Released

Just a quick note to say that I have finally been released as Elders Quorum President in my ward.  I say finally, because I have served in the quorum for almost 6 years.  Three as 2nd Counselor and three as President.  What’s in store for me now?  Well, I am the Ward Chior Accompianist and the backup Ward Organist.  Although the callings are light, I can deal with that.  Hopefully, I will be able to fly under the radar of the Bishopric for a while. :)

Posted in Callings, Mission of the Church | Leave a comment

Imposing Religion on Government

Okay, here’s something to think about.  Should the teachings of the LDS Church, or any religion for that matter, impose itself upon the government?  I think, for obvious reasons, the answer would be no.  Think about it for a minute.  We give the people agency to govern themselves without imposing risk to others.  The whole purpose of government is to impose rules and laws to protect society.

Let’s think about this.  Murder.  There are laws against murder to protect the citizens of the society.  Same with stealing, drunk driving, drugs, etc.  So, now, I am going to pose another topic, which as been fairly of hot debate lately.  Notice what happens to your blood pressure, and emotions.

Should the government allow same sex marriages?

Immediately, definitely if you are a proclaimed Republican, you say with a loud resounding NO!  Of course not!  It goes against everything we believe.  Gay activies are a sin and an abomination in the eyes of God.  Plain and simple.  I don’t think we need to clarify any further.

Now ask yourself why not.  Why should gays not be allowed the right to marry?  Because it’s a sin?  Careful, you just agreed that religion should not impose itself upon government.  But same sex marriages is an exception, right?  Well, what did we define the purpose of government to be?  Protect the citizens from the risk to others.  Tell me, what risk are same sex marriages presenting to you?

Again, going back to agency, God has given us the right to rule ourselves.  We have our agency.  So, whether or not we pass a law that allows same sex marriages, the law will not change the actions of those people.  So why not give them the same rights as a husband and wife?  Why not give them the legal rights to make life and death decisions for their partner?  I am not condoning the gay lifestyle, at all.  It is wrong, and a sin, as mentioned before.  But is giving them the right to marry a sin?  Are you sinning by seperating the religion from the government?  Interesting question, isn’t it?

Believe me, this took a great deal to swallow.  The principle is taught in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and even the New Testament.  Setting laws and forcing someone to live the principles of religion is ungodly and sacreligious.  It is against the greatest gift that God has given us, the gift of agency.  When the Millenium comes, then will the laws of God be the laws of the people.  Until then, it is completely within the Plan of Happiness for people to exercise their agency, and for everyone else to allow them that right.

Posted in Plan of Happiness, Transgression and Sin | 4 Comments

Is America Ready For A Mormon President?

I just received this in my email from my mom, and I thought it would be good to share on the blog. The reading raises some concerns about blacks and the priesthood as well as some doctrinal beliefs. However, the article is relatively honest and stright forward, and I have no problem posting it here. This article comes from a news posting at Boston News by John H. Bunzel. The article raises the question about Mitt Romney running for President in 2008, and how an Mormon President might affect the nation. Good read.

A RECENT Gallup poll shows that even among Republicans, 7 in 10 voters are more likely to support a candidate in 2008 who disagrees with the Karl Rove-George Bush plan of creating a long-term Republican era that panders to the religious right and drives away many moderates.
Many Republicans believe that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, though still considered a long shot, could emerge as the ”dream candidate” they will be looking for: an attractive social conservative in one of the bluest of blue states (he opposed the Supreme Judicial Court’s legalization of gay marriage) whose CEO-style leadership will please the party’s conservative base while not alienating middle-of-the-road voters.

Knowing that today’s front-runner, possibly John McCain, won’t necessarily be 2008′s front-runner, they think Romney has a good chance of beating him in the early eastern GOP primaries.

