A Veteran's Day Prayer

Comment

A Veteran's Day Prayer

A Veteran's Day Prayer

image.jpg

Lord God, we come to you today, to honor our Veterans.

We thank you that they made it past the road side bombs, past the insurgents, past the cold and hunger.

We thank you that they made it through the firefight, through the gunshots, through the death of peers, and through loss of limbs.

We give thanks for their service, are grateful that they have been reunited with family, and can kiss their children.

We give thanks for their reintegration into our lives, giving their all at work, at play, and in church.

They bring passion to our lives, and an insight based on experience available only to them.

image.jpg

Lord God, we pray for them. Returning home has not been easy, seamless transition for some

Give hope to our veterans, dear Lord, for the ones who can only find peace through taking their own lives.

Have mercy upon our veterans, our Lord, for the untold multitudes of others who suffer from Moral Injury, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and Survivors Guilt.

Give favor to our veterans, oh Lord, for the displaced and homeless who deserve more than just a "Thank you for your service".

 

Lord God, give us as much compassion for our veterans as we have pride for them.

Give us compassion to listen to their story, while giving them the strength to share it.

image.jpg

Give us grace to either be a safe space, or to create the safe space, for our Veterans and to celebrate their survival.

Give us humility to allow veterans to celebrate alone if necessary, and give them wisdom to invite us in when needed.

Give us the compassion to not assume they will trust us, and give them the wisdom to give us that trust when appropriate.

Grace us with your heart for these men and women of service, that we may honor them with our silent presence, as much as we honor them with parades and medals.

and continue to bless our veterans for the sacrifices they have made.

 RLTW

RLTW

Amen

Comment

Gratefulness leads to Thankfulness

Comment

Gratefulness leads to Thankfulness

Gratefulness...Thankfulness. 

I'm sitting here in my home with Melissa and Abrielle napping on the couch. These last 3 years have been full of transition for us: dating, marriage, new job, birth, death, new home, book published... It seems that we are just calming down into some form of stability right now.

When I reflect back on my entire life, it has also been full of transition, some good, some bad. It would seem I am finding some sense of stability being a husband and father. 

image.jpg

Thinking back on my grade school social studies classes, I could reflect, as many have done, on the "Divine Providence" of grace extended the pilgrims by the "savage" Native Americans, of the greatness of this nation, of what United States of America offers the world, etc. I could be thankful for that...and I am. There is good reason why so many people have continually travelled to this country , this nation, for a better life than where they originate from. But that is not my focus.

image.jpg
image.jpg

If I think back to any of my college Ethnic Studies classes, I could reflect on how small pox was given to native americans, how their land was stolen from them, on the atrocity of the Middle Passage and chattel slavery, on the Robber Barons who swindled, strong armed, or stole the lives of poor white people coming to this nation for a better life than Europe. I could be thankful that those days are overtly over...and I am. Those, and many others, are the sins of America...sins we would love to believe are completely gone, and whose effects are no longer with us...wishful thinking. But that is not my focus.

image.jpg

If I remember my time in Seminary, studying theology, I would reflect on the awesome sacrifice of Jesus, thanking God for the forgiveness of, redemption from, freedom from, cleansing from Sin. I would thank God for the condescension, the incarnation, into flesh so that we may be reconciled to God. I should be thankful for all of that and much more...and I am. But that is not the entirety of my focus

 

I would like to consider the following: 

grateful (adj.) 
         1550s, "pleasing to the mind," also "full of gratitude," from obsolete adj. grate "agreeable, thankful," from Latin gratus "pleasing"(see grace (n.)). 

grace (n.) 

       Late 12 cen., from God's favor or help, from Old French grace "pardon, divine grace, mercy, elegance virtue; from Latin gratia "esteem, favor, regard, pleasing quality, good will; from gratus "pleasing, agreeable"; to praise to sing, to celebrate 

Gratefulness, or grateful, really means to be full of grace or virtue. The problem is that this fullness of virtue is inately absent in all humanity. 

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps isunder their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood:Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:11-19)

image.jpg

When humanity sinned in the Garden (Genesis 3), we should have instantly ceased to exist. God is life, and to disobey God is to disobey living. Our existance, an act of Divine Creative Grace, is what we sinned against. It would be as if all humanity and the plant would have immediately reverted back to the formless, dark void of Nothing (Genesis 1:1-2). There should not be a place in the universe where sinners exist in eternal rebellion to the Life-Giver. Our existance is a universal anomaly. 

image.jpg

God, however, chose to bestow upon us Divine Redemptive Grace. God chose to favor, to pardon, to extend good will to a race of beings whose existance would forever be marred with rebellion and the perversion of His designs toward evil. God chose to encapsulate humanity in a bubble called grace, in anticipation of God supreme act of grace, Jesus. All the evil we experience, as heinous as it is, while not being what God wants, is encapsulated in his grace so that we may simply exist and have a chance to know him. 

image.jpg

Actions have consequences, and while God choses to extend grace of salvation, we still live in the hell of human existance pervaded by evil influences and actions. The hell humanity experiences, all of it, is the consequence of human choice, and God honors freedom. God could choose to start over, could despise our choice, and simply remove his grace, and he would be justified to do so. "If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."  (Job 34:14-15). 

Our lives are grace, undeserved and unrepayable.

To add to this grace of existing (in fact the foundation of this grace and the reason for it), is the grace God gave us when he gave us Jesus. Not only do we get the opportunity to exist and know God, but, we have been given Jesus. In getting Jesus, who is God-incarnate, we have the chance to recieve the adoption of being God's children. In receiving this adoption, we gain an inheritance. Of all universal creatures, humans are the only ones who can call God "Dad". The grace of existance is grounded firmly in the grace of salvation. We have been so filled with grace that we are "grace-full" or grateful.

