Friday, June 24, 2022

Thoughts on todays SCOTUS ruling.

 2230 FRI 24 JUNE 2022

    Today the nation came together during the lunch hour to celebrate National Food Truck day by eating at their favorite mobile choke-n-puke. Later in the afternoon they resumed the normal business of being aggressively divided over social issues. Earlier in the week it was inflation, alphabet sexuality, and the war in Ukraine. Yesterday it was over guns and the 2nd Amendment. Today, it was over abortion and the 4th & 14th Amendments. This evening, as I write this... protests are marching through the streets of the US Capitol and other major cities around the nation... again. 

   I have much to say on the issue, but am taking time to reflect and pray before I speak on it. In the mean time I want to remind everyone of an important passage of scripture;

    Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay evil for evil. Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord." ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-19)

    I will post a video to my YouTube page and follow up with my opinions next week, but for now I want to leave everyone with some important resources to reflect on. The first, a statement on today's SCOTUS decision on Roe v. Wade from the President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison. The second, a call to mission put out by Ligonier Ministries titled, After Roe, What's Our Job Now? Both are among the most compassionate and Biblically sound positions I saw come out today from denominations around the United States. Lastly, a great discussion held by the team at Got Questions? on the topic of Roe v. Wade and how believers should approach not only the issue of abortion, but how we should address the role of government and the Church in dealing with morality and other social issues. I encourage all believers to engage with these resources. 

    As we part for today, I urge you to remember this. America, if it ever truly was, is no longer a Christian nation. The majority of the population in the United States does not believe in any deity, much less the one true God. They do not follow Jesus, nor do they want to. We live in a divided, pagan nation. This division and paganism has even infiltrated our churches. Pray for your families. Pray for your communities. Pray for your church & your pastors. Pray for your elected officials at all levels of government; municipal, county, state & federal, including the President, Vice-President, the leaders of Congress, and the Supreme Court Justices. Ask God to forgive the sins and disobedient nature of our nation.  

    Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God's word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

1 Peter 1:24-25

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Disposable Jesus


    Over the past few years I have written, spoken, blogged and vlogged about my perspective on the modern, progressive brand of "Consumer Christianity" which is prevalent across the United States of America. I speak out about these issues not because I feel that I am above any of my brothers & sisters in Christ, but from a place of loving concern for the Gospel and the Church. I am not alone in this activity either as many pastors and theologians from multiple faith traditions and denominations have been speaking out against the "Consumer Driven Church" as well. Books like Skye Jethani's The Divine Commodity, Michael Hardin's Knowing God?, John Kavanaugh's Following Christ in a Consumer Society, James Twitchell's Lead Us Into Temptation and Vincent Miller's Consuming Religion have all addressed this issue. 

    Recently I wrote about my disenfranchisement with Evangelicalism and even my own congregation. I have felt a growing separation between myself and the McChurch services I have experienced in the past five years at two different local churches. What happened to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit? What happened to the fellowship of Christ? Activities seem like they're designed to promote the congregation instead up uplifting the name of divination. There's coffee bars and welcome teams, and novelties and prosperity... Jesus feels less like a Savior and more like a pimped whore. A gimmick who's been reduced to a bumper sticker or a t-shirt. A meal at a casual dining facility designed to be consumed in one hour or less.

It hurts my heart. I don't care about the neon lights and the music or the cool stuff... I just want Jesus. Am I the only one who feels this way? Surely not, but I sometimes feel like I am the only one with the courage enough to speak out about it. 

  All these feelings came to a climax this past Sunday. I was in the upper level of our sanctuary working with my wife when the neon lights on stage dimmed. The worship team cleared out as our pastor took the stage to begin speaking to the congregation about the ordinance of Communion. He spoke on Romans 8:15-18, inferring that we are suffering with Him, that we are glorified with him, and that He was with us. He said that whatever we encounter in this life, it is nothing in comparison of what is to come. That we should take this today in hope and anticipation of God's promise. As we entered into a moment of silence, I stood up and walked over to my wife's computer terminal and told her that I would not be participating in Communion today because my heart wasn't in the right place right now, that I'd tell her why later, but that she should follow her heart on participation. As I sat back down I could see people putting down their cellphones and hear the cellophane on the disposable Fellowship Cups begin to tear. There was no reference to any of the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper. There was no solemnity, only a casual reference of a covenant, and a brief mention of blood and body. It was not the first time I have been uneasy about the way Communion has been handled, but it was the first time I became emotionally unsettled by it. 

