Posted in Structuring Faith

School Seasons Are Changing and So Are Selections

There’s so many people watching Big Bang Theory these days, you would think the ‘Evolution Theory’ would have a lesson plan rolled out. However, that really isn’t appropriate for lower class, middle class, or elementary students. The concept though; it is still there right? You could play the theme song, and still have the jest of the lesson starting, and you just move into it. Is it really appropriate?

It seems there is more of a push to get sex education in the classrooms. There is also the politically correct way to go from mommy and daddy, to the mommy and mommy, or the daddy and daddy homes. Now the discussion about where do babies come from will certainly be at school, and instead of being the simple way of explaining through Science, “a woman has an egg, and a man has a sperm and they share the two which becomes a baby. Believers of evolution fought his theory claiming we call came from apes. Now, I suppose we go back to the stork? I really don’t want to explain how a two men get a baby, or two women have a baby, to a young child?

These days, Science seems to be a bit selective. With so much being questioned, this might be the best result. Everyone can pick and choose what is being taught. However, is this really the best way to teach? Shouldn’t history be taught at school, and then discussed at home? There’s a certain closeness at home which develops as a result of being a family. Therefore, if something at school is taught, you can discuss these things, and rule others out.

So why have people started complaining about the public school so much, and what is being taught? Is Science really such a problem? Is it the various theories being taught, and parents are so afraid they will not be able to pick and choose their discussion topics? Maybe the parents are worried the kids are learning too much at recess? Oh, wait! There is no recess. Is that what happens? When you have too much of something, then you get rid of it? When you do not like something, you terminate it? When you don’t want to teach it, you just leave it out? You just pick and choose the various subjects you the contexts in which you would like them to be reviewed and then at that point, as a teacher? You will define what a teen takes to college, as a foundation? So, where does the parent step in? Some parents feel it is the teacher’s job to teach, and the parent’s job to parent. They have no idea, their child is lacking so much.

Have you asked your child, “What are you learning in Science?” Has your toddler asked you, “Where do babies come from?” Has your child of any age told you, “My friend from school says he or she is bi?” How do you handle it? What was your answer? Did you validate their question with an answer? It’s easy to turn them away with a more a suggestion of homework, or change the subject with a loud laugh, or busy activity? The underlying answer with all of these questions? If you do not answer these questions, then your children will get answers elsewhere.

With so many changes in the school system, it seems there will continually be changes, there will be complaints, and challenges. Sometimes it is the parents and teachers, other times it is the parents and the school board. I can remember not too long ago, it was the English department, the library, the parents and the school board. The English department issued the summer reading list, and immediately, parents began to have so many problems with it. I remember one lady was in the office of the school board Superintendent, complaining about Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye being too controversial, because of the content. Her daughter, sitting out in the waiting area, was reading a copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. Censorship on some of these books, were brought up by several parents. Parents later claimed, they were “told” about the books; yet, had not read the books themselves.

There seems to be a thick line about “what is” and “what is not” considered pornography; there is also the matter of creationism, or also termed Intelligent Design; there’s also Darwinism and atheism which come up at times. The public school feels the best way to avoid this friction is not to have it in the first place. If you are told to teach something you don’t want to teach? Don’t teach it. If you don’t want to teach something in the Science book? Don’t teach it. If you don’t want to teach about Creationism? Don’t teach it. If you don’t want to answer the big questions? Gloss over them.

Consider that thick line, as if it were “liquid paper”. This handy cover-up form of “fix-it” will work wonders when you need to just wipe something away, clean. You know how you put a thick strip of liquid paper over something and it goes away, but that strip is still there? This is similar to censorship. Once the thought is in your mind, you may censor it (with liquid paper), but each time you come across that correction, your mind takes you back to “memory” and you remember that “why.”

With all of these considerations, making your thoughts run rampant, you are probably wondering, “Should I put my child in a private school?” Since the public school system may not be teaching everything my child needs, maybe private is better? Factually to consider is the teacher has discretion in the lesson delivery. Yes, the teacher has grade level expectations to be met, but there are a variety of methods one can use to get this done, and after all, isn’t effectiveness what counts the most?

There has been a huge shift towards homeschooling as a result of this push towards freethinking, and the ability to know, and to decipher information founded on Scientific discovery, what is and what is not, factually based. A 12-year-old home-schooled student was asked recently about his education, and his response was as follows:
“Homeschooling is the last hope for an intellectually free education where no questions are forbidden, no topic is off limits, and conclusions are the student’s to make.” When asked how he views kids in public school who aren’t allowed to read certain “forbidden” books on evolution, Sam said~
“I feel they are being robbed of an important life lesson. There is always more than one point of view, and they are not allowed to see any other than the Darwinist’s world view. My strength is in research and debate and I developed it by reading opposing arguments and studying the other side. It is so important to have that ability in life for any critical thought process. How will they learn to really dig into an issue if they are only presented one side? I am grateful to my parents for offering me the world and all the information.” (Fox, 2015)

These are strong words from a 12-year-old boy. Homeschooling parents are always looking for ways to deliver lessons, keep the student engaged, and still impart the subject. Kirk Cameron has recently joined with Bill Heid of Heirloom Audio Productions, incorporating History by connecting audio learning with the large amount of screen time utilized in teaching and learning.

