Monday, December 26, 2011

Check out Frank Schaeffer: President Obama Will Win In An Overwhelming Landsl

An interesting read; I thought I'd share it with you.
Have a Merry Christmas, and pray for us while we are here in Los Angeles. Thanks.
Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34
"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 10

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SNL skit

This skit that aired on Saturday Night Live on this past Saturday has some Christians (yes, Pat Robertson) outraged. What do you think of this? Just wondering...share your thoughts if you like.
Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34
"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 10

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fwd: The Real War on Christmas... by Fox News - SojoMail 12.15.11

Let the church say, "Amen!"

Sent: 12/15/2011 2:43:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: The Real War on Christmas... by Fox News - SojoMail 12.15.11

"This is the largest corporate step up to the challenge that is beginning to apply direct resources to the fight against slavery. … a game-changing investment." - Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission, which received one of a total $11.5 million in grants made by Google to organizations working to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking. (Source: CNN)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

The Real War on Christmas ... by Fox News Get a free issue of Sojourners
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Each Advent in recent years, around the time when those prefab, do-it-yourself gingerbread house kits appear on supermarket shelves, Fox News launches its (allegedly) defensive campaign commonly known as the "War on Christmas."

Fox News' "war" is designed to criticize the "secularization" of our culture wrought by atheists, agnostics, liberals, leftists, progressives, and separation of church and state zealots— i.e. Democrats. This irreligious coalition force is allegedly waging a strategic offensive on Christmas, trying to banish the sacred symbols of the season, denying our religious heritage, and even undermining the spiritual rubrics upon which our great nation is built.

Fox News positions itself as the defender of the faith and all things sacred. And Bill O'Reilly fancies himself the "watchdog" of Christmas.

Fox News' usual targets include shopping malls and stores that replace their "Merry Christmas" greetings with "Happy Holidays," and state governments that no longer call their official "Christmas" trees by their rightful name, or municipalities that ban any depictions of, or references to, the Christmas season in public places. Those who are attacked defend themselves, often claim that they are really religious too, and the perennial war is on.

But what we actually have here is a theological problem, where cultural and commercial symbols are confused with truly Christian ones, and the meaning of the holy season is missed all together.

The war on Christmas is really about what brand of "civil religion" America should have. The particular (read: biblical) meaning of Christmas, for Christians, has almost nothing to do with the media war.

What a surprise.

What is Christmas? It is the celebration of the Incarnation, God's becoming flesh — human — and entering into history in the form of a vulnerable baby born to a poor, teenage mother in a dirty animal stall. Simply amazing. That Mary was homeless at the time,a member of a people oppressed by the imperial power of an occupied country whose local political leader, Herod, was so threatened by the baby's birth that he killed countless children in a vain attempt to destroy the Christ child, all adds compelling historical and political context to the Advent season.

The theological claim that sets Christianity apart from any other faith tradition is the Incarnation. God has come into the world to save us. God became like us to bring us back to God and show us what it means to be truly human.

That is the meaning of the Incarnation. That is the reason for the season.

In Jesus Christ, God hits the streets.

It is theologically and spiritually significant that the Incarnation came to our poorest streets. That Jesus was born poor, later announces his mission at Nazareth as "bringing good news to the poor," and finally tells us that how we treat "the least of these" is his measure of how we treat him and how he will judge us as the Son of God, radically defines the social context and meaning of the Incarnation of God in Christ. And it clearly reveals the real meaning of Christmas.

The other explicit message of the Incarnation is that Jesus the Christ's arrival will mean "peace on earth, good will toward men." He is "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace." Jesus later calls on his disciples to turn the other cheek, practice humility, walk the extra mile, put away their swords, love their neighbors — and even their enemies — and says that in his kingdom, it is the peacemakers who will be called the children of God. Christ will end our warring ways, bringing reconciliation to God and to one another.

None of that has anything to do with the Fox News Christmas. In fact, quite the opposite.

Making sure that shopping malls and stores greet their customers with "Merry Christmas" is entirely irrelevant to the meaning of the Incarnation. In reality it is the consumer frenzy of Christmas shopping that is the real affront and threat to the season.