But Romney has a problem. He is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which, as Washington Monthly’s editor Amy Sullivan points out, makes him unacceptable to evangelical voters who make up 30 percent of the Republican electorate. Their hostility to Mormonism is not some vague prejudice that some Americans have. It’s a ”doctrinal thing,” based on their conviction that Mormonism ”isn’t just another religion,” but a ”cult” that they claim is ”false,” ”blasphemous,” and a threat to the Christian religion.

But Romney has an additional and perhaps even more serious problem. As taught by Mormon prophets from Brigham Young’s day to the late 1970s, blacks have been regarded as ”not equal with other races,” an inequality (to quote Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie) that is ”the Lord’s doing based on his eternal laws of justice.” Mormon theologians have justified this racial bias by asserting that the black race is descended from Cain, who was cursed and marked (supposedly with a black skin) and whose descendants continued to bear the mark and the curse.

In 1978, the ban against African-Americans in the Mormon priesthood was dropped, along with long-standing church doctrines that were used to bolster claims of black inferiority. However, critics of the church maintain that although the ban has been removed, the doctrine has not changed. ”It’s the linkage to Cain that so distresses Mormon African-Americans today,” says California attorney Dennis Gladwell, who has been working with church leaders calling for change. ”It places their spiritual lineage in shambles, since they are alleged descendants of a man who has come to symbolize evil on the same level as Lucifer himself.”

One should not be surprised if — or when — the media press the governor on other issues, polygamy for instance, which the Mormon church no longer condones, and Romney says little more than that his belief in Jesus Christ and serving one’s neighbor and community are widely shared values.

But didn’t John Kennedy in 1960 prove that religion has nothing to do with a candidate’s political qualifications to be president? Yes — for Catholics. However, 46 years later, a public declaration of one’s personal religiosity is now required of all presidential candidates as evidence that they live by a deep-rooted moral yardstick confirmed by their religious faith.

This resurgence of religion underscores a powerful force in recent presidential races — namely, the rise of values politics framed as moral issues. One message is clear: Those whose religious faith is perceived as sincere and ”real” will have demonstrated the strength of character necessary to lead our country.

Little wonder that since the 2004 elections, the Democrats — acknowledging that the Republicans have been far more successful in winning over religious and faith-friendly voters — have been developing religious outreach programs, hiring faith advisers, and training candidates on how to ”talk the talk” that will attract more church-going voters.

At a time when the Bush-led Republican Party has made a presidential candidate’s personal religious faith a test of his or her moral stature and authority, this very test could disqualify Romney in the eyes of many Republicans as the core tenets of his faith are circulated to bring out sharply the strong opposition of Mormon theology to Christian doctrine.

Or, to put it in evangelical terms (as Sullivan has done), ”It might be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination.”

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Ward Choir Music

I am the accompianist for the ward choir. I enjoy it quite a bit (except our chorister doesn’t exactly know how to lead a choir, so I have to play and lead at the same time). However, yesterday, we picked up a new piece that we will be playing for stake conference in a few weeks. What is interesting, is at the bottom of the page, it says the following:

This arrangement copyright 2002 by Sally DeFord
224 Tamarron Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80919 719/260-8925
Making copies for non-commercial use is permitted
This and other DeFord sheet music may be downloaded free at:

http://www.defordmusic.com

Making copies for non-commercial use is permitted. Being a open source advocate, I strongly believe in the freedom of sharing. It seems that even though this music isn’t “open source”, Sally DeFord also believes in sharing. For crying out loud, she is making her arrangements available online completely for free. I applaud her. Good job!

This is quite the contrast when compared to Brent Jorgenson and Jackman Music:

Copyright © 2002 by JACKMAN MUSIC CORPORATION, All Rights Reserved
P.O. Box 1900, Orem UT 84059-1900 USA * Tel 1 (801) 225-0859 * Fax 1 (801) 225-0851 * www.jackmanmusic.com
No part of this book may be reproduced exectp those pages which are specifically marked otherwise.
“Hymnplicity” is a trademark of Jackman Music Corporation.