“Cameron admits he has used the CD’s to initiate spiritual conversations with his children at the dinner table. “As a dad, I’m always looking for things to impart wisdom and virtue and character to my kids. And tools like this are really helpful,” Cameron said. Heid said audio drama engages the listener’s imagination by taking them back in time and immersing them in the story. The dramas include curriculum, which makes them particularly popular among home-schooled families.” “We are prisoners in the here and now,” Heid said. “With history, we find freedom by finding answers that exist beyond the pressures of daily life.” (Foust, 2015)

Some people may look at these ideas and think, “You are using videos to teach your kids?” “That is terrible!” “I would never do that, and that is why homeschooling is not an option for me, because I want a teacher, not a TV in front of my kid!” Well, as a former teacher, instruction requires visual, audio, tactile… yes, multiple formats of learning and on occasion there is a TV in front of your child for instruction. There are instructional films. Children respond to them, because they are part of their daily activities. There is a generation of “television babysitters”, and this type of learning, is all they know. Some students, it is extremely difficult to find what works to get the lesson to them, but as a teacher, it is your job to find out what it is- the magic button of delivery for each and every child to enter your classroom for the next 25-30 of your best years to teach.

These teachers in the public and private services struggle daily to provide each and every child an equal amount of learning time, and an equal amount of instruction time. Some of these students are gifted and talented, some function at a slower rate than others, and others need more help than what would normally be required. For the homeschooling teacher or parent, the opportunity to engage another learner in an audio learning experience, or to provide both with an audio and visual capability to understand, allows an equality in learning that isn’t optional for a teacher in any other setting – an opportunity appreciated by parents as home-school teachers, communities as home-school teachers, and 12-year-old learners.

OUR TWO CENTS:
There are so many reasons not to choose the public or private education system, including social, moral, academic, “religious” and the largest growing, safety reasons. Do you know many people who have gone to homeschooling? What are their reasons? Was it their decision as a parent, or did their child want to transition? Strange, why would a child want to give up their friends, their freedom, all of the potential of a public or private school? Fear, safety, religion, or even moral reasons? My daughter chose those four for her reasons. How can you look at the aftermath of Sandy Hook, or Columbine and tell your child they have no reason to be afraid? How can you tell your 13-year-old daughter, whose friend from the basketball team is pregnant, morality is not an issue? How can tell you them their academics are not at risk with all of this going on at their school? Why would you not want to home-school your child?

The Bible says the raising children is delegated to parents by God; does that not include
educating them?

Psalm 127:3-5 (“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gates.”)
God has given us certain conditions we are commanded to meet when raising children (part of our stewardship responsibility):

Luke 6:40 (“A pupil is not above his teacher but everyone after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher—a blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?”) Are spiritually blind teachers teaching our children and leading them astray?

Then you must also consider the content of what is learned in regard to the true education- inspired training for righteousness for good works.

Timothy 3:15-17 (“. . .continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of . . . and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”)

You must also consider when it comes to education, how do you want your child to learn? The school systems these days are pushing one thing to the next.

James 3:17-18 (But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” )

God wanted parents to~
Proverbs 22:6~ (Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.)
And as with the African Proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child was from.” The proverb meaning that the learnings and moral values of a child is learned by the village, or in this case, the family or the school? The village is the example for the child morally and uprightly in society. Who’s your child’s village?”

Posted in Structuring Faith

Will Time Yield Compassion To True Love, Amidst the Rolling Waters Of Religion?

This week has brought about much turmoil in the lives of some, and much excitement for others. The Unites States Supreme Court ruled last Friday in a ruling of 5-4, same-sex couples would be provided protection under the U.S. Constitution, and the right to wed in this country.

So many people have since then, become completely independent in their thinking. By independent, I mean they have constructed a boundary between family and friends, and then some. Facebook is filled with people “unfriending” those who make religious stands against those who find themselves standing against the new “law of the land!” Others are simply dissolving friendships between those who disagree with their willingness to take the step of professing their love with a ring and a pen.

I took the time to read through some of the posts, and it really made me wonder, are any of these people concerned about the Supreme Court Ruling, worried about the heightened terror alert for the country, or any activity that could affect the state or city directly in the coming week?

I am quite certain anyone reading this is thinking, “She doesn’t care about our rights?” Well, that’s not so. I do care about our rights. All twenty-seven amendments which symbolize various points in life, liberty, and yes, that’s right the pursuit of happiness. How many people have complained about the second amendment right to bear arms? How many people have responded to freedom of speech, or freedom of religion? How many discuss due process or equal rights, or right to search and seizure? Those are the ones we talk about, why? Those are the ones we feel protected by.

Now we have a situation, where some members feel protected, and others feel threatened? One group feels equal rights are being honored, and others feel their freedom of religion is being put aside. When you encounter a situation in which two very distinct feelings and emotions are on the forefront, then you must make a decision. As Americans, we have to honor all of our rights, without offending others. So how do we do that?

We will have to consider, why are you upset? If you are upset, because you feel the Supreme Court ruled on something, which should have been left up to the states on an individual level? That is a valid reason, as years ago the separation of church and state issue, has been brought up. There also has been the first amendment right of Freedom of Religion which should be considered. Both are very good points, and duly noted here. If you are upset, because you are a heterosexual man or woman, and it has been your teaching and understanding the Bible forbids homosexuality. This too, a very good oppositional point to be made, and you are well within your rights to have your beliefs and opinions as much as anyone else.

So now we come to the religious waters that roll, and I know what the scriptures are, I have read them myself over the years. My good neighbors and friends have been wonderful to remind us all about them too. So let me just say, I am not going to go through them here. If you do not know what they are? It’s time you dust off that Bible, and read them. You need to know what that Bible says, if you want to share a seat in the Heavenly realm one day. However, this is what I ask of each brother and sister of Christ. Take your friend, family member, neighbor, or stranger walking by with the love of their life, and yes- you can tell. Pick up the Bible, and start reading the verses about sins, and read also about grace in the pages.

Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You see the wages of sin apply to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed. For years, the Old Testament has been covered in Theology for the “root of sin”, as God applied different penalties to different sins.

Levicticus 20:13, If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Therefore, we remind those men and women today of their sin. Many other references to sin are made about abominations in this Chapter, and the one before. Consider the words of the verses found in the previous Chapter, and differences of severity if not followed.

Exodus 22:29, Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.

Have you noticed we no longer sacrifice our first borns, fatted calves, or ripe fruits? Why is that? That is because of the New Testament. Jesus said the day of Judgment would be more bearable. Let me give an example there as well.

Matthew 11:23-24, And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

All because Capernaum refused to repent after witnessing, the miracles of Jesus; his fate would be worse than Sodom, from the days of the Old. Well maybe, Sodom really didn’t do anything all that bad, and Capernaum deserved it? Let’s see, arrogance, gluttony, indifference to the poor and needy, haughtiness, and “detestable things.”

What are “detestable things?” Well, Jesus did not specify, I know He warned of the second coming and judgment day. He specified those deserving punishment would be “beaten with many blows,” and others “with few blows.”

Have you been guilty of something “detestable?” What about gluttony? So, maybe you will get by with a few blows. You know, the religious leaders thought fewer blows as well.

Matthew 23:13-36, the most fierce denunciations were reserved for the sins of pride and unbelief of the religious leaders, not for sexually immoral acts.

We now have the Supreme Court allowing freedom of “these people” to get married. Maybe they are getting married, and some will spend the rest of their lives together. Then again, a divorce could be in the future of some of these couples. Just the thought of what goes on between these couples is what, sexually immoral? Maybe so, but detestable, well that is not for us to say. After all, the size of our sin is not what sets us near to God’s grace.

I suppose it is something we will just have to yield some compassion to. After all, you can’t help who you love? That’s the saying right! So amidst the murky waters clouded by by our various religions, we will have to temper this situation with a little support towards individualism, and remember that suffering and joy are two sides of the same coin of life.

Posted in Structuring Faith

U.S. FAITH BASED FIRM TURNS CRISIS MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT

Hunter Frederick founded Frederick & Associates in 2010 for the entertainment industry. Realizing the need for crisis strategies and intervention, he quickly enrolled in the S2 Safety and Intelligence Institute’s Crisis Negotiations Program through FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. His reality for those who would need his services for crisis strategies, have grown from the entertainment industry. This faith-based firm offering a service in crisis management to help others prepare when facing a situation involving an active shooter, has opened the door to diversity, not only for entertainment, but for anyone who is at risk. With Islamic terror attacks waging fear in the hearts, homes, schools, and churches of Christians everywhere; and Americans petitioning from all over the United States to become part of ISIS, Frederick and Associates is at the forefront of sociological concerns.
Most recently, Jaelyn Young and Muhumed Dakhlalla, both students at Mississippi State University were planning to get married and use their honeymoon to meet up with some members they had solicited from the terrorist group in Kenya. Arrests were made over the weekend, and the group confessed their plan to the FBI. Some people would look at this couple and think, “These two are just kids; the two of them aren’t extremists!” However, Muhumed had written messages referring to the death of Somali-American Abdirahmaan Muhumed of Minneapolis from 2014, in messages later released by authorities that “a Muslim has to stand up for [what’s] right,” and that he will “give up this worldly life for Allah.” (Zaimov, 2015) With the father of Dakhlalla being an Imam of the Islamic Center in Starkville, Mississippi, it makes the reality of peace-loving Muslims a concern for local areas. (Groening, 2015)
The racially motivated shooting on June 17th, 2015, though not the results of ISIS, is another cry for help in this world. This refers to a shattering event, where a lone gunman walked into a church during prayer meeting, and fired shots. His appalling act claimed the lives of 9 people in a historic black church in South Carolina. This was not the ISIS motivated crime against Christians, but a hate crime; another growing concern in Crisis Management today. Frederick & Associates realizing such needs, joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in implementing the Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) from the entertainment industry, and even further, as they realized other areas of concern:
1) In Churches;
2) In Schools;
3) In Theaters and Social Meeting Areas.
Mass school shootings have occurred in the United States for the past ten years, and there is always a fear those could be rising. Why would I write such a thing? Well, because ISIS has made the threat. Although, as Americans, we tend to not worry about other countries, or acts occurring in other countries, we should. There have been acts occurring against Christians in Nigeria, Kenya, etc., for a while now. Those closest to them, (them being ISIS), will be the first to undergo religious persecution. They have been very careful not to move quickly. However, the leaders of ISIS know now, we worry too much about other things (elections, flags and homosexual marriages). We have our American patrons walking into movie theaters and killing each other, with no rationale.
What we do know, is we do know there have been several targeted acts of terrorism on Christian civilians and church workers by religious Muslims. These hate groups targeted Christians solely on the account of their faith. According to Hunter Frederick, President of Frederick & Associates, “Unfortunately, crises are becoming alarming too common in our schools and are now moving into our churches. Churches need to take a more proactive stance in preparing for these tragedies.” (Wallen, 2015) With so many of our own students, friends, and family becoming hidden terrorists for unknown reasons, it seems we all need to take a proactive stance- not just in our churches, but in our schools to protect our children, in our homes to protect our families, and even in the White House, to protect our country.

