Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Jamaica a come from far": The need for mentorship

G-d caused me to meet an amazing elderly gentleman on my way to work on Monday, June 22, 2009. This gentleman was an employee of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, and though we were strangers to each other, he stopped to give me a lift.

As we travelled together, the gentleman informed me that he was close to retirement, as he was in his sixties. Not one grey hair was on his head though. He did not look sixty any at all.

He then went on to speak about the history of Jamaica, and the history of those who worked at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He said, "Jamaica a come from far!" He made mention that many lecturers and employees of the University were persons who during their childhood years, went to primary school barefoot. That many Jamaicans were poor in those days, and owned nothing. He contrasted that with today, where many lecturers are now driving comfortable and even luxury looking vehicles.

Even I myself cannot remember in my school days seeing anyone come to school barefoot. Every child had their shoes when I went to school back in the eighties and nineties. Mark you, students did take off their shoes and socks to play and romp. But I do not remember anyone that actually went to school barefoot. But then I went to prep school (private school), so my experience may not count.

Today many Jamaican owns a car, while all Jamaicans, apart from the homeless (and Mutabaruka) own shoes. Today, I also see no Jamaican children walking barefoot to school.

The University of the West Indies has also played a role in causing many Jamaicans to arise out of poverty, through both employment as well as preparing Jamaicans to be employed as professionals in the private or public sector.

However, all this perspective is missing to a lot of young persons who are growing up. Many in the garrison communities of Kingston do not realise that life in Jamaica today is far better than it was in the sixties. That there are more opportunities for them to be employed and to escape poverty.

This information can not be passed on if the older generation do not pass it on to the younger generation. The younger generation need to see that they are a privilege generation, born in a land with greater opportunities and benefits and as such must not waste these opportunities. The young must know that they must not take their present for granted, and must use this present to create a better future for themselves and the generation to come.

I felt spiritually refreshed listening to this gentleman, privileged and with a sense of gratitude for my opportunities. How much more this attitude could have been felt by some wayward youth if he had the opportunity and discipline to sit under such an elder.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Religious Liberty: The cause of the Protestant

Name of Fellowship: Andrews Memorial Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Location: 29 Hope Road, Kingston 10
Date: Sabbath, June 13, 2009
Occasion/Event: "1st Divine Service" 7:45 a.m. - 9:30am.
1st service Messenger: Sherna Reid-Crosse
Theme: Religious Liberty Day

In celebration of religious liberties day, Andrews Memorial SDA Church had their Religious Liberty Director/Chair conduct the sermon.

While I was distracted during the message, Mrs. Reid-Crosse left me some words for further thought.

Once worship is forced and the freedom to worship according to conscience is suppressed, then all other liberties are under threat

It was religious liberty that gave rise to the founding of the United States and to the flourishing Protestant Church. Protestants fled England to the America's because they wanted the freedom to worship according to their conscience (White, "Seeking Freedom in a New World", p.158-163).

Thus in celebrating or having a memorial service for Religious Liberty, the Adventists are recognising their Protestant roots and celebrating the Protestant spirit that gave birth to United States of America and to the Reformation.

Apart from that realization, there is a fundamental truth - that Protestant Christians are the ones who fought for the rights of every man to worship as he chooses. Freedom of worship is the Protestant Christian's cause. Protestant should believe that G-d gave every man choice to worship him or rebel, but the choice is ultimately man's. No man must force him to worship. Thus, it is Protestant Christianity that should respect man's rights to voluntarily choose their path - the path to righteousness or unrighteousness.

This is the nature of G-d, who allows men to make their choices. The word of G-d states in Deuteronomy 30:19:
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

The L-RD respects man's freedom. He respects our freedom to choose. When he made Adam and Eve, he set two trees for them to choose from, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (destruction) or the tree of Life. However, G-d in giving men choice tells the consequences of those choices. For Adam and Eve, if they chose to obey G-d then they would live and not die. The same principle operates today. Once men choose what pleases G-d, then G-d will reward them with life. If they choose to choose what he dislikes, he will bring upon them destruction.

"Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not." (Isaiah 65:12)

"I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not." (Isaiah 66:4)

If there is one great thing that I love about Jamaica, it is our freedom. Our freedom to worship, and spread/disseminate our ideas and perspectives on the streets. May G-d continue to bless our land, which is the true land of the free. For when you are spiritually free, then you are free indeed.

I support and defend the right to worship according to conscience.

Works Cited:

White, E. G. "Seeking Freedom in a New World" The Great Controversy IADPA: (n.d.).

Monday, June 15, 2009

The spirit of wisdom and revelation

Name of Fellowship: Mona Baptist Church
Location: 4-6 University Meadows, Kingston 6
Date: June 14, 2009

I attended the Sunday school, where the theme of the Lesson study was: "Power for Living", Lesson 7 in the quarterly Caribbean Bible Lessons: Walking Together Vol 4 No. 3 (2009):25-27. This lesson was written by Mrs. Zoe Simpson from Jamaica, a member of the Missionary Church in Jamaica.

