Sunday, December 21, 2014

God is not dead in Gotham

Cheer up, you’re worse than you think,” Rev. Timothy Keller says with a smile. He’s explaining that humans are more weak, more fallen, more warped than they “ever dare admit or even believe.” Then comes the good news: At the same time people are “more loved in Christ and more accepted than they could ever imagine or hope.” Many Millennial Christians in NYC attend his Presbyterian church--and respond to his message. “Every other religion has a founder that says: ‘I’ll show you the way to God. Only Christianity of all the major world religions has a founder that says: ‘I’m God, come to find you.’

My little book group that met at Panera’s a few years ago used his book,

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism   -     By: Timothy Keller

And it is outstanding.  Maybe I’ll reread it.

Part 1: The Leap of Doubt
There Can't Be Just One True Religion
How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
Christianity is a Straitjacket
The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice
How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
Science Has Disproved Christianity
You Can't Take the Bible Literally
Part 2: The Reasons for Faith
The Clues of God
The Knowledge of God
The Problem of Sin
Religion and the Gospel
The (True) Story of the Cross
The Reality of the Resurrection
The Dance of God

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

168 Project has Kidvids

Kidvids are Christian theme videos suitable for your child's phone--we watched this one in Sunday school today. It's about zombies, and what kid wouldn't love that? But we are all the walking dead without Christ.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Unbroken, the movie

Millions of people loved and read the book "Unbroken," and will wonder why his faith in Jesus Christ has been left out of Angelina Jolie's film. Stop wondering--I think we know why. But it does change his story. You can catch his real story of liberation on video.


"But his life was changed, and he was, as he told me personally, 'instantly healed of PTSD' as well as his dependence on alcohol. When I interviewed Louis in front of over 45,000 people at Dodger Stadium, he was far more interested in talking about his conversion at the Billy Graham Crusade than his other amazing exploits. Louis Zamperini used his story as a bridge to tell the 'greatest story ever told,' the story of Jesus Christ."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

They still need prayer

Our church library had a give-away this week. I picked up one I'd reviewed for the newsletter years ago, "Praying for the world's 365 most influential people." Some were Christians, but most were celebrities, athletes, politicians, movers and shakers caught up in their own power and influence, and since the copyright is 1999, many are dead or forgotten or now powerless.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Enjoying and being thankful

“The created world is to be prized for its usefulness, loved for its beauty and esteemed as the gift of God to His children. Love of natural beauty which has been the source of so much pure music, poetry and art is a good and desirable thing. Though the unregenerate soul is likely to enjoy nature for its own sake and ignore the God whose gift it is, there is nothing to prevent an enlightened Christian who loves God supremely from loving all things for God’s dear sake.” ~ A.W. Tozer, The Set of The Sail

This morning I can hear the ice-rain hitting the windows. It's all part of God's creation--but best to be safe and not go out for coffee with my friend, Adrienne.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How the 2nd Century church worshipped, according to Justin, ca. 150 A.D.

According to Justin, on Sunday all those believers in good standing in the city and country side gathered to worship on Sunday because that is the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and the day God began his creation. First, baptism of new believers, prayers, kiss of fellowship, eucharist, praise to the Trinity, prayer, reading the memoirs of the apostles or prophets (the future Bible), exhortation from the president, prayer, collection to support the needy, widows, orphans, prisoners and strangers.
Chapter 65. Administration of the sacraments
But we, after we have thus washed him [believer to be baptized] who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist
And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

Chapter 67. Weekly worship of the Christians
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

The First Apology Justin, born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165. Two "Apologies" bearing his name and his "Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon" have come down to us.