And when looking at the bottom of each page, you see the same contact information with the following copyright:

No part of this piece may be reproduced, whether for emergency, nonprofit, church, education use, or otherwise.

Gads. Not even for emergencies eh? A little stingy, aren’t we. What is very, very interesting, is every hymn in the Hymnplicity book does not have a copyright at the end of the hymn, which means that those hymns may be reproduced for non-commercial church and home use:

Hymns having the notice © (year) LDS, hymns showing no copyright notice, and general materials in this collection may be copied for noncommercial church or home use. If a notice appears with a hymn, it must be included on each copy made. Hymns with copyright notices other than © (year) LDS, unless otherwise noted, must not be copied without written permission of the copyright owners.

The Church has the idea: share. So why does Jackman Music and Brent Jorgenson have such a hard time with it? And why are they using hymns that can be copied and shared? I have always had a hard time with this. Not just hymns, but making money off of the Church in general. Music, books, etc. It just seems wrong to me, but that is personal opinion, and I won’t get into it here.

At any rate, I have encouraged the choir and chorister to get our future music from Sally DeFord, not because the music is free, which is a bonus, but because she recognizes the freedom of sharing and community. She recognizes that these hymn arrangements were made possible because of the hymnal, and she gives her talent back without any thought of reward. To me, that is right inline with what the Gospel teaches.

Posted in Hymns | 6 Comments

Getting Released

Well, it happened. I was extended a release from being Elders Quorum President from my ward. I knew it would come eventually, as I have been in the presidency for 6 years and as president for 3 of them.

Last Sunday, while I was at work, the Stake President was looking for me wishing to extend the release. Becuase I was not there, and he could not get ahold of me, the Bishop stopped by my house last night. He mentioned that he wanted to thank me for all the hard work I had done, and felt that I was probably burnt out, and ready for something new.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, as I have become accustomed to many of the tasks and duties. Frankly, I will feel empty when I don’t have to worry about them anymore. Also, as with anything in life, I look back and wonder if I gave it my absolute best. There were months where I know I didn’t do a thing, and there are months where my family and school were put last and the calling first. Overall, I think I did some good, and my counselors were great. I don’t have many regrets.

I feel a great deal of relief through this as well. I no longer have to spend time worrying about the home teaching list or families, whether or not we have a teacher for the Sunday lesson, who is active and who isn’t, etc. I can just go to church and attend my meetings like a regular member. Hopefully, I won’t receive a calling for a little while. I think of everything on my plate, and think what a relief it will be to just worry about the temporal things currently in my life.

As I mentioned, I will miss the calling. I will miss the close bond I made with my counselors and secretary. I will miss the experiences that come. Part of me doesn’t want to give it up, because these blessings. However, I need to let it go and give another member of the quorum the opportunity to serve. Life goes on.

Hopefully, with my wife as a counselor in the Primary, they won’t put me in as a primary teacher. :)

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Member Missionary Work

When I served my full-time mission in Toronto, Canada, it would bug me so bad that members didn’t seem to care about member missionary work. As a missionary, you realized fairly quickly that you were only as effective as your relationship with the local ward members. Missionaries who didn’t understand this had a hard time bringing more souls to Christ through the waters of baptism. Members who didn’t understand this had a hard time keeping converts active.

However, after arriving home, I soon came to realize that member missionary is a lot harder than I thought. First off, I don’t have a lot of non-member friends. I tend to socialize within my religious circle, mainly because not only do I go to church with them, but they live within a couple blocks of me and attend the same university that I do. In other words, I see them more than just at church. The non-member friends that I do have I either see at work or school. So I guess I understand a little about what the members in Toronto must have felt like. Talking to your non-LDS friends about religion is hard.

When do you bring it up? How do you bring it up? There is a time and place for everything and when do you when that is for this sort of discussion? Well, I found an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.

