11 or 12. She ran her hands through her dark hair, highlighted with blonde from the swimming pool, to form an imaginary pony tail, and then shook it free. Her little sister, perhaps 7 or 8, then made the same movement with her much darker and richer locks. I remember when their mother outgrew her Barbie dolls and had a yard sale. Must have been around 1975. My daughter and I went over to look at them. At age 8, my daughter was about to outgrow that stage, but she still liked accumulating the clothes even if she rarely played with the dolls.

Three pews in front of that family was another family, a little smaller now that the oldest is in college in Indiana. The mother is small, maybe under 5’4” and the father tall and slender, over 6’5”. Her head was well below his shoulder. All three of their children are tall--fortunate isn’t it, that the boys didn’t resemble Mom and the girl Dad? The boys are at that awkward, growing-an-inch-a-week stage. Perhaps 14 and 15, all arms and legs and pimples. The entire family was dressed in some combination of khaki and gray-blue, like they woke up and said, “What should we wear today?” Dad had his hands in his pockets, feet a little apart while singing, and the two boys were in the exact same stance. Only the touch of auburn hair on the one boy showed Mom had a part in all this. Otherwise, they were their father.

Behind me there was a family with small children, all with colds. Lots of juicy sniffing, sneezing and coughing. Dad whispered, “Josh, stop it,” and little Joshua whines, “But I can’t help it, Daddy.” Then Dad sniffed, but much louder. Joshua’s Daddy was so enthusiastic, he sang along quietly with the male soloist in the mixed sextet leading the congregational singing, a master carpenter with ruddy complexion and black hair. Daddy even hummed along when the female soloist took her turn. The name Joshua means “God is salvation” in the Old Testament and is the name we know as Jesus in the New Testament.

And I smiled thinking about the family of God worshiping together, similar yet different, worshiping Jesus, the master carpenter, trying to sing along, to get along, trying to be what our Heavenly Father wants.

203 Lutheran Churches Columbus Ohio

If you are browsing the internet looking for a Lutheran church in the Columbus metropolitan area, or one serving Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Dublin or North Columbus, you probably won't find the largest, which is Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. So I'm blogging about it today to help you find it, because there are no meta-tags in the turn-key system to direct you to it.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church is one congregation with three locations, The Church on Lytham Road, 2300 Lytham Road, Upper Arlington, 43220; The Church at Mill Run, 3500 Mill Run Drive, Hilliard, 43026; and Hilltop Lutheran Church, 12 South Terrace Avenue, Columbus, 43204. This wouldn't be nearly as confusing if we'd originally chosen a spiritual name like Trinity or Lamb of God instead of a city's name, but that's how the New Testament churches did it.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in suburban and west side of Columbus, Ohio, offers a variety of worship styles, five times on Sunday at Mill Run, four times on Sunday at Lytham, and one at Hilltop. There is a wide variety of teachings and Bible study throughout the week, with Sunday morning and Monday evening being the heaviest schedules, with Sunday school and "Outfitters," for deeper study of theology, the Christian life, parenting, etc.

This large Lutheran church in the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan area has a Vacation Bible School that will knock your socks off--something like 2500-3000 kids are enrolled and teachers are drawn from all over the city for what must be a logistical nightmare for the planners, with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Every adult who works in this program, even those who sell the t-shirts, are checked and screened and have references.

There is a very large nursing home ministry that offers Bible study and communion at local facilities, and offers regular training and support for members of those ministries. I couldn't even begin to count the liaisons between the church and groups like Inter-Varsity, Campus Crusade, and International Friendships. If you can't find a ministry to serve in at UALC, you just haven't looked.

I'll put in a plug here for something that's relatively rare in churches, and that's an established Visual Arts Ministry. UALC has probably the finest gallery space in metropolitan Columbus, and is currently booking shows for 2006. It has an annual Members All Media Art Show (MAMAS) during Advent. But this ministry is miniscule compared to the music ministry which frequently features a full orchestra, and has separate choirs for the different locations. The Christmas choir offerings are usually over sold and are fabulous. We have a new music director this year, formerly at Karl Road Baptist, who looks very promising.

This Columbus area Lutheran church offers unique opportunities for urban ministry through its contacts at Hilltop Lutheran, including a food pantry, clothing store, elementary school mentoring and volunteering, and programming useful for a community not in the suburbs.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, a large Columbus area church, has regular print-on-paper publications, The Cornerstone, which primarily focuses on scheduled events, and Crosslinks, a full color, glossy monthly magazine (access through the main web site), with general content articles of interest to visitors and members. Both are available in PDF files.

I'll cross post this at my other blog, Collecting My Thoughts, and then I'll check Google to see if "Lutheran Church Columbus Ohio" will finally bring up the largest Lutheran church in the city. It's worth a try! And the next time you're in the Columbus, Ohio, stop in and visit.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

202 The value of biography and testimony

In her book, Believing God, which our women are using this fall, Beth Moore writes: I devour books on the lives of the faithful-though-fallible. The testimonies of Saint Augustine, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, and Charles Spurgeon are just a few. This morning I again told God that I want to be faithful to Him more than anything in the world. Reading about the lives of those who fulfilled such a high calling is like a strong wind against my back as I run my race." (Believing God. LifeWay Press, 2002, p. 170)

In that chapter she developed her ideas from biographies of D.L. Moody, William Carey, George Muller, Jim Cymbala, and Bruce Wilkinson. Two of the women in our group had heard Jim Cymbala preach at Brooklyn Tabernacle, which has a Tuesday night prayer meeting attended by thousands and people wait in long lines to attend.