Inclusion delusion

“Inclusion” is today’s shibboleth. It is used as a powerful incantation to cast out evil spirits, which today means any censure of homosexual acts. Expect to hear leaders of Catholic organizations use this incantation early and often: “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit of Inclusion.” R. R. Reno, Editor of First Things

A Christmas or Epiphany poem

Are you needing a poem for your Christmas letter, or perhaps a reading at church? "The work of Christmas" by Howard Thurman just might fit the bill. I met Dr. Thurman when I was at Manchester College when he came to give a workshop on peace studies.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

How to ride a dead horse--the church version

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians—passed on from generation to generation—says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Modern churches, however, have found a whole range of far more advanced strategies to use, such as:

1.     Buying a stronger whip.

2.     Changing riders.

3.     Declaring, “God told us to ride this horse.”

4.     Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5.     Threatening the horse with termination.

6.     Proclaiming, “This is the way we’ve always ridden this horse.”

7.     Develop a training session to improve our riding ability.

8.     Reminding ourselves that other churches ride this same kind of horse.

9.     Determining that riders who don’t stay on dead horses are lazy, lack drive, and have no ambition - then replacing them.

10.  Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

11.  Reclassifying the horse as “living-impaired.”

12.  Hiring an outside consultant to advise on how to better ride the horse.

13.  Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.

14.  Confessing boldy, “This horse is not dead, but alive!”

15.  Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

16.  Riding the dead horse “outside the box.”

17.  Get the horse a Web site.

18.  Killing all the other horses so the dead one doesn’t stand out.

19.  Taking a positive outlook – pronouncing that the dead horse doesn’t have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the church’s budget than do some other horses.

20.  Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

21.  Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

22.  Name the dead horse, “paradigm shift” and keep riding it.

23.  Riding the dead horse “smarter, not harder.”

24.  Stating that other horses reflect compromise, and are not from God.

25.  Remembering all the good times you had while riding that horse.

Sources for this version

Monday, July 21, 2014

Do smartphones change Christians?

I was really getting into the article about 6 ways smartphones and social media are changing Christians, and then read the final paragraph, "To listen to my entire 34-minute conversation with Wells and Groothius on the pros and cons of personal communications technology, subscribe to the Authors on the Line podcast in iTunes, download the recording (MP3), or stream the conversation." The irony. . .

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Google and the Ghetto

Yesterday we had two fascinating lectures at Lakeside.  First a neighbor who got her first work experience waiting tables at The Abigail (local restaurant, now closed) explained the Google culture where she now works in California.  It was unbelievable.  They can bring their dogs to work; they can get the oil changed in their car; they can bring their laundry and dry cleaning; no desk/cubicle is more than 150 ft from food or a restroom. And she added, the food is delicious and new employees usually gain the Google ten or fifteen.  Workers have social clubs—gays, veterans, hobbies, work out gyms, etc.  Everything is for the team, and the intention is to get more production from the employees. And if employees get burnout from spending too much time at work, a supervisor will add a night out with spouse or partner to their work schedule.

Then at 3:30 p.m. an American embassy employee (Pakistan) who is also a Lakesider and a Christian, talked about the Christians in Pakistan, a tiny persecuted minority.  These people also live and work in a closed environment and rarely go beyond the borders of their ghetto.  They are a persecuted minority and recently we’ve seen stories on TV about the church burning and killing.  The police do nothing. When Pakistan became a country 65 years ago, Christians and the few remaining Hindus were promised religious freedom.  But that began to disappear in the 70s and now there is Sharia Law.  The photos I saw (of their ghetto in Islamabad) are worse than the poverty of Haiti.  These people are descendants of the mid-18th century converts by the missionaries the Europeans sent.  Christians are only welcome if they bring alcohol—Muslims are not allowed to buy it.  Everyone has an ID card that identifies the religion.

It’s very difficult to evangelize for the Christian faith in Pakistan, as you can imagine.  But it must be even harder at Google in California, where every need is met and you must be on the team or be out the door.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

God, people, society and the principle of subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity is why we must be careful blaming "society" for the sins of an individual, or letting the state take over for the individual accepting responsibility.

"In God's sight every individual matters in the first place as a person and only then as a social being.