The lesson study focused on a discussion of G-d's power and the power available to Christians.

However, as we read Ephesians 1:17, I was able to share and learn from G-d through our interactions about wisdom and revelation.

Wisdom - is the rightful application of knowledge. It is determining the right information or action that is needed or appropriate for the situation, problem or the time. You can have knowledge, but it can be wrongly applied. You can apply the wrong knowledge to a situation. Thus wisdom goes beyond knowledge and the recall of information, to the ability to act or speak correctly when the situation presents itself.

Revelation - on the other hand is the the gaining of knowledge without formal teaching. Or the gaining/acquisition of information and knowledge that you would not otherwise know. Thus, this type of information or knowledge acquisition is supernatural. For example, you misplaced something, and have no clue where you put it. Then all of a sudden, a thought comes to your head that tells you the exact location of the loss item. When you check that location, you find the loss item.

In the text Ephesians 1:17, the apostle prays that the church receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they can know G-d. In this lies an important truth that theology ignores. Ironically, the very word "theology" claims to be the study of G-d or the knowledge of G-d. Yet, the apostle indicates that there are only two paths to knowing G-d. While one can study about G-d, and graduate from theological college, that by no means qualify them in knowing G-d.

Knowledge of G-d is not the end result of study, teaching and learning. Knowledge of G-d cannot be taught via a formal process or curriculum. Knowledge of G-d comes from the rightful application of what is studied as well as via G-d's supernatural intervention. As JESUS stated in John 6:44 (New International Version)
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."

The knowledge of G-d is hidden and only G-d chooses to whom he reveals it. In addition, G-d chooses whom he will teach.

Thus knowing G-d is hardly something of our own personal effort. It is important though that we study, so that we can have knowledge from which G-d can draw on to teach us and give us wisdom.

Christianity and Judaism should both be about the studying of word and doctrine, for future information retrieval and application. We should study G-d's word before we understand it. We must constantly and diligently study the scriptures to prepare us for G-d to give wisdom. He will use our previously studied information and knowledge from the Scriptures to teach us. We do not know when he will give us wisdom, but we must always be prepared.

For revelation on the other hand, we can do nothing to receive it, apart from live out what we already know, so that we appear faithful stewards of what G-d has given, so that he can entrust us with more than we already know.

For today and for the rest of your life, may you receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation that will increase your knowledge of G-d.

The conduct of Christian meetings

I often feel that I am a regular visitor or a visiting member of more than one denominations. The reason for this is that I am not committed to a church organisation/denomination and the rituals that it practices. Rather I am committed to Biblical truth. Any fellowship that thereby offers me an opportunity to share in truth, fellowship in truth, hear aspects of truth and deepen my understanding of G-d's word of truth, to that group people I will appear.

I commune with believers to take part in that spiritual meal that is issued through our obedience in gathering before the L-RD. For me, the word to be issued is the most important aspect of these meetings.

However the word does not have to come via a sermon or preaching. While it can come by song, testimonies and scripture reading, most often, I believe the word comes via interaction among the believers. I regret that the format of many churches allow for limited interaction when the word of G-d is to be delivered. There are rituals that are considered important. These traditions are maintained faithfully, despite not being commanded by G-d. Liturgy and programmed actions take place each Sunday or Saturday (Sabbath).

I prefer Sunday or Sabbath schools and Bible studies for their interactivity. In these aspects of Christian meetings, believers can ask ask questions, share their view points, engage in discussion that can help believers clarify doctrine and better receive or learn spiritual realities.

The format of Christian meetings should be interactive. Exchanges should be made, from the pew and pulpit. In fact, we should not even have any pulpit. Just look at 1 Corinthians 14:26 which says:
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

This order by Apostle Paul does not give the impression that the delivery of the word is a one man show. Neither does it indicate that the people who will be serving or ministering in the meeting in a given day are chosen in advanced. Not even the songs seem to be chosen in advance. In fact, it seems pretty spontaneous to me.

Apostle Paul let us know how Christian meetings should be. The aim of the meeting is to edify. The procedure:
  1. psalm or song,
  2. doctrine,
  3. tongue,
  4. revelation, then
  5. interpretation

Note "interpretation" is apart of the meetings in which a "tongue" is given (1 Cor 14:26-27).

In Colossians 3:16, this order of meetings is also reinforced:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Our meetings should ones where teaching and exchanges are taking place, where people admonish in word, speech and song. Such meetings must be conducted in order, but with some level of flexibility, spontaneous presenters and allow for all to be able to make some contribution to what is said or sung.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sex scandals and Christianity

Never have I heard of a religion that has been so tainted by sexual scandal as Christianity.
I have not heard any sexual scandals reported of Islamic or Jewish spiritual leaders as I have heard of Christianity.

When Christianity fails, it fails publicly and miserably. When Christianity fails to live up to the chastity ideals and then seeks to cover up those failures, the media scourges the faith and have reason to broadcast our failure publicly. Thus any Christian spiritual leader who gets entangled in sexual temptations and sins, will disgrace the religion and give it poor publicity that will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many unbelievers.

