Sunday, February 26, 2012

Demonstration of Quad Speed Jump Rope by Kojak LaLanne

ELCA-Episcopal Merger?

ELCA-Episcopal Merger?

When I read about the possibility of an ELCA/Episcopal Church USA merger, it struck me as extremely unlikely. I should not have been so quick to dismiss it.

The Full Communion Agreement between the two denominations caused quite a bit of strife in the ELCA just a few years ago. The compromise mandated that Lutheran churches incorporate the Historic Episcopate (Apostolic Succession) into their faith.

The protest movement against this extra-biblical addition to Lutheran theology became the Word Alone Movement, which became even more prominent in the Lutheran church when the ELCA went the way of the Episcopal Church and began ordaining practicing homosexuals.

Both the ELCA and the Episcopal Church have suffered divisons, and severe losses of members and finances, since these decisions. ELCA Bishop Hanson and Episcopal Bishop Jefferts-Shori (above) are generally like minded theologically and good friends. They appear to be seeking opportunities for more joint ventures.

Nowhere has the Episcopal Church suffered more as here in Pittsburgh, where the majority of the parishes left the diocese to join with the new Anglican Church in North America and their venerable Bishop, Robert Duncan. In the SW PA Synod ELCA, fifteen churches, out of 200, have left the ELCA for the North American Lutheran Church. The two struggling regional churches seem to be drawing closer together.

This year's the annual SW PA Synod Chrism Mass/Renewal of Ordination Vows will be a joint ELCA-Episcopal service. For us, it means changing some things that have been in place for at least the fourteen years I have served in this area. The day the service is held will change (from Maundy Thursday to Holy Monday) and the site will change (no longer St. Michael's in Springdale). The past several years I have not participated in the service for theological reasons. I wonder how this new collaboration will be received.

Posted by Pastor Eric

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pennsylvania Judge Scolds Citizen for Offending Islam

Offended Muslim chokes atheist, and then ...  You won't believe craziness caused by 'Zombie Muhammad'
by Chelsea Schilling

A Muslim judge in Pennsylvania – who scolded a local atheist for offending Islam, called him a doofus and accused him of “using the First Amendment” to madden Muslims – dismissed harassment charges against the Muslim defendant who purportedly choked the atheist during a Halloween parade.

District Judge Mark Martin brought a Quran to court and told the alleged victim, American Atheists’ Pennsylvania State Director Ernest Perce V, “I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus.”

The judge added, “I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to p— off other people and cultures – which is what you did.”

Perce had worn a “zombie Muhammad” costume and proclaimed that he was the Prophet Muhammad risen from the dead at the Oct, 11, 2011, event in Mechanicsburg, Pa. A “zombie pope” was also featured in the parade that night.

Now the Scranton Atheism Examiner reports that Perce could be arrested for posting audio of the judge scolding him for mocking Muhammad. According to report, the Muslim judge has threatened to hold him in contempt of court for releasing the recording. Perce has claimed he was given permission to post the audio.

The Examiner reports that Perce said he posted the audio because the judge treated him unfairly and showed preferential treatment for the Muslim defendant.

According to reports, the atheists were marching when Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim, stormed out of the crowd and assaulted Perce, grabbing a sign around his neck and pulling until the strings choked him.

The men caught the attention of a nearby police officer.

Mechanicsburg Police Officer Bryan Curtis told Pennsylvania’s WHTM-TV, “Mr. Perce has the right to do what he did that evening, and the defendant in this case was wrong in what he did in confronting him.”

He added, “I believe that I brought a case that showed proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the case was dismissed, and I was disappointed.”

Elbayomy – who said he believed it was illegal to mock Muhammad – was charged with harassment. He denied touching Perce at trial, but Officer Curtis said Elbayomy admitted grabbing Perce’s sign and beard the night of the incident.

The following is a dark and distorted video posted of the alleged attack:

However, Judge Martin dismissed the charges and purportedly belittled the atheist victim.

The judge lectured Curtis for insulting Muhammad.  The Muslim judge scolded Perce for offending Islam.

Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in predominantly Muslim countries, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Quran here, and I would challenge you, Sir, to show me where it says in the Quran that Muhammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus. …

In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society.

Here in our society, we have a Constitution that gives us many rights, specifically First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers intended. I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to p— off other people and cultures – which is what you did.

I don’t think you’re aware, Sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – I understand you’re an atheist – but see Islam is not just a religion. It’s their culture, their culture, their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day toward Mecca. To be a good Muslim before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, unless you’re otherwise told you cannot because you’re too ill, too elderly, whatever, but you must make the attempt. Their greeting is ‘Salam alaikum, wa-laikum as-Salam,’ uh, ‘May God be with you.’

Whenever it is very common, their language, when they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, Allah willing, this will happen. It’s, they’re so immersed in it. And what you’ve done is, you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive. I’m a Muslim. I find it offensive. I find what’s on the other side of this [sign] very offensive. (Editor’s note: Reverse of sign said, “Only Muhammad can rape America!) But you have that right, but you are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights. …

I’ve spent about seven years living in other countries. When we go to other countries, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to us as ‘ugly Americans.’ This is why we hear it referred to as ‘ugly Americans,’ because we’re so concerned about our own rights, we don’t care about other people’s rights. As long as we get our say, but we don’t care about the other people’s say.

The judge later added, “Because there was not, it is not proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant is guilty of harassment, therefore, I am going to dismiss the charge.”

Carl Silverman of the Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania told WHTM-TV, “We understand that Muslims are extremely sensitive. But this is America, and you need to get over the sensitivity and take out your opposition in peaceful ways – not by attacking people physically.

Does My Forgiveness Depend on Forgiving Others?


Reader Question: Does My Forgiveness Depend on Forgiving Others?

One of my readers has asked this very good question, which comes from the following Bible passages:

Matthew 6:14-15; Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 18:21-35; Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
Mark 11:25; Teaching on Forgiveness
Luke 6:37; Sermon on the Plain

The first passage is most direct and harsh. It follows immediately after Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord's Prayer, in which He states that Christians will forgive even as they are forgiven. Forgiveness of sins is so central to the Christian life that it is a matter of our relationship to God, daily prayer, and our relationship to one another.

The confusing thing about Matthew 6:14-15 is that Jesus seems to make our forgiveness dependent on forgiving others. In other words, He makes it sound like we have to forgive before God will consider forgiving us. In view of the potential confusion about the passage, I would note a few things to keep matters clear:

1. Jesus assumes that the person forgiving is already a believer, a person who has repented and asked for his Father's forgiveness (Matthew 6:9, 12). The point about forgiving others (vv. 14-15) is an added note of warning, not about the conversion of the one praying, but about how that person will live his Christian life.

2. In other passages, Jesus teaches that there are times when forgiveness should be withheld from someone who will not repent (cf. e.g., Matthew 18:15-18; John 20:23). So Jesus is not saying absolutely in Matthew 6:14-15 that anytime someone withholds forgiveness it means that the Father won't forgive him. He has a special situation in mind where a person who has received God's forgiveness wrongly refuses to forgive someone else.

3. The special situation Jesus has in mind is explained in His "Parable of the Unforgiving Servant" (Matthew 18:21-35). In the parable, a servant is forgiven by his lord and received his lord's forgiveness. However, when a second servant pleads for the first servant's forgiveness, the first servant refuses to forgive. In other words, even though the second servant is truly repentant and pleading for mercy, the first servant KNOWINGLY WITHHOLDS FORGIVENESS. The first servant fails to forgive as God has forgiven him. Based on the broader context in Matthew's Gospel and in Jesus' teaching generally, this is the problem He is addressing in Matthew 6:14-15.

So what is happening here with the first servant or the one knowingly withholding forgiveness, as Jesus describes in Matthew 6:14-15? His unwillingness to forgive becomes a sign that his faith is either weak or failing---he is at a point where he cannot even appropriately pray the Lord's Prayer without ending up in a personal contradiction over "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (v. 12). Like the servant in the parable, hearing someone else pleading for forgiveness, "He refused and went and put him [his fellow servant] in prison" (Matthew 18:30). And this is the point where the heavenly Father steps in with His condemnation (18:32-35; cf. 6:14-15), withholding forgiveness in an effort to drive the unforgiving servant to repentance.