Society can never be more important than the individual person. Men may never be means to a societal end. Nevertheless, social institutions such as the State and the family are necessary for the individual; they even correspond to his nature.

The principle of subsidiarity, which was developed as part of Catholic Social Teaching, states: What individuals can accomplish by their own initiative and efforts should not be taken from them by a higher authority. A greater and higher social institution must not take over the duties of a subordinate organization and deprive it of its competence. Its purpose, rather, is to intervene in a subsidiary fashion (thus offering help) when individuals or smaller institutions find that a task is beyond them. (YOUCAT questions 322-323)" [I'm sure this principle exists for some Protestant groups, but this was easier to find.]

I can think of many social programs that originally were designed to help individuals or smaller institutions in the principle of subsidiarity. Then they were flipped on their heads and the bigger authority took over the duties and rights of the individual, given by God. Think of the difference between government aid for hurricane victims (a huge task require efforts of many agencies and state functions) and the government telling parents what they can put in a child's sack lunch for school.

Friday, May 30, 2014

From Latin to Dhimba in just a few centuries

By the fourth century AD the Roman Empire had moved from the Greek language to Latin for the ordinary folk which created a problem for Christians reading scripture in their own language. The Pope chose Jerome (now St. Jerome) to translate the Bible into Latin. He was a good choice. He knew Latin, Greek and Hebrew, had studied Aramaic, and could speak Syriac and knew some Arabic. He spent 20 years at his task, and we should all be grateful. When we were in Bethlehem a few years ago our Palestinian guide (a Christian) showed us his cell/cave.

This week I received an announcement from Lutheran Bible Translators Messenger, Spring 2014, that the Dhimba people have received the New Testamewnt in their language for the first time and had a big celebration. The Dhimba are an estimated 30,000 people living along the Namibia/Angola border. They are anxious to start on the Old Testament as it is more understandable culturally for the Dhimba. LBT in the footsteps of Jerome.

"Ondaka ya ninga omuntu ngwaa kala mokati ketu." Johannes 1:14 Etestamende Epe

"The word became flesh and dwelt among us. . ." John 1:14

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

American Jesus

Today I'm previewing a DVD, "American Jesus, " which shows the response of many Christian groups to the culture--from rodeo pastors, to surfers, to bikers, former porn stars, reaction to materialism, yoga, snake handlers and athletes. Some I knew about, but most I didn't. There’s no mention of gay churches, or mainline churches that raise funds for “social justice” causes, or those who pray to mother/father gods. 

It's pretty good and fair with just straight filming of many groups allowing them to explain why the traditional organized church doesn't work for them--up to about 50 minutes in, and then Franky Schaeffer (son of L'abri founder) takes over the narration. And since he's moved from right wing evangelical, pro-lifer, over to the dark side, it takes a hard left turn--anti-Bush, anti-Israel and pro-Obama. Says he doesn't trust the Bible, and his Christianity isn't based on the Bible (no shock there). The film morphs to a PBS interpretation of Christianity.

The culture, particularly the media, love nothing more than a famous turn coat--unless the celebrity/author/movie star are left wing humanists and have moved right. It's almost as if a curtain was pulled back and you see the point of the film when Schaeffer begins. It is, however, very well done and eerily convincing. The literature says "street date May 13, 2014, price $19.98. I have no idea if this means theaters or store. But don't be fooled. It is what it is.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Listen, learn, exercise

I’m not really an exercise enthusiast, but since developing bursitis in December, I can’t do much walking, so I’m using my Gold’s Gym Power Spin 210 U—or an exercycle.  It keeps track of heart activity, speed, distance and calories.  I’ve figured out if I ride my power spin for 10 minutes at 3 levels of difficulty I burn about 40 calories; 4 times a day would be 160 calories, or one cookie with no chocolate chips. Sigh.


              Photo predates our new carpet and flat screen TV.