The message she found in the lives of all these saints is, "Pray Big."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Healing the Church Website

Here's an interesting site that tells it like it is. Most church websites are pretty awful. They're glitzy, gimmicky, crowded, cluttered and hard to read. I particularly liked The seven deadly sins of church website design.

Monday, November 08, 2004

200 Advice for the Democrats from a college student

Nick Wills in the Daily Nebraskan, a Democrat, has some advice for his party, not all of which I’d agree with, but this one made sense:
“What should the party do?

First of all, have some respect for religion. In pure liberal philosophy there is open-mindedness to differing beliefs. In today’s Democratic Party, there’s that open-mindedness – unless you’re an evangelical Christian. I’ve actually heard liberals say those who vote on moral issues as stupid and ignorant.

I’ve seen this attitude on TV with people such as Janine Garofalo making fun of Bush’s faith in God. This type of closed-minded speech basically tells religious people NOT to vote for John Kerry. They listened.”

I don’t for a minute think Roe v. Wade will ever be repealed--Bush doesn’t have the support for that among his own party. There are lots of ways to save babies, and a big one would be to discourage conception by promoting and supporting less sexual and violent entertainment and music that misleads so many young women. But Nick also makes this suggestion:

“Stop cozying up with the pro-choice agenda. Democrats almost have an image that they love the idea of abortion. What would be so wrong with Democratic candidates giving a plan to reduce abortions? Very few people would object, and the ground gained on moral issues would be significant.”

That’s a smart young man. The future of the country’s in good hands, even if Democratic.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

199 In the name of Jesus

“America has become an incubator of fear easily exploited by a demagogue like Karl Rove, whose get-out-the-vote canvassers looked like a Rapture block party.” Salt Lake Tribune. Another media representative of the 47% insulting the 53% of us who don’t live in metropolitan New York, LA, Salt Lake, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis.

Now this really adds to an intelligent discussion, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t recognize Karl Rove if he knocked on my door. I’ve never seen him on TV or heard anyone mention him except the people who hate President Bush. So I think his name is a code word that loosely translates into “hate, fear, desperation and despair” among Democrats. A voodoo doll in which they stick pins. If they just say “Karl Rove” and raise an eyebrow, they don’t even need to finish the sentence.

During the morning drive time yesterday I was listening to the Bob Connors call in show on 610 a m here in central Ohio. A man was talking who had been in charge of voting at two precincts that voted at Salem Baptist Church (caution: have your volume turned down--Hallelujah Chorus will greet you if you click here) in Columbus . He said they were open until 11:20 p.m. It was raining and many people were elderly and disabled, for whom they made special accommodation. Twice during the day church members showed up and distributed food and drink, first pizza, and then McDonald’s. Even the poll watchers from both parties distributed water and snacks to people who had patiently waited three or four hours to vote. The church also opened their fellowship hall and set up chairs so people wouldn't have to wait in the rain. He praised his poll workers who worked diligently and patiently with many people who had never voted--and the average of our poll workers is 72.

So, hate-mongering-media-editors (which includes our own suburban SNP): Based on the statistics we’ve seen about voting patterns in Ohio, I’m guessing 49% of this line waiting in the rain was voting for your side, but probably 60% of the church members were voting for Bush. I sincerely doubt that devotion to Karl Rove is what motivated them to leave their comfortable homes, go to restaurants, purchase food with their own money, and pass it along the line to people they didn’t agree with.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

198 Reformation Sunday

We missed Reformation Sunday service--we were driving back from Indianapolis. We did pass our newest building coming in on the free-way, and if we could have found parking, probably could have slipped in about 11:15. However, here's a Reformation Sunday Sermon to curl your toes:

"We’ve often said “The Church is not built of mortar and stone.” True enough, but neither is it built upon paper, logos, and slogans from headquarters. The Church is built upon the death of Jesus Christ. It is sustained in His resurrection. It is not found in corporate offices, radio programs, or tax shelters. It is found around the Altar of God’s Body and Blood. There hearts are broken and rebound. Old men are drowned. New men arise. Sins are forgiven. The devil is defeated. Faith is born and lives."

Read David Petersen's sermon at Beggars All.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

197 Poll-time Drama

Someone named Tabitha left a comment at the blog, Morning Coffee describing her trip to the polls with her six year old.

"My poll-time drama didn't occur until after we left. . . "Mama, some kids in my class said that John Kerry kills babies." I hadn't expect to have to talk with my 6 year old about abortion yet.

I explained to her that this was only sort of true. That he does not personally kill babies, but rather that he supports a law which allows mothers to choose to kill their babies before birth and that was wrong. Her response, "Yeah, because we were all babies once." Oh, the crystal clear insight of innocence. Someday whe will learn about peer pressure, shame, financial fears, etc. Someday I will have to tell her just how a baby can be killed. I wasn't even looking forward to explaining how a baby can be made. But for now, she knows that babies are a precious gift from God."

I find it amazing that 6 year olds are talking about abortion with their friends at school, or that they even knew who the candidates were. But I think this mother gave an age-appropriate response. The child herself was able to figure out the right and wrong of it, without a long lecture or explanation.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

196 If Your Candidate Doesn't Win

Phil at The Thinklings writes before election day:

"First, don’t worry. No matter what happens Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The guy you voted for may not be in the oval office for the next four years. But in the vast scheme of things, it’s only a blip in time. Remember that God is in control of all of history.

Second, if your man wins, don’t gloat or rub it in the face of others. Remember those who vote differently than you are still your neighbors.

Third, remember that the new president, whoever he is, should be respected and honored."