A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Friday, December 24, 2010


Today I finished reading the Gospel of John.  Chapter 17 contains Jesus' beautiful intercessory prayer on behalf of his followers.  Here's part of it:

John 17:13-23
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Dictionary.com defines "to intercede" as "to act or interpose on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition" or "to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate."  The idea of Christ helping us in difficulty or trouble, and attempting to reconcile us with God, is a sublime thought.  Christ prays for US - for you and for me, in our downtrodden and trying moments.  His spirit urges us to do the same - to be peacemakers, to seek reconciliation and forgiveness, and become bringers of great joy.  I hope that Christmas reminds you of that spirit of peace and joy!  Yea, verily - even to shout with the choirs of angels HALLELUJAH!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not Alone

One of my favorite Broadway musicals is "Into the Woods" (I was involved in a high school production of it).  There's a song in the musical called "No One is Alone."  I love that song because it's about how there is always someone with us (and, unfortunately, someone with the bad guys too).

I like this verse in John about how Christ will not leave us "as orphans" - we are not alone and we can access divine guidance.

John 13:15-21
 “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Sometimes we meet a person only once in our lives.  They may be a good person having a bad day or a bad person having a good day.  The first impression we get of these people may stick forever, or we may even forget ever having met them.  Snap decisions are made and often stay with us, on the basis of one glimpse of a person's character.  I think this often happens with Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus in the New Testament.  She was the one who was "cumbered with much serving" and too busy to listen to Jesus' teachings.  We think of her as the sister without the right ideas of what was most important.

However, Martha was also a faithful disciple of Jesus and believed in him.  When her brother Lazarus died, she had faith that Jesus could raise him from the dead.  In scripture and in life we may only get one glimpse into a person's character, but luckily the whole story is known by God, and in his mercy he takes our weaknesses and foibles into account when judging us.  I'm grateful for that knowledge - God is wonderful!  I'm grateful for Martha's strong and faith-filled testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

John 11:20-27

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My college New Testament teacher said the scripture below was one of the most frequently misquoted in all of scripture.  Many people quote this to support reading the scriptures, however, it is actually Jesus condemning those who read the scriptures but do not understand the application of them.  Ironic, no?  This is why I like reading non-LDS perspectives on the scriptures - sometimes we come to the scriptures with our "Mormon" glasses on and are able to see things only our way.  It's enriching to look at things from a different faith perspective.  Ultimately, the scriptures are there to testify of things that are living and real - they testify of Jesus Christ - His atonement, resurrection, and salvation offered to all mankind.

John 5:39-40 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,
yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Some Gems

I haven't been posting, but I have been reading, I promise!  Here are some of my favorite verses in the past few days:

Luke 6:27-38 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 9:18-20 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”  
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
 Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”

Luke 15:3-7  Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 16:10-13 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?  No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Luke 18:9-14 “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 21:19 “Stand firm, and you will win life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Story

While I'm normally pretty tolerant of just about any christmas music or movie, I don't like the movie "Christmas Story."  But, the true Christmas Story is found in the second chapter of Luke, verses 1-20:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
  “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Help Me Overcome

Sometimes I like the NIV, and sometimes I don't.  In the story below, I like that the father of the boy says "help me overcome my unbelief."  I don't like the change to the last sentence, where the KJV adds that prayer AND fasting are required for great miracles.

"A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
  He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”" (Mark 9:17-29)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Great Commission

The New International Version that I'm reading online has little subtitles on sections of the chapters - the one on this verse was entitled "The Great Commission."

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:16-20)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Least of These

I think the way that the poor and lowly are treated says a lot about a society.  If we treat "the least of these" with charity and decency, then I think we are on the right path.  We can glimpse that charity (sometimes) at Christmas, when people seem to be more giving.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ " (Matt. 25:34-40)

Thursday, December 2, 2010


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sawdust vs. Planks

This is one set of verses where I like the words used by the New International Version, feel like it clears up the contrast when we judge people:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matt 7:3-5)

Often I think we think that our own sins/mistakes/imperfections are smaller than others' issues, but we often don't know the whole story.  There are many people I've met in my life who appear to be misguided, silly, annoying, rude, or downright mean.  But when I get to know them further, I've found that their circumstances are vastly different than what they appear, and I've misjudged them because I didn't truly know them.  Take time to be humble and realize that you may not have the whole story when you take a first look at someone.