   On the way home I shared with my wife my feelings. To put it briefly, my opinion is this; while verbiage might differ on whether the practice of Communion is a sacrament or an ordinance, I believe that it should be handled with solemnity, dignity and respect because I feel that Christ is present with us as we partake of His body, which was broken for us, and His blood, which was spilled for us. She understood and agreed. Later on we sat at the island counter in our kitchen to further discuss the events surrounding the Last Supper, Christ's Covenant, and why it is important. We opened the Bible together and read the Gospel accounts of that evenings events contained in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 & John 13. I explained to her that I didn't think there was some sort of magic that occurred as with Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation, but I did believe Christ was present with us when we partake of the elements in remembrance of Him. We tearfully prayed together and took the elements there at our table. We sat quietly together for a moment, soaking it in. It was a beautiful, meaningful and humbling experience. 

    My brothers & sisters in Christ, do you understand the gravity of Christ's atonement and the representation of it by Communion? The breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood on the cross was the sacrificial work of reconciliation for all mankind, sinners who were separated from God. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. He was buried and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Communion should be a sacred time of fellowship with God where believers remember Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. It should be a unique time of worship, commemorating His death through prayer and by partaking of the elements He prescribed, broken bread and wine. It is an important way for believers to understand and continue to acknowledge Christ's crucifixion. His sacrifice. His obedience. His atonement. It is one of the fundamental elements of our faith and it should not be downplayed, and it certainly should not come from a disposable cup. 

    The taking of Communion is more than something special; it is sacred and should be treated as such. In John 6:53-56 Jesus tells us that unless one eats his body and drinks his blood we have no life. "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." By receiving this spiritual flesh and blood, Christ lives in us and us in him. It is an act of holiness in which we are able to connect with Jesus, not only in the memory of his death, but in the spiritual life He gives us. In it, He is present and He strengthens us for the promise of eternal life. 

    The weekly church service should not be akin to a self help service. It should not be a place where we get "plugged in" and get "filled up" but a place where we worship our Lord and Savior. A place learn and grow and be strengthened in our faith. It should be a place where we humbly acknowledge His sacrifice for us... Perhaps if we return to treating the practice of Communion with that level of respect and dignity we can can turn the other things around as well, otherwise our Jesus will become just as disposable as the cup in which we drink from. 

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples and said, "Take and eat it; this is My body." Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins."
(Matthew 26:26-28)

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Not Quite a Crisis of Faith


    Greetings my brothers & sisters in Christ Jesus! Today I write to you regarding the situation I currently find myself in. A personal struggle, a crossroads, not quite a crisis, but certainly a significant moment in my faith walk. Perhaps some of you have found yourself in a similar situation...

    Many believers are familiar with the term "crisis of faith" and many, like myself, have experienced it at least once since coming to know Christ. A "crisis of faith" can be a painful, and sometimes devastating experience in a Christian's life when they begin to doubt their beliefs, causing grief and confusion for the individual, and sometimes even a disconnection from God. A variety of circumstances in our lives can lead to the situation; stress, trauma, grief, theology, dogma, etc. When these things happen it is important to examine these feelings and give oneself space to ask hard questions about their faith. More importantly, it is vital for those believers around the struggling individual to remain by their side throughout the struggle. 

    For me, I'm not quite so much having a crisis of faith in the traditional sense, as I am not struggling with my faith; i.e., my belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, my relationship with Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior, or with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I do not struggle with my belief that the Holy Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God from which we get absolute truth and authority. What I am struggling with is my denominational identity. Not quite a "crisis of faith" but a struggle none the less. This is something I have struggled with for a very long time, but in recent months, increasingly so. If you've read about my journey to the faith in the first few entries of my Biblical Worldview series then you have some idea why; nonetheless I will elaborate a bit. 