Our Two Cents:

With so many people today, who are truly our searching for peace on earth, it is
so difficult to understand how our children are at risk when going to school or to a
movie; our families are at risk when going to worship; and our country is at risk when
standing for our faith. It is certainly bad enough to have a group of terrorists standing
in destruction of our people, our country, and our God. However, now we have our own
people, our own children turning against us.
Psalm 140:1 ~ “Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men.”
We call out to each other for understanding, and we get none. We look to our
leaders, and fear no one is listening. We see bad things, and we worry, judgement day
is the only day we will seek retribution for what has happened to our loved ones.
Job 19:7 ~ “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no
justice.
As more bad things happen, we wonder if there are people to help us. Crisis
Intervention may be something to help us move forward as we accept what we already
know, and that is faith will lead us through. However, it is the betrayal of our own, we do
not understand.
Mark 13:12 ~ “Brothers will turn against their own brothers and give them to be killed.
Fathers will turn against their own children and give them to be killed.
Children will fight against their own parents and find ways for their parents
to be killed.”

Posted in Structuring Faith

NATIONAL CONSERVATIVE STUDENT CONFERENCE DISCUSSES FUTURE FOR U.S.

The National Conservative Student Conference is in its 37th year of uniting college students with their individual freedoms. Each year students meet to hear from policy leaders, activists, and many others who choose a platform of education, economics, and conservatism surrounding traditional values, to reach out to this select group of college students. Their goal – inspiration.
Inspiration at this week long conference was led by noted speakers such as Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, Dinesh D’Souza, Senator Mike Lee, and several others. The student audience was reminded conservative beliefs were under suppression, and these beliefs were being confined everywhere from the administration to the campus newspaper. The speakers reminded the students, they too, have a voice. They do not have to just be a reaction, but can be proactive in their freedom of speech as well.
Senator Tom Cotton was also a speaker, and his focus on Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. This was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate activism in foreign policy, and Senator Cotton saw this as so stating, “America was founded on principles that transcend time and space. We do not share interests and values [with the Iranians]…and any deal not detrimental to the United States interests must be detrimental to Iranian interests,” he went on to explain. Iran is a mortal and unrepentant enemy. [Under President Obama’s proposed deal,] Iran pockets all the economic, political, and military advantages [of removing sanctions], and walks away with impunity.” (Lucchese, 2015)
Other speaker also spoke to the approximately 200 students, who were present, attentive, energized, and on their feet at times as speakers made their way to and from the stage. Senator Cotton’s speech on Iran and foreign policy, and how everyone should start being a part of the intellectual society, some of those should be more vocal about what needs to be, and not to be done, and others, should be active parts of tomorrow’s “bigger picture.” Speaker Newt Gingrich told the audience “their generation has the opportunity to be the greatest American generation since the Founding Fathers.” (Kellogg, 2015) D’Souza and Levin both spoke on Rhetoric, Journalism and as Authors working under the constraints of freedom of speech.
Senator Mike Lee was also present, and standing firm on his representation of the rights of Christian Universities, who are now under attack over the recent Supreme Court ruling. Lee has joined with Travis Weber of the Family Research Council, in their initiative to bring awareness of Religious Liberty under the Constitution. Weber recently, stated: “Over the past year, the Obama Administration has made clear it will use any possible method—whether contracting, grants, school funding, and now tax exempt status—to establish and enforce its view of morality on the private religious sphere by redefining marriage. If the court redefines marriage by mandating it as a constitutional right, the impact will be significant. Religious organizations must be left free to determine their own beliefs, which cannot be co-opted by the State. The Government Non-Discrimination Act would prevent the federal government from discriminating against people because of their belief in natural marriage. We urge Congress to act to pass this vital legislation.” (Chao, 2015) This coming after the Internal Revenue Service has made it certain, Christian Universities will face loss of their tax-exempt status, if they do not support same sex marriages.
In the wake of these and other keynote speakers, reaching out and asking others to be recognized, even as students, to be public representation for the conservatives of the future. Emily Jashinski was present at the conference, and she was asked for what she had gathered, and what the feeling was in the room post conference. Jashinski responded, “So to hear speakers say things like that, especially to young Americans, is really energizing. It makes you want to go out and start pushing back against the bias that you encounter in this world, whether it’s in the media or in the college classroom.” (Kellogg, 2015) From all evidence presented, inspiration was what these speakers hoped to bring to the students at the National Conservative Conference this year. From the reaction of the students during, after, and from Jashinski’s comments, it appears, inspiration was indeed, delivered in a most embraced fashion.

Our Two Cents:
Inspiration comes in a variety of messages. The most easily conveyed of all is one I, myself read repeated on of all places, Twitter on Sunday. Marsha Wright uses a twenty-four hour period to spread positivity. Message after message, and post and picture, one phrase, verse, scripture, or perhaps, a subtle reminder appeared, “Train your mind to see the good in everything.” Have you ever wondered, “Is God speaking to me?” If I see something too many times, like this message, repeatedly falling on my page, is it most certainly, a message, or just a non-essential post.
If posing a question such as this, turn to the word of God; in 1 John, Chapter 4, Verse 1 “Dear friends, stop believing every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Test the spirits… We do this by learning; we become committed to learning anything and everything we can about the truth. Within each of us is a moral compass, and we use it to move us from one decision to the next; the next being truly like our Father. HE loves, without judgment. HE loves, without condemnation. HE loves, without any expectation of love in return. HE is love. HE is light. HE is everything HE wants us to.
In presenting the question, we again turn to the word of God; in Luke, Chapter 6, Verses 32-36 “If you love those who love you, what thanks do you deserve? Why, even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you deserve? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you expect to get something back, what thanks do you deserve? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back what they lend. Instead, love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind even to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Most of all, is in the listening. If you are prepared spiritually, to hear? God will speak, and you will hear, you will see, you will feel. God will get your attention. Many messages have been given to us lately. Words of man, words of a President, still a man; words of Congress; just men and women; words of judges; just men and women; words of liberal and conservative people; still just people. Listen for the message you need to hear. Listen for your inspiration.