I have a great deal of respect for Muslims. More so than any other Christian or non-Christian group excluding the LDS faith. I have grown to develop a deep love and admiration for the Muslim faith. This love came while serving my mission. I would run into more Muslims than any other group. I had extensive discussions with Muslim members from all walks of the globe. I learned that these people take their religion very seriously, and their teachings follow very closely to the LDS religion. I have read much of the Qur’an, and recently ordered one from the web which I hope to receive soon.

There is an employee at work who was just recently hired who is Muslim. He is awesome. My wife and I went to a dinner party for work, and after the party gave him a ride home. On the way home, he asked many questions about the LDS faith and Christianity in general. Because the drive was about 45 minutes long, we had a lot to talk about, and stayed on topic the entire ride.

He as a great deal of respect for the LDS religion because of our strong beliefs and the way we conduct ourselves as members. He mentioned that most Christian members do not take their religion seriously and don’t follow many of the teachings, however he has noticed that LDS members do. He admires us for our determination to stay on the strait and narrow.

Well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I began teaching him about God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Ghost, Prophets, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. When I was finished, I asked him that if I could get him a copy of the Book of Mormon in his language if he would read it. He said he would, and the member missionary work began.

One week later, with the help of a friend, I was able to get him a copy in Bangalese (he is from Bangladesh) and told him about a passage that I wanted him to read and handed him the copy. Of course, the passage was Moroni 10:3-5.

3. Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

I give him ride home from work quite frequently, so on the next ride home, I will teach him about what he read, and ask him if he would like to learn more. Eventually, if things work out well, I will turn him over to the full-time missionaries to make sure he receives the proper teachings through the Spirit and hopefully bring him to Christ through the waters of baptism.

I have never really done this before. I have been home from my mission now for almost 8 years, and this is a first. It feels good. A wholesome good. A good like I just saved a life good. I hope that I can keep this sort of motivation up, because right now, I feel great. Too bad he isn’t with me now, and we could have a great conversation about the passage in Moroni and what he feels about it.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Mission of the Church | Leave a comment

Creating a Meaningful Scripture Marking System

I thought that I would share my thoughts on creating a scripture marking system that works and is meaningful to you. I want to share this, because my wife has a new quadruple combination, and she is struggling with exactly how to mark her scriptures.

First things first. You need to layout in a clear fashion exactly what your goal for your new marking system should be. For example, is your goal to gain a further knowledge of the deeper mysteries of God? Is your goal, maybe, to learn the stories on a more comprehensive level? Is your goal to increase your speed in locating scriptures when you can’t exactly remember the reference? My goal, when creating my scripture marking system was to be able to give a 5-10 minute talk with no advance notice. In other words, if a speaker for Sacrament Meeting canceled last minute, I would be prepared with just my scriptures to give a talk. Setting aside exactly what you want to accomplish as a goal for your scripture marking will ultimately determine how you mark them.

Next, you need to decide exactly what to mark. This can take up a great deal of time figuring it out. For example, you may want to mark major gospel topics. You may want to mark all references to Christ. You may want to mark just the deeper things of the Kingdom. Whatever the case may be, you need to decide. Because I was a missionary when I developed this system, I personally wanted to mark many things, and as such, I had to decide in a clear manor how I would keep them separated. I decide to mark the following:

  • The 50 major Gospel topics, organized by story (more on that in a bit).
  • Missionary discussion scriptures (the discussions are no longer used by missionaries).
  • Deeper things of the mysteries of God and the Gospel.
  • Changes to editions in the Book of Mormon.
  • Anti-bashing scriptures (a different paradigm to scripture bashing where you preach the Gospel to people who want to bash).
  • Personal commentary reflecting on my own life.
  • Scripture study scriptures.

As you can see, I have a lot that I want to mark. Each of them has their own way of identifying what is what, which we will get to next. The first in the list is marking the 50 major Gospel topics organized by story. This comes from the amazing Scripture Kit by Bruce Barton. Each Gospel topic is associated with a story. From that main story, there are many more scriptures from other stories that help teach the topic at hand. This helps with cross-references and aids me in that spontaneous 5 minute talk I might need to give. Also mentioned in my list are the missionary discussions. I served my mission from 1996-1998, a time when we relied heavy on the discussions for teaching. Now, missionaries don’t use the discussions any longer to teach, so even tho the discussions aren’t used, they make great scriptures for teaching. Another item on my list to point out for clarification is anti-bashing scriptures. When serving my mission, I was constantly battered by Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, Baptists and anyone with a grudge against the Mormons. At first instinct, I wanted to defend the Church, but found myself bashing right along with them. I then had a paradigm shift in mental thinking, and began using these opportunities as teaching opportunities. Quickly, I went from the spirit of contention to following the Holy Spirit. And the discussions went from bashing to teaching. Anti-bashing scriptures are teaching scriptures for commonly used tactics of anti-Mormon advocates.

Once you decide exactly what to mark, you need to decide how to mark it. Common ways are to either use many colors- one color for each topic, or one color for everything. I personally recommend staying away from both. In fact, you don’t need anymore than 4 colors to mark everything in the scriptures, and you should use at least 2 different colors to avoid redundancy. In fact, you may even want to play with marking styles. For example, underlining the verse, instead of outlining it. Using a combination of pen and pencil to help distinguish further. Block outlining and verse number circling are good ways to mark several consecutive scriptures. Diagonal slashes across the verses is another good way to easily identify the marking. You don’t have to mark a full verse either. Marking major points or things that stand out in a particular verse is a good way to get a handle on why you marked what you did.

Choosing your marking instruments can be difficult and daunting. I mentioned that you could use pen and pencil. You should be using acid-free writing instruments so your pages don’t color over time. Also, avoid highlighter markers. I have not found that these weaken the page, cause wrinkles and bleed through. For pencil, a lead should be chosen that can be easily erased. Color pencils are hard to erase off of white pages as they are a combination of lead and oil. Pens can easily bleed through the page, so choose a blank page in your scriptures out of the way to test the bleeding of the pen and how well the pencil erases. Also, pens should not be ballpoint or roller ball as ink blots can gather on the page, and create a mess. Remember, you are marking very thin pages. The life of the page and ultimately your scriptures will determine on how well you choose your scripture marking pens and pencils.

Lastly, note taking. The LDS standard set of scriptures provides ample room for you to take notes. You have decent sized margins surrounding the pages, and between the major books there are typically blank pages with plenty of note taking room. If this is not enough, and you need more, small acid-free Postit notes make great companions. However, they add thickness to your set, and should be used sparingly so you don’t break your binding. Same goes for gluing in sheets of paper between pages. These are great ways to bet further clarification or understanding on a certain topic or scripture, but they can seriously compromise the integrity of your set if abused. I have extra sheets and Postit notes in my quadruple combination, but they are few and far between.

Okay, now that I have give you the guidelines for creating a meaningful marking system, let me share with you mine. Maybe it will help spark some ideas on how exactly to build yours. First the goal. Remember, my goal was to be able to give a 5 minute talk at the drop of a hat with no prior preparation. Because of this goal, I developed a very complex yet very clear marking system to help me in that task. So, first I bought the Scripture Kit from Bruce Barton. I put the 50 Main Subjects sticker under the front over of my quad. I then assigned each of the 50 topics a color. Actually, I only had 13 colors that were fairly distinguishable, so I reused most of the colors 4 times. The colors, however, aren’t for marking pages. They are for identifying where the main topic story is when the set it close. That’s right, I purchased 3/4″ x 1/2″ blank rectangular labels and cut them in half the long way. Then I colored each label the colors according to one of the 50 main subjects. The first 25 I pinched across the top page of the set with the last 25 across the bottom page of the set. Each of the 50 main subjects has many scriptures, so many of these labels for each subject exist. All in all, I would say I pinched on the pages of my quad over 3,000 labels. When my quad is closed, you can see the colors of each label lined up in columns. See the image links below if you don’t understand what I did.