This leads us to thankfulness

Thank

 to recompense, reward; it carries the idea of "in loving memory" (to think, to feel)

Gracefullness (gratefulness) should lead to the thought-filled and emotion-filled outpouring toward and for God. This is why we give thanks. When we say grace, we are not in fact saying grace, as if we are imputing grace into the food for our betterment. We are in fact giving thanks to God for the grace he has bestowed in giving us food. When we look around at what is provided for us, even the slimest existence is a grace to give thanks for. 

Evil is everywhere. Burma's Junta and the genocide of the Rohingya, N. American chattel slavery and is effects, the destruction of the Native American people, ENRON, the Atom bomb dropped in Japan, the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, the Economic rape of Africa, ISIS, the economic disparity between the western world and other countries, the economic disparity within the western world, the countless sex traffic rings trafficing men, women, and children to rapist and pedophiles...evil is everywhere.

Yet here we are, existing in the bubble of God's grace.

image.jpg

And when finite time meets the eternal time, and I come to God with the evil done unto me and other, God assures me when He tells me, "Vengeance in mine; I will repay!

And for that too, I am thankful. 

 

 

Comment

Prayer-In Jesus Name?

Comment

Prayer-In Jesus Name?

What do we mean when we say, "In Jesus' Name"

What do we expect to happen when we apply that phrase to the end of our prayers?

Christians love to quote the scripture, and others like it, which support a type of faith "In Jesus Name" which will "move mountains". (Matthew 17-20-21, Mark 9:28-29) 

But what does that verse even mean?

These verses are part of the larger conclusion of the story at the base of the Mount of  Transfiguration. The 9 disciples were left in trust by Jesus at the base of the mountain to handle things while he was up the mountain giving much needed revelation to Peter the ear-chopping, Jesus-denying hothead, and James and John, His 2 violent, power hungry sons of thunder. They could not be trusted at the base of the mountain; they needed more intimacy and time with Jesus.

The 9 left were so busy arguing about who would be first in Jesus' Kingdom, and grumbling about why they were left down the mountain, that when the demon-possessed boy was brought to them they, so focused on themselves, lacked the faith in Jesus to cast him out. 

 The Transfiguration by Raphel: Jesus Transfigured while Disciples Powerless

The Transfiguration by Raphel: Jesus Transfigured while Disciples Powerless

After Jesus returned down the mountain and exorcised the demon, the disciples asked him why they couldn't cast out the demon. Jesus makes this famous statement:

Mat 17:20    And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

We read this, and immediately assume that we should be seeing literal mountains moving, not realizing that the mountain to be moved by mustard seed faith was the mountain of pride in the heart of the disciples, which had them arguing about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:33-34)

We have no idea what Jesus means when he says what he says. Our faith many times is totemic, shamanistic, spiritualist-ic at best. We have faith in God for the result we pray for, because we know God is a powerful God. We reference all the Bible stories, claim all the promises, and work our tails off to be as holy a possible...Or when we need something, we go through this purge of mass confession and fasting, as if that activity will build in us the faith in God and personal holiness necessary to grasp hold of the thing desired. We endeavor to show God that we are worthy of his effort on our behalf, and we seal of our prayer "In Jesus name...amen"

What are we doing? Do we even know? How do we explain apparent failure to those who have not been healed? What is our excuse?

"Someone at the anointing service lacked faith",

or "Someone at the anointing service had sin in their life",

or there was some thing in the room which was cursed/possessed with a demon, and since we didnt get it out of the room, it blocked either our prayer from reaching God, or God's answer rom reaching us."

Have you ever noticed how Hebrews 11 can list for you the greats through whom and for whom God has done great things? Yet it doesn't even bother to attempt list those who were beheaded, torn apart, hung, tortured, starved to the death, etc.? It simply says "still others..." Why? Because there are too many "no's" to be counted.

But why are there so many no's? How can they have faith of a mustard seed and still get a no? Did those others not have enough faith? Why are no mountains moving?

image.jpg

Modern paganism and witchcraft differentiate between a prayer and a spell:

Prayers

A prayer is a request. It's where you go directly to the Universe, the Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Herne, Apollo, or whoever you may be hoping will help out, and you ask them point blank, "Please help me with _______________."

image.jpg

 Spells

A spell, on the other hand, is a command. It's the redirection of energy, causing a change, to conform with your will. While you may ask a god or goddess for a little extra mojo in your spellwork, it's not always necessary. In a spell, the power comes from within the caster. In a prayer, the power comes from the gods. (http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/prayersandincantations/a/Role_of_Prayer.htm)

Wikipedia picks up on the definitions of spells with the following:

Modern uses and interpretations

The performance of magic almost always involves the use of language. Whether spoken out loud or unspoken, words are frequently used to access or guide magical power. In "The Magical Power of Words" (1968) S. J. Tambiah argues that the connection between language and magic is due to a belief in the inherent ability of words to influence the universe. Bronisław Malinowski, in Coral Gardens and their Magic (1935), suggests that this belief is an extension of man's basic use of language to describe his surroundings, in which "the knowledge of the right words, appropriate phrases and the more highly developed forms of speech, gives man a power over and above his own limited field of personal action."[1] 

 

Let's pause. When God created all things, They created all things by His Word (Genesis 1, John 1). Then God made man in Their image. There for there are some who suggest that has God reigned by His Word, so also Humanity was to rule by our word. However, when we sinned, we lost authority of rulership, and thus the authority of our word to rule things according to our will. Thus, magic is an attempt to regain the authority of our word over our environment. Wikipedia continues on:

 

