Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thank you Dave for the following:
The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.

George Burns

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Israel irrelevant to the End Times

A few days ago I read a study prepared by Rev. Philip Rokke in support of the proposition that today's nation of Israel is irrelevant to our understanding of the End Times. He writes:

I am attaching a collection of scriptures that I pulled together to help people understand that the current nation of Israel is entirely irrelevant to any discussion of “end times.”

The first scriptures are from the OT and teach that ancestry was never the determining factor in identifying the people of God. The promise to Abraham was to those who were circumcised whether they were biological descendants or not. Even circumcision could not overcome an absence of faith. This teaching is indistinguishable from our teaching on baptism. Males were circ’d on the eighth day. Our children are baptized as infants. Circ was the “covenant” just as baptism is today. But, those who later turn away lose out.

The NT quotes say the same thing, perhaps with even greater clarity. “It is not the children of the flesh, but the children of the promise.” “He is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical.” “He is a Jew who is one inwardly...” “ If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring.” “You are fellow citizens.” “There is one body.” Etc.

If the temple were rebuilt and the OT sacrifices reinstituted, it would be an abomination. Christ has been sacrificed once for all. There is no need of other sacrifices. To return to the OT system is to deny Christ.

“Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them when he says: "The days will come, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” Heb 8:6-8

The outward city of Jerusalem was only a symbol of the spiritual people of God. Not every resident of the city was a child of God. Still, the city was a symbol. The name, Jerusalem, continues to be used – in some contexts - as a symbol of the people of God in the NT. It is about the people of God, not about the geography.

Rev. Rokke's Scripture references are on our web site. here

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

more from "Respecting The Enemy"

When I was a child, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and I rejoiced. As I remember the event today, however, I do not rejoice. The Japanese are not my enemies, and I do not understand what it means to win a war. That event is not over for me. People who are physically deformed because of that bomb still live in Hiroshima, and nuclear power is still a concept I wrestle with.
Chronological time is deceptive. It gives us the impression that an event is over and done with if it happened sometime in the past. In the present, though, when it is called to memory, the past can grow and expand.
If I still feel hurt or resentment, I have not grown or allowed the event to transform me. Feelings that are remembered rather than felt indicate that the past has grown in me and that I have changed. This is a moment of grace. It means that relationships can be healed even if the loved one is dead or out of contact. There is no need to live with regrets for love not given or for forgiveness withheld.

Pray the News

Monday, August 28, 2006

stained glass ceiling responses

Read some of the NYTimes responses to the stained glass ceiling article cited in my August 26 post. here

Sunday, August 27, 2006

ohio & i

Japanese lesson this morning by Rev. David Person, Lutheran missionary to Japan:
A word that sounds like ohio = good morning
A word that sounds like i = love
The main point of the message: We are all one as we come before Christ, no matter where we live or what is the color of our skin, hair, etc. Exciting things are happening with the youth in Japan, less than 1% of whom are Christian.

Jews for Jesus

Comedian Jackie Mason, who is suing Jews for Jesus for unauthorized use of his name in a pamphlet: "The fact is, as everyone knows, I am as Jewish as a matzo ball or kosher salami."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

the stained glass ceiling

Read about the problems & challenges faced by clergywomen. here

I speak differently than a man does. To hear the fullness of God's voice, you need to hear both men and women.
Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank

Friday, August 25, 2006

Have a good day!

Each morning as I walk with our big black Lab, Lucy, I pass a group of school children waiting for a bus. For the most part, they stand like statues staring off into space, a few huddled together, hands in pockets. As I pass them I always say, “Have a good day!”―but it seems to fall on deaf ears. One day, Lucy ventured up to them, sniffing as usual, and a small hand went out and touched her on the head. “Have a good day!” I said. As the mornings passed a few more hands searched for Lucy’s head, and I asked a small girl if she would like to pet Lucy and was greeted by a very small nod. “Have a good day!” As a few weeks passed, the stopping and petting became a routine, “Have a good day!” I greeted, and as I continued on my way, I heard a very small voice say, “You, too!”
Sister Terese
Carmelites of Indianapolis
Pray the news

time to move

When my 7-year-old said to me, "Mommy, I want an iPod," then I knew we had to leave.