When one Christian leader fails, the entire religion is tainted with corruption. We have priests, pastors and spiritual leaders that have molested or sexually abused children, committed fornications/adulteries and even divorced. Our religion preaches about family and its importance, are against abortion and for marriage, yet many of our spiritual leaders fail to live up to these values.

These things pain my heart and my soul, and always make me feel embarrassed to be named a Christian. The people of my faith have disappointed me many times. If it were not for my belief in the Bible and the things written therein, and my proving G-d through it for myself, then I would not be a believer in Christ Jesus. I perhaps would have been Rastafarian, Jewish or Muslim, or perhaps a Garveyite.

These have only been averted because JESUS, blessed be his name, warned me through his gospels that in his movement in the latter days, there will be “wheat” and “tares”. With many parables JESUS foretold that there will be those in his movement who are acceptable unto his Father and himself, yet there will be those that though they are in the movement, they do not belong and are alien to his ideals.

G-d has let me know that there will be agents sent into the movement by the wicked one, to destroy the movement from within. There will be persons given prominent places in the movement that will fall – who are the agents of the wicked one, sent to make Christianity look evil and to prevent us from recruiting unbelievers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The parable of the mustard plant that became a tree

Let me give you the background to what I am about to share.

I attended Pentecost services at Church of God International who observes the Feast on the Sunday, May 31 the day after the seventh-day Sabbath, instead of the Jewish community that observed the feast on Thursday eve to Friday eve of May 28-May 29.

However, I learnt something that challenged my perspective that I want to share. Before I do so, as usual, I want to give you the details of the location and the context of how I came into the understanding that I did.

  1. the parable of mention spoken of in Matthew 13:31-32 (King James Version)

  2. The event details

  3. the message and lesson learnt

Matthew 13:31-32 (King James Version):

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Fellowship: Church of God International
Date: Sunday, May 31, 2009 (Pentecost)
Location/Venue: Sagicor Auditorium, 28-48 Barbados Avenue, Kingston 5
Messenger: Pastor George Ramocan
Time: Evening service

The sermon of Pastor Ramocan spoke on the parable of the Mustard seed. He challenged the congregation that much of what we learnt about the parable from the churches that we were from was incorrect. He stated that the mustard seed does not grow into a tree. It is a herb bearing seed. He defined a tree as a plant with hard bark that wood. A herb is one with a softer bark that does not produce wood.

Thus in the parable, when Jesus stated that the mustard seed grew into a tree, it deviated from its nature.

I was shocked and said he was incorrect. For some time ago before his sermon, I did a Web Image search for mustard and saw trees. (My librarianship training failed me this time, as I believed the images posted on the Web, not realizing that someone had put it there to illustrate Jesus parable.)

Pastor Ramocan went on to state that "the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" represents evil spirits.

He then went on to suggest that the parable indicates that the Christian Church at the end of the age will deviate from the pure movement that Jesus Christ started, and become inhabited by Satan and his demons. I was shocked!

When I came home that night, I drew for my Bible to look up "mustard".

I checked The Smith's Bible Dictionary that stated that the mustard is a plant and does not grow into a tree. The parable of mention is a "proverbial simile" with no literal accuracy. The mustard plant according to the same entry is too small for birds to make nests unless they are very small birds, such as linnets and finches. Birds may settle on it for its seeds which they are fond of. The plant could perhaps grow as tall as a horse and its rider. The entry also indicated that there are seeds smaller than the mustard seed.

Then I remembered that mustard is that which is placed on hot dogs.

As I wrote this, I also checked my English Language dictionary. Just for a second source. I consulted the Pocket Oxford English Dictionary which also confirmed that the mustard is a plant.

As such, I realised that Pastor Ramocan was correct.

I also remembered that what William Schnoebelen wrote in a book that I finished reading the other day, Masonry: Beyond the Light, that Lucifer is waiting for the World to reach a place where he can come and settle on earth amongst the citizens of the world. Schnoebelen also in revealing his perspective on the pyramid and the all seeing eye that adorns the US dollar indicates that the all seeing eye represents Satan and his demons hovering over human hierarchy and authority. Schnoebelen also presented in his book the idea that the Devil has established many secret societies where he have many of the world leaders making oaths and promises that basically enslave them to be willing servants of his will. Masonry and other secret societies with oaths and rituals according to Schnoebelen are basically worshipping Lucifer and giving him authority over these leaders in order for them to be possessed by demons and be controlled by these demons. Consequently this will lead them to be under the rule of Satan or Lucifer.

It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

Works Cited:

Schnoebelen, William J. Masonry: Beyond the Light. Chino, CA: Chick Publications, 1991.

Smith, William George, F. N. Peloubet, and M. A. T. Peloubet. Smith's Bible Dictionary. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.

Soanes, Catherine, Sara Hawker, Julia Elliott, F. G. Fowler, and H. W. Fowler. Pocket Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.