Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Children’s Sermon – Alpha-Bits Cereal and God’s Word

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

(Saturday night) UPDATED at end of post:

I’m giving the children’s sermon in church tomorrow.  Here’s what I’ll say and do:

Theme: God’s Word feeds our hearts.

Materials: a box of Alpha-Bits cereal, some paper plates.

To give the children at the end of the lesson: snack bags with Alpha-Bits, small booklets of Bible verses

Good morning, boys and girls.  What’s this? (hold up box of cereal).  Yes, it’s Alpha-Bits cereal.   I always enjoy eating Alpha-Bits because I can spell words with it.  Let’s see what I can spell with these.  (pour some onto one of the plates and spell a simple word with whatever letters are there.  Show the children the word – them eat the word).   Yum!  I can spell the word, and then I can eat the word.

Here, you try it.  (Give each child a paper plate with some Alpha-Bits on it.  Call on the children to tell you the words they make.)

Can we eat the words you make from the Alpha-Bits ?  Yes, we can, and when we eat good food - it nourishes our bodies and makes us stronger and happier.  (To avoid spills, take up the plates and Alpha-Bits.  Tell the children that at the end of the lesson they’ll get a bag of Alpha-Bits to snack on later.)

Alpha-Bits aren’t the only way to eat words.  God gives us good words, too.  The Bible is God’s word for us. 

There was a prophet – a wise man – in the Bible named Jeremiah.  He wrote: “When God’s words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (Jeremiah 15:16a, NIV)

Now do you think Jeremiah really ATE the words of God?  No, he didn’t.  He meant that he read them and they were like food to his heart.  They made him stronger and happier.

That’s what God wants us to do.  He wants us to read His Word – the Bible – and let his Words feed us so that we will know more about God and love him more and be stronger and happier because of the nourishment (good things) we get from His Word.

Here is a booklet of Bible verses for you to feed your hearts.  Will each of you promise to read one verse from this booklet each day?  Make sure you feed your heart with God’s word each day.

Let’s pray:  Our Heavenly Father, thank  you for giving us your word – the Bible – to feed our hearts and make us stronger and happier.  Amen

Hand out the bags of Alpha-Bits for each child.

UPDATE (Saturday evening):  Has Post stopped making Alpha-Bits?  I searched FIVE different grocery stores today, and none of them had Alpha-Bits.  I had a clerk at one Kroger look it up in the inventory, and he said that it had been six months since any had shown up on their inventory.  He didn’t know if it was no longer being produced or if Kroger had just stopped carrying it.

Now my lesson will have to be modified.  Not having Alpha-Bits nixes the use of that particular text – the whole idea of “eating words” doesn’t work without some literal words that can be eaten – and I’m not getting into alphabet soup.

So I bought some red seedless grapes.  The lesson will be about how food feeds out bodies – how we have to have food each day in order to grow and be healthy.  Then I’ll lead into how reading the Bible feeds our hearts.  We have to read the Bible each day in order for our hearts to grow strong and healthy.

I will change the scripture to Deuteronomy 8:3B “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”   We need food for our physical bodies (bread – grapes), but our hearts/souls need food, too – and food for our heart is found in the Bible.                                           

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The “Lost Boys” of the Warren Jeffs Cult of Mormons

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

The Warren Jeffs’ story that has been in the news off and on lately gets stranger.  Apparently young girls weren’t the only ones who were treated as objects to be used, abused and disposed of by the sicko leaders.  Now we have 18-year old Johnny Jessop suing Jeffs for information about Jessop’s mother.  There are a lot of sick adults in the world, and they seem driven to draw children into their worlds of darkness. 

SALT LAKE CITY (Feb. 21) – Saying he was kicked out of his home and his fundamentalist church, an 18-year-old man sued Tuesday to force polygamist leader Warren Jeffs to help him reconnect with his family.

Attorneys for Johnny Jessop, 18, asked a state judge to order Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to tell Jessop how to find his 62-year-old mother, Elsie. Jessop has not spoken to his mother in more than 18 months, attorney Roger Hoole said.

Jessop is among what may be dozens of so-called “Lost Boys” who say they were kicked out of the FLDS church in the past four years by Jeffs for being disobedient or because they were seen as competition to older men seeking young brides.

The FLDS practices polygamy and arranged marriages. The faith has an estimated 10,000 members, mostly in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Jessop grew up in Hildale, Hoole said.