Posted in Structuring Faith

PARTNERSHIP DIVIDE OVER AMERICA’S RELIGIOUS PRACTICES

The Presbyterian Church and missions have been one of the most active around the world. Over the years, Christian led missionaries, have successfully assisted in building churches and schools, and hospitals under a partnership known as the PC (USA). Marking their 178th Anniversary of achievements and aid this year, the church focuses on missions by partnerships, and they defined these principles of guidance. Their shared principles across the world, are the following:

  • Shared Grace and Thanksgiving;
  • Mutuality and Interdependence;
  • Recognition and Respect;
  • Open Dialogue and Transparency;
  • Sharing of Resources. (Staff, 2015)

As part of the mission statement, and what sets the groundwork of what is to come, or what guides; these guidelines are what is followed, and changes are made at times, or amendments to the groundwork as needed. As of the 178th Anniversary, an amendment is now being made to the definition of marriage, per the most recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court, giving same-sex couples the right to marry. Some of the churches are taking the initiative based on the growing number of families, and couples with children. The churches wanted to recognize couples for those children who have same-sex parents. Therefore, the US Presbyterian Church has made this move through the guidelines.

The guidelines affect more than the US Presbyterian churches though; as the PC (USA) is part of Mission bonding across the country, and these guidelines must be accepted by each country as well. With that under consideration, the World Mission is composed of more than 100 partnerships. Two members of those, Latin America’s Peru and Brazil, have set forth statements on their behalf:

~“We cannot help but express our deep gratitude to God for the life and ministry of the Presbyterian Church of the United States. As a country and as a church we have been very blessed by this church ever since the first Presbyterian missionary arrived here in 1859. . . . Despite this notable contribution to the expansion of God’s kingdom in the world and especially in Brazil, our church has understood that the recent decisions made by the PC (USA) are against the principle of the authority of Scripture over the life and faith of the Church, as well as the confessional documents of our common Reformed heritage. Above all remains our deepest gratitude and respect to this Church and our prayers on your behalf.” (Pickett-Smith, 2015)

This is not the first response to something of this nature. This change is regarding what is known as (#14). However, PC (USA) had established an international partnership in which growing acceptance of homosexuality had begun to spread amongst the churches. Noticing this from within, other delegates took notice and made changes, as with (#10A).

~“The Mexican delegates also voted not to re-establish any relationship with the PC (USA) until 10-A is rescinded.” (Zeen, 2015)

At this point, Mexico, Brazil and Peru have all rescinded from the union, and there may be more to come. The PC (USA)’s progressive worldview on homosexual behavior continues to become greater in precedence across this nation, and in the eyes of other nations, than the traditional biblical principles regarding sexual sin. Although, President Obama continues to bring this topic of discussion with him as he makes his last calls throughout his visits with other nations, these other nation’s aren’t accepting the US decision as openly as Obama did.
While Brazil and Peru may be the first two Latin American countries to part ways over the denomination, they certainly may not be the last.
~“Even though many of PC (USA)’s other partnerships have not yet ceased, its redefinition of marriage has been condemned by many church partners — particularly in Latin America and the Middle East — giving rise to speculation that more nations will soon sever ties, as well.” (Haverluck, 2015)

World Reform Fellowship PC(USA)
credited to website of Facilitating Reformed Partnerships Worldwide

Our Two Cents:
With so many sides divided, it is wrong of anyone to ask another to take sides; or is it? Latin American says, “No church has the right to change the Word of God. By voting to redefine marriage PC (USA) automatically forfeits Christ’s saving grace. There is always redemption in the body of Christ through confession of faith and adhering to Holy Scripture.” Does the church have the right to change scripture? Who has that right? Does anybody? Does any governing body?

1 Corinthians 1:18-20 ~
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
The wisdom of the wise- who is this referring? Is this referring to the United States Supreme Court? Is this referring to the church? Is this referring to the Sunday morning deliverer of God’s message? Who brings wisdom? Who is wise? Maybe it is a basic right to be “gay”, but the Bible doesn’t give that right, and the Bible cannot be read in fear, or foolishness.
The Bible cannot be read in selfishness either. The serpent told Eve—God is holding out by not allowing you to experience what you should. Are there things, we should not do, because they are wrong, even if they do not feel wrong? Well, yes. That’s why we have sacrifice, and grace. What if one doesn’t know? What if someone observes a life lived as not wrong, and then, wants that life as theirs.

Mark 9:42~
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

This takes away the belief Jesus has the power to save. Those who support a sin, by supportive or palliative treatment, is pushing God’s grace away. God has warned us society will turn against him. On judgement day, will the Supreme Court be your judging party? For those who don’t believe, what a thing to consider? Consider God will be there, and live in that place where Jesus loves and kneels down and provides healing and then say, “Go and sin no more.” It is loving to be kind and patient, but it is also loving to encourage someone toward holiness.