Since exercising this way is boring, I’m trying to finish the audio of Jesus of Nazareth, the infancy narratives by Pope Benedict XVI, and have learned a lot, although I could probably learn more if I were reading.  For instance, today I learned that “King of the Jews” which is the title the Magi used, was not known to the Jews, and wasn’t used again in scripture until Pilot said it.  So it is a prefiguring in the infancy stories of the crucifixion.  Also the Magi brought myrrh, an expensive spice used for perfume, spice and anointing the dead. Because of the coming holy day, the women were not able to use myrrh on the body of Jesus and by they time they got to the tomb after the crucifixion, he was already gone, so the myrrh was not used—he was alive, not dead. Benedict uses a lot of Old Testament background and early church fathers.  Very interesting comments about the star made by believers even in the first and second century. It is not at all dogmatic—just provides the research and teaching over the years, even that which isn’t popular today.

“While he was interrogating Jesus, Pilate unexpectedly put this question to the accused: "Where are you from?" Jesus' accusers had called for him to receive the death penalty by dramatically declaring that this Jesus had made himself the Son of God-a capital offense under the law. The "enlight­ened" Roman judge, who had already expressed skepticism regarding the question of truth (cf. Jn 18:38), could easily have found this claim by the accused laughable. And yet he was frightened. The accused had indicated that he was a king, but that his kingdom was "not of this world" ( Jn 18:36).

And then he had alluded to a mysterious origin and purpose, say­ing: "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth" ( Jn 18:37).All this must have seemed like madness to the Roman judge. And yet he could not shake off the mysterious impres­sion left by this man, so different from those he had met before who resisted Roman domination and fought for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. The Roman judge asks where Jesus is from in order to understand who he really is and what he wants.

The question about Jesus' provenance, as an inquiry after his deeper origin and hence his true being, is also found in other key passages of Saint John's Gospel, and it plays an equally important role in the Synoptic Gospels. For John, as for the Synoptics, it raises a singular paradox. On the one hand, counting against Jesus and his claim to a divine mission, is the fact that people knew exactly where he was from: he does not come from heaven, from "the Father," from "above," as he purports to ( Jn 8:23). No: "Is not this Jesus, whose fa­ther and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" ( Jn 6:42). “

- See more at:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Young Women of Faith Bible (NIV)


Recently I received a copy of Zonderkidz’ Bible, “Young Women of Faith Bible” to review (c 2001, 2013 For this task, I consulted the three grandmothers in our UALC Bible study group. I’m a little out of touch with the niche market of middle school and high school. They loved it! They all thought any young girl or woman would really enjoy the pink illustrations—hearts, butterflies, flowers--the excellent, informative side bars, the use of a journal for personal thoughts, and explanations. It features weekly Bible studies, memory verses and challenges, and “if I were there” questions, as well as the Biblical notes and journal suggestions. And it has what I would have enjoyed at the target age, a topical index and Biblical maps in color. If you already use Zondervan’s “Women of Faith Study Bible,” this Bible coordinates with it.

The general editor is Susie Shellenberger, a Christian speaker who has written fifty-two books, and lives in Bethany, Oklahoma with her two mini Schnauzers Obie and Amos. Susie is a former youth pastor, high school teacher, and editor. She loves a lot of color with her Scripture.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Spiritual unity with God and other believers

All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father's and his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us, ... and makes all appear as one in him. For just as the power of Christ's sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all, leads all into spiritual unity.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Jo. ev., 11,11:PG 74,561.
St. Cyril is honored in the Lutheran, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. He lived c. 376 – 444. He was involved in many church controversies during his live.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Freedom of religion is under attack