FLDS members consider themselves “fundamentalist Mormons,” although the mainstream church disavows any connection. They also consider Jeffs a prophet of God with dominion over their salvation.

Jeffs, 51, is in jail on two felony counts of rape as an accomplice for his suspected role in a 2001 marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her older cousin. On the run for nearly two years, Jeffs was arrested last year in a traffic stop in Nevada.

He has led the church since 2004, and dissidents describe him as a heartless ruler who has fractured dozens of families, sending fathers and husbands away and reassigning their wives and children to other men.

Now living in Salt Lake, Jessop was forced out of his family five years ago, Hoole said. Essentially homeless, the youth ran into some minor legal trouble and was ordered several times by courts to return home.

Under threat of church punishment, though, his family turned him away, and Jessop ended up in Salt Lake City as a ward of a nonprofit organization that helps boys who say they were pushed out of the church, Hoole said.

For several years, Jessop maintained telephone contact with his mother, but that ended nearly two years ago, Hoole said.

Jessop believes that Jeffs ordered his mother to cut ties with him and that the leader knows where Jessop can find his mother, Hoole said. The young man says that he has written two letter to Jeffs, begging him to allow the family to reconnect, but that Jeffs has not responded.

Jeffs’ attorney Wally Bugden also has not responded to requests for help, Hoole said.

A message left by The Associated Press after business hours at Bugden’s office was not immediately returned Tuesday.

“The child/parent relationship is a protected relationship under the law,” said Hoole. “We need a court order that will force Warren Jeffs to tell Johnny where Elsie is. Then the lawsuit can go away.”

It was unclear whether Jessop might have sought help from other authorities in finding his mother.

Jessop is not seeking damages, Hoole said. No court date has been set.

Jessop tells us that he was “kicked out” of the Jeffs’ group 5 years ago.  That means he was only 13 years old at the time.  A child.  Whether he was kicked out for misbehavior or because Jeffs saw boys his age as “threats” to his acquisition of the young girls as wives for older men, it is simply WRONG.

However, Jessop’s mother is also WRONG.  What mother would kick out her own son because some whack-job like Jeffs told her to?  Just looking at a photo of the man is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.  And where is Jessop’s father?

It seems that anybody can come up with any kind of perversion, call it a religion, and there are people who will join in.  There are way too many sheep in this world – blindly following whoever has their attention at the moment.

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Ash Wednesday – Giving Up Something For Lent

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

February 21st is Ash Wednesday.   It begins the season of Lent – the 40 days preceding Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.  I found a website that offered some good information about Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent.

We don’t know much about how the first-century Christians treated the forty days before Resurrection Sunday. But by the second century, the church was starting to use that season as a time for training new believers about how to rightly think, live, and believe as Christians. . . . This was done, in part, by reliving the Scriptural accounts of Christ’s final time before He was killed. It was done with the whole church community as they, too, relived it. The end of that period was Holy Week, and Easter would be the day that the new believers would be baptized into the Church. As the Roman world became mostly Christian and more people had already been baptized as children, the season  . . . began to take on a different meaning, one that would be of great value for new and long-time Christians alike. It would become a time for looking at the depth of one’s own sin, and turning away from them. A time for learning what it means to follow Christ, and to listen to the Spirit. A time for actually going about changing one’s ways to be more as Christ would have them be. . . .

And for that reason many Christians decide to “give up” something for the 40 days of Lent.  I remember once – probably about 20 years ago – when I was very much addicted to the soap opera “All My Children”, I gave up the show for forty days.  After Easter, when I finally watched the show again, the storyline had moved forward very little.  It wasn’t too much longer before I gave up watching it entirely.  I learned quickly through my 40 days of going without it – just how little substance there was to it.

 When we deny ourselves things we enjoy, we strenghten our own will so we do not become slaves to the things we like. This exercise helps strengthen us spiritually. It makes us sacrifice. By giving up something that isn’t sinful helps us give up things or not do things that are. It also helps us to keep our priorties straight.