Jesus' teachings, taken in whole from through the Gospel of Matthew, hang together very well and are consistent. The difficulty is that we encounter the hard saying of 6:14-15 before we get the rest of the teaching. Jesus probably taught this way to stir His first hearers to repentance as they experienced the Sermon on the Mount. At times, the Lord in His wisdom comes forward harshly with the Law so that He may later come to us gently with the Gospel, calling us to simple trust in His mercy and in His ways (Matthew 11:25-30).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

No-Excuse Nuthin'-But-A-Jump-Rope Workout by Kojak LaLanne

No-Excuse Nuthin'-But-A-Jump-Rope Workout by El Cid:
Push-Ups: Until failure (min 66 reps)
Modified Lat Pulls x 66 reps
Rear Lunges augmented with Bicep Curls x 66 reps
Combination Bent-Legged Leg Raises with Abdominal Crunches x 66 reps
Prone Rows x 66 reps
Jump Rope x 33 minutes
Stretch / Cool Down

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

LCMS President on Attack on Civil and Religious Liberty by US HHS

LCMS President Statement on Attack on Civil and Religious Liberty by US Department of Health and Human Services

February 3, 2012

A Statement on Recent HHS Decision and Religious Freedom

We are deeply distressed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recent decision to require nearly all private health plans, including those offered by religious employers, to cover contraceptives. This will include controversial birth-control products such as “Ella” and the “morning after” pill, even though the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that such drugs can cause the death of a baby developing in the womb.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) objects to the use of drugs and procedures that are used to take the lives of unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception, and we are opposed to the HHS’ decision mandating the coverage of such contraceptives. This HHS action relates to a provision in the “health care reform” legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) signed into law in 2010.

The church’s benefits partner, Concordia Plan Services, which provides health care coverage to nearly 48,000 people, has been actively monitoring this legislation and, as a result, Concordia Health Plan (CHP)—the LCMS church workers’ health plan—has been maintained as a “grandfathered” plan. As such, employers and workers participating in CHP would not be subjected to the mandate. However, many religious organizations do not have grandfathered plans and cannot avail themselves of the extremely narrow religious-employer exemption, which only is applicable to religious employers that primarily serve and employ members of that faith.

For centuries, Lutherans have joyfully delivered Christ’s mercy to others and embraced His call to care for the needy within our communities and around the world. In a nation that has allowed more than 54 million legal abortions since 1973, we must consider the marginalization of unborn babies and object to this mandate. In addition, I encourage the members of the LCMS to join with me in supporting efforts to preserve our essential right to exercise our religious beliefs.

This action by HHS will have the effect of forcing many religious organizations to choose between following the letter of the law and operating within the framework of their religious tenets. We add our voice to the long list of those championing for the continued ability to act according to the dictates of their faith, and provide compassionate care and clear Christian witness to society’s most vulnerable, without being discriminated against by government. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, a church body of sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus, has affected the lives of millions of people with care, aid, housing, health care, spiritual care and much more.

We have been a force for good in this nation, promoting education (the nation’s largest Protestant school system), marriage and giving people the tools and assistance to be good citizens. We live and breathe Romans 13:3–7. The governing authorities are “God’s servant for good.” We pray constantly for our President and those in authority. We have sent our sons and daughters to fight for this country. We have provided military chaplains, elected officials, officers, including some who have held the highest military offices and other appointed positions in this country. Our people have and are serving as congressmen and women and senators.

Increasingly we are suffering overzealous government intrusions into what is the realm of traditional and biblical Christian conscience. We believe this is a violation of our First Amendment rights. We will stand, to the best of our ability, with all religious and other concerned citizens, against this erosion of our civil liberty. Come what may, we shall do everything we can, by God’s grace, to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison President The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod