Doctrine or Experience = Religion?

The entire battle of contemporary vs. traditional (Divine) when it comes to worship has been going on for quite some time.  Some interesting thoughts from Pastor Peters on the topic.

Rich Mullins is a big name in the contemporary Christian music scene and I had not heard him say that contemporary Christian music is good entertainment but terrible worship. I concur and it gives me pause to think that one who has contributed so much to the standard literature of the CCM experience knows where is belongs and where it does not belong..

Leroy Huizenga suggests that among the reasons for the Lutheran (or other liturgical church’s) foray into contemporary worship and contemporary Christian music:

I suspect it involved a shift in the philosophy of religion (itself a subset of other cultural and intellectual currents) that came about in the 1960s and 1970s. Painting with a broad brush, before that time, religion concerned doctrine. After that shift, religion concerned experience. It’s easiest to see, I think, in evangelicalism, but the pattern holds for mainline Protestant and Catholic churches too. In any event, Christian worship became all too captive to culture and undergirded by a reflexive pragmatism.

No matter what side one is on, Pastor Peters makes a great point at the end.

The one thing that gets lost in all of this is that there is no relationship and there is no experience of Jesus apart from the means of grace.  Larry Peters did not say it and neither did Luther or the Church before Him.  The rock on which Jesus builds His Church is really Himself, the means of grace which impart Christ and His gifts to us, and the faith created by the Spirit that responds with “Amen.”

Read the rest: Pastoral Meanderings: Religion = doctrine or experience?.

I Got Foodstamps and So Can You

Proof from a college student that the growing entitlement society is a serious problem.

My recent excursion into the welfare system has left me scratching my head.  Prior to writing and researching this project, my only impression of food stamps and similar welfare programs was that the credit only worked for certain items at certain stores and that an individual had to be in a particularly dire financial situation to receive such aid.  I was wrong.

An EBT card works and looks like a debit card, but instead of the user withdrawing money from a checking account, the government prepays an amount of money it deems necessary for the user’s food expenditures.  Several of my classmates recently implemented the use of an EBT card for their groceries, and their involvement in the program immediately piqued my interest.  To be honest, my first thought was: “I wonder if I qualify for free grocery money.”  My immediate second thought was: “How do they qualify for free grocery money?”  These students come from similar financial backgrounds to mine, live in similar accomodations, and take the same amount of college credit hours that I do. Thus, my investigation began with a food stamp application, an interview request, and a trip to a place no one really wants to visit: the Department of Human Services.

After going through the process and having only three paycheck stubs from a current job instead of the required four, Sydney thought her experiment was over.  She was mistaken.

Approximately one month after I had received the first letter, another letter found its way to my mailbox from the Department of Human Services.  I opened it up to find an EBT card with my name on it, instructions on how to activate and use the card, and the amount I could access on it per month — 200 dollars.  Nothing followed-up my interview, other than the evidently pointless letter I received during the previous month.   No one ever asked for a copy of my birth certificate or Social Security card, nor for my student identification card.  I answered all of their questions truthfully, but how were they to know that I was who I said I was?  Is it really this simple to obtain welfare benefits here in the United States?

Is this the way welfare was intended to be? As pointed out:

Welfare in America was intended to provide a temporary means of survival for those at rock bottom.  However, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people using food stamps over the past 40 years, and it would be hard to argue that they are all that destitute.  Over that same time period, an estimated $753 million per year has been spent fraudulently by welfare recipients.  Moreover, the government’s own accounting has cost taxpayers billions of dollars per year as food stamp programs routinely overpay their recipients; last year, that figure alone totaled $2.5 billion.

As part of her experiment, Sydney discovered this:

It’s not hard to qualify for the program as a student and some universities even publicize food stamps to their students. For example, in Oregon, if you fall into any of the following categories, you automatically qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) program: full-time student who works at least 20 hours per week, full-time single student who is caring for children younger than the age of 12, full-time married student who is caring for children younger than the age of 6, or at least a half-time student who is actively working any hours in a work-study program (institutional or federal) can receive a certain amount of money per month from the government.

Should it really be this easy to get government assistance?  Is it good for the country when freedom is replaced by dependency on the government?

But when government starts to act as the hand that feeds its people and makes personal decisions for them, citizens lose their identities and freedoms.  Not only is the innovative, hardworking, passionate American lost because the government promotes the idea that individuals can’t do it themselves, but the individuals come to expect the handouts and riot when they are revoked.

Given my own personal experience, it is clear that food stamps are too easy to obtain, student or not.  I realize that the food stamp program is different in all states, and some are more thorough with background checks than others, but much greater reform is needed.  It concerns me that 15% of the population, or 46 million people, rely on others’ tax dollars to pay for their food.  That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

The burning question should be why doesn’t the mainstream media do this type of investigative reporting?

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“Free” Blockbuster Express movie codes

So being on a money-saving venture I’ve been on the lookout for deals.  Here’s a great deal I came across for renting movies at NO COST!

From Creative Couponing:

Use the below codes to get a FREE Blockbuster Express rental for one night. I did not try these codes out, so be sure to bring all of them.  To find the closest Blockbuster Express kiosk to you go to Blockbuster Location Locator.  You can use each code one time on EACH of your credit or debit cards that you have.

Codes good through 9/23:

64HLG5P
87PGAR9
62KRVF3
65RMAQ7
56AGSF4
43MMKC5
85JMMF7
23CHAH3

In Green Bay the Blockbuster kiosks are located at the Kwik Trips on Cardinal Lane in Howard and East Mason Street.  Having used “promo” codes at Blockbuster previously I discovered that you can use only one promo code for transaction, so if you want to rent more than one movie just do multiple transactions.

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Stunning victory

Simply amazing.

Running low on hope and almost out of time, the Americans were surely beat, about to make their earliest exit from the Women’s World Cup.

And then, with one of the most thrilling goals in U.S. history, they weren’t. Showing a dramatic burst sure to captivate the folks back home, the Americans packed an entire World Cup’s worth of theatrics into a 15-minute span by beating Brazil 5-3 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie Sunday night. Abby Wambach tied it with a magnificent, leaping header in the 122nd minute, and Hope Solo denied the Brazilians — again — in one of the most riveting games in the history of the World Cup, men’s or women’s.

“There is something special about this group. That energy, that vibe,” Solo said. “Even in overtime, you felt something was going to happen.”

Hollywood couldn’t have written a script as good.  Especially when you consider this …

The U.S. victory came 12 years to the day the Americans last caught their country’s attention in a big way with their penalty-kick shootout victory over China at the Rose Bowl that gave them their second World Cup title.

After yesterday’s thrilling victory, is a third World Cup title on the horizon next weekend?

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