Most of what is done and learned in Lent is true for the rest of the year, too, but with a different feel. Most people couldn’t even dream of keeping their intense focus all year on what Jesus did and what we’re to do with that. Forty days is long enough not to be short-term, but too short to be thought of as a substitute for year-round Christian living. A short burst, such as forty days, can go a long way. But only for those who make some hard decisions.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (in 2007, that’s 21 February). The tone of worship and church life changes starting with the worship services of that day, all the way to Palm Sunday, and then again to Easter. Gone are exuberant praise (even “Glory!” and “Alleluia”), loud music, and sermons about joy, pride, politics, authority, evangelism, fund-raising, or building programs. The feeling is subdued, with a pensive hush, in awe of God, in sharp awareness of how each of us — and all of us together — are not as God calls us to be, and because of that, will eventually die. We are not masters of our lives but are instead subject to the tides of life and are thus much less than God. It’s good practice to wear simple clothing in subdued colors and grays, without frills or jewelry (though perhaps we should resist going over-the-top, such as going to Sunday services wearing the real clothing of Lent : ash-covered sackcloth). In liturgical churches, and more of other churches each year, Ash Wednesday is marked by the ancient rite of the imposition of ashes (dating back at least 1000 to 1200 years). At the start of the Ash Wednesday service, the believers are asked to come forward to the altar. The minister dips his/her thumb into a small tin of ashes (burnt from last year’s Palm Sunday palms, with a drop of olive oil), and with it marks onto each person’s forehead the sign of the cross, saying the words “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” (from Ecclesiastes 3:20). . . . It is the season to be focused on turning from wrong-doing and dedicating anew to the kind of life Jesus taught us to live.

RT and I had planned on attending the Ash Wednesday service at our church tomorrow evening.  However, we will be babysitting the grandgirls since their daddy will be having minor surgery early the next morning.  So we will spend the evening being Grandma Carol and PawPaw instead.  And that is good.

What to give up for Lent.  I know what I am planning to do for the next 40 days as my personal “sacrifice.”  In our world today, there are few things that are truly sacrifices that we can make.

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Boston Legal – Stereotypes and Intolerance in Action

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

At one time Boston Legal was one of my favorite TV shows.  It was funny and outrageous.  Unfortunately, it has gone the way of most shows that last beyond a few years.  The storylines are getting more and more absurd, and apparently they no longer are happy with their “progressive-friendly” scripts.  Now they simply MUST have scripts that preach their anti-conservative and anti-religion biases and intolerance. 

Last night’s show, in particular, was a constant barage of derision and disdain for conservatives and for religion.  It has stopped amazing me at the extent of intolerance the “progressives” can display toward anyone who doesn’t agree with them.   Their “accept everyone as they are” mantra only applies to other progressives – and certainly not towards conservatives or Christians.

If past blogging history is any indication and this post receives comments from the progressive side, they will most likely be laced with profanity and personal attacks and charges.   To progressives, conservatives are the “other America” that Denny and Alan discussed with so much disdain in last night’s show.  The “other America” that doesn’t believe in giving people equal rights and the “other America that elected a president.”  And I have yet to hear a progressive admit or even recognize that such a discussion is the epitomy of intolerance and stereotyping.

In last night’s episode, Denise told Brad that he was the father of the child she is carrying.  Immediately they put Brad in the dunce category as he started talking about getting schools  lined up for the baby – “It’s never too early.” 

Then Denise told him she hadn’t decided definitely about continuing the pregnancy.  So now it looks like that storyline will be one in which Brad will be portrayed as an  idiot male trying to exert his “father’s rights” while Denise will be portrayed as the brave and liberated woman guarding her “right to decide.”

I wish that “entertainment” shows would stick to entertainment – and leave the political commentary to the political shows.

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The Children’s Sermon – a Box of Crayons

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Today I gave the children’s sermon at my church.  Which, in light of previous heated debates on this blog, is kinda funny to me.  I’m a woman, and I spoke and taught in the sanctuary of a church during the regular Sunday morning service with ADULT males present.  Heresy according to my COC readers. However, I digress.

I wanted to write down what I said to the children.  Not because I came up with something outstanding.  I didn’t at all.  Last week, when I was asked to do the children’s service this morning, I immediately emailed my family and asked for suggestions.  My younger sister, Debi, does the children’s sermon regularly at her church in Georgia.  She immediately emailed the following sermon to me, and it’s the one I used this morning.  I KNOW Debi did a much better job than I did.  Afterwards, I realized that I had forgotten one of the important points.  However, I think it went “okay” this morning.

One of the best parts, for me,  is that my oldest grandgirl, 5-year-old Sweet Stuff, was there with me.  So that was fun.  She got to see me in a different light than just as “Grandma Carol.”

Here’s the lesson:

The Box of Crayons

Good morning, boys and girls!  What do I have here?   That’s right, a box of crayons.

Did you know that our church is like this box of crayons?

This box of crayons has 64 different colors in it.  No two crayons are exactly the same color.

And our church is full of people.  God did not make any two of the people in our church the same.  Everyone here has their own talents and abilities, just like each crayon in the box has its own color.

When you draw a picture, the prettiest ones are the ones where you have used lots of different crayons and have lots of different colors.

And at our church, we are at our best when a lot of different people are all using their talents and abilities for God.  That makes the church better and stronger.

But, you know, the crayons in this box are really all pretty much the same, too.  They are all the same size and the same shape and they all are made for drawing and coloring.

The people in our church are all really pretty much the same, too.  God loves us and He made us all.  He has a plan for what He wants us to be doing.  And we all need God.

When you see these crayons today – and actually whenever you see a crayon, remember that you need to be using your life, your talents and abilities to draw a beautiful picture for God.

On the way home from church, I asked Sweet Stuff if she remembered what the children’s sermon was about, and her reply was “Yes.  The church is like a box of crayons.”

If I had it to do over, I would have bought a small box of crayons for each child.  It wouldn’t have cost much since the most we’ve ever had was 12 children – and this morning there were only six.  I had the box of 64 to use as the lesson object.  I guess I could have given them each one of those.  But giving each child just one crayon didn’t make much sense to me.

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I KNOW Liberals Will Explain This Away, But Isn’t It TRULY Religious Discrimination?

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Just read THIS.

Teachers demanded Samantha Devine remove her chain and tiny crucifix despite allowing Muslim and Sikh pupils to wear symbols of their religion.

Her family have vowed to fight the decision “all the way” claiming it discriminates against Christians.

. . . .

Mr Devine, who attends St Thomas Of Canterbury Catholic Church in Gillingham every Sunday, insisted: “It’s just political correctness gone absolutely mad.

“It’s a harmless, very small crucifix and she wears it as a symbol of her religion.”

Samantha was asked to remove her necklace in front of sniggering classmates as she left the morning registration session on Wednesday morning.

The necklace was just visible underneath her open-necked blouse, worn with a blazer in accordance with the school’s dress code.

The Devines were told she should remove her chain because it breached health and safety rules.

Go read the whole article.  I know the liberals will say it isn’t discrimination, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll explain the “danger” of a necklace versus the “safety” of turbans and bangles.

However, I feel quite certain that if it were, let’s say, a Muslim student who insisted on wearing a necklace with some Islamic symbol on it, they (the liberals and their political action robot, the ACLU) would all be up in arms supporting that student’s right to express his/her religion. 

I wear a necklace every day, and I alternate between two pendants – a cross and a “C”.  I think I’ll start wearing the cross exclusively.

Political correctness is all about double standards and appeasement.

Tiara-tip to Janette.

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The Tennessean: “Tennessee Voices: I am a Muslim, and, yes, I am an American”

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

As I was reading THE TENNESSEAN this morning, I came across an article that was particularly interesting to me considering the posts I’ve written the past few days and the reader response to those posts.

The article was titled: “Tennessee Voices: I am a Muslim, and yes, I am an American,” and was written by Sabina Zia Mohyuddin. Here it is:

I am an American. To be more precise, I am a Tennessean. I was born and raised in Nashville. I rode the bus to school for 12 years, then went on to graduate from Vanderbilt University. I have lived in Memphis and Clarksville among other places and now call Tullahoma my home. I got married in college and now have four children. Sounds like a typical American, right?

Yet, when people see me, their first question often is: “Where are you from?” Naturally, I say I was born and raised in Nashville.

The catch is that I am a Bangladeshi Muslim American. My parents are from Bangladesh, my religion is Islam, but I am still an American.

Nonetheless, there are those who would regard me with suspicion because — although I worship the same God of the Christians and Jews — I pray five times a day, fast during the month of Ramadan and wear a headscarf in public. I love to eat rice and curry and occasionally wear traditional Bangladeshi clothing.

So sometimes, people’s first impression of me makes them wonder why I have not become more Americanized.

This leads me to the question: “What does it mean to be an American?” For me, being an American does not just mean I am a U.S. citizen. It means that I want what is best for America. I want a country where our children’s welfare and education are our top priority. I want a country where there is “liberty and justice for all” and where there is equal access to health care. I want a country that works with other nations to solve global problems such as disease, poverty and pollution.