    I grew up in SE Texas in the eighties and nineties in a family that was spiritual but not very religious. By the time I was in six grade I had attended church and been baptized as a Mormon, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Baptist and Methodist. During my junior year of high school I began attending a Southern Baptist church and made some quasi-profession of faith but in reality was nothing more than what is now referred to as a Moralistic Theistic Deist (MTD). [Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Life of American Teenagers (2005, C. Smith)] During my college years I struggled with the ideas of God and organized religion, eventually coming to believe that there was a God who created all things, still uncertain of what exactly that meant. I attended a Catholic church for a while and toyed with the idea of going through the catechism. By the time I was twenty five years old I had affirmed my belief in "god" and joined the local lodge of Freemasons and come to a loose understanding with the universalist idea that all religions are basically the same and that all were probably equally valid in their claims. At age thirty-one I officially gave my life to Jesus Christ and became a Christian. At thirty-four I joined a non-denominational church. At age thirty-six understood that the only way to God was through Jesus Christ crucified, rejected any other religion as valid and renounced Freemasonry. We moved to Ohio in 2016 and quickly affiliated with another non-denominational church (which were essentially undercover Baptists) and in 2018 went off on a church plant which somehow affiliated as Evangelical Free. That collapsed within six months and we have been at an independent Baptist church ever since. Needless to say, in my short 42 years on this earth, I have run through the alphabet soup of Christianity in North America. 

    Understanding my journey through the gauntlet that is Americanized Christianity then you must understand the bias I bring to the table. I am generally Libertarian in my political philosophy. I spent a decade in the military. I grew up in a very conservative area of the country. I was a member of a college fraternity and even though I reject it, I was a member of the Freemasons. I grew up in a spiritual household, not a religious one. I have witnessed ALOT of hypocrisy from those who claimed to be Christians and I have seen quite a few people leave the faith entirely. I didn't have any true mentors in the faith and formed my understandings of Christianity through my own interpretations by reading the Bible and a lot of books until I entered a multi-denominational Seminary at which time I began to develop a systematic, coherent theology. I am a mutt in the truest sense of the word and currently find myself at the crossroads of Christianity. 

    Since entering Seminary and engaging with students from other traditions I have began learning about the different denominations and beliefs. I have had some contentious and some cordial discussions with my fellow seminarians about orthodoxy, liberalism, progressivism, conservatism and how those ideas shaped our various faith traditions and denominational beliefs. We have discussed perspectives on things called sacraments by some and ordinances by others. One of the more memorable was when we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. I began to read theologians such as R.C. Sproul, C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Spurgeon, and William Placher. I became fascinated with the ideas of Calvinism & Arminianism and the Five Solas. I began to really dig into my Bible in a way I never had before. 

    All of these things have served to deepen my faith and understanding of Christianity while simultaneously causing me to doubt the denominational tradition I currently find myself affiliated with. I believe I am a better follower of Jesus Christ because of it nevertheless, as I mentioned, I am at a crossroads. Over the past several months I have been investigating other faith traditions as well as exploring deeper what it means to be Baptist. I have been increasingly attracted to Lutheranism and Anglicanism and disillusioned by Evangelicalism. I have an appreciation for the liturgy of "high church." I have an appreciation for the Creeds and confessions and traditions and uniformity. The realization that I have come to is that maybe I'm not a Baptist, I simply attend a Baptist church. 

    So where does this leave me? What now? Truthfully, I do not know. What I do know is that I am not engaged in some form of deconstruction similar to what was happening during the Emerging Church Movement. What I know is I am not making a decision based on a matter of style, but on substance. I am making a good faith effort to follow Christ more closely, in better fellowship with other believers who are trying to do the same. This is not a knock on the members of my congregation of the Baptist tradition, but in the most sincerest of terms, I suppose this is an attempt to distance myself from the progressive ideology in of modern American Consumer Christianity, a weak theology which has reduced the Faith to being a mere bumper sticker that you slap on your car or a pithy t-shirt that you put on for Sunday. I want to be a better disciple. I want to be a better Christian. I want to find a church that remains in the world, ministering to it, but not being influenced by it, standing firm in the Gospel. 

    So, that is where I stand currently. Not quite a crisis of faith, but a situation which most certainly needs to be addressed. I will keep you posted as it develops. Until then, be blessed & stand firm in Christ Jesus & His Word!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

A Biblical Worldview (My Story: Pt III)


    High School & College (1996-2001)

    Greetings my brothers & sisters in Christ! In the previous two entries on this blog I have been chronicling my journey into Christianity. I left off just before I entered Beaumont Christian High School in January of 1996, which is where I will begin today. 