50MainSubjects.jpg
PageLabel.jpg
ScripturesClosed.jpg

Once the labels were in place, I need to mark the scripture for the labels location. This was very time consuming and quite daunting, but the overall effect is exactly what I wanted. When I identify a topic, say baptism, then I look for the color label on the page with the quad closed, and turn to one. Then, I look for a scripture marked in blue pencil with the the letters “MS xx” where xx is the topic number for baptism, in this case “MS 7″. Because I have multiple labels for that one topic, I have a scripture chain that I can teach from stretching from the Old Testament through the Pearl of Great Price. See the image below to help visualize.

FindBaptismLabel.jpg
Each of the 50 main subjects has a root story associated with the topic. This root story is shown on the 50 Main Subjects sticker on in the inside cover of my set. The scripture itself is marked in red pencil with diagonal slashing lines and the “MS xx” identifier next to it. This makes it exceptionally easy to start my “5 minute talk” and it is easily identifiable. See the image below.

BaptismRootStory.jpg

The 50 subjects is my root for giving the spur of the moment “5 minute talk” in church. The remainder of the marking system I developed aids in personal study and group discussion. These don’t impact the “5 minute talk” as much as the 50 main subjects, but they are easily identifiable and do aid in preparing lessons or talks. For my marking system, I chose the following colors and patterns. Pen always underlines the verse (with a ruler for nice straight lines) and pencil always highlights or outlines the verse.

  • Red pen (underlined)- Anti-bashing scriptures. These are great teaching scriptures when confronted with anti-Mormon zealots. Rather than bash saying “well this scripture says such-and-such”, teach fromt he scriptures saying “we believe this-and-that according to this scripture. When starting with “we believe”, as the 13 Articles of Faith do, you lay down any argument and prepare for a lesson.
  • Blue pen (underlined)- Deep doctrine. I have always been interested in deep doctrine and the mysteries of God. When studying FARMS, doctrinal discourses or other stimulating material, and I find something deep, I mark it with this.
  • Green pen (underlined)- Missionary discussion scriptures. I marked these as such, so when handing my scriptures to the person I was teaching, they could quickly find what scripture I wanted them to read. Also, this came in handy when memorizing scriptures that pertained to the discussions.
  • Black pen (underlined)- Personal experience pertaining to that verse. Whenever I stumbled upon a scripture that answered a question in my life or meant something to me, I would mark it this way, then write in a margin why. This marking is not very common throughout the Standard Works.
  • Red pencil (highlight)- Used when studying along side a study manual. Most highlighting is accomanied by a quotation, thoughts or discoveries. I try to keep this marking a minimum as I don’t want my scriptures to be bleeding red with pencil.
  • Red pencil (diagonal slash)- Indentifying the root story for one of the main topics as described above.
  • Red pencil (outline)- Used rather than marking many verses or to identify a major event that spans many versus. When Jesus Christ visited the Americas in 3 Nephi, chapters 12-14 are outlined showing the sermon he gave to the people.
  • Blue pencil (highlight)- Intentifies the scripture chain associated with each topic from the main 50. Each verse also has a corresponding page label on either the top or bottom of the page as well as “MS xx” where xx is the number to identify the topic.
  • Yellow pencil (highlight)- Shows changes in editions with the Book of Mormon. These markings are rare, and only serve as a study guide to help clarify why the changes were made.
  • Mechanical .05 lead pencil- Notes, mainly in the margins. When making notes, I use this pencil so I can write small and a lot. If a margin is already occupied next to the verse, I circle the verse number and draw a line (with a ruler to keep it straight) from the number to the margin containing the note. All handwriting is done in this marking.
  • Postit notes- Provide the background to the missionary scriptures marked in green pen. This help aid me in teaching people so I could provide a little bit about the verse before reading it.