Not all speech is considered magical. Only certain words and phrases or words spoken in a specific context are considered to have magical power.[3] ...Malinowski argues that "the language of magic is sacred, set and used for an entirely different purpose to that of ordinary life."[6] The two forms of language are differentiated through word choice, grammar, style, or by the use of specific phrases or forms: prayers, spells, songs, blessings, or chants, for example. Sacred modes of language often employ archaic words and forms in an attempt to invoke the purity or "truth" of a religious or a cultural "golden age". The use of Hebrew in Judaism is an example.[7] Another potential source of the power of words is their secrecy and exclusivity. Much sacred language is differentiated enough from common language that it is incomprehensible to the majority of the population and it can only be used and interpreted by specialized practitioners (magicians, priests, shamans, even mullahs).[8][9] In this respect, Tambiah argues that magical languages violate the primary function of language: communication.[10] Yet adherents of magic are still able to use and to value the magical function of words by believing in the inherent power of the words themselves and in the meaning that they must provide for those who do understand them.... (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spell_(paranormal)

 

image.jpg

That's Wicca and paganism. Does this have a Christian counterpart? Absolutely! It is the high liturgy Christian Churches (Catholics, Orthodox, etc) when they demand the mass be said in Latin, and Charismatics and Pentecostals when they speak in tongues. That is their magic language. It is those preachers who use the Greek and Hebrew too much, as it is those Christians who love to bang on the proverbial drum of God's real name: Jesus must be called Yeshua, YHWH-ists demand God be called YHWH, and Jehovah's Witness demand that his name be Jehovah (a word which doesn't even exist, but is a combintion of YHWH and the vowels from Adonai). It is also those of us who love to pray in Kings Jame's English, even though that is not the way we speak normally, as if somehow praying while speak with that archaic vernacular is to participate in the holy. When we demand that the language of the prayer, ritual, or service use certain grammatical structures, verbage which is not longer used in everyday language, or even a language that is not spoken by the majority of our population, we are participating in a "magic language". Even Islam has magic language, because the belief is that the Quran cannot be understood rightly until one reads it in Arabic, as if the Divine being Himself only speaks Arabic. In all of these, there is power inherent in the person posessing the sacred word, which gives hims special access, based on that word to the divine, and that words carries authority over the divine. 

 
Here is the synopsis: just like wiccan and paganism, we Do pray prayers to our God asking for help and assistance. However, just like wicca and paganism, we DO USE the secret spell, our magical language, of words which "compell" universal forces (God) to act on our behalf, and our magic language at the end of the Christain prayer is "In Jesus Name...Amen"
 
This will not do. John gives us the definition or the purpose of praying "In Jesus Name" in his gosepl. He takes 7 verse to do it:
 
Joh 14:13  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Joh 14:14  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Joh 15:16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Joh 16:23  And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

Joh 16:24  Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

Joh 16:26-27  At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God


I leave this blog "as is" with you, for your meditation. Over the next 2 weeks I will post 3 teachings from these texts on prayer "In Jesus Name". These will appear in the Teachings section of this website. The First Teaching will address John 14:13, 14, and 26. The Scond will deal with John 16:23-24, 26-27 The Third and Final Teaching will address what I believe is the central and primary definition and purpose for praying "In Jesus Name", found in John 15:16. The hope is that through this study our faith will be built up and our prayer life deepened.
May God bless us as we study His Word..
 
 

 
 

Comment

Veteran Reflections

Comment

Veteran Reflections

Another day ends. Another Sun sets. The Veteran, even in the crowd, is alone in his thoughts. 

image.jpg

Another day and time, another places, has been his dwelling place the past 24 sacred hours.  

"I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved."

General order #1: the very first thing a private learns when entering the Army.

Where are the men and women he has served with? How have their lives turned out? Do they remember the laughs, the triumphs? Do they still feel the pain and loss, and cry the same tears?

image.jpg

"Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers." 

The First Stanza of the Ranger Creed: that code of conduct of an elite group of army soldiers. When you see them you now death is on the way. These men train when the rest of the world sleeps. Nightstalkers in "little birds", Blackhawks, and Chinnoks, are theirs guardian angels, while spectre gunships are their archangels. 

I remember with respect the fire of then SSg. Williamson, the sarcams of then SSg Bunch, the passion of then SFC Watson, the toughness of then SFC Lamb, the detail of then Spc Strouse and Spc James, and numerous other men who had such a tremendous impact on my young naive life. These were my first army trainers and mentors: my squad leaders, my platoon...B. Company 3/75 Ranger. 

image.jpg

"I am a warrior. I will teach and fight whenever and wherever my nation requires. I will strive always to excel in every art and artifice of war. I know that I will be called upon to perform tasks in isolation, far from familiar faces and voices. With the help and guidance of my faith, I will conquer my fears and succeed."

Special Forces: if you see them you are dead already. There long before anyone recognizes, gone before anyone realizes, these men serve with little to no recognition whatsoever of the service they have been giving. None but they will ever know what has been done one behalf of others, many of whom have no appreciation for the 50 boxes of cereal they are priviledged to choose from, the 20 pairs of shoes they own in their closet, their need to remodel the house every other year, much less the toilet seat used, the warm showers taken, the hot meals we eaten, or the soft mattress slept on in this great nation of possibilities.

The men and women of the U.S Army which I have had the priviledge of serving are some of the most sacrificial people I know. There are no heroics in my portfolio. I am simply grateful to have shared time, space, and be mentored by these people. 

As a hospital chaplain, having left active service, I reflect back on the people I have served with. How are they now? Where are they now? Who are they now?

I remember who I was, when they taught me to stand in my place on the wall, when they shared MRE's and slept in mud with me, when they pushed me to excellence, allowing me to blossom into the man I have become. 

image.jpg

In my life, their sacrifice was not in vain. I can admit to day that I strive in my profession to be worthy of their words, tears, blood, and nightmares. I strive to be a better husband, father, family member, friend, and chaplain. I strive to live by the loyalty and integrity of those great men (RLTW) and women who poured so much into me, who made this scared black boy from Ohio into the man he is today.

This is what they taught me while I stood my post.