Last year, Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas. Clean water for the whole world, including every poor person on the planet, would cost about $20 billion. Let's just call that what it is: A material blasphemy of the Christmas season.

Imagine Jesus walking into the mall, seeing the Merry Christmas signs, and expressing his humble thanks for how the pre- and post-Christmas sales are honoring to him. How about credit cards for Christ?

While we're at it, here's another point of clarification: The arrival of the Christ child has nothing to do with trees or what we call them.

Evergreens and wreaths, holly and ivy, and even mistletoe turn out to be customs borrowed from ancient Roman and Germanic winter solstice celebrations, assimilated and co-opted by the church after Constantine made peace between his empire and the Christians.

Now, my family loves our Christmas tree, but its bright lights and wonderful ornaments don't teach my children much about why Jesus came into the world. We do that in other ways, such as giving needed gifts — goats, sheep, and chickens and the like — to the poorest children and families of the world though the World Vision web site on Christmas Day. The goal is to make our sons more excited about the gifts they give than the ones they get, and it usually works. Last year, my boys sponsored a child in Ghana.

I have no problem with the public viewing of symbols from all of the world's religions at appropriate times in their religious calendars (which can actually be educational for all of our children) and believe that doing so is consistent with our democratic and cultural pluralism.

But I don't believe that respectfuly and publicly honoring those many religious symbols has changed many lives, for better or for worse. Much more important than symbols and symbolism is how we live the faith that we espouse. And here is where Fox News's war on Christmas is most patently unjust.

The real Christmas announces the birth of Jesus to a world of poverty, pain, and sin, and offers the hope of salvation and justice.

The Fox News Christmas heralds the steady promotion of consumerism, the defense of wealth and power, the adulation of money and markets, and the regular belittling or attacking of efforts to overcome poverty.

The real Christmas offers the joyful promise of peace and the hope of reconciliation with God and between humankind.

The Fox News Christmas proffers the constant drumbeat of war, the reliance on military solutions to every conflict, the demonizing of our enemies, and the gospel of American dominance.

The real Christmas lifts up the Virgin Mary's song of praise for her baby boy: "He has brought the mighty down from their thrones, and lifted the lowly, he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich empty away."

The Fox News Christmas would label Mary's Magnificat as "class warfare."

So if there is a war on Christmas it's the one being waged by Fox News.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

The Year of the Protester
by Carrie Adams

Sometimes it's the biggest news story of the year. Sometimes it encapsulates the zeitgeist, global urgings, or our collective mood. This time around, it's all of those things: A person, a group, a zeitgeist, a news story. According to TIME, 2011 is the year of "The Protester."
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A Very Perry Christmas
by Ashley Baxstrom

What we do have are new perspectives on the role religion played in the history of our nation. That's not an attack. That's coming to an understanding, that's developing the course forward for our nation, together. And even then, guess what, it's still a focus ON RELIGION.
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Vote for Me! The Politicization and Manipulation of Jesus, Christians, and Religion
by Eugene Cho

What I'm saying is that I while I really dislike Rick Perry's ad and strongly disagree with his assertion that President Obama has waged war against religion. But that's not the point. My point is that we've allowed the politicizing of religion (and other things) to be FAIR GAME.
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Is Tim Tebow on God's Fantasy Football Team?
by Joshua Witchger

...every player in the NFL is on God's team. Not just Tebow. Not just the ones who pray or express their faith as openly as he does. We are all God's children, whether we kneel down and point to the sky in praise after winning, or curse in frustration after losing.
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Great Expectations: Obama, Bieber and Baby Jesus
by Cathleen Falsani

"I think what John the Baptist is iniviting all of us to do is to prepare ouselves to be open to what is going to be born once more in our hearts on December 25. Not to go with the God we have created for ourselves, but the God who is."
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Poverty and the LGBT Community
by Tim King

States have a patchwork of different laws and definitions for who can be legally recognized as a parent or guardian of a child. As a result, there are children who aren't covered by their parents' health insurance, children who ineligible for survivor benefits from a parent's social security, and parents who are not able to take advantage of child tax credits.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Prayer Meeting/Love Feast