That’s it! Farily lengthy and quite complex, but very well seperated and each marking is easily identifyable. The nice aspect about this marking system is it is not adaptable to change. Unfortunately for many people, their marking system becomes over worked and under used. It isn’t long before people forget why they marked the scripture they did. Here, everything is laid out in a clean fashion, and the definition of the system lies on the inside back cover.

If you have any questions concerning my marking system or need help with yours, please comment below or email me. I would be happy to help you out.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, New Testament, Old Testament, Pearl of Great Price | 7 Comments

Loving Those Who Hate You

I am really quite upset, and blogging for me seems to be therapeutic.  So, hopefully I will feel better by the end of this post.  I have some next door neighbors that act as anything but Christian.  Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to live next to them.  Yet, I have to learn how to turn the other cheek, as Christ our Perfect Example, taught.

I have two dogs who are my pride and joy.  My wife and I don’t have any kids, so we spoil and treat our two dogs as if they were our kids.  We love them more than anyone could comprehend.  Which means that no one else loves our dogs as much as we do.

During the day, when Keri and I are at work, we leave the boys in the dog run.  For quite sometime, they have been quite content, until Sammy, out border collie, figured out how to escape.  Ever since then, it has been a constant mental challenge to out-smart my own dog.  Every way possible I conceive, he figures a way to defeat it.  He is one smart dog!  Since he has discovered how to get out, when I throw obstacles in his path, he barks.  Not the loud low bark, but the high-pitched whine bark.  And it goes non-stop.  Once he does escape, then Max, our lab/chow mix, whines and barks because he wants to be with him, but doesn’t have the courage to do what Sammy did.

When we first brought Max home, we kept him indoors until he was old enough to spend his day outside.  When he was old enough, I constructed the dog run.  On the first day, he didn’t like it, and whined and barked all day long.  When I arrived home from work, I had a message from my neighbor, the one I am having troubles with, saying that if we don’t do anything about the barking, she will call animal control.  I called back, explaining the situation, and assured her that it would only be for a week or two until he got used to being in the dog run.  She didn’t listen.  I received 4 phone calls in that one week from her complaining that she will call animal control if we don’t do anything about the barking.  Well, as I told her, after the first week, he began to calm down, and Max no longer barks when in the dog run.  He just goes inside his dog house, and stays there until we return home.

A year or so later, while picking up dog food for Max, we ran into a lady giving away Sammy.  She said that she took him from an abusive home, and she is hoping that someone will be able to provide him with a good home.  If not, she will have to take him to the pound.  Well, our hearts melted, and we adopted Sammy right there on the spot.  For the first couple weeks, he was real timid and scared of his new surroundings and owner.  Since, he has opened up, and he is quite the delight to have around the house.

As I mentioned earlier, Sammy had no problem at all with the dog run until he learned how to get out.  Now, it has been a constant challenge out-smarting my own dog.  While he tries figuring a way to escape, he barks.  It’s loud, high-pitched, and goes on for a great deal.  Now, guess what?  I am getting those calls from my neighbors again, this time, she is bringing more ammo to the table.  Her son, a vile, cold and dark man, has been making the calls accompanied with threats.  The last threat was a lawsuit if I don’t do anything about the barking.  If that wasn’t worse enough, he had my dog impounded last night.

The problems with my dogs aren’t the only issues that I have had with these people.  If I have so much as a dead spot in my grass, I get a phone call from this same old lady that if I don’t do anything with my grass, she’ll call the city and have me fined.  Also, she has called and complained about the shingles on my roof, the condition of my front deck, grass clippings from my mower on her driveway, a hole in my side yard and many, many other things.  Living next to her is a challenge.

It is really hard to understand how a seemingly sweet old lady and her old son can be so un-Christian.  How can they be practicing Mormons, and yet be so threating and vile when not in church?  And yet, as Christ teaches in the New Testament, I am to turn the other cheek.  How?  How can I exercise patience and love to someone who hates me?  Even more so, how can I turn the other cheek when I hate them so much?  I guess that is where faith in Christ, studying the Scriptures and prayer all come into play.  Needless to say, I don’t want to love her or her son.  Maybe I can come to a peacefull resolution to all this.