This is what was handed to those to stand there now. 

May God bless my Military brothers and sisters on this Veteran's Day. 

RLTW

 

 

Comment

Comment

A P.U.C. Reflection

 

Recently there has circulated on the web a sermon by Chaplain Jonathan Henderson, presented at Pacific Union College. It has generated not a little discussion among Seventh Day Adventist Christians. I have never had the privilege of meeting and talking with Chaplain Henderson, and would be honored at the opportunity. What follows is my evaluation of his sermon titled "Adam and Steve". I will focus on 4 major themes I find in his sermon:  Grace versus Judgement, God calls Audibles, Soul-Mates, Eunuchs. I do not intend to besmirch Chaplain Henderson. I will state upfront that I believe this sermon to be full of error. I do not mean to speak of Chaplain Henderson's intentions or motivations. I choose to believe that he came from a sincere and good place when writing and preaching this sermon. 

Grace versus Judgment

 It's hard to live forward, when everyone is using your epxerience as an excuse to hide their own issues.

It's hard to live forward, when everyone is using your epxerience as an excuse to hide their own issues.

I experienced Chaplain Henderson (known from now on as Ch. J) as very sincere when addressing the duplicity of the SDA Church. By duplicity I mean this: Christians have been more than dishonest about the same-sex attraction, Adventists included. We have preached that it is the abomination of desolation, we have preached that homosexuality was the reason for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Ezekiel is quite clear on what Sodom was guilty of: pride, fulness of bread, abundance of idleness, lack of care for poor and needed, haughtiness, and abominations. The word abominations is used to describe things which the Hebrew would have found so vile they would not speak of it. These abominations are found contextually in the following passages: Leviticus 7:18; 11:10-13, 20-23, 41-42; 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 7:25-26; 12:31; 13:13-14; 17:1,4; 18:9-12; 22:5; 23:18; 24:4; 25:11-16; 27:15. 

If you read the above passages you will discover that abominations covered many things, so while Genesis 19 mentions a specific sin the Old Testament (OT) called an abomination, it wasn't the only abomination Israel participated in. Therefore it is theologically dishonest to consider that it was solely for the sin of same-sex intimacy that Sodom was destroyed. A fairer assessment would be to say it was one of many. 

Additionally, Ch. J. describes SDA duplicity in relationship to our views of homosexuality/lesbianism by pointing out our own culpability in immorality. Non-marital sexual intimacy, pornography viewing, divorce for reason other than adultery, and others are just as much sin as same-sex intimacy. The Bible calls rebellion equal to witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). Disobedience to parents, unforgiveness, unmerciful, gossip, slander, envy, murder, debate, pride, boasting, etc., are all considered part of the reprobate mind (Romans 1). 

 Many Christians are the Dorian Gray of Christ's followers: more quick to point out the flaws in others, than to face their own evil self-portrait

Many Christians are the Dorian Gray of Christ's followers: more quick to point out the flaws in others, than to face their own evil self-portrait

The way we have over exaggerated the sin of same-sex intimacy while downplaying all the other sins which heterosexuals commit is a colassally massive mis-caricature of the heart of God and the Gospel of Jesus. When Christians are willing to denigrate and demonize the sin that is not theirs, while hiding, participating in, or condoning other sins we make the life and death of Jesus of none effect. We are guilty of the grossest hypocrisy. Don't speak to homosexuals about their life and sin when we have ministers molesting children, getting divorced for reasons other than adultery, church members too flirtatious and fornicative, people more materialistic than spiritual, horrible stewardship in relationship to money, and when we are so selfishly capitalistic that we don't care for the poor. When a church participates in structuralized racism, unspoken bigotry, carries with it a Eurocentric spiritual colonialism, and obvious sexism then it would be better that we all leave the same-sex oriented person alone and attend our own house. When conference officials watch the stock market more than the signs of the times we have a significant moral and ethical problem, from the head to the tail. I am in absolute agreement with Ch. J's assessment of the hypocrisy. 

The Audibles of God

CH. J spoke of God making audible. He referenced Jonah and Ninevah, and how God, after telling Jonah to inform the people that in 40 days they would be destroyed, then decided to not destroy the people when they repented. 

image.jpg

He references Ezekiel 33:10 and following (Also see Ezekiel 18:20-32), as an example of God changing his mind. If the wicked do what is right, they will not die. If the righteous do what is evil, they will die. He calls that God calling an audible. He assert that divorce in Deuteronomy was God's audible. The problem with this assertion is that Deuteronomy is the recitation of, or the restating of the law, and this admonition for divorce is not found anywhere between Exodus and Numbers. That's because it was not something God told Moses. This is why Jesus in Matthew 19 puts the responsibility for the reality of divorce squarely on Moses. Jesus is informing all that neither He nor God gave that design to Moses. Thus, God didn't audible  in Deuteronomy. Moses called his own play. 

When I spoke with Ch. Garfield Brown, he stated that issue with this audible concept presented by Ch. J is that God nowhere "audibles" something from a legal sin status to legally acceptable or holy status. It is a legal issue because the command of God was to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).  The same sex relationship is non-productive,  thus is runs in direct opposition to the command of God.  God indicts actually same sex union for it nonproductive ability in Romans:

Rom 1:26-27    For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

The word natural in this text carries the meaning of what is physical and insticntive  for the growth and production of the genus. The relationship by its very nature would never produce offspring, and thus breaks the very first commandment of God to humanity, the command tied to our very reason for existing.

Unseemingly carries with it the idea of indecency as it relates to the pudenda, or external genitals, especially females. Verse 27 is saying that the men were using each other, and each other's body parts like they were female genitals, which they are not. Verse 26, having the same issue, is saying that women were doing the same with women: using women's body parts as male genitals or in the place of. 