Greetings, all,
A reminder that tonight (Wednesday, December 14) at 6 PM, we will celebrate our Love Feast. All are encouraged and welcome to attend.
Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34
"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 10

Thought for the day

Good morning,
This is something I read in my devotionals today and thought it was worth sharing.
"They go from strength to strength." — Psalm 84:7 (from Charles Spurgeon Morning and Evening Devotions)
They go from strength to strength. There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress.
Our own good translation of the authorized version is enough for us this morning. "They go from strength to strength." That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking, we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by-and-by the road is rough, and the sun is hot, we sit down by the wayside, and then again painfully pursue our weary way. But the Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elate and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly, far more surely. Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds, but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise which still holds good: "The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. "Alas!" say they, "we go from affliction to affliction." Very true, O thou of little faith, but then thou goest from strength to strength also. Thou shalt never find a bundle of affliction which has not bound up in the midst of it sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe manhood with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Workshop on retooling

Greetings, all,
This is the workshop I did today at the Christian Education luncheon on "Retooling."

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Greetings, all.
Please mark your calendars for the following events:
1. Tomorrow is our monthly fast day. It has been previously announced that we want to observe a monthly fast on the Friday following the first Sunday in each month. Even though we forget to remind the church of this important observance, it is something we should try to share if possible. I encourage us all to do so, please.
2. Wednesday, December 14 during our Prayer Meeting we will observe our Love Feast in advance of our Quarterly Conference on Thursday, December 15. I encourage all members to attend and share in this important tradition of our Methodism.
3. Tonight, if you have BET, you may want to catch a special airing on BET at 9 PM, "The Curious Case of Citizen Cain" a documentary/news special about Herman Cain. It was apparently taped before his recent departure from the presidential race.
Thank you.
Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34
"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 10

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thought for today

This morning I was, as sometimes I hear the expression, "feeling a certain kind of way" (I won't get into why), and I remembered a chapter I read in a book by Lewis Smedes and I decided to revisit the chapter. The chapter is titled, "All the World's a Critic, and You're Tired of Reading the Reviews." I got the book from the bookshelf, went back and read the chapter again and found some gems there. I am sharing them now because they are helping inform Bible study tomorrow (from our lesson in Matthew 7) and possibly even the sermon for Sunday.
Smedes writes, "Critics are all around us: some welcomed, some self-appointed nuisances. They size us up, take our measure, weigh us in their scales, and form their own opinions of our lives...they will call us to account before the bar of their judgment.
"Let's begin with the critic out there - your neighbor. Saint Paul, almost offhandedly, declared his own freedom from human judgment this way: 'With me it is a small thing that I should be judged by you or any human court.' Freely translated, it comes to this: 'You will evaluate my conduct and you will make an assessment of me, I know, and when you do I will listen to you. I know that you will size up my work, and when you do, I will consider what you say. I know that you judge me because you care about me; so I will care about what you say. What you say and what you think about me matters to me. But I want you to know that after I have wrestled with my own conscience, after I have consulted my own convictions, and after I have made my decisions, your judgment will not matter much. It matters some, but not much. I will not let your appraisal tell me how to feel about what I am and what I do. I will not rest my case with you.'
"(Paul) does not say that he cares nothing for the feelings of other people. He says, 'I have got to put your criticism on the back burner and live my own life before the Lord. I will not be intimidated. I will not be condemned. I will not be damned by other people's judgments. I will be free.'"
It helps to remember what Smedes says here because when you feel that your are being criticized (rightly or wrongly) it has the effect of feeling like a very heavy burden that you are forced to carry on your back. Criticism makes life a chore; relationships can tend to become almost too tedious to enjoy. Another word for this is criticism is judging, which is a topic we are going to discuss in Bible study tomorrow at noon and 7 PM. I hope you will join us as we will seek to find constructive ways to deal with criticism and judging, and maybe even learn a few methods of living with and especially finding the freedom to put people and their criticisms and judgments of us out of our minds.
Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34
"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 10