Posted in Enduring to the End, Forgiveness and Repentance | 2 Comments

Jews for Jesus Suing Google

Gads. It’s been over a month since my last post. Something must be wrong. I am normally quite an active blogger, currently hosting 4 blogs, shutting down two of them very soon. However, lately with school and the holidays, I guess I have been getting quite relaxed. I do stay on top of the news, however, and just couldn’t resist posting about the legal battle between Jews For Jesus and Google.

In case you are unaware, Jews For Jesus is suing Google over a blog. The blog, jewsforjesus.blogspot.com, keeps a critical eye on the evangelical group based in San Francisco. Since the blog started in January this year, it has only had seven posts, four of which were posted since the legal battle started. So just three posts before the suit. One in January, one in February and one in May. Google owns the blogspot domain, and as such, the jewsforjesus subdomain. Jews For Jesus is stating that the blog has caused monetary damages to the Christian group, and that they own the rights to the blog. They are suing for these “damages” and control of the blog.

Here’s my whole take on it. First, the monetary damages. I’m curious just exactly what damages have ensued. Reading the blog, I find only that the author, known as Whistle Blower, journalized a couple of events of the religious group, mainly of their leader acting in a manner that some would hardly call Christian. So because they have an eye glancing their way, recording their actions, and journalizing their news, Jews For Jesus is suffering damages? Welcome to the world of news, journalists, writers, editors, columnists and blogs. I’ve got news for you, the press will always be watching, especially when you don’t want them to.

Second, the suit. I can’t help but think of the scripture from the New Testament:

Matthew 5
38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Christ our Savior, the Great Teacher, tells us, no, commands us not to take agressives stances with those who smite us. At least that is what I gather from that scripture. Rather than look at ways that others have hurt us, or wronged us, we need to turn the other cheek, excercise patience and forebearance. As Christ teaches in later scripture, we are to love those that hate us, and pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. Is this not the New Law brought forth? Are we not to follow our Savior in all of our actions, thoughts, deeds, yea, even our very lives? So why is Jews For Jesus taking this stance?

Unfortuantely for this Christian group, they are tarnishing their own image. At first glance to most people, it looks like a small group trying to get some financial gain through a frivolous lawsuit about subdomains. Looking deeper reveals that the leader has a history for jumping the gun a little early, then issuing apology letters later on. As the blog so plainly puts it:

…why should Google have to pay for Jews for Jesus’ leader shooting his organization in their collective foot?

Well said.

In closing, why is a Christian group behaving so un-Christian like? What are the real reasons and motivations of the group? Is it to trully convert Jews to Christianity, or is this just another religious corporation looking to make money that couldn’t give a hoot about its members? Unforunately, I tend to think it is the latter.

Posted in Jesus Christ | Leave a comment

I’m Broken

I just received word from the doctor that my wife and I can’t have children. Apparently, I produce an extremely small amount of sperm. When asking the doctor what the chances are for having children via artificial incemination or invetro, he said the chance of getting pregnant is less than 1%. Our only options are a sperm donor or adoption.

Why am I sharing this on my blog? Because, first, I need to “talk” about it. I don’t know who to share this information with, so sharing it online seems theraputic. Second, becuase after hearing the news, the first thought to come to my mind was “why me?”. I have always thought that nothing could happen to me. I never really thought I was invisible, but you know what I am saying. I always thought that I would never get cancer, or get in a car wreck, or break any bones, etc. I guess it is kind of humbling to know that I am not perfect.

My wife and I decided that adoption will be the best choice for us, and we are planning on taking the adoption classes in January. We want kids real bad, and after being married for over 6 years and trying for kids the whole time, it gets taxing to see couples with newborns, and us with none. I guess it is relaxing to actually know why we can’t and to have a plan.

Posted in Enduring to the End | 1 Comment