Can you tell me another country in the world that has the tradition of freedom of religion (not worship, that's different) written into its constitution by Christians who offered this to all, even those they didn't like? Christians who didn't want to be ruled by the crown or the church wrote a Bill of Rights to protect themselves from both.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I know many Protestants who do not agree with Catholic teaching, but they need to be reminded that Roman Catholics, the largest Christian group in the world, are the ones being targeted by the Obama Administration. Recognizing the divisions among Christians (the infighting is recorded in the book of Acts, so it's nothing new), they are hoping we'll all stand by in silence while the largest and most powerful among us, the mother church of all Christians, is brought to her knees and assaulted through laws, regulations, in house squabbles, and gossip. If you say nothing, or do nothing, your denomination, house group, temple, or humanist non-profit for good works will be next. All religions are a threat to the crown, and our founders knew that.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was gullible and they were lied to.  Because the Roman Catholic church is the largest non-government social agency in the country, they were scammed and snookered by people much more clever. But fortunately, they have come out of their long liberal sleep.


This is not about birth control or health insurance for employees.  This is about the power of the federal government to determine how Christians practice their religion.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Church of the Brethren Inglenook Cookbook


I received  "The New Inglenook Cookbook" (Brethren Press, 2013) for my birthday (arrived Friday for my September birthday). I have my mother's "Granddaughter's Inglenook cookbook" (Brethren Publishing House, 1942), and someone in the family may have the first one that was my grandmother's (1901). I don't do a lot of cooking that needs recipes anymore, but I love to read them. Also, I love looking at the names of the women who contributed the recipes. Still so many old Brethren names. I see "Sweet sour meatloaf" very similar to mine, which I hand out to new brides. Things have changed: Gluten free scones contributed by Elsie Holderread of McPherson, KS (2013) compared to Wieners in Creole Sauce by Mrs. Irva Kendrick Haney, Muscatine, IA (1942).

Also listed for a 1942 school lunch was cottage cheese and chopped pepper sandwiches with raw turnip strips. I don't know about other people my age, but cottage cheese was in everything at our house.

I think the reason women my mother's age (b. 1912) used so much cottage cheese is that their mothers made it from the skim milk left after separating the cream. My grandmother (b. 1876) used several pounds of real butter a week--I have her butter churn--and that's a lot of skim milk left over which needed to be made into something. I watched her working with (I thought it was a smelly mess) it, but by then she must have used purchased milk since they no longer had a cow. If all the liquid is pressed out (whey, which is then fed to the pigs), it is called farmer's cheese. This is from someone who knows nothing about it, so corrections are welcome.

The 2013 edition has a symbol for gluten-free.  This one looks impossibly easy.

“The best peanut butter cookie” contributed by Sharon A. Walker (Brumbaugh) Clayton, Ohio, p. 290

  • 1 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • Preheat oven to 350 and grease 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Beat together the peanut butter and sugar until combine.  Beat in the egg. Sprinkle baking soda over the mixture and beat until combined.
  • Roll heaping teaspoon-size pieces of dough into small balls. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets and with the tines of a fork, flatten the balls.
  • Bake the cookies in batches in the middle of the oven until puffed and pale golden, about 10 minutes
  • Cook the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.  This is important because they are very fragile when hot from the oven.

After checking the internet, I see Ms. Brumbaugh Walker also contributed to a genealogy book (found it on WorldCat) and I'm sure if I dug a little deeper, we'd find some Brethren relatives in common from Montgomery County who came there from Pennsylvania.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Teaching little children how to cast spells

"The name "Scholastic" evokes warm memories from those who treasured their childhood experiences with us and trust among those who depend on us for quality materials today." (Mission statement of this children's press.

So why teach very young children how to cast spells, read tea leaves and call on foreign gods? Check your children's material carefully. Scholastic definitely isn't that cute children's newspaper with puzzles and teaching good manners some of us remember. The "ologies" series (designed to look like encyclopedias) has a number of subjects I wouldn't want in my book nook, although they have clever, interesting formats and design. Volumes were written on the pros and cons of the Rowland Harry Potter series, but this is one of the outcomes--hardcore witchcraft for children. There's another title for the younger than 9 group.

The Wizardology Handbook