    I can still remember vividly my first day at BCH. I was one of two "new" kids in the high school starting that day. Katie, who's dad recently transferred from the Mobil refinery in Singapore to Beaumont, who the girls were readily engaged in conversation with, was the other. I was wearing a pair of Wolverine boots, Wrangler jeans and a polo from Walmart... most of the other boys were wearing Tommy Hilfiger, Girbaud, and actual Polo stuff and khaki pants. I already felt out of place, but as I sat down in Mrs. Powell's Algebra I class, Hollie, the girl behind me, and Matt, the boy next to me, introduced themselves and put me at ease. That lasted for about 60 seconds because Dustin walked in, straight to my desk, lurched over me and informed me that I was in his seat. He didn't care that there weren't assigned seats or that Mrs. Powell told me to take a seat wherever, to him, the new kid just invaded his territory and he wanted to establish dominance. I stood up, we argued, I shoved him across the room then promptly got thrown out by Mrs. Powell and sent to the principle. I was marked as an outsider forever more... 

    Now that I got my first hour of Christian High School out of the way, I will proceed to the more meaningful portions. I learned that day that the football coach would serve both as my history teacher as well as my Bible class instructor. Bible class wasn't anything fancy or special, on Monday's we opened up the NIV and learned what would be our "verse of the week" and work on memorization and writing. Throughout the week we might learn the order of the books of the Bible, or read parts of the Gospel, then maybe take a quiz on Thursday. Fridays were reserved for watching the latest episode of Touched By An Angel or Highway to Heaven, which Coach Longley's wife had recorded on their VCR at home. I played baseball through the spring. Nothing else really exciting happened. Other than Bible class, BCH felt like a regular high school, albeit much smaller. 

    When I returned to school that fall things began to change. Two-a-day football practice in the Texas summer was brutal as normal. I took joy in the fact that I was a defensive lineman and Dustin was a running back. In fact, football became my outlet for the anger I felt at the other kids who made me feel inferior. I reveled in it. Three weeks later we started class and I was introduced to Mr. Cregor, the new Bible teacher who had just moved his entire family down from Flint, MI over the summer. I learned that he followed his pastor down, who had taken over the local Nazarene church. His daughter was the new girl this year. He approached Bible class completely different than Coach Longley had, engaging us in conversation, reading passages and asking us questions similar to the way an English teacher would ask their students what Yeats, or Wilde, or Shakespeare meant when they wrote. He dove into Biblical geography, and of course, on Fridays, we watched the latest episodes of Touched By An Angel. He asked us to join him at a "See You At The Pole" rally in front of the school. He played music in class by bands like Petra, DC Talk, Carmen, and DoC & Stryper. He wore a bracelet with the letters W.W.J.D? on it. 

    I asked him one day why he would move his whole family from Flint, MI down to little ol' nothing special Beaumont, TX and his answer blew me away and stuck with me forever... "Because God called me here." I had no clue what a Nazarene was, and I didn't understand all the stuff he talked about, but I could tell Mr. Cregor was a man that loved God. Another time I asked him if he really believed all this stuff, and his answer was even more passionate. It surely gave me reason to think, but I really didn't give it much thought outside the classroom. That was until the end of the football season that year. Coach Longley gathered all us boys up together in a circle after our final practice, and invited any of us who wanted to join him at his church. He even offered to pick us up in his van and give us a ride if we needed one. I asked my dad if it was ok, and two weeks later I found myself at North End Baptist Church

    That Sunday morning Coach walked me over to the youth facility and introduced me to Pastor Andy Brown. I was excited to see a girl from BCH as well as a couple of my old homeschool bowling buddies, Andrew and Matthew, who's father was a pastor at the church. Over the next few years I enjoyed being a part of the youth group without being "too much" a part of the youth group. I didn't participate in the youth choir. I didn't wear the "True Love Waits" ring or participate in the program. What I did do was hang out with a few of the kids, eat pizza, jam to some Christian music, get some Christian t-shirts, start wearing a W.W.J.D? bracelet, and start trying to act right. I began asking a lot of questions like, If the Bible says God created everything (including man) in six days, then why does my Science book teach me that we evolved from apes and the earth was millions of years old? Why do Christians almost always seem to say one thing and do another? (Which was exactly why I chose not to participate in True Love Waits) I started to attend church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. I invited my parents, but they politely refused, telling me "that was my thing, not theirs." 