Desiring what is best for America is not enough. As an American, I must get involved in helping those in need and become actively engaged in the issues affecting our country. I must speak out against any injustice and let my voice be heard by voting in local and national elections.

An American does not have to be a white or African-American Christian. Whether or not a person is a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or member of any other faith, if she is working for a better America, then she is an American. Whether a person is from Mexico, Somalia, China or any other country, if he is working for a better America, then he is an American.

Each person brings unique experiences and ideas which help strengthen America. As a Bangladeshi Muslim American, I share my ideals of strong families where parents are respected and children are cherished.

I find no contradictions in being a Muslim and being an American. As a Muslim, I must uphold the laws of this land, stand up for what is right and help those in need.

That is what makes me an American.

I find Ms. Mohyuddin’s words refreshing, and while she and I might not agree completely about how to accomplish them, the goals and dreams she expressed in the article are the same as mine.  She expressed the American ideal very well.

However, for all the lofty and conciliatory rhetoric, I also call on American Muslims such as Ms. Mohyuddin, along with rationale Muslims worldwide – to publicly condemn the brutality of Muslim terrorists and the bastardizing of their religion, faith and holy book.  Where is the loud and public outrage and condemnation from moderate Muslims for the extreme brutality that is being carried out in the name of Islam?

As long as there are Muslim extremists and terrorists going throughout the world killing, maiming and creating mayhem, as long as there are militant Muslims bragging loudly about how they infiltrate average American society in order to carry out their terrorist agenda, and until I hear moderate Muslims throughout the world loudly and publicly and in great numbers condemning the Islamic terrorists and calling for an end of terrorism, then I will be wary of Muslims.  I won’t deny them their rights as American citizens or as human beings.  However, until I get to know them personally, I will be wary of them.  It’s only common sense.

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If you Mistrust Muslims or are “Uncomfortable” with them in any way – then You’re a BIGOT

Friday, January 5th, 2007

I learn new things every day.  Today I’ve learned that apparently in order to be completely progressively PC, I cannot be wary, have reservations or have negative feelings of any kind regarding the motives or possible outcomes of any person who is elected for public office.  At least not based on that person’s religious affiliation.  It doesn’t matter if people are being killed and denied basic human rights in the name of that religion on a daily basis. 

It doesn’t matter that I would never question that person’s right to run for office and be elected and use whatever “Holy Book” he/she wants for the swearing-in ceremony.  If I have ANY negative feelings or concerns about it, then I’m a bigot.

Name-calling is okay, though – as long as the person being called a name is a conservative.   Glad to have that straight now. 

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Islam and America Poll from American Family Association

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

A friend pointed out this poll. It’s an internet poll which means only the opinions of the people who take the time to respond are counted. However, I believe it shows some tendencies. And Muslims have only themselves to blame for the negative feelings about Islam that are evident.

Islam and America Poll Results
Do you consider Islam to be a peaceful religion? Yes 12,048 No 162,837
Do you consider Islam to be a tolerant religion? Yes 6,723 No 167,829
Would America be a better country if it were a Muslim country? Yes 1,009 No 173,436
Should America place equal emphasis on the Koran and the Bible? Yes 4,098 No 169,964
Would it be good for America to have more Muslims in elected offices? Yes 4,147 No 169,372
Would you vote for a Muslim for president? Yes 3,653 No 170,143
As a general rule, are women treated better in America than in a Muslim country? Yes 159,745 No 14,181
Is America too dependent on Muslim countries for oil? Yes 167,659 No 6,247
Do Muslim countries do more than America to help the poor? Yes 4,254 No 168,556

You can participate in the poll yourself by going HERE.

Tiara-tip to Something…and Half of Something.

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What is YOUR Hymn? God Will Take Care of You

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

In church this past Sunday, Pastor Tom’s sermon title was “What is Your Hymn?”  I’ve written about hymns before – here and here.   Growing up in a preacher’s family, hymns have always meant a lot to me.  I play the piano only a very little – but I can play more hymns than any other kind of music.  Hymns are some of the most beautiful and inspiring music in the world.

After Sunday’s sermon, I started thinking about which hymn “fits” what I want my life to be.  What is MY hymn? It’s a difficult question – a question with an answer that changes.

For today, I think God Will Take Care of You is the hymn that most reflects what I want my life to represent.

 God Will Take Care of You
Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.
God will take care of you,
Through every day, over all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.
Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.
All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.
No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.

So, what is YOUR hymn?

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