Ch. J compared this with biblical polygamy, and since God allowed that, why can't God allow this.  However that is an incorrect comparison.  While polygamy may be immoral and unethical, and while the Bible constantly endorses heterosexual married monogamy so that we know what God approves of, there is no direct command of God against polygamy. It is not illegal.  Due to God's direct command in Genesis 1:28 to be productive, this sin is a manifestation of direct rebellion.

God does not audible a sin into righteousness. Rather, what we see is God changing his actions toward people from blessing to judgment and vice versa, depending upon their relationship with him. This is what is represented in Ezekiel 18 and 33, as well as Jonah. Ch. J seems to want people to believe that God will change his stand on certain actions depending upon how we relate to them, whether we can over come or not. However, there is no such example. Additionally, as it relates to same-sex issues, there is not place in the Bible where it is mentioned in a positive light, be it the Old Testament or the New Testament. 

That Same-sex unions were part of life during the 1st century is testified to by Paul, who in 1 Corinthians 6 informs us that some of the believers of that church used to engage in same-sex intimate activity. However, they had been freed, and washed, and justified. It is no coincidence that the opening of chapter 7 is dealing with the admonition to marry if one struggle sexually. Paul assumes that the saved believer is free in Jesus enough to engage in heterosexual relationships as a privilege of their new life and as a guard against sins of the flesh. Neither Paul nor Jesus himself apparently got the memo of the audible, because when discussing intimate relationships they both refer to Genesis and the original design as what the church should follow after and emulate. 

If we want to look for an audible we can look no further than Genesis: 

Original Statement:  

Gen 2:16 -17  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God's "audible": 

image.jpg

Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

If you wanna see God's audible for human failure and weakness, we don't see God sanctify sin, we see God die for sinners.  
 
 

SOULMATES

CH. J asserted that one can be the soul mate of someone who is not their spouse. There are a few problems with this. 

image.jpg

Firstly, what is a soul? He doesn't define it. He simply asserts. The normal person has what John Ortberg calls the looney tunes understand of a soul: Wiley Coyote is crushed by a rock and a whimsical ghostly gas can be seen slinking from beneath the rock  in the form of Wiley Coyote. However, John Ortberg, a Presbyterian minister and author, states that the soul is the combination and integration of all elements making an individual life: the will, the mind, the body, and the society. Those combined into one person constitute an soul or life.

However, Ch. J stated that he is married and loves his wife, but his soul mate is someone 20 years his senior whom he relates to in a motherly fashion, whom he would also die for. For Ch. J a soul mate is the idea of total acceptance, like-mindedness, emotional and spiritual security and oneness.

So what he is espousing is that he is one flesh physically with his wife, and emotionally to a degree, but there is a degree of him which she has no access to because they are not soul mates. Some other person has this emotional and spiritually intimate position, and that this is OK. CH. J suggests that a man can also be soul mates with his good male friends. 

 a Greek older man intimately teaching and younger adolescent.

a Greek older man intimately teaching and younger adolescent.

Where does this idea come from? It comes from Greek thought and practice; Soul mates are platonic friends. What that phrase actually means is not the way it is used today. Platonic friends were older men who were mentors of the younger men in Athens. Plato asserted that the attraction would initial be erotic, and encouraged the mentor to turn that erotic tension into the pursuit of beauty, knowledge, and the divine. 

The Greeks mind allowed for marriage to women as a necessary evil. Women stood for everything fleshly, earthly, carnal, raw, natural, emotional. Contrarily, men stood for the soul, the heaven, logic and mind, refined, divinity. Thus, a soulmate was someone with who men connected to the divine: they were likeminded and like spirited. 

As soul mates their souls were to mate, and as mates there is always supposed to be production. They were to so turn the erotic into the spiritual and intellectual that they were made better men by the encounter. 

Here is the problem with the Greeks experienced: the soul is the integrated whole of all the parts, so that it is impossible to be spiritual without being intellectual, physical, or social. Thus Greeks could not divest themselves from the erotic tension they felt, and their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual oneness more than frequently integrated their bodies as well, so that old men and young men were sexually intimate on a regular basis. 

image.jpg

Additionally, Jesus informs us that we are to "leave" our most intimate relationship (father and mother), and "cleave" to our spouse. If I am to cleave to my spouse, if our souls are to be cleaved together, there can be no one separating or distracting this cleaving. Thus, even if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, in Christ the wall of separation has been torn down, and through mutual submission and love we are to grow together as soul mates.

    Adventist Home Pg 94, Para 3 “Religion is needed in the home. Only this can prevent the grievous wrongs which so often embitter married life. Only where Christ reigns can there be deep, true, unselfish love. Then soul will be knit with soul, and the two lives will blend in harmony. Angels of God will be guests in the home, and their holy vigils (watchful guarding) will hallow (sanctify) the marriage chamber. Debasing sensuality will be banished. Upward to God will the thoughts be directed; to Him will the heart's devotion ascend.” {AH 94.3} 

The prophet is clear that where Christ reigns, it is there that soul mates and soul ties are appropriate, and it is within the soul-mating that actual mating occurs. She does not allow for my mating physically with my wife, while emotionally and spiritual being mated to someone else. 

CH. J's example is actually giving people permission to be emotionally and spiritual intimate at a level of "the soul", which is reserved solely for the spouse. 