    I mostly hung out with the rougher kids in the youth group. I became best friends with a kid name Phillip, who lived "over the track" in the next town over, in a trailer park. He dated Katie (the new girl from BCH) who lived in the more affluent West End of Beaumont. Another kid named Trent (who later in life would become a drug addict and passed away from an overdose in 2015) and a homeschool kid named Bobby (who's dad was in the Coast Guard) became my closest friends. Bobby had the best understanding of Christianity by far, I think the rest of us were just along for the ride. Regardless, by the time I was finished my Junior year I was pretty convinced that there was at least a god and, much like my parents had told me, Jesus was pretty important. 

    My senior year is when things started to change and my eyes began to open to the world again.
Coach Longley took a job at a school in Houston so we got a new football coach/ history teacher. Pastor Andy transferred to a church in Houston and we got a new youth pastor named Rob. I don't have much nice to say about Rob, so I'll just leave it at that. He basically wrecked what little I did believe and showed me just how hypocritical a "Christian" could be. I became less interested in church. I focused more on graduating and work. One Wednesday before Youth Phillip and Katie talked to me at the picnic table, confiding in me that they were in love, she was pregnant with his child, and they wanted to get married. I was the first person they told and they were planning on telling Katie's father, a deacon, and the pastors later that day. They were promptly ostracized, Phillip being made to be a "bad guy" who corrupted poor Katie. Other things happened in the next few months which soured my taste for the church and the last time I set foot in the door of NEBC (until Trent's funeral) was "Graduation Sunday" in May 1998. 

    I graduated from high school with no direction and one big question, "Why are Christians so hypocritical, nasty & judgmental?" I wanted to go to the Coast Guard Academy but decided too late to apply. I thought about enlisting, but my dad talked me out of it and encouraged me to go to college. That fall I enrolled in Lamar University. I left off for college with no purpose and no idea what I wanted to study. That semester I ended up pledging Sigma Nu Fraternity. I became committed to it's ideals of Love, Honor & Truth. Sigma Nu became my life. In fact, you could probably say I majored in fraternity more than my classes. Sigma Nu gave me meaning. It gave me purpose. It gave me fellowship. It gave me direction. For the first time in my life, I felt like it had meaning. I was a Knight in the Legion of Honor! I became well known on campus, leading on the Interfraternity Council (IFC) as well as the Lamar Alive! student activities committee. 

    During my college years I was introduced to sex. I was introduced to pipes and cigars. I was introduced to beer and liquor. I enjoyed them all. Being a part of the Fraternity and engaging in the behaviors I was pretty much turned off the students at the Baptist Student Union, which didn't matter much to me, because I saw those kids out doing the same stuff I was. My Freshman Philosophy course introduced me to Socrates, Plato, Hume, Descartes, Kant & Nietzsche. I became close to the instructor in my Sophomore Geology course where I learned about Charles Lyell and Uniformitarianism. Everything I was learning seemed to point me further and further away from what was taught by the Bible. I began to believe that more likely than not, these things were true. The closest I came to a Bible was the one that was opened during our fraternity ritual each week. 

    At this point in my life I sort of believed there was a god, whatever that meant. I lived by the honor code established by the founders of my college fraternity and tried my best to adhere to the "Golden Rule." I believed in evolution. I held somewhat of a Humanist worldview. Sadly, this was not the furthest away from the faith I would get. Over the next decade, I would drift even further away from Christianity...

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

A Biblical Worldview (My Story: Part II)


    In part one of my discussion on Biblical Worldviews I defined what a worldview was, broke down it's components, and introduced a few of the formative components of my own worldview. One of the topics I mentioned was the importance of having a firm foundation of knowledge, and while I believed that I had one, in reality I did not. My worldview was not solid. My beliefs were not solid. Why? Because they were not established on firm foundations. My worldview was built around the subjective ideas of right and wrong, were somewhat morally fluid, and structured by the dynamics of society. As I mentioned, my worldview was somewhat of an amalgam of whatever were considered "good" and "normal" behaviors... for the most part. 