Posted in Structuring Faith

Thankful Rhymes and Reasons

With the first week of November under the belt, everyone is well underway with their reflections on what they have to be thankful for. At least, for my culture it is customary to begin the month and proceed with the first day, and throughout the following days are filled with those thoughts and memories from the year. Once more, the year of giving to others and receiving in return is preparing us for the holiday of Christmas in December. So for the Southern part of the United States, where I was born and raised, this is a time of year for reflection and change.
I have spent the years watching the fallen leaves, the changing colors of the trees have boasted for weeks of the impending beauty that would announce the presence of the fall season. With that thought gave way to the holidays, the homes and yards decorated with hay bales, ribbons of burlap, bright colored strands of straw, and various seasonal vegetables symbolic of a harvest. Soon the highlight of all would be exhibited by television displays of bright colored balloons in the middle of New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
So why the fascination with agricultural crops, food and the colorful displays? Well, this is reminiscent of the beginning of the pilgrimage here, and what being thankful is all about. For those in this part of the world, we tend to take it back to the beginning, and we give thanks for all that has, and is. From the first fall of 1621, when the pilgrims arrived and celebrated their first successful wheat crop in the Americas, we now cook turkey, potatoes and pumpkin, and spend time with our families.
I have noticed other countries tend to have their thankful moments as well. Canada has a Thanksgiving holiday. Liberia celebrates with the customs similar to the United States; however, their celebration is on the first Thursday instead of the third Thursday in November. Then again, Liberia was freed with the help of the U.S. so the similarities between the two are likely. Brazil also celebrates Thanksgiving, although is not an official holiday. The feast with family is laid out on the third Thursday in November, and the comradery with friends is extended. All of this is the result of a visit on or about 1949, after their leader visited the US and thought it a worthy celebration.
Ghana’s history of famine has given them a reason to be thankful. During the harvest season each year, the country known for growing yams, is scattered for the best to be used for the celebration. After being blessed by a priest, the celebration of dancing, singing and such commences.
In 1578, the commemoration of the arrival in Canada became the celebratory holiday. October represents the month of the European Harvest Festivals, based on the ending of the harvest season. Therefore, the Canadians have celebrated long before we did here, and they definitely had the idea.
China has a Thanksgiving holiday, and like Canada it surrounds their harvest season. Their season being held surrounding the Autumn Moon Festival. As the name implies, the “moon” festival is in correlation with the lunar phases. This one is the most particular as it inspires the rekindling of friendship and romance on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month around September or October on the Gregorian calendar. This feast seems to have a lot to celebrate, and they do so with fireworks, friends and mooncakes.
Of the celebrations, it seems Korea takes this one as seriously as we do, but for a different reason. Complete with dancing, wrestling and dressed in costume, this day of thanks is in memoriam to their ancestors. Word has it friends and families gather with food and stories to show respect over a fresh harvest, and to pay respects to those before them, all before having terrific celebrations.
Not always about the place, the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles, celebrates the “reminder of the temporary dwellings” Israelites lived in during their journey across the desert. There are actually three stages of the journey, and Sukkot is the “Thanksgiving” celebration festival. It follows Passover and Shavuot.
In Pongal, South India, the celebration of the Gods of rain and clouds, the bountiful harvest, the sun, and the bulls and cows are a four-day period of feasting, painting and decorating. Simple things such as making a rain stick with dried rice, or using sugar cane to assemble all things, are all for the harvest.
In the UK, the English takes the first cut sheaf of corn and a sacrificial animal to one of their fertility gods for a bountiful harvest. Corn dolls are made as gifts and are taken with fruit and vegetable baskets to churches and schools, for the elderly and needy of the community.
In Germany, fireworks light up the evening after a service, a lantern and torch procession followed by the presentation of the fatted chicken, instead of the US version with the turkey. This rather mild form of a feast is held in September or October, and is began in the morning followed by a sermon. Music, dancing, and a bounty of fruits and vegetables are all around as one of the contestants becomes the harvest queen of the Ernteknigin festival.
Interestingly enough, countries other than the US celebrate Thanksgiving, and for different reasons, and at different times. Ultimately, it is the reason for the season to celebrate. As a teacher a few years ago, I took advantage of the daily “thanksgiving” thoughts. The elementary students wrote their daily “what I am thankful for” for one week. The next week during Art class, the students created multicolored leaves and trimmed them. They finished by writing the thanks on the leaves, and the hall outside of the room was decorated with all of the things the children were thankful for.
This was a great lesson to teach young children about being thankful- most of all being grateful. Especially since some of the time, parents forget when teaching children through our actions, they really do speak loudly. For instance, some of those parents will spend the day with their families, then turn in early so the “Black Friday” shopping specials are partaken of in the early morning hours. For me I find it so amusing that for the month, on a daily basis people are surrounded by friends and family sharing every thankful moment and detail of their life for the year, and the day after Thanksgiving, they are standing in line pushing, shoving and being the most ungrateful people you have ever seen. It really makes me wonder, “Were these people thankful, or grateful? Was there any rhyme or reason to being thankful, or did that moment leave already; approximately 50% off ago maybe?

Posted in Structuring Faith

NOAH and the Ark of Strife Caused On and Off Screen

I have heard so much about the movie, NOAH. It has amazed me what has transpired from this, but it also pretty impressive. I haven’t seen the movie, yet. I will see it though, because I feel any movie that would inspire people to look for scriptures in their Bible to refute it, or perhaps to pick their Bible up in general?  For the positive attention, the Bible sells to pick the movie apart, well I am all for it. This movie already has “blockbuster” potential, and it is unseen in many countries.

I have read the interviews from directors Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel about NOAH, in which both have said, “This is not a documentary; it is not anti-God, nor anti-Christian, nor does it fail to deliver on its central messages of love, mercy and compassion. NOAH, although a righteous man, is still flawed.” I understand NOAH is a righteous man from the Biblical perspective,  and in the movie he is depicted as drunk, naked and cursing everyone, but isn’t that what people do when they get upset? Wait, I forgot, not NOAH, because he was what, a man? A human man, capable of the same thoughts, feelings, and frailties as any one of us? What did you do when your maker, your father, your God, told you to kill everyone but two animals of each kind and your spouse and your children? How did you react to killing infant children, your best friend perhaps? Oh, that’s right, that wasn’t you, so you wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t either; maybe I would be drunk, cursing or for all our sakes since I don’t look like Russell Crow or Emma Watson, naked.