Reform Jewish Rabbi Susan Silverman, who is moving with her family from Massachusetts to Israel.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bob's Cabins

Yes, we're back from Bob's Cabins. The cabins are very much like the ones my folks stopped at when we travelled cross-country the '50s. Lake Superior is very much like I imagine it was before white people arrived on the scene.
All of these pictures were taken with my Treo Palm phone camera -- it seemed appropriate to use a minimal camera when staying in minimal accomodations.

market share & giving units

I have high regard for the Methodist Church and its Christian stance on social issues. That's why I wish the following article wasn't associated with this fine denomination: The Stewardship Journey
But I know that this same approach to raising money exists in many other churches. I trust I am not the only one bothered by it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Immanuel Lutheran Church

Forest City, IA, reflected in window mural


Friday, August 18, 2006

I will be going to Iowa for a few days & then to Lake Superior. Posting will resume next week.

Have a restful weekend and a blessed Sunday!

Big Stone Lake Wildlife Refuge, Ortonville, MN

a few pictures from my recent trip

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. H.D. Thoreau

I write to find out what I didn't know Iknew.
Robert Frost

"What Good Are The Arts?"

. . . is the title of a new book by John Carey. Excerpt:

A work of art is anything that anyone has ever considered a work of art, though it may be a work of art only for that one person. What matters is the way we look at the thing, the way we engage with it. Think of the concentrated elegance surrounding the Japanese tea ceremony. But think too of the similarly intense focus and appreciation of details that fans bring to their discussions of a daily soap opera or an episode of "Lost."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

what would Jesus drive

How can we stay up to date & know what the "younger generation" is thinking? One way is to read their blogs. The following is from a favorite of mine, "am I just imagining ..."

My friend, Emily, heard a joke the other day that goes like this.

Q: What kind of car would Jesus drive?

A: A van that seats 13.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily call this a funny joke, but somehow it sparked a lot of discussion between me and the friends. First, we pictured Judas banished to the very back seat. You know, the one that faces the opposite direction of everyone else. We saw bumper stickers of the expected fish and some with catchy lines like "What Would I Do?" or "Honk If You Love Me!" or "Jesus Recycles" plastered to the van. Also, we imagined Jesus wearing a t-shirt saying "I'm With Stupid" with a magic arrow that always points to Judas. Jesus could even start his own lucrative line of merchandise. As he tours countries with his disciples in a traveling road show, they could earn their keep by setting up and manning the merch table at each location. He could even promote himself through MySpace. Now, I see Jesus wanting speakers on the outside of the van so he could blast Christian rock to let people know he's around, kind of like the ice cream man, but Em scoffed at this. She thinks Jesus is too cool for Christian rock and would put on Wolfmother or something. This led to a debate about the musical tastes of Jesus. Yes, we are smarties who use their time wisely.

If you haven't seen "Little Miss Sunshine," you should. It's hilarious and a little sad, and I love it. I could totally see Jesus driving the VW from that movie.

rituals in church

We should take as great care with our religious rituals as if we were putting on a great performance at a theater, because that ritual was originally designed to lead us to transcendence, instead of just sort of mechanically going through motions of our various rites and ceremonies. [We should be] trying to make them into something absolutely beautiful and inspiring, because I do see religion as a kind of art form.
Karen Armstrong

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

buy a church

Since early this year, I've noticed that St. George's Ukrainian Orthodox Church near University Ave. & Central in Minneapolis is for sale. Today, as I was driving to meet a friend for lunch, I stopped to take a picture of it. It is a beautiful, traditional church; I do not know what the interior looks like, but there seems to be quite a bit of room in an add-on structure to the south. For an aerial picture, click here. (Switch to the sattelite view & zoom in to the closest setting.)
I get sad when I see a church buildings close and abandoned or converted to secular use.
There must be a way to save it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Christ on Sunday