    It was for those very reasons that my worldview eventually came crashing down. I had a "crisis of faith" before I even had a real faith and it was that crisis which inevitably lead me to my "Come to Jesus" moment. It is that process which I would like to begin discussing today.

Growing Up: 1980-1995

    I grew up on the outskirts of a moderately sized town in SE Texas. My father was a second generation refinery worker. My mother was a homemaker. I was the oldest of three boys. My parents handled the business of discipline, but weren't abusive. My paternal grandparents lived about 10 miles away. My Grandpa grew up in an orphanage in New York City; I knew hardly anything about my Nana. My aunt, my father's only sister, lived in Lafayette, LA. One of my adult cousins and her kids lived around that area as well. They were the only real "close" family I had, as my two younger second-cousins Valerie & Yvonne would generally spend the summers with us. My mother was estranged from her family for the most part, but we would see my maternal grandparents for a few days every four or five years. I was never close to anyone on her side of the family, and only saw them once at a family reunion in 1993.

    I didn't have a very strong faith growing up. We had a picture of Jesus on the wall in our dining room, but I never knew He was the Son of God, or Divine, or anything of the sort... I remember asking my parents who that was in the picture and the reply was, "That's Jesus." I followed up with, "Who's that?" Their response was, "He was a really good man." Mealtime prayers, if any were to be had usually consisted of something like, "Dear God, thank you for this food. Amen, thank God" or "Through the lips, over the gums, lookout tummy, here it comes... Amen, thank God." Seriously. 

    There was an old Baptist church at the end of the street we grew up on. Mostly it was closed. I never went there on a Sunday, but I can remember walking in a few times with my brothers and other kids during the summer to do arts & crafts or get a popsicle during the summertime. It was next door to a convenient store, and we generally just hung out on the steps because of the shade. I did however go to church... in fact, I went to alot of them. Standard practice growing up seemed to be; visit a church a few times, join, go for a year or so, quit, and start the practice all over again. We went to a Mormon church for a bit, then an Episcopal church, then to a Methodist church, then to a Baptist church, then to a Lutheran church, then back to a different Methodist church. I was baptized in all of them. We quit going to church entirely sometime during my sixth grade year. I never really knew why. I never really asked.

    As far as I knew, my grandparents didn't go to church. (Later in life I found out they were Episcopal but quit going after my grandmother's stroke and my grandfather's health began to decline in the early 80's) I had friends from scouts that went to church. My scout troop was sponsored by a church. When I eventually asked why we didn't go to church anymore I was told, "Church people are hypocrites. They're liars. They don't practice what they preach. We don't want to be around people like that." Fair enough I suppose... as a young boy, I didn't want to be around those sort of people either. Besides, it seemed like the churches always had alot of rules. The other kids didn't seem to follow them, so I began to think... maybe my parents were right. 

    My parents pulled me and my brothers out of school after my sixth grade year and began to homeschool us. We got involved with some group of homeschool families, who were all different types of weird. We would see them every Tuesday when we would all get together for bowling, which was our P.E. Class. There was the one family, the women, including the daughters, who all had long hair and never wore anything other than floor length denim skirts. There was another family, who's sons all had rhyming names; Samuel, Nathaniel, & Daniel. (I became very good friends with Nathaniel) There was another family who were always very well dressed... wearing what we called in the south, "Sunday Clothes." I later learned that they were Pentecostals, Nazarenes, and JW's. There was another family there which had "normal kids" with whom I got to be great friends with over the years. (Andrew and Matthew. Their dad was a Baptist pastor) I'm pretty sure we were the only family in that group who didn't belong to a church. I never talked with the homeschool kids about their faith because it never once came up, we just bowled, ate pizza and hung out. Some of them were allowed to drink soda and play in the arcade, but some of them weren't. (Again, more weird rules I didn't understand) 

    Homeschooling lasted about three years. In the middle of what was supposed to be my 10th grade year, my parents made a decision to put us back in school. Teaching was becoming difficult for my mother. My brothers and I wanted to be back in a "real school." My parents did not want to put us back into the public school system as they were afraid I would continue to have issues. (I had been diagnosed with ADHD and had been "labeled" during my sixth grade year) They did not want me put into special education classes simply because I had a problem sitting still and they were worried that my education would suffer. There was no way we could afford to go to the Catholic school in town and my parents wouldn't dare send us there anyhow. There was another private school in town run by the Pentecostal church, but we couldn't afford that one either. Evidently there was one more private school in town, a non-denominational school which Andrew & Matthew's mother recommended. While more affordable than the other two, they offered athletic scholarships and other things to help offset the cost of education. I earned a spot on the football & baseball teams while my Nana offered to help supplement the additional cost of our education.