This movie promised viewers would see how different Creation was ten generations past Adam and Eve. This world of fallen men and women, and fallen angels as well, showed a time when NOAH lived where his grandfather was alive. Adam was alive! Can you fathom having Adam walking with God, communicating so closely with God that when God tells NOAH to prepare the ark for the strife that would come.  This is more direct than any other assignment. However, it is the matter at hand. Imagine NOAH, living in a time where his grandfather was alive, when Adam was alive. A time when Adam actually walked with God, so NOAH has no problem with believing that God is communicating with him. I know the content will be difficult to watch, but it wasn’t easy for NOAH. I believe that just like with NOAH, no matter how much you believe, when God gives you a task, when you are given the chore of killing people, be it old or young people or an infant child? You know he had to have thought about those things, and it had to have consumed him to the point of breaking. I mean, he killed some of those people, screaming and begging. He didn’t do it with a clear conscience.

In the Bible story, I saw a happy, bearded NOAH steering the ark into the clear blue yonder. I don’t believe, he was happy about what he did. It is this kind of movie that makes you begin to question everything about yourself. If it were me, could I do this, am I sure, am I sane? The plot was told from NOAH’s point of view, and the antagonist in the movie was there to give everyone a visual tormenter, to bring a sense of realism from the present age, as with the magic, etc.  People need to experience the internal struggles NOAH felt, saw in his mind, in his heart, spiritually; for believers and unbelievers alike. For all followers do not follow the Bible, this we know, some follow no faith, so this movie introduced questions such as what would you do? How would you feel? Would you follow without question, or would humanity compel you to question? For those of us who follow different faiths, it goes back to that one burning question for all who believe and do not believe.

Personally, I am a Christian. I have friends of other faiths, and I accept them as they are. It is not my place to judge them for how they feel, or how they believe. I would love to see all of my friends and family in the afterlife. I know that will not happen. I will love them and see them here, and somehow hope there will be a meeting point for all of us together one day. I was reared to believe there is a burning question everyone must consider when deciding their faith, and how they believe. The explanation given to me was, to consider this, “If you are wrong about what you believe, then are you willing to risk the fate.” So ask yourself, if I am THIS faith, and I am wrong about what I believe, then THAT is my faith. For me, if what I believe is true, then when the end comes, I go on to a place called Heaven. If not, then nothing. What does that mean for you? This may pose one of those questions that people don’t want to answer. It may force you to think about something you don’t want to consider. However, it reminds us that if we believe in a higher power, and this happens to you, as it did NOAH? How true of a believer are we to follow without question, because that is what NOAH did in both movie and Bible story.

This movie may make you look at the uncomfortable side, the things you don’t want to think about, but NOAH did. If it made him get drunk, walk naked and curse. So be it, in the end, he did as ordered. We know what happened afterwards. If you aren’t sure, read the Bible a little further. Maybe they will make a movie about JOB next. Now there is a story of discomfort, pain and I’m sure it would not be a documentary either. I bet you it would be painful to watch, painful to think about if it were you, but then again, what if you were JOB?

Posted in Structuring Faith

Changing of the Guard

I know this isn’t the proper procedure for a blog, but I am not happy with the format I have been going with this time, either. This morning, I woke up and the thought occurred, I just want to write. So here I am, doing what I started this blog for. Today’s “Changing of the Guard” was sparked by the happenings over the weekend. The world really takes a toll on the introverted, hypersensitive person who becomes a writer. The blog becomes the oyster. The computer becomes the sounding board. However, the back of the arm, is still the place that feels the tears the most.

I will never fully understand how the outside world, rattles the psyche of others so intensely. For example, Danielle Downey, former LPGA and NCAA Champion in Women’s Golf and current coach for Auburn, was killed in a car accident at the age of 33. She had such a career behind her, and an amazing future ahead of her. She had so much to give, and was willing to give everything she had to others. It is not for the frail human mind to understand why these things happen. Instead life leaves us riddled with phrases of “Bad things happen to good people,” or “Only the good, die young,” or “It was just her time.”

The police say she wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. So the question remains, would it have mattered? Was it her time to go? These are the questions we are not privy to the answers to. Just like addiction? It is a cruel and painful world inside addiction. I do not have first hand knowledge, but I have second-hand knowledge of what it can do. Let me be the first to say, it can rob you of everything you hold dear, and then some. I hear people forever saying, “That person was a drug addict, and they got what was coming to them,” or “I have no sympathy for them.” I guess these people have been perfect all of their lives. They have never been tempted by evil, or been flawed in any way, yet. If they haven’t, they will. I hope they are saved from a life of loss. I have always believed it is only by the grace of God we do not all stumble and fall. Some of us do, and when we go too far, past the point of no return, and we beg for help and forgiveness, maybe that is when HE comes?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman left this world over the weekend. Leaving behind, a wife and three children. Also behind him was career as an actor and director, and a bright future ahead. I cannot see him intentionally ending his life. However, I can see him wanting to end his addiction. I can see him, asking for help, and I can see intervention. This is the only way I can make sense of any of this when things like this happen. I do not know why Danielle Downey was taken so soon. Maybe something was looming ahead, that she would be unable to carry forward on her own.

Bad things did happen to two good people, and it is so saddening to me. What’s more saddening are those left behind to grieve. They also will never understand the “why.” Just the same, I would hope in an effort of humanity, we could all take a brief inventory of where we have been, and where we could have been if we had not been offered a choice. Think about our children and where they are, and how far they have to go. Remember before we start posting negative and hateful comments, that none of us got here on our own, and we have a ways to go. No one has empty hands, so before we start trying to pick up those stones to throw, that the only ONE with empty hands, had hands full of blood. HE let things go, and maybe we should let things go too.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Structuring Faith

Monday Morning Prayer

Luke 11:34-54

33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”  37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. 43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.” 45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” 46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. 47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. 52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” 53 When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.

The light is Christ; the eye represents spiritual understanding and insight. Evil desires make the eye less sensitive and seeing God at work, check your vision. Are any sinful desires blinding you to Christ? This washing was done not for health reasons, but as a symbol of washing away any contamination from touching of their washing, they also commanded everyone else to follow a practice originally only for the priests. The Pharisees loves to think of themselves as “clean,” but their stinginess toward God and the poor proved they were not as pure as they thought. How do you use the resources God has entrusted you? Are you generous in meeting the needs around you? Your generosity reveals much about the purity of your heart. Rationalizing not helping others is easy because we have already given to the church, but a person who follows Jesus should share with needy neighbors. While tithing is important to the life of the church, our compassion must not stop there. Where we can help, we should help. Jesus criticized the Pharisees and the lawyers harshly because they (1) washed their outsides but not their insides, (2) remembered to tithe but forgot justice, (3) loved. praise, and attention, (4) made burdensome religious demands, (5) would not accept the truth about Jesus, and (6) prevented others from believing the truthas well. They went wrong by focusing on outward appearances and ignoring the inner conditions of their heart. People do the same when their service comes from a pure heart and love for others. People may sometimes be fooled, but God isn’t. Don’t be a Christian, on the outside only. Bring your inner life under God’s control, and your outer life will naturally reflect him. The Old Testament laws said a person who touched a grave was unclean (Numbers 19:16). Jesus accused the Pharisees of making others unclean by their spiritual rottenness. Like graves hidden in a field, they corrupted everyone that came in contact with them. These “burdens grievous to be borne” were the details the Pharisees had added to God’s Law. To the commandment, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), for example, they had added instructions regarding how far a person could walk on the Sabbath, which kinds of knots could be tied, and how much weight could be carried. Healing a person was considered unlawful work on the Sabbath, although rescuing a trapped animal was permitted (Exodus 14:5). No wonder Jesus condemned their additions to the Law. God’s prophets have been persecuted and murdered throughout history. But this generation was rejecting more than a human prophet- they were rejecting God himself. The Pharisees hoped to arrest Jesus for blasphemy, heresy, and law breaking. They were stung to fury by Jesus’ words about them, but they couldn’t arrest him for merely speaking words. They had to find a legal way to get rid of Jesus.

Today, as we go to the Lord in prayer, let us take the time to pray for others in our life. Our friends and neighbors, our spouse, if you have one, our children, if you have them.

 

Prayer Time

Father, I come to you for clarity. Clarity through your eye’s Lord to see the needs of those near me please. I lift up (your spouse’s name, your children’s name, whoever is on your heart); that you will allow the flow of your Spirit to develop (his or her or their) talents, their abilities, into gifts from you under you loving hands. As your servant Lord, I have faith that you are hearing my prayer this morning. Father, I love you Lord. I praise you Father, and I bless your name. I am grateful for the people in my life Lord, and I ask that you would bless them with wisdom to make the right decisions spiritually and in all of their will. I pray you will protect them from evil and the temptations in the world. I place them in your hands Lord, surrendering them to you for safekeeping. Salvation for us all, is through you Lord, and I thank you for being the Savior of this world. I accept your love for my family. I welcome it into my home and I allow your desire Father, your will to be done. Father you are faithful and true, and I thank you for bringing peace in my heart, as I bow to you humbly to you, patiently I am yours Lord trusting in you and committed to your plan in Jesus name. Amen.

 

Tindale- Life Application Study Bible- King James Version

Posted in Structuring Faith

Prayers From the Park Bench, January 06, 2014

Psalm 5: 1-12
For the director of music. For flutes. A psalm of David.

 1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. 4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. 6 You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors. 7 But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies– make straight your way before me. 9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit. 10 Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. 11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

The secret of a close relationship with God is to pray to him earnestly in the morning. In the morning, our minds are freer from problems, and then we can commit the whole day to God. Regular communication helps any friendship and is certainly necessary for  a strong relationship with God. We need to communicate with  him daily. Do you have a regular time to pray and read God’s Word?

God cannot condone or excuse even the smallest sin; therefore, we cannot excuse ourselves for sinning only a little bit. As we grow spiritually, our sensitivity to sin increases. What is your reaction to sin your life? Are you insensitive, unconcerned, disappointed, or comfortable? As God makes us aware of sin, we must be intolerant toward it and be willing to change. All believers should strive to be more tolerant of people but less tolerant of the sin in themselves and others.

Prayer Time

Father thank you for the flow of your Spirit working this morning. Father, I love you Lord. I praise you Father, and I bless your name. Thank you for making us aware of sin, aware of people and aware that your word is true. Father I plead with you to listen to me, even when I don’t verbally communicate with you. Father you are faithful and true. I just thank you for allowing me to grow in you, and to be patient as I strive to be tolerant and committed to your plan in Jesus name. Amen.

Tindale- Life Application Study Bible- King James Version