Eunuchs

Ch. J is more than 1/2 done with his sermon, and has returned back to Matthew 19: here Jesus is discussing Eunuchs. As he began his section, he starts talking about God's revealing things to each person differently, how we're all reading the same thing and coming away with different stuff. With this relativity as his foundation, Ch. J begins his parallel:

image.jpg

Some are born eunuchs: he uses this to demonstrate how some can be born with same-sex orientation. This I believe is correct. I have no disagreement with the fact that sin has completely messed up the entire human family and gene configuration, so that anyone is capable of any sin at any time. Some of us are predisposed to certain sins based on our parents:

Adventist Home Pg 124, Para 2   Results of Excesses.--Men and women, you will one day learn what is lust and the result of its gratification. Passion of just as base a quality may be found in the marriage relation as outside of it. {AH 124.2} What is the result of giving loose rein to the lower passions? . . . The bedchamber, where angels of God should preside, is made unholy by unholy practices. And because shameful animalism rules, bodies are corrupted; loathsome practices lead to loathsome diseases. That which God has given as a blessing is made a curse. {AH 124.3}

Adventist Home Pg 124, Para 1 Why Satan Seeks to Weaken Self-control.--Satan seeks to lower the standard of purity and to weaken the self-control of those who enter the marriage relation, because he knows that while the baser passions are in the ascendancy, the moral powers grow steadily weaker, and he need have no concern as to their spiritual growth. He knows, too, that in no way can he better stamp his own hateful image upon their offspring, and that he can thus mold their character even more readily than he can the character of the parents. {AH 124.1} 

Child Guidance Pg. 442  In very many cases the parents are the real sinners. They have abused their marriage privileges and by indulgence have strengthened their animal passions. And as these have strengthened, the moral and intellectual faculties have become weak. The spiritual has been overborne by the brutish. Children are born with the animal propensities largely developed, the parents' own stamp of character having been given to them 

So even EGW agrees with the idea that someone can be born predisposed to sin. Anyone who denies the someone can be born with a same-sex attraction denies the prophet!

image.jpg

Some are made eunuchs: some people were made eunuch in ancient times by cutting off genitals. Daniel would fit this category. Similarly, some are molested, raped, or emotionally and environmentally nurtured toward that orientation. 

It is at this point that Ch. J states that he used to tell same sex couples that they could be soul mates, just don't engage in physical intimacy, but that this thought for him had changed. Here is his final parallel:

3) Some are eunuchs for the kingdom of God: some people, such as Paul, chose to live a life of celibacy to do the work of the Lord. Paul encourages this in 1 Corinthians 7. Ch. J states that there are some who look at the Bible and say that it does not support a same sex life style, and that they are going to be celibate for the sake of Jesus. However, that is their conviction. There are those who are not convicted of that. He leaves this point in the air without finishing the thought, and the listener is left to consider that there are 3 options on the table:

image.jpg

heterosexual marriage for the glory of God, or

celibacy for the kingdom of God, or

same-sex relationships...for the kingdom of God?

It is all depended upon what the individual is convicted of by the Holy Spirit. This means that my marriage to my wife is for the kingdom, my friend's celibacy is for the kingdom of God, and my other friend's same-sex life style is also for the kingdom of God. At minimum, not finishing the thought was irresponsible; at maximum, it was intentionally misleading, manipulative, and deceptive. 

Biblically speaking the parallel falls apart on the last point, so the notion of relative revelation and conviction needed to be stated up front so as to make the point stick.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have concluded my reflection of this sermon. I will say 2 points: one to Chaplain Jonathan, and one to the same sex community.

Chaplain Jonathan, Your ministry is powerful. Your gifts tremendous. Your desire to love people palpable. Your motivation visible. Your dedication is known. Your sincerity for me is unquestionable. You have been given a tremendous pulpit, and tremendous influence. I write this because of the way the message of your sermon has been presented to the world. It was open, so this is open. I am left with three options when considering your sermon: 

1) your are inept, or lazy, and didn't do enough study for this topic or,

2) you are well-intended, yet ignorant, lacking in learning, or misguided, and so you preached a powerful message full of your entire heart, and made some mistakes along the way or,

3) your were intentional, and knew what you were doing every step of the way.

I choose to not consider you as intentional, because if that sermon was your intention then it was the most damaging sermon I have everr heard, for it gives people permission to be spiritually and emotionally mated to someone other than their spouse, it seems to insinuate that sin is relative to conviction, and that same-sex union brings God glory, and it states that God lowers the moral/legal standard of righteousness because we keep messing up, or are born toward sin. 

I applaud your passion for equality under the grace of God for a those of the same sex orientation, and would encourage you to keep that work going. 

Finally, I am praying for you, because the weight of responsibility for being the shepherd of that campus is greater than most will understand

Same-sex community, I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the abuse you have suffered at the hands of other Christians. I am sorry that you have had to hide in deep secret your struggles while the rest of us parade our stuff around, and it gets swept under the rug. I am so sorry to those of you who have been raped, molested, and/or abuse, especially if it happened by another Christian. I know what that is like. I repent for my part early in my life for promulgating the unbiblical position that Sodom was destroyed only for same sex sin. I apologize for previous homophobia. I apologize for those who have lost families, been rejected by parents and siblings, simply for being the human you are. I am sorry that Jesus has been made to be your great rejector. 

I am praying for you as well, because the weight of holiness upon you is nothing a heterosexual can understand.

I pray the one day the church becomes a genuine place of safety and healing where all who have been abused and entrapped by sin can come and experience the transforming love of Jesus.

Ch. Jason

Comment

Abrielle

1 Comment

Abrielle

 Abrielle's photo shoot on her first day of life.

Abrielle's photo shoot on her first day of life.

This week was one of the hardest for our family. We noticed that Abrielle's head was swollen on the left side, so we took her to the Emergency Department here in Apopka. Now being a chaplain and workin in a hospital, I realized when I got to the hospital we were in a tentative position, because the injury was to an infant. When the CAT scan was finished they told us that she had a small skull fracture.

Crushed...that's what we were. Immediately, I began to try to figure out what the traumatic event was that would have caused this. I could only think of when she climbed out of her crib and hit the Wednesday morning before.  

 My 3 women: my mom, my wife, and my daughter, 2014

My 3 women: my mom, my wife, and my daughter, 2014

The doctor said we were going to have to go to Florida South Hospital, the Flagship of the Adventist Health System. It is the hospital I am a chaplain in.  