Christ is walking through a large metropolitan city on a Sunday morning. Passing a palatial and ornate church, he hears the sound of weeping and turns aside to see who is crying. In a corner beside the steps he finds a homeless man, his clothes worn, his hair wild, his skin covered with dirt in some spots.
"Why are you crying, my son?" our Lord asks.
"Because they will not let me come in," the homeless man replies.
"Oh, I wouldn't take it so hard," the Master says, "They don't let me in very often either."

night at Blue Cloud Abbey

Monday, August 14, 2006

kids enjoying summer evening

evening at Blue Cloud Abbey

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Johnsons in Jerusalem

Mike, Pastor Dave, Cindy, and Matt


O God, we confess the blindness -- that is not even aware of sinning;

The pride -- that dares not admit that it is wrong;

The selfishness -- that can see nothing but its own will;
The righteousness -- that knows no fault;

The callousness -- that has ceased to care;

The defiance -- that does not regret its own sins;

The evasion -- that always tries to make excuses;

The coldness of heart -- that is too hardened to repent.

God, we are sinners; be merciful to us.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

British Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Friends, let me tell you what is wrong with terror. It is not just that it murders the
innocent: the young, the old, the defenceless, the uninvolved.
It is that it murders innocence itself.
It turns virtue into weakness, decency into vulnerability.
And if we, if Israel, if Europe, if America do not take a stand against terror,
if we ignore it as the world ignored it for so long,
then it will leave a stain on the human future that no tears, no regrets, will ever remove.

And therefore let me end with simple words of prayer:
Ribbono shel olam: Be with your people Israel now.
Hear their cry
Heed their tears
Listen to this, our prayer on their behalf.
Grant peace to all your children, Jew, Christian and Muslim alike.
Help us live together, respecting one another.
Help us cherish life.
Help us to use the powers You gave us, to heal, to mend, to build.
We ask of You, Almighty God, just one thing:
You who make peace in high places,
Help us make peace down here on earth.

1st Amendment & religion

In my July 31 post I mentioned the local pastor, Rev. Greg Boyd. Martha Sawyer Allen writes in today's Star Tribune Faith section about him and how both, the religious right and the secular, tend to misinterpret the First Amendment regarding our government's involvement with religion. She says:

. . . how many people don't understand or misread the religion clause of the First Amendment.

But Boyd appears to understand it perfectly. It says, in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. ... "

See the two parts? The religious right only reads the free exercise part. The secular left only reads the so-called "establishment" clause. Both sides are wrong when they exclude the other piece of the amendment in their understanding of what Thomas Jefferson was talking about when he wrote about the need to keep "church and state" separate. more

Blue Cloud Abbey trip through the eye of my Treo phone camera

entering South Dakota

approaching Blue Cloud Abbey

flowers in my room from Br. Chris' greenhouse

view of one of the lakes

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

just so you know that I'm still at the Abbey

Nihil amori Christi praeponere.

P.S. Actually, the liturgy & prayers are all in English with just a little bit of Latin thrown in for seasoning.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

time out

I will be taking a week off from blogging; for two days I will be
attending a birding/photography workshop in Ortonville and
then spending a few days at Blue Cloud Abbey.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


It has been some time since I've mentioned my friend, Rev. Luther Dasari, and his work in India. (I did use him as an example of God's grace and empowerment in my sermon last Sunday.) I urge you to take a look at his web site from which you can access several blogs that we have set up for his church.
There are recent additions to the
news blog describing the free medical services provided to the needy. Please consider supporting this ministry.
On a lighter note, take a look at the pictures from a wedding in Pothutakla.

If you desire more information about Rev. Luther and his work, please write to me at

reconciling religion & science

watch the video and read the article

true or false?

Being gentle and kind does not excuse one from political responsibility.
Charles Kruger

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