    In January of 1996 I began the second semester of my Sophomore year at Beaumont Christian High School and my trajectory in life would be forever changed...

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Celebrating Pride... in God's love!

Please join with me this month in celebration of the Rainbow Covenant!

The rainbow is a sign in the sky which commemorates God's promise to never again flood the Earth and is another illustration of God's love & mercy!

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists of this; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
(1 John 4:7-10 HCSB)

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Biblical Worldview (My Story: Part I)


World View: /wərldˈvyo͞o/ (noun): a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

    Greetings my brothers & sisters in Christ! Today I am writing to discuss the importance of holding to a Biblical worldview. What is your world view? How did you develop it? When did you develop it? Is it consistent, or is it subject to change and open for interpretation? That is the question I seek to discuss over a series of blogposts, this being the first. In doing so I will discuss the formative process of my worldviews and influences on my journey. Before we begin however, I must define what exactly a worldview is.

    A worldview, or world view, is defined as being a fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society which encompasses the whole of the individual's or societal knowledge; i.e., a point of view. World views can include perspectives on philosophy, both fundamental and existential, themes, values, emotions and ethics. There are philosophical worldviews such as constructivism and pragmatism, and there are religious worldviews such as atheism, humanism and theism. Regardless of the type, we all hold some sort of position on things.
    Sociologists assert there are seven key elements in forming any worldview; 1. Geography, 2. Time, 3. Beliefs, 4. Society, 5. Values, 6. Economy, & 7. Knowledge.

    Of these, I believe that Knowledge, Beliefs and Values are the most important to us as individuals. It is from these three we develop our view of human nature and our view of morality. From these three we also shape our behaviors and relationships with others, not only as individuals but within society. We also use these three elements to determine our relationship with institutions such as government. 

    I would suggest that knowledge, and our source of it, then becomes the most important of all the key elements of forming our worldview. This is especially relevant within the religious context, as knowledge and our understanding of it, set the framework for everything else which follows.

Foundations of Knowledge

    What is your primary source of knowledge? For me, it is the Bible. The Holy Scriptures are my guideposts from which I view all other things. This was however, not always the case. For many years before becoming a Christian I considered myself a Deist, loosely subscribing to some things in the Bible, governing my actions mostly by the "Golden Rule" (which, I might add, nearly every major world religion has a version of), the core values of the United States Coast Guard (Honor, Respect & Devotion to Duty) and the core values of my college fraternity; Love, Truth & Honor. I believed in god, whatever that meant, and tried my best to be a good person. To develop myself as a man I wanted to surround myself with other good people and learn from them. It was this behavior which led me to the fraternity of Freemasonry, who's motto was; "Taking Good Men and Making Them Better." My world view was not shaped by any single source of knowledge, but by the collective wisdom of the society I established myself in. 

    I really had no firm foundation. I had built my worldview an idea of general morality. This view had been taught to me by my parents and grandparents. It was perpetuated in the organizations I belonged to. It was often confusing and conflated. For instance, in Freemasonry, at least in the United States, a Bible is placed on the alter in every lodge room. As an initiate I was taught that "the Holy Bible is the inestimable gift of God to man" and that it should be "the rule and guide for our daily lives." However, any man who believes in ANY god, can become a Mason... they need not necessarily subscribe to the Christian faith, only a very nondescript, loosely interpreted, form of theism. 

    My worldview was not solid. My beliefs were not solid. Why? Because they were not established on firm foundations. They were built on subjective ideas of right and wrong, which were morally fluid, based primarily on the dynamics of society at large. My worldview thus became an amalgam of whatever were considered "good" and "normal" behaviors. 

    It is for this very reason that my worldview came crashing down...

Thoughts on todays SCOTUS ruling.

 2230 FRI 24 JUNE 2022     Today the nation came together during the lunch hour to celebrate National Food Truck day by eating at their favo...