Now our house had been without AC for the entire weekend, and we were sleeping on the floor downstairs. The AC man was coming that day, so we decided that I should home and wait for him, while Melissa went on with Abrielle to the downtown hospital. I returned home to find 2 police cars and a CSI truck at my home, waiting to question me about abusing my child. While I was being questioned by one aggressive police sergent, 2 detectives, 1 cop, and a Department of Children and Families social worker were heading to the hospital, where they proceeded question my wife for 45-60 minutes asking and repeating the same questions.

 My dad's meeting Abrielle for the first time.

My dad's meeting Abrielle for the first time.

By that time I arrived, Melissa was back in the room with our child, every emotional. She had been questioned profusely, yet no one had come and spoken to her about Abrielle's health. This was heart breaking. They seemed more interested in finding us culpable, than in making sure she is healthy. For them her safety is healthiness, but the immediate health issue was not discussed with us her parents, who brought her to the hospital to ensure her health. 

The cops proceeded to re-enter Abrielle's hospital room, to speak with Melissa again. It was then that I had to assert my fatherly and husbandly authority and direct them to leave the room. I directed Melissa to take the baby to the bone scan DCF had orderd to check if she had any other healed breaks in bone. I then turned my attention back to the cops, informing them that they were finished speaking with my wife, and if they had other questions they could speak with me. I showed them to the room were they would question me, a process which took all of 30 minutes. The shortness of my interview informs me that they were trying to emotionally intimidate, manipulate, and coerce Melissa into admitting something that didn't happen.  

They left, and I went to find my wife. My wife's good friend Melissa Johnson, the wife of my good friend Juleun Johnson, was with Melissa the entire time. I met them at the bone scan. Abrielle was fighting the entire time. She didn't like being tied down, in a strange machine, around strange people, for a 30-45 minute scanning period. I could hear her screaming and fear, anger, confusion, and defiance. I was very proud of my daughter. She gave them hell. 

We returned to hospital room for the night.  

The next day the neurological PA surgeon came in and proceeded ask us if we had rememberd anything different about what happened to Abrielle, which we hadn't told the police. I almost cursed her out. She left shortly afterward. 

image.jpg

Another doctor came in checking in on Abrielle. I asked her if she was coming in to ask the same questions as the myriad of others, or if she had anything different to say than the others' who came to to "check" before her. I think I made her a little defensive, but she was kind, and very understanding. 

Soon another person for Child Protective Services came to ask us the same questions we had answerd numerous times the evening before. She was kind, less aggressive or accusing than the team the night before. She was finished with both of us in 1 Hour.

We were released from the hospital around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. Around 6:30pm, the DCF inspector met us at our home, to do a walk through. He was straight forward, direct, and not aggressive. 

I go to sleep that night afraid that someone would come at night and take my daughter, and since her crib is now to small for her, I slept with her the entire night on the floor.

What have I learned from this experience? 

image.jpg

1) There are idiot parents out there, who should not be parents. They viciously abuse their children. 

2) Due to idiotic, demonic parents, the system has a procedure place to ensure the protection of children, which assumes parental guilt unit proven innocent. 

3) The system's solution is to remove the child from the home and in the worst case place them as a ward of the state.  

4) There is a facade of freedom which can be taken away at a moments notice. Security and freedom are dependent upon everyone abiding by the rule of law. Since we have numerous statistics which demonstrate that the rule of law is eroded and being eroded, the freedoms and securities of law abiding citizens are at jeopardy. 

5) I have never felt more powerless in my life. I have been trained for action, but none of my training would have positively effected the situation. I had to operate under a different power than my training...the power of confident humility.

As of today, we are all three together at home. There is no record of abuse in my past or Melissa's. There is no history of abuse in our family since we have been married, or since we have been parents. Everyone who knows us knows we love our family, we love our marriage, and we love our daughter. So here is my closing point:

6) The only thing one has in life is one's integrity and character.  

Situations will come which will challenge. We have to know who we are, and be honestly who we are, so that when we are questioned or investigate the only thing others can say is the truth: we are people of integrity. 

image.jpg

 

 

1 Comment

My Generation...My Life

Comment

My Generation...My Life

Today is my birthday...I am 40 years old. That is an entire Biblical generation. Now I could recount my life in the normal way, reviewing the challenges, searching for meaning, viewing some of the time as lost or wasted, etc., which is my normal modus operandi. 

However, I have chosen to show you the blessings my life, over the years...there are too many to list. This is just something small...

 

 My and my oldest friend, Karl Allen

My and my oldest friend, Karl Allen

 My brother Phillip and I in our mom-made jumpsuits, with afros parted on the left lol 

My brother Phillip and I in our mom-made jumpsuits, with afros parted on the left lol 

 My brother Phillip and I in our pleather jackets

My brother Phillip and I in our pleather jackets

 my preteen/eary teen years

my preteen/eary teen years

 Running Track on the Yellow Springs High School track team

Running Track on the Yellow Springs High School track team

 Rangers Lead The Way...nuff said

Rangers Lead The Way...nuff said

 Germany was great. This is Butzbach Health Clinic squad.

Germany was great. This is Butzbach Health Clinic squad.

 At my Aunt Kathy's after I left active duty

At my Aunt Kathy's after I left active duty

 Some of my closest friends while doing undergrad at Oakwood University

Some of my closest friends while doing undergrad at Oakwood University

 My attempt at facial hair...#SECURITY!!!!

My attempt at facial hair...#SECURITY!!!!

 Baptism...and a new life. My Oakwood friends helped me grow toward this point

Baptism...and a new life. My Oakwood friends helped me grow toward this point

 One of my good friends, Rafford Smith

One of my good friends, Rafford Smith

 One of my good friends, Ian Hayes

One of my good friends, Ian Hayes

 My one and only Oakwood University Banquet

My one and only Oakwood University Banquet

 Adrinna, my close friend Ndubuisi (BC) Nwade, and I

Adrinna, my close friend Ndubuisi (BC) Nwade, and I

 

 my 2nd Family....the Battles and all those adopted by them. Love you all

my 2nd Family....the Battles and all those adopted by them. Love you all

 Batman: the first Oakwood AY sermon of 2008-2009

Batman: the first Oakwood AY sermon of 2008-2009

 Twins: Marquis Johns and I praying before he preaches

Twins: Marquis Johns and I praying before he preaches

 One of my last sermons at Oakwood University

One of my last sermons at Oakwood University


 Mom and Phillip at my Oakwood University graduation

Mom and Phillip at my Oakwood University graduation

 I was so proud of this accomplishment

I was so proud of this accomplishment

 Some of my Andrews University friends, when I went to get my Masters degree

Some of my Andrews University friends, when I went to get my Masters degree

 

 More of my Andrews University friends

More of my Andrews University friends

 still more of my Andrews University friends

still more of my Andrews University friends

 My little sister Shantel Smith

My little sister Shantel Smith

 Went home for Christmas. These are the Williams men (My mothers side)

Went home for Christmas. These are the Williams men (My mothers side)

 My Mom: the strongest, most determined lady I know, and the only one who could be a mother to Phillip and I

My Mom: the strongest, most determined lady I know, and the only one who could be a mother to Phillip and I

 My Dad: arguably the most loving man I know, and the only one who could be a father to Phillip and I (he is clearly excited about this pic lol)

My Dad: arguably the most loving man I know, and the only one who could be a father to Phillip and I (he is clearly excited about this pic lol)

 I knew I would marry her the day I saw her

I knew I would marry her the day I saw her


 Asking her to marry me was the best question I have ever asked anyone

Asking her to marry me was the best question I have ever asked anyone

 This was the happiest day of my life

This was the happiest day of my life

 Just so you know....Phillip and I cut down those trees personally

Just so you know....Phillip and I cut down those trees personally

 She is always asking me to do goofy stuff lol

She is always asking me to do goofy stuff lol

 Some things you never forget...or should you

Some things you never forget...or should you

 Brooklynn: the O'Rourke men have made it

Brooklynn: the O'Rourke men have made it

 the second happiest day of my life

the second happiest day of my life

 meet my second love, Abrielle Joy, given to me by my first love, Melissa

meet my second love, Abrielle Joy, given to me by my first love, Melissa

 The 2 dominant women of my life

The 2 dominant women of my life

 I think I may have spoiled her a little

I think I may have spoiled her a little

 As you can see she loves the camera

As you can see she loves the camera

 Our day at Disney

Our day at Disney

 Again with the goofy stuff (lol)...it's ok though. I dont mind

Again with the goofy stuff (lol)...it's ok though. I dont mind

So that's my life till 40!

image.jpg

SO what happens next? I don't know, but I am excited to find out. God has given me a new life, new opportunities, a new future to write. This is unexplored territory, an unknown country into which I am headed...but I am not alone. I no longer travel life alone...I am in great company. I am, and always have been, surrounded by such a great could of witnesses, to whom I am deeply indebted and grateful to...and there are too many to remember and place here. The future is ours my friends...what will we create with it? Only God knows

Comment

Authenticity: Salt, Light, and Pots

Comment

Authenticity: Salt, Light, and Pots

"Blessed are YOU when you: are meek, make peace, rejoice or grieve, are reviled, are merciful, are pure, are persecuted, are slandered, are poor in spirit. To whom is Jesus speaking? He is speaking to people who are not what He has described."

Comment

Tired of Transitions

1 Comment

Tired of Transitions

"Stability...the one thing this world offers that it cannot provide. However, when one has strong, Godly family ties and friendships, one has about as much stability as is possible this side of glory." - J.A. O'Rourke, #RSR

1 Comment

Because of My Father

1 Comment

Because of My Father

"I know how to work hard, because of my father. I know how to protect, because of my father. I know how to sacrifice, because of my father. I know how to teach, because of my father. I know how to pray as a man, because of my father." J.A. O'Rourke

1 Comment

Memorial Day Reflections

Comment

Memorial Day Reflections

The countless dead, the Prisoners of War still missing, an enemy who does fight by the then-conventional rules of warfare, and those who returned home to a country ungrateful of their sacrifice: We just give them a day.

Comment

Of Irony and Hypocrisy

Comment

Of Irony and Hypocrisy

So let me get this straight…the original people take up arms, are exterminated or relocated, and the children of the immigrating invading nation are asserting the right to employ the same methods, calling the same Federal government tyrannical for doing what it always has done?

Comment

Easter Passion

Comment

Easter Passion

The tomb is empty, there is nothing to see.  Now, if someone wants to see Jesus they must look to His followers.

Comment

What is on the other side?

Comment

What is on the other side?

"So many times as Christians, we get so caught up in the unanswered prayer that we decide to turn our backs on God.  We choose to freeze Him out.  We treat him as a friend that has wronged us and give Him the silent treatment.  But my friend, there is so much more to your story.  An unanswered prayer does not stop God from loving us or moving on our behalf." -Melissa Prescott O'Rourke

Comment

Thanksgiving: Reflections on Family

Comment

Thanksgiving: Reflections on Family

The cultural, ethnic, racial, and social differences created by Babel were undone by the process of restoration begun at Pentecost. There is only one head...God the father, and we are all sons and daughters because of Jesus. God will forever relate to us based on His condescension into our fallen social structure...family.

Comment

God Silent and Insufficient

Comment

God Silent and Insufficient

"We, through the Holy Spirit, can be the other third of our 3-part community bringing God in a tangible way to the lives of those who are tangled in suffering